15. Teddy Blueger
Drafted in the second round in 2012, Blueger was billed as a long-term prospect. This has definitely been the case as Blueger has finished his sophomore year in college, and seems on track to use up all four years of eligibility before turning pro.
That said, the Latvian native ratcheted up the assists (13 to 22) and points (19 to 26) in his second collegiate campaign, and valiantly played in seven games for the oft out-manned Latvian team at U-20 events (recording no goals and 4 assists).
Blueger admitted his game needs to be more well-rounded, ""If we need a faceoff win in the d-zone I really try to be that guy coach calls upon to win those draws. Focusing on my defensive game is really important too, just being a complete player. Being able to play a two way game, have a good stick, and play the body well."
Blueger will return to college for his junior year, and should hopefully be a top-line player and enjoy a successful season.
14. Oskar Sundqvist
At 6'3, 212, Penguins fans have wondered about Oskar Sundqvist since he was drafted in the 3rd round of 2012. He flew up the ranks in Sweden, playing in the top league at a young age, and has done relatively well in international events. Now signed to an NHL contract, Sundqvist will participate in his first NHL training camp as the team and player assess how far along he is and what level he would be the best fit in.
"What kind of player Sundqvist develops into remains to be seen, but he has the size, skill, grit, and hockey IQ to play in the NHL. He needs to get quicker and more explosive in his skating, but more than anything, he needs more experience playing against men." Ian said in his Top 20 list.
With all the young players joining the AHL this year, Sundqvist's best bet to find that level might be back in Sweden for another season. But there's no doubt he's on the Penguins' organizational radar and is going to have a chance to show what he can do very soon.
13. Jayson Megna
Megna, an undrafted free agent signed in 2012, made his NHL debut in the 2013-14 season and turned heads in a hurry with his speed and converting on scoring chances. The Penguins were decimated with injuries and needed several call-ups from the minors to fill out their lineup and Megna definitely left an impression as one of the rare players that could be productive in the NHL.
Unfortunately for Megna, staying healthy was an issue- a collision with Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier cost him 13 games to further make an impact and solidify a position on the NHL roster. He wouldn't be able to do that, getting called up and sent down 4 different times over the course of the season, and only appearing in two NHL playoff games.
To begin the season Megna will still be able to be sent to the minors without having to clear waivers, and with the Pens having 12 one-way contracts for forwards, that might work against him- or at least set himself up to make frequent trips across the commonwealth bouncing back from AHL to NHL again.
Still, for an undrafted player without a ton of experience, Megna had a good season last year to show that he can contribute, and has the opportunity to continue that again this season.
12. Jake Guentzel
Guentzel, the Pens 3rd round pick in 2013, made his collegiate debut last year with Nebraska-Omaha and had a solid introductory year.
As Ian put it in his prospect profile, "The 19-year-old forward needs to add a substantial amount of strength before he can play at the pro level, but his approach to the game seems like it would be a good fit for the Penguins. He is fast, aggressive, and good at making plays off the rush as well as in the corners. He is a playmaker by trade, but has a good wrist shot and drives the net when he is not open to make or receive a pass."
Guentzel's playmaking was evident last season, he tied for the team lead in assists (27) despite being a freshman. That's a good sign that we should probably see continue in the years to come as he settles in and becomes an even bigger part of the team.
Recently the Pens have signed several college players after their junior seasons (Scott Wilson and Josh Archibald), but also sometimes wait until after the senior season (Bryan Rust) to sign players. So at the soonest, Guentzel probably still has 2 more seasons in Omaha before turning pro. He's a long-term prospect but if he can add weight and strength to his frame to go along with the ability he clearly has with the puck, the Penguins might have a good long-term prospect on their hands.
11. Josh Archibald
Finalizing today's portion of the list is 2011's sixth round draft pick, who has exploded onto the prospect scene in recent years with Nebraska-Omaha that culminated in last season where he earned conference player of the year, forward of the year and turned pro, getting some games in under his belt in Wilkes-Barre.
Ian said of Archibald, "The 21-year-old winger does not project to be a big time scorer in the NHL, but he should be able to chip in a fair amount of offense. He must get stronger though, and prove he can handle the rigors of the long professional season."
This first professional season will be an interesting one for a player listed as 5'10, 175 pounds. Can he use his energy to make a difference? How will he adapt to a schedule with twice as many games as he is used to? It will be interesting to see. Archibald is a former Team USA U-20 player, and his arrow has been pointing up recently with a couple of monster seasons, hopefully he makes a smooth transition and after this season we'll probably have a better indication of what the Penguins have with this young player.