There will be Pittsburgh Penguins on the ice again today. Well, for summer development camp, anyways. The team has 35 players in camp this week for development time on and of the ice, with 4 prospects given the week off due to the long run in Wilkes-Barre (J.S. Dea, Josh Archibald, Dominik Simon and the injured Daniel Sprong).
With that in mind, here are 5 guys worth watching this week in Cranberry.
Guentzel turned pro this spring after finishing his junior season at Nebraska-Omaha. He got off to a great professional start, scoring 14 points (5g+9a) in 10 playoff games with Wilkes-Barre. The 21-year old former 3rd round pick in 2013 probably figures to spend the full season in Wilkes-Barre gaining experience and getting his feet wet in the professional game, but if he continues to score at an elite rate, that will earn him some interest to be the next in the long line of young forwards to graduate from WB/S to Pittsburgh.
Everyone likes the new shiny toy and the goalie Gustavsson sure is as the Penguins top pick (#55 overall) in last weekend's draft. This week will be the first chance to see why the Pens scouts felt so strong about drafting the #1 ranked European goaltender. It's really difficult, impossible, fruitless (you chose the word) to evaluate an 18-year old goaltender in a week of summer practices, but it will be interesting to see what kind of reviews the big young netminder gets. Gustavsson has 2 more seasons under contract in Sweden before we'll see him playing full-time in North America.
A smooth skating 22-year old defenseman, the Penguins signed Bengsston out of Sweden earlier this spring after he drew a ton of interest from NHL teams. He's right-handed, offensive-minded and could have a real chance to make the NHL team this season, since his contract has an out-clause that could be exercised if the Pens try to send him to the AHL. This week will be a good chance to see Bengsston's skill level and see if he's more Panarin or Plotkinov in terms of being a European signing.
Prow is a bit in Bengsston's shadow, but he will be a player to keep an eye on as well. The 23 year old was a Hobey Baker finalist last season at St. Cloud State where he put up 38 points (8g+30a) in 37 games. Prow chose to join the Penguins as an undrafted free agent this spring and got 5 games in the AHL regular season and a pair more in the playoffs. He is looking at at least a stint in Wilkes-Barre starting this fall, and we'll see if he can develop into anything more than that. If not, no big deal for the Pens but it's always good to add a young, skilled prospect considering all the trading of draft picks the team has made over the past 4-5-6 years.
Blueger might be the most skilled player out there, the former 2nd round pick in 2012 has finally turned pro after finishing a 4 year career in college. Adding strength and muscle has been a knock on Blueger since he was drafted and he remains a work in progress in that regard, which is true for almost every 21-year old. Blueger got 10 games (0 points) in the AHL regular season last year, and 10 more in the playoffs (0g+1a) where he didn't make an impact from a lower line, but will have the chance to keep on growing into being an eventual impact player at the AHL level. Blueger's well behind Guentzel at this point of development, but still represents one of the few young, really skilled forwards that are in Pittsburgh's pro prospect ranks.