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Checking in on the Penguins Top 25 players under 25

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Christmas break is a good time to see how the best young players in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization are doing this season

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

On a long break, it's a nice chance to check in on the top 25 young players in the Penguins organization. If you missed our feature from the summer you can check in here to get caught up on all the details. Or, you know, just keep reading below to find out how their season is going so far for the latest and greatest information.

Rankings below are from how we had them this summer in our consensus list from the pre-eminent Penguin prospect trackers on all the internets, but the comments are my own.

Rank Name Season Stats Comments
25 Matia Marcantuoni 5 GP (1g+2a) in AHL, 4gp 0+3 in ECHL
Injuries have hampered 21 year old's critical 2nd pro season
24 Blane Byron 17 GP (5g+5a) at U Maine
Sophomore leading his NCAA team in points so far this year
23 Reid McNeill 23 GP (0g+2a) 28 PIMs in AHL
Defensive dman playing 3rd pair minutes in WB/S, one of few in organization with size and a nasty edge
22 Anton Zlobin 11 GP (0g+6a) in ECHL
Talented but oft-injured 22 yr old Russian forward has fallen off radar in big way
21 Tom Kuhnhackl 17 GP (6g+6a) in AHL
Back from injury and having solid season as checker in AHL
20 Dominik Uher 27 GP (1g+5a) in AHL
Good checker but limited production even at the AHL level leaves questions about his ceiling
19 Jeff Taylor 17 GP (1g+5a) at Union
Disappointing start to season for offensive dman in junior season
18 Josh Archibald 22 GP (0g+4a) in AHL
23 yr old hasn't found much offense in the pro ranks and is quickly becoming a forgettable NHL prospect
17 Jean-Sebastien Dea 27 GP (8g+7a) in AHL
3rd in WB/S in goals, looks to be taking big step forward in 2nd season
16 Tim Erixon 23 GP (2g+9a) in AHL
The journeyman continues with a good but quiet AHL season after spending time (but not playing) in Pittsburgh
15 Adam Clendening 9 GP (0g+1a) in NHL
Firmly mired at #7/#8 in Pittsburgh, which hasn't come with much ice-time
14 Jake Guentzel 17 GP (10g+16a) at Omaha
Excellent season for junior center, an impact player who is currently 4th in NCAA in points
13 Teddy Blueger 20 GP (5g+12a) at Mankato
Isn't eye-popping but former 2nd round pick on pace for best year in college in his senior campaign
12 Dominik Simon 27 GP (11g+16a) in AHL
21 yr old 2015 5th rounder has to be biggest prospect pleasant surprise, leads WB/S in points in first year in North America
11 Tristan Jarry 8-1, 1.5 GAA, .940 sv%
As rookie, 20 yr old goalie has played great in AHL backup role
10 Conor Sheary 24gp (6g+15) in AHL, 4g, 1+1 in NHL
Has impressed his way all the way onto Crosby's line after proving to be solid scorer in AHL. Small but skilled
9 Bryan Rust 10gp (1g+3a) in AHL, 5gp, 0+0 in NHL
Seems primed to get chance to make jump as full-time NHL'er sooner than later based on how team likes him
8 Scott Wilson 25gp (15g+9a) in AHL, 1gp 0+1 in NHL
Speedy winger leads WB/S in goals, recorded first career NHL point recently as well
7 Daniel Sprong 18gp (2g+0a) in NHL
18 year old got 2 months in NHL to learn, back to juniors for rest of season. Future looks very, very bright
6 Brian Dumoulin 33gp (0g+ 7a) in NHL
Finally got a full-time NHL chance and has made the most of it at age 23 as one of Pens most consistent defensemen this season
5 Oskar Sundqvist 27gp, (5g+8a) in AHL
Lauded for size, 2-way game and some decent boxcars as a young rookie learning North American game
4 Matt Murray 12-4, 1.84 GAA, .938% in AHL, 1-1, 2.02, .920 in NHL
Young star continues to shine bright in AHL and just won his first NHL game this week. Sky could be the limit with his size and ability
3 Beau Bennett 24gp (5g+5a) in NHL
Was finally getting a scoring role chance but, shocker, back on injury shelf -sadly the story of his career
2 Derrick Pouliot 26gp (5g+12a) in AHL
Prized pick has needed, and received, more developmental time in the AHL after poor preseason
1 Olli Maatta 27gp (4g+5a) in NHL
After returning from another injury, Maatta is looking solid lately as a top-pair NHL defenseman and figures to be huge part of the puzzle going forward

Top 5 biggest risers: Guentzel, Simon, Sheary, Sprong, Dumoulin

Top 5 biggest fallers: Sundqvist, Erixon, Archibald, Taylor, Uher (No fault of Sundqvist's own, but looks over-voted at 5 compared to how guys ranked under him are doing).

Overall, there would be some changes in positioning but our list has held up really well about halfway into the 2015-16 season. 8 of the top 10 have already played in the NHL this season and all of the top-15 are having strong seasons in their respective leagues. In the low end of the list there are a couple of guys dropping off with more long-term hopefuls, as to be expected in the murky world of hockey prospect development.

Interesting note of the future: Barring any trades, for the first time since 2012 (and for just the 2nd time in the last 9 drafts), Pittsburgh will have 2 picks in the top 60 in the 2016 draft. And, yes, that's regardless of whether they make the playoffs or not. They currently have Anaheim's 2nd rounder right now, no matter what.

Then, the Kessel trade kicks in. Pittsburgh will get their own 2nd back from Toronto (which TOR got in the Winnik trade) if the Pens make the playoffs this season, leaving the Pens with 2 second rounders to start the draft (ANA, PIT).

In the frustrating event that the Pens miss the playoffs, TOR keeps PIT's 2nd rounder, but the silver lining will be the Pens getting their own 1st rounder back, to pair with the ANA 2nd for two high picks in the draft. That first rounder would be a top-15 pick, which would mark only their second top-15 pick in the past 10 drafts (to join Pouliot in '12 from the J. Staal trade).

The strength of the Penguins core is and will remain 27-31 year-olds with the likes of Letang, Kessel, Malkin, Crosby and Fleury all under contract for years to come, but their under-25 year old players might be stronger than first thought of. They have 3 U-25 defensemen at the NHL level (with Pouliot probably coming soon) and have Matt Murray and a couple of lower-end forwards that can play at the league. Not much in the way of bluechippers, but the emergence of Sprong is a much needed organizational asset.