Pens Mid-Season Prospect Ranking Update

By Erik Johnson

1. Milan Kraft, C

Has done nothing to remove himself from the top spot in the Pens prospect list. Very solid player, makes very few mistakes. Reminds a lot of people of a young Ron Francis with a better scoring touch, although he’s not the playmaker that Francis is.

2. Sebastian Caron, G

Sebastian has been hot and cold for the Pens in his rookie season. Named AHL Goaltender of the month for November, but has had some bad performances in Oct and Dec. A .886 SvPct isn’t great, but for a rookie, it’s not bad and he’s learning on the job.

3. Konstantin Koltsov, LW

When he plays for his Russian squad, he’s played well. A bit inconsistant, which causes him to be benched (or scratched) at times. Played well for a very bad Belarus team in the World Junior Championships.

4. Josef Melichar, D

Played well enough in camp to eearn a spot with the NHL club, but after the first few games, was in and out of the lineup. Sent back to Wilkes-Barre after the Pens acquired a few “veteran” defenseman and Kasparaitis and Laukkanen came back from injuries. He’s still quite young and has plenty of time to get himself back into the lineup. Will defintely be a part of the Pens future on defense, along with Ference and Rozsival.

5. Andrew Ference, D

They all said he was too small. Fortunately for the Pens, they forgot to tell Andy. It unfortunate that they can’t find a spot for him on the NHL squad, because he deserves it. Solid offensively, solid defensively. Strong power play pointman. 1 of 4 WBS All Star reps.

6. Toby Peterson, C

Very good college player that has been able to put it all together as a rookie. Spend some time at the NHL level already and wasn’t overmatched. Solid scoring touch, decent on faceoffs. AHL All Star.

7. Matt Murley, LW

Murley started a bit slowly in conference play, but has played better as of late. Has has some huge non-conference games, including a 4 goal performance against UMass-Amherst

8. Brooks Orpik, D

Still hasn’t developed an offensive side to his game that people expect. Some say that he takes too many bad penalties, although that tends to be a critizism of many stay-at-home defensemen that play in college.

9. Greg Crozier, LW

After a decent rooke season last year, Greg’s really risen his level of play this year. Very good power play player. 11 of his 17 goals this year are with the man advantage.

10. Peter Hamerlik, G

Peter has had a very good rookie season for the Kingston Frontenacs. Established himself as the #1 goalie on the team early in the season and really took off from there. Currently #5 in the league in SvPct. If he continues this play, he’ll be one of the top candidates for the OHL Rookie of the Year. Only dissappointment was that he failed to make the Slovakian WJC team.

11. Billy Tibbetts, C

Certainly surprised many with his quick adjustment to the AHL after being out of hockey for as long as he was. Still among the rookie leaders in offensive categories. Needs to work on his defensive play to get a shot to play at the next level. AHL All Star

12. Alex Zevahkin, LW

Struggled early to make an adjustment from Russia to North America, but play has steadily gotten better as the year has gone on. Look for him to be one of the better WBS players at the end of the season.

13. Jeremy Van Hoof, D

Solid stay-at-home defenseman. Isn’t going to give you much of an offensive presence.

14. Sven Butenschon, D

Sven’s time with the Pens organization is winding down. While I don’t think he’s been given much of a shot, he hasn’t really made the most of the opportunities that he’s had either. Developed a nice offensive game while at WBS.

15. Tom Kostopoulos, RW

Missed a few games at the beginning of the season, but has played well since coming back. Has settled into a role as a playmaker for the team this season.

16. Michel Ouellet, RW

61 points in 40 games places him about 20th in the ‘Q’. Scored 20 of his 31 goals on the PP. Extremely inconsistant play. Excellent at times, but invisible in others.

17. Shane Endicott, C

Solid player. You’d hope that a player of his size could find more of an offensive game, but he’ll be a solid 2-way center at least. Solid in his own zone and on faceoffs.

18. Tomas Skvaridlo, LW

Another solid 2-way player. Had a good WJC tournament playing on a line with Marcel Hossa and Jozef Balaj.

19. Martin Sonnenberg, LW

Struggling this year for the Jr Pens. Had a solid shot of a 4th line role with the NHL squad, but injured an ankle during camp and hasn’t found his game since.

20. Robert Dome, RW

If anyone can find Robert’s game, please call the Penguins.

21. Eric Meloche, RW

Struggled a bit in the scoring department, but he is nearly on pace for a 20 goal season with the Jr Pens.

22. Ryan Malone, LW

Not a bad sophomore season so far for Ryan. Missed a few games at the start of the season.

23. David Koci, D

I thought David would struggle to adapt to the North American style of hockey, but he looked quite good in camp and had translated that into solid play for Prince George. Not really much of an offensive game.

24. Mika Lehto, G

Still awaiting word on Mika’s progress in Finland this season.