Just one week from today there will be players on the ice wearing Pittsburgh Penguins’ logos and playing the hockey. It will be in Buffalo for the annual Prospect Challenge.
From the team here’s the schedule:
Friday, September 6
3:30 PM - Game vs. Boston
Saturday, September 7
3:30 PM - Game vs. New Jersey
Monday, September 9
12:30 PM - Game vs. Buffalo
New Wilkes-Barre coach Mike Velucci will be getting his first look behind the bench at the young players in the Pens’ organization being as he’ll serve as the coach for this event. The roster is:
Goalies (2): Emil Larmi, Alex D’Orio
Defensemen (8): Calen Addison, Niclas Almari, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Michael Kim, Zach Lauzon, Jon Lizotte, John Marino, Liam Ross
Forwards (14): Anthony Angello, Jordy Bellerive, Chase Berger, Chris Brown, Jan Drozg, Brandon Hawkins, Renars Krastenbergs, Sam Lafferty, Nathan Legare, Jake Lucchini, Sam Miletic, Billy Moskal, Samuel Poulin, Josh Williams
This group looks a lot better than what the Pens brought to Buffalo last year, with a list of names riddled with UFA invitees. This list will feature 13 of the Pensburgh 2019 Top 25 Under 25 list, led by 2019 draftees Poulin and Legare.
One possible bummer is that Justin Almeida and Kaspar Bjorkqvist — two players held out of June’s development camp — also do not appear on the roster above. It remains to be seen if either will be able to participate at the start of the regular training camp, but not being active for this certainly raises the possibility that either or both might not get off to the quickest of starts in their first pro season here.
Overall though it will be nice to see Olivier as a prospect and see where he is at, as well as checking in on guys like Addison, Marino, Bellerive and Miletic. Some of the older and stronger players like Lizotte, Lucchini and Angelo should also shine.
And it’s nice to see former second round pick Lauzon is still in the mix, the team and player are still figuring out what the future might hold for the youngster who has had a lot of injuries, even though his rights officially expired over the summer. He could be anywhere, but if he signs a pro deal it almost assuredly will be with Pittsburgh.
This prospect challenge is but a small footnote and opening to the season, but it’s great reminder that the real action isn’t very far behind.