With a break in the schedule and a few days off, let’s look at the Penguins young players who might be outside the organization from our summer list of the top prospects.
Related: Penguins Top 25 Under 25
Jan Drozg (LW)- Shawinigan: The 18-year old 2017 5th round pick looks pretty good his first season in the QMJHL with 21 points (7g+14a) in 24 games, good for second on his team in assists and points.
Will Reilly (D)- R.P.I: 2017’s 7th round pick is a 6’3 defenseman who can skate and already has 5 goals + 1 assist in 14 games in college.
Linus Olund (F)- Brynas: Drafted as an older player in 2017, this skilled forward has 7 points early in the season in Sweden.
#25: Ryan Jones (defenseman)- University of Nebraska-Omaha: 10 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, -9
—Pittsburgh’s 4th rounder from 2016, and obviously not very pretty boxcars there
#24: Thomas Di Pauli (forward)- Wilkes-Barre (AHL): 15 gp, 7g+3a
—Di Pauli has done much better in his second AHL season, and is third on the team at press time in goals. After scoring just 2 points in 21 injury-riddled games last year, it’s nice to see him get on track to be a solid AHL’er right now.
#23 Frederik Tiffels (winger)- Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)/WB/S: 5gp, 1g+0a in AHL
—Tiffels got demoted to the ECHL for a 6 game stint and did put up 7 points and got promoted back to the AHL. As a 22-year old rookie he’s looking like a fringe AHL forward at this point and NHL prospects at the current moment look far and fading.
#22 Nikita Pavlychev (Center)- Penn State: 10gp, 6g+0a
—The 20-year old 6’7 center has already matched his 2016-17 goal total in 6 in 20 fewer games. Nice enough progression but certainly still a long-term, low percentage prospect.
#21 Jeff Taylor, (Defenseman)- Wheeling: 10gp, 2g+4a
—The 23-year old has been stuck in the “Coast” for the first part of his rookie season. Part numbers game but doesn’t bode well for NHL prospects.
#20 Connor Hall, (defenseman)- Kitchener Rangers (OHL): 26gp, 0g 6a, 63 PIMs, +9
—The rough and tumble 3rd round pick in 2016 is leading the OHL in penalty minutes so far this season. His point production is way up too, as it should be as an older player in the league, but coming off an injured 2016-17, it’s nice to see him at least getting more games.
#19 Clayton Phillips (defenseman)- Muskgeon Lumberjacks (USHL): 11g, 4g+5a
—2017’s third round pick was just named USHL’s defenseman of the week and is having a very fine season in that league.
#18 Niclas Almari (defenseman)- HPK Hameenlinna (SM-liiga): 19g, 1g+3a
—The Athletic’s Corey Pronman recently said of Almari: “Almari will be pressed for ice time on a loaded D-unit for Finland at the World Juniors, but looks like a nice two-way defenseman who can skate and move the puck OK.”
#17 Kaspar Bjorkqvist (winger)- Providence College: 14gp, 5g+2a
—A nice progression for the 20-year old second rounder from 2016, who has started producing better offensive numbers in his sophomore season at Providence. He’s already exceeded last year’s goal total (3) and is second on the team early this year with 5.
#16 Anthony Angello (Center) Cornell: 10gp, 2g+5a
—The 6’5 junior center has nearly matched last season’s assist total of 8.
#15 Sam Lafferty, (RW)- Brown: 9gp, 3g+2a
—Lafferty is a senior and his boxcars are down slightly from previous years, but that’s probably not a huge concern. The big question around him will be if he wants to sign with the Pens at the end of his season or go the UFA route and pick his own team.
#14 Adam Johnson, (forward)- Wilkes-Barre: 16gp, 2g+6a
—The 23-year old college UFA signing made a little bit of noise with an impressive NHL camp and has settled into a fine rookie season in the AHL.
#13 Dominik Simon (forward)- Wilkes-Barre: 17gp, 3g+12a
—Perhaps one of the more under-thought of prospects among the fanbase, the 23-year old Simon is the current leading point scored for WB/S. It remains unknown if his skill level would translate to the NHL, but he’s probably the first forward call-up right now if one is needed.
#12 Jean-Sebastien Dea (center)- WB/S: 17gp, 5g+7a
—Solid as always in the AHL but seems to have hit his ceiling after a fairly bland training camp where there were NHL jobs to be won.
#11 Zachary Lauzon (defenseman)- Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL): 11gp, 0g+2a
—Again, from Pronman: “I was critical of the Penguins for picking Lauzon at No. 51 and still am to an extent given his low offensive potential, but I definitely see some shutdown potential as he skates well, is quite good in his physical play and can make stops.”
#10 Josh Archibald, (RW)- Pittsburgh: 2gp, 0g+0a
—The good news is that he made the NHL roster! The bad news is he needs waivers to be sent down, so he’s been stashed on the team as the 14th forward and has been a healthy scratch in 24/26 games to start the year, with no end in sight.
#9 Teddy Blueger, (C)- WB/S: 17gp, 3g+6a
—Still toiling in the AHL, where he’s on pace for a career high in points, but that pace is only 40 points. Now 23-years old, can the former 2nd rounder still have a meaningful NHL career? Starting to look like a window is closing on his NHL prospects, though he is a solid AHLer.
#8 Filip Gustavsson (Goalie) - Lulea (Sweden): 3-4, .894 save%, 2.59 GAA
—At 19, he’s a backup in Sweden’s top league which is cool. Will be interesting to see how much playing time he gets in the upcoming World Junior Championships. Seems about as good a goalie prospect as any in Europe at this point, but will still be over there developing at least until 2019.
#7 Derrick Pouliot
—He gone. The saga concludes as Pouliot is traded and leaves the organization with a whimper much like other 1st rounders of his era like Joe Morrow, Beau Bennett and Simon Despres.
#6 Zachary Aston-Reese (LW)- WB/S: 15gp, 2g+7a, 25 PIMs, +10
—A much anticipated signing but perhaps overvalued as well. Aston-Reese wasn’t close to making the NHL team out of camp, despite the opportunity to do so. He’s cut his teeth in the AHL (literally) and had a wisdom tooth issue that cost him some time, but appears to be stabilizing. At 23 the clock is ticking.
#5 Tristan Jarry (G)- Pittsburgh: 2-0-2, .907 save%, 2.83 GAA
—Injury to Murray means Tristan Jarry ascends to be (at least temporarily) the top goalie in the organization. 2017 is wild you guys. But the 22-year old hasn’t looked out of place in the best league in the world, now we’ll see a golden opportunity for him to cement a place in it with strong performances as the go-to guy.
#4 Daniel Sprong, (RW)- WB/S: 17gp, 9g+5a, -1
—It could be a while before everyone’s favorite prospect makes it back to the NHL. “The reports that I've been given say that his overall game isn't there yet,” Rutherford said. “There's still work to do. The play without the puck, that kind of thing. At this time, I've not been given the recommendation for him to be recalled.”
That said, he’s 20 years old and the Pens are loaded at right wing anyways. Patience is bitter but it’s fruit is sweet and all.
#3 Olli Maatta defenseman- Pittsburgh: 26gp, 2g+9a
—Olli is on pace for 28 assists, which is pretty cool since he only had 27 assists combined from 2014-17 in 142 injury-filled games.
#2 Jake Guentzel LW- Pittsburgh: 26gp, 11g+6a
—The 2017 playoff darling started a little quiet for his first full NHL season but has roared through November where he’s now up to a tie for the team lead in goals and is on pace for 35 on the season.
#1 Matt Murray G- Pittsburgh: 11-7-1, .906 sav%, 2.95 GAA
—In the grind of his first regular season, Murray’s had to contend with a sloppy team defense in front of him and then an injury from getting run over. Some adversity for the two-time Cup winning rookie to handle, let’s see how he bounces back.