Our annual, 2021 version of the top players under the age of 25 in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
2021 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Departed
#25: Santeri Airola
#24: Jan Drozg
#23: Will Reilly
#22: Clayton Phillips
#21: Chase Yoder
#20: Kirill Tankov
#19: Raivis Ansons
#18: Lukas Svejkovsky
#17: Judd Caulfield
#16: Jonathan Gruden
#15: Kasper Bjorkqvist
#14: Jordy Bellerive
#13: Cam Lee
#12: Drew O’Connor
#11: Joel Blomqvist
#10: Isaac Belliveau
#9: Calle Clang
#8: Filip Lindberg
#7: Nathan Legare, RW
2020 Ranking: 7
Age: 20 (January 11, 2001)
Height/Weight: 6’0”/205 lbs.
Nice cross-crease pass that finds Legare’s stick. You almost have to feel for the goaltender being left out to dry. Not the most difficult goal Legare will ever score, but got into position and promptly placed the puck in the net.
Legare seems to have a knack for getting in behind opposing defenses. All alone and buries this one, too.
The @ForeursVD double their lead on this pretty redirect from @Nathan_Legare! #PresidentCup pic.twitter.com/ud4foCuR0K— QMJHL (@QMJHL) June 2, 2021
The @ForeursVD double their lead on @Nathan_Legare’s league-leading 13th of the playoffs! #PresidentCup pic.twitter.com/DJHVxKFEJC— QMJHL (@QMJHL) May 30, 2021
In front of the net in a scrum, on a breakaway, a redirect or a 2-on-0, these highlights are telling you what you may have already heard about the 20-year-old. A loose puck for Legare is easy work.
Nathan Legare scored four goals tonight. Val d’Or absolutely continues to steamroll teams en route to the QMJHL finals. 6-3 final tonight.— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) May 21, 2021
Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Nathan Légaré finds open ice in the neutral zone, collects a stretch pass and scores on the breakaway.#LetsGoPens pic.twitter.com/OHYHjs0aCz— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) May 18, 2021
Legare was sprung out of a cannon here, holy smokes. Another breakaway, another goal. While these breakdowns are obviously less common amongst the professionals, having the ability to maintain composure and beat the goalie is a plus.
Nathan Légaré (@Penguins) flashed some unreal hands on this goal for the @ForeursVD in @QMJHL action on Sunday.#LetsGoPens https://t.co/E8LuilZX2r pic.twitter.com/Ign6K8y2jo— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) March 22, 2021
This was a pretty goal. From the neutral zone onward, Legare had one thing on his mind. He puts the defender on a swivel chair and beats the goalie on the short side.
Updated Scouting Reports (via DobberProspects):
December 2020 – The Penguins’ third-round pick from 2019 was traded to the Val D’or Foreurs in exchange for Justin Sullivan and five draft picks. This should prove to be a positive move in the winger’s development as Baie-Comeau is once again looking like a fringe playoff team. In his final year of junior, Legare has started the season with five goals and 14 points in as many games. He should be able to produce at a much higher rate on the first-placed Foreurs. -Kyle Watson
January 2021 – Legare has been assigned to Val D’or after being cut from training camp. He did look much better surrounded by quality players than on the struggling Baie-Comeau Drakkar this year. -Kyle Watson
August 2021 – The Penguins wanted Legare to work on his skating and it is evident that the 20-year-old has been doing just that. He was able to find more space behind defenders this year, getting on to the end of passes and driving to the net with improved straight-line speed. He was dominant on Val d’Or’s playoff run, scoring an impressive 14 goals in just 15 games – including a four-goal outing to eliminate Chicoutimi in the Conference Finals. The 2019 third-round pick will likely spend a year or two in Wilkes-Barre to continue to work on playing with more pace. -Kyle Watson
Legare’s final season in the QMJHL was a memorable one to say the least.
Split between the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and the Val-d’Or Foreurs (the same junior team fellow 2019 draft pick Samuel Poulin was on), Legare played in 33 regular season games, notching 16 goals and 38 points. Oh, and the Quebec native scored a whopping 14 goals while putting up 18 points in 15 playoff games with Val-d’Or.
Legare finishes his junior career with 225 points in 224 regular season games played. The “Q” is often labeled as an offensively-driven league, so seeing these career totals are encouraging signs as Legare heads into his first professional season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Both Poulin and Legare’s names have been thrown around over the last few years as players who could make that surprise jump into the Penguins’ starting lineup with no professional experience. Both forwards are just 20 years old and have thrived in the QMJHL.
With all this said, however, unless Legare (and Poulin) explodes during training camp and preseason play, expect to see the right winger playing on the other side of the state with the Baby Penguins during the 2021-22 season. Spending a year or two in the AHL will help Legare refine his game before he gets a full crack at the bright lights of the NHL.
He’s maintained his NHL-caliber shot, he can be relied upon in all three zones, and his size is a definite plus, especially with the new Hextall/Burke regime. The only knock has been his skating ability. If Legare continues to improve on that front, then the forward has all the tools needed to succeed at hockey’s highest level.
The arrow is very much pointing up for Legare. Now, let’s wait and see how he adapts to the pro ranks.