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2017 Penguins prospects challenge roster is set

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A look at who to watch for in Buffalo this weekend as the Penguins prospects head north for the first action of the fall

Pittsburgh Penguins v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Penguins have announced their prospect roster for this weekend in a 4-team tournament in Buffalo. Also attending will be the Sabres (hi, Jason Botterill), the Devils (yo, Shero) and the Bruins (Cheat-town USA!)

A link to the roster is here, composed of some try outs, ECHL and AHL level players most of this list every year is fodder that’s soon forgotten. But also a few players involved will go on to bigger things, here are some of them:

Lukas Bengtsson (defenseman) — only kept off our Top 25 Players Under 25 due to lingering concerns and questions about his future (he’s battled after-effects of lyme disease in the past year), it’s great to see Bengtsson is back with the team and hopefully, presumably, healthy enough for game action. He was limited to just 16 AHL games last season as he dealt with being sick, if he can kick the symptoms he might have a chance to be a solid player.

Connor Hall (defenseman) — an important draft+2 season for 2016’s 3rd round pick (and #20 on our summer list) as he is coming off a season-ending shoulder injury from last year as well. Ought to be as good as any Penguin defenseman out there, and hopefully goes into the full training camp with some confidence from a strong performance here.

Zach Aston-Reese (forward) — along with Sprong, really will be the one to watch. Should be an impact player and difference maker in a setting like this as #6 on our list of young players tries to live up to a little bit of hype ever since signing with Pittsburgh in the spring.

Jan Drozg (forward) — the 5th round pick this summer, 18, is the youngest player the Pens are bringing to the tournament but may have one of the highest future ceilings. Will be interesting to see how he does in a brief taste of North American competition.

Adam Johnson (forward) — good in college, but now an older prospect at 23, it’s probably really important for him to get off to a great start for his future prospects in the pro game. He should be another stand-out type of player with his skill and experience.

Daniel Sprong (forward) — should be one of the best players on the ice, no matter who else is on it. The youngster dominated the Q last season and got some playing time in the AHL too. He should be a difference maker in this setting and gain a lot of momentum heading into training camp as a player with an outside but legitimate chance of making the NHL roster.

Overall, the Penguins team isn’t the flashiest; New Jersey is bringing #1 overall pick Nico Hischier, for instance. But there certainly are a couple of guys to watch and if nothing else this weekend is a reminder that the 2017-18 season is beginning to ramp up and it will be time to raise the banner on opening night before you know it.

Also from the Penguins:

Pittsburgh will play in the opening game of the Prospects Challenge on Friday, September 8 at 3:30 PM. The Penguins will also play on Saturday, September 9 at 3:30 PM against New Jersey, before concluding with a night contest against the Sabres on Monday, September 11 at 7:00 PM.

All three games will be broadcast live on penguins.nhl.com with Josh Getzoff handling play-by-play duties. Michelle Crechiolo and the Pens' social media team will be on hand to provide coverage all weekend.