For teams like the Penguins, college free agents are a good way to add talented older prospects without needing to use draft picks. For Pittsburgh, this avenue has been necessary to travel since they have often spent draft picks in trades for immediate NHL help. Over the years names like Conor Sheary, Zach Aston-Reese and Casey DeSmith have entered the organization as college FA’s and turned out to be NHL contributors.
Last summer, new GM Ron Hextall signed goalie Filip Lindberg in a similar manner, though Lindberg was drafted and chose not to sign with Minnesota, for a slightly different situation. The best undrafted college FA’s typically end up signing in late February or early March as their NCAA seasons end and their jump to the pro ranks is ready.
Corey Pronman at The Athletic had an article on his view of some of the top targets, and one name was very familiar.
4. Bobby Trivigno, LW, UMass-Hockey East Trivigno has been a very good college player and was a huge part of UMass winning a national title in 2021. He’s a very skilled and competitive forward who doesn’t shy from playing physical despite a quite diminutive frame. He displays good vision and has a decent wrist shot too. His skating for his size will be the major issue at higher levels.
Trivigno is a big scorer at the collegiate level. He’s a name that stands out because he was an undrafted invite to the Penguins’ summer prospect development camp in the summer of 2019. His feisty play and skill level impressed me that week, Trivigno was as good or better as some of the players that the Pens actually drafted, and his stock has only gone up since with success at UMass lately.
One problem though is that the summer of 2019 is a long time ago in many regards. It was pre-pandemic, and when Jim Rutherford, Bill Guerin and Patrik Allvin were probably the most important front office members in Pittsburgh. All of them, of course, are gone, and event though director of player development Scott Young has been around and is still in place, it’s accurate to say there isn’t a ton of organizational memory remaining about Trivigno.
Other teams are sniffing around too, Trivigno and the Rangers were in talks about attending a development camp in September 2021, but due to scheduling and the NCAA school year having begun, Trivigno wasn’t eligible to attend and also play for UMass this season.
Trivigno is not a big player, but did remind of a Conor Sheary-with-an-edge type of winger with the hands and skill to finish.
It remains to be seen if this would be the type of player that the Pens and their new front office would be interested in signing. Hextall was able to nab Lindberg, though his rookie season has been derailed by an injury suffered in November, and signing a top NCAA player could be a nice way to help re-stock the system with talent for an organization that could always use more of it.