Our annual 2020 version of the top players under the age of 25 in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
#22 Jan Drozg, RW
2019 Ranking: #21
Age: 21 (April 1, 1999)
Acquired Via: 2017 draft, 5th round
Height/Weight: 6’2, 165 pounds
Jan Drozg ruins the shutout. pic.twitter.com/ElOs5LDf4K— LGA585 (formerly LetsGoAmerks) (@LGA585) December 12, 2019
It’s never particularly encouraging for a serious NHL skater prospect to spend significant time in the ECHL level, but for Jan Drozg it was a necessary step in 2019-20. Drozg was only in his age 20 season, and did well to score nearly at a point-per-game level (23P in 24 games) at the ECHL level when he couldn’t find a spot in the lineup during the AHL season.
But he was able to play 32 AHL games and showcase some decent hands and scoring ability to add five goals and eight points in a small role.
It’s important to remember that Drozg is still incredibly young and coming from a long way. A native of Slovenia, Drozg had to find his way to Sweden to some lower junior leagues as a minor before joining Shawinigan of the QMJHL. Unfortunately that was a very bad team in the Q, so Drozg has long been a “big fish in a small pond”. In 2018-19 Drozg led 14-49-5 Shawinigan with 62 points, only one other player (eventual 2020 first round pick Mavrik Bourque, then in his age-16 season) had more than 42 points.
So Drozg has never competed at the level of the American Hockey League, just one step away from the NHL. At age 20 last year, it’s more understandable why stints in the ECHL when the Wilkes-Barre lineup made sense for Drozg to get more experience playing pro hockey.
Drozg started the season in Wheeling and was their leading scorer upon his first call-up to the AHL. He didn’t find a large role in the AHL, but was on somewhat of an upswing scoring two points in the final four games of the season prior to the stoppage.
As of now, like much else in the hockey world and world at large, plans are on hold. Drozg was given a short-term loan to HK Olimpija Ljubljana, a team that plays in Slovenia. It won’t be the best competition but at least gives him a place to train and play games for the time being. Drozg will re-join the Pens’ organization whenever training camp starts.
Drozg remains intriguing because it looks like there is untapped potential there. He has good size at 6’2. He is a right handed shot that skates well enough and his hands are better than his feet. The highlights above show he has the skill to beat AHL caliber goalies with his shot.
Listed at 165 pounds, Drozg needs to get stronger and add weight, as do any and most all 21-year olds with NHL aspirations. More than that, he just needs a chance to continue to get AHL ice time and compete and continue to grow. He’s still young enough and green enough to hope that in time there could be some development into something bigger as a pro hockey player.