Who is this guy?
Adam Payerl is a 6'3" 218lbs Center with "about 8 percent body fat" from Kitchener, Ontario who went undrafted through his final 3 seasons in the OHL and signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent in 2012.
What are they saying about him?
Payerl was the talk of the town in Prospect Development Camp back in July. All of the team staff and much of the media had nothing but positive things to say about him. Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald said "He's big, he can skate and shoot the puck. He bangs, he crashes. He's a guy you believe could fill a role at the bottom of your lineup." WBS Assistant Coach Alain Nasreddine said "Don't forget that name, because you're going to see him at some point in the NHL" and WBS Head Coach John Hynes added "He can compete for an opportunity to play in Pittsburgh right now." Director of Player Development Bill Guerin said:
"Adam Payerl, you can tell, looks like he's in great shape. Six-three, 225, and has about 8 percent body fat. And he's moving really well. Adam Payerl is just one of those guys who has really stood out, I think the way that he played in the playoffs is something we could use. He has size, and the way he skates with that size is impressive. He'd be a great guy to have as the first guy on the forecheck. From the beginning of last year to the beginning of this year, he's made the biggest strides."
He has been noted mostly for his size and his willingness to hit, as well as his physicality that allows him to fight for the puck and win battles in the dirty areas in the corners and along the boards. His offensive skill set isn't particularly suited to a top scoring line NHL role, but he fancies himself a Power Forward and has shown a willingness to crash the net and create plays from the crease. But with his size and strength, and his decent speed and skating ability, he could excel in the Penguins forechecking system. His gritty and physical nature could make him an ideal candidate to add physicality to the Check line. His OHL scouting profile said "He can play any forward position and is a big body who can take the puck to the net. He'll stick up for his teammates, forecheck hard and plays both ends of the ice pretty well."
Where has he been?
Payerl started out at 16 playing for the OHL Barrie Colts, where he spent his first two seasons. He was not a standout on the team, and the team itself was not particularly effective, but the following season he got traded to the Belleville Bulls. He played with former Pens pick Andy Bathgate and strangely enough was one of the team's top scorers, finishing #4 in both Goals and Points. His 2nd year with the team and 4th in the OHL he started to shift away from trying to be a skill player and focus on using his size to play a physical role, dropping down to #7 in Goals and Points but jumping up to #3 in Penalty Minutes.
That summer after going undrafted he was free to sign with teams as a free agent and attended the Columbus Blue Jackets camp, getting cut after 2 1/2 weeks. He signed on to the OHL Belleville for a final season and found his balance, achieving career highs in Goals, #4 on the team, Points, #3 on the team, Penalty Minutes, #1 on the team, and Plus/Minus, #6 on the team. Shortly after the season ended he was signed by the Penguins and skated with the WBS Baby Pens for 2 games that Spring.
Last year he made his professional debut playing for the ECHL Wheeling Nailers. After being bounced up and down a could times he stuck with the AHL WBS Baby Pens following the end of the lockout. He steadily improved throughout the season and by the playoffs was a staple of the Check line and widely regarded as one of the best players on the team.
When can we expect to see him?
Due to Cap constraints and a relative lack of openings on the roster, Payerl is destined to head back to WBS this fall. Based on the combos they have used thus far in Camp he may very well be used as a Top 6 Power Forward in WBS this year, although they could also make a decently offensively capable and defensively sound Check line if they choose to utilize it as a 3rd line.
He is supposedly one of the top choices to be used as a call-up this season if the injury bug strikes again. However with the Cap situation the way it is, there are a number of veterans making league minimum that could provide more affordable and experienced backups. However, with more roster space up for grabs next year and an uncertain Cap ceiling he could be pushing for a roster spot on the team, so I'll give him 1-2 years before we see him in Pittsburgh.
Why is he #6?
Payerl received 2 votes for 2nd, 2 votes for 5th, 1 vote for 6th, 1 vote for 12th, 1 vote for 20th, 1 vote for 25th, and 1 omitted him from the Top 25.
How can he climb the list?
Payerl is already pretty high on the list, so the main thing he needs to do is prove he can live up to the hype he generated in Prospect Development Camp. Once he hits the NHL it will go a long way towards raising his profile. He also needs to show that he can continue to improve on his performance in the playoffs last season. And if he really wants to be seen as a Power Forward or contribute to the Check line he will need to improve his offensive skill.