FanPost

Newest Additions to the Pens

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced the signing of Harrison Ruopp today to a 3-year Entry Level contract.

Ruopp was a 2011 3rd round pick for the Phoenix Coyotes who came over as part of the Zbynek Michalek trade this summer. Ruopp is a 6'2" 198lb 20 year old defenseman who had skated this season wearing an A for the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders. He put up career high numbers this season, racking up 15 Assists and 16 Points with a +11 Rating and 132 Penalty Minutes in 65 games.

He has been described as playing a simple, physical game, hard to play against along the boards, and loves to hit. His skating and puck moving are said to be good, but not great. Hockey's Future lists him as a 6.0 C, which indicates that he doesn't project to be anything more than a 3rd Pair shut-down D, and even then there is a 20% chance he won't even climb that high. It does, however, mention that he has an excellent hockey IQ, being able to read and react quickly.

He will be playing the remainder of the season for the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and is likely to return to join their regular roster next season. However, being that he just turned 20, there is a small chance he could return to the WHL as an overage player next season, but it is not particularly likely. His play style, physical, intelligent, stay at home shut-down D, is just the type of player the Pens like to have, so we could see him moving up to join the team as a 6th/7th D to replace Engelland in a few years.

The remaining acquisitions strictly impact the Baby Pens. F Chris Barton (secret identity of the Avengers' Hawkeye... oh, that was Clint, not Chris? Oh well, close enough...) and G Scott Darling are expected to join the WBS Pens as part of this season's Black Aces squad. They had been previously playing for the ECHL Wheeling Nailers, with whom they had ECHL contracts, but since the Nailers season ended without earning a playoff berth they were free to sign PTOs elsewhere.

Barton was tied for a team high 23 Goals and was #2 with 43 Points, all in only 47 games played (the #1 Nailer had played in 68 games this season). This was his 2nd season with the Nailers, last year putting up even higher numbers with 28 Goals and 31 Assists in 69 games. He also spent short periods of time both last season and this season playing for the Baby Pens on a PTO, but he didn't manage to put up any points in his 9 AHL games.

He is an excellent sniper, but has been described as being really streaky. When he is on his game he is nearly unstoppable, but then he follows it up with long dry spells. I expect part of the reason he has not managed any points in WBS is that he winds up on the 4th line, rather than his usual scoring position flanked by an excellent playmaking center. The Pens seem to like him, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him return again next year, either on an AHL deal with the Baby Pens or signed by the Pens to a 2-way deal strictly for the purposes of being on the WBS roster.

Darling is a massive 6'6" goaltender who split time in goal for the Nailers, playing in 32 games this season. He only had a 2.80 GAA and .907 Save %, which while not terrible also isn't particularly good, especially considering that it was at the ECHL level. He doesn't really project to be anything more than a backup AHL goaltender. Though it is worth noting that his one AHL game this season, playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs, was a shutout. He is a lot like Vokoun in that way, where when he is having an excellent game, he is out there pitching a shutout. But when he is off his game, expect to see 3+ goals whiz by. He was 13-12-1-3, with 2 shutouts, this season in the ECHL.

He may be back next season, depending on whether or not the Penguins resign Brad Thiessen during the summer, since with the recent trade of Patrick Killeen they do not have any other goaltending depth. They could sign him on for a year or two, either under a 2-way NHL contract or an AHL deal, and wind up assigning him back to Wheeling as they did with Killeen. Of course, he is just as likely to do the same for the Montreal Canadiens and their AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs (we share the Nailers with Montreal).

The Pens still need to sign at least 1 more, if not 2 more, goalies for next season. Hopefully Thiessen will be back, whether as a backup to Zatkoff or regaining his job as starter. So at the moment, Darling is the only other option to be a 3rd backup/ECHL goalie. Of course its not as if they couldn't locate another free agent to fulfill the role. They need to do this because their recent draft pick goaltenders are not ready to turn pro. Matt Murray is just turning 19, so he will return to the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds next season, he won't be eligible to play in the AHL until he turns 20. Sean Maguire is finishing up his freshman year at Boston University, so we are unlikely to see him for another 3 years.

The content expressed in fanposts does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff here at Pensburgh.com. FanPosts are opinions expressed by fans of various teams throughout the league but may be more Pittsburgh-centric for obvious reasons.

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