Welcome back to the countdown of the top 25 players under the age of 25 in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. Catch up with the earlier parts of the series if you need
- Looking back at the 2015 list and the departed
- 2016 T25U25: Honorable Mentions and #25- #24
- #23 - #20
And now on to today's portion of the list!
#19 (#NR) Anthony Angello, F, 20 years old, Cornell University (ECAC)
The Penguins 5th round pick in 2016 makes his debut in the T25U25 after an impressive season. He turned heads at Pittsburgh's 2015 rookie development camp with his size (6'4) and skill then went on to have a great freshman season at Cornell scoring 24 points (11g+13a) in 34 games- leading the Big Red in goals and second on the team in points.
The Cornell Sun wrote the following back in January
Angello was immediately drawn to the Cornell style of play. The Red stresses physical, two-way hockey that begins with defense. Cornell forwards are expected to contribute both offensively and defensively. Angello recognized the opportunity to develop his skills as a two-way player by coming to Cornell.
"Watching [Cornell’s] style of play on my visit, it just seemed like a fit," Angello said.
Angello, the 6-foot-5 forward who plays as tough as he stands tall, fits very well into the Cornell system.
"I wanted to use my size to not only strengthen my performance, but the performance of the team," Angello said. "Looking at it as an outsider, my style of play matched up [with Cornell’s style of play]."
Angello returns to Cornell this fall for this sophomore season and by virtue of this ranking is the Penguins best prospect currently playing in the NCAA.
#18 (#17) Jean-Sebastian Dea, C, 22 years old, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL)
Dea drops a spot in this year's T25U25 as a bit of tough luck because of an improving pool of talent and not due to a poor season of his own. The still young player was 4th in WB/S with a 20 goal season this past year and made the leap from ECHL/AHL player in his rookie 2014-15 season to full-time and relied on AHL player last season.
Dea seems to know what it will take to make the next step to the NHL. From an article just this week in the Times Leader,
"If I want to make it to the next level, I have to be a two-way player," he said.
But that doesn’t mean Dea is going to neglect his high offensive upside. Going into this weekend, his 143 shots are third on the team.
Shooting the puck is simply part of his game, Dea said.
"I’m a goal-scorer. To do that you have to bring pucks to the net," he said.
Head coach Clark Donatelli, who also coached Dea for a handful of games last season in Wheeling, said the biggest change he’s seen in the 22-year-old is maturity. Dea doesn’t get rattled this season, Donatelli said, and even when he’s been asked to shift from center to wing it hasn’t been an issue.
2016-17 will be a contract year and could be a make or break one for Dea in the Pittsburgh organization. At center his place in the organization is solidly behind Oskar Sundqvist, but if Dea keeps working his two-way game and adds wing versatility he could be a top candidate for a call-up to the NHL if a cluster of injuries strike.
#17 (#13) Teddy Blueger C, 22 years old, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
Much like Dea, Blueger drops but it's more about other talent coming up more than a negative on his own play. Blueger finished his collegiate career in 2015-16, leading his team in assists and point and then signed with the Penguins to turn pro in time to join WB/S for their stretch run. Blueger appeared in 20 combined regular season and playoff games in a crash course introduction to pro hockey, scoring no goals and recording only 1 assist in a lower line role.
Those numbers aren't really to be used against him though, he got tossed in the deep end and while he didn't excel, just getting that experience is good enough for now to learn and build on.
Blueger will have his first full-time professional season in 2016-17 and is a fairly unique prospect for the Penguins. He isn't the biggest, strongest or fastest, but he does have some good offensive instincts and playmaking ability. Pittsburgh hasn't had a prospect skill center in their organization since, well a long time. Maybe as far back as Erik Christensen, so it will be interesting to see how much of Blueger's skill and production translates up to the professional game as he takes the next steps in his development.
#16 (#12) Dominik Simon C/RW, 22 years old, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL)
Pittsburgh turned some heads when they drafted an almost 21 year old player in the 5th round of 2015, but the belief in an older guy paid off with instant returns. Simon appeared in 3 NHL games in 2015-16 (earning 1 assist) and was a driving force in WB/S, leading the team in goals (25) and finishing 4th on the club in points. His point total was good for 10th among all rookies in the AHL, and he was 3rd in goals as well.
The future looks bright for Simon, the team chose to slow-play his development and give him plenty of time (and minutes) in the AHL over playing 4th line minutes in the NHL. That probably will continue in 2016-17, as the best development for Simon will probably be at a minor league level. However, if the Penguins keep their talent spread and some recent AHL grads can't keep up a scoring pace on a top line, Pittsburgh has a great option for a call-up in Simon to see what he can do at the NHL level.
The list will resume later on this week, so far we've got: