Top 25 Under 25 - and In With the New

Bruce Bennett

With Prospect Development Camp right around the corner, let's take a moment to look back at the Top 25 Under 25. Next up we have some new faces who joined the team.

Back in the Fall we took a look at the Pittsburgh Penguins best available prospects under the age of 25 by eliciting a fan vote to rank the available options. We checked back on them at various points in the season, but never put together a final look back at the list. The 2014 Prospect Development Camp is scheduled to run from July 15th through July 19th, with a free scrimmage open to the public on the 19th. So this seemed like the perfect time to take a look back and see how far our prospects have come this year.

Yesterday we took a look at some graduated prospects, players that are no longer considered part of the prospect pool by virtue of age or experience. So today we are going to look at the new faces that have joined the organization since we did our initial poll last season.

We should be seeing all of these guys at Prospect Development Camp this week. The roster itself has no been announced yet, but we can make some assumptions about who we expect to see. It is open to all players who are on ELCs that have played fewer than 120 NHL regular season and playoff games, with the additional caveat that they played less than 70 games in the previous season. So one notable absence from last year will be Maatta, as he played too many games this season to be eligible. Other absences should include Megna and Hartzell, as they are no longer on an ELC. Bennett is eligible, but he didn't attempt last year, so chances are he won't be there this year either. It is also open to all unsigned draft picks as well as various free agent invites, some of whom may indeed earn themselves a contract like we have seen happen in recent years.

and In With the New

There aren't a lot of new faces this year, although we could always see some more players signed as free agents and added to the prospect pool if the perform well this summer.

The first was a a player who signed after a productive performance at Prospect Development Camp and the Rookie Tournament last year. Jean-Sebastien Dea had a productive season as one of the top pure goal scorers in the QMJHL last season. He is slated to turn pro as a rookie int he minor leagues this season, although whether he winds up in WBS or Wheeling remains to be seen.

Then we get into this year's draft picks, first up our #22 overall selection Kasperi Kapanen. He spent last year playing for the worst team in the adult league in Finland, but despite that managed to be the top scoring U18 player in the league. He plans to battle for a place in the lineup at Training Camp this year, although he has said that if he doesn't make the NHL lineup he intends to return to Finland.

Next we have our 4th round pick Sam Lafferty. He played high school hockey last season and intends to play in the USHL this upcoming season. From there he is committed to the NCAA in the 2015-16 season, so he remains a long term project.

Then we have our 5th round pick Anthony Angello. He spent last season playing in the USHL and plans to return for a final season before heading to the NCAA in the 2015-16 season, so he is likewise a long term project.

After which we come to 6th round pick Jaden Lindo. He was expected to go earlier int he draft, perhaps the 3rd or 4th round, but an injury during the season hurt his rankings. He played in the OHL last season and should be back to finish up his final 2 seasons before turning pro, most likely heading to WBS in the 2016-17 season.

Last we have our 7th round pick Jeff Taylor. He was a surprise pick as he was an overage player who had been passed up in 2 previous drafts and was unranked even on the extensive Central Scouting lists. He spent last season as a Freshman in the NCAA where his team won the National Championship at the Frozen Four. He is expected to return to the NCAA and will likely finish out his college career before turning pro, thus making him another long term project.

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