A checking line player with a projectable frame checks in in the Pensburgh list of the Top 25 players under the age of 25 this year at #20, in the form of Judd Caulfield from North Dakota.
#19: Corey Andonovski
2021 Ranking: N/A
Age: 23 (March 26, 1999)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/195 lbs.
Acquired Via: signed as free agent (March 2022)
Wearing No. 27 for the Princeton Tigers in all of these highlights, we’ll kick it off with a nice assist last season after fighting through some traffic on the rush.
Gettin' Greasy!— Princeton Men's Ice Hockey (@princetonhockey) January 22, 2022
Spencer Kersten goes to the net and backhands home a great pass from Corey Andonovski for a 3-0 lead at Lynah! pic.twitter.com/FEqIeaECeN
Here’s another skilled play to drive the puck into the zone, dip around the net and center it to setup another goal.
Us: What play do you want to run?— Princeton Men's Ice Hockey (@princetonhockey) January 22, 2022
Corey Andonovski: "No-look reverse into bar-down from Kersten" sounds good.
Us: Cool.#SCTop10 | @Buccigross | @NCAAIceHockey | @ecachockey | @IvyLeague | @chnews pic.twitter.com/JFtcgIPa99
Not quite the style and grave of an Ovechkin-esque PPG from the left circle, but Andonovski gets the puck away quickly and into the net. As seen in the tweet, Andonovski was a power play machine last season on a weaker NCAA program. He doesn’t project in the pros as a player who will be counted on to create a ton of points, but seeing a baseline of having this kind of skill and ability is encouraging.
One More Rip From Corey Andonovski.— Princeton Men's Ice Hockey (@princetonhockey) March 5, 2022
Ando wires his 6th PPG of the season. pic.twitter.com/GsBT4IjSOB
Finally, here’s a video from last month’s Penguin prospect camp in Cranberry with Andonovski mic’ed up and participating in some drills and a deeper look into some of the “real time” coaching and tips these players are receiving.
Despite a season lost to COVID in 2020-21, Andonovski emerged as one of the top undrafted players in the college ranks last season. Daily Faceoff’s Chris Peters ranked Andonovski the sixth best college free agent, writing:
The leading scorer at Princeton, Andonovski has had a steady stream of scouts filtering into Hobey Baker Arena to watch him this season. The senior forward has put up a career-best 21 points in 29 games while playing for one of the NCAA’s weakest teams. Andonovski did not play last season with Ivy League programs shut down, but he’s come back very strongly. Andonovski’s skating ability, the pace he can play at and good-enough offensive touch have made him an enticing option. As does the fact he’s a “true senior” at just 22 years old, which gives him a little more runway than some of the older prospects.
Andonovski chose to sign with Pittsburgh after drawing a good bit of interest around the league, and started his professional career with Wilkes-Barre last season. He appeared in five scoreless regular season games down the stretch and was an extra for WB/S’s brief foray into the playoffs.
This 2022-23 season will be a big one for Andonovski, who will have a year in Wilkes to see what his future could hold. The Penguins are intrigiued, Andonovski plays “angry” according to president of hockey operations Brian Burke and has the compete level and skating ability to project as a possible lower-line NHL player if he reaches his ceiling.
“It’s different coming from college,” Andonovski told the Tribune Review at last month’s prospect camp. “And that’s kind of what I expected. But there’s obviously still areas of your game that you can be strong, whether that’s being strong on pucks or being strong down low. Everybody is kind on a level playing field. I’m not the biggest guy anymore.”
His new coach J.D. Forrest talked to the Trib last month a little more about the transition and challenges ahead for Andonovski as he moves up against pros.
“It’s a whole new adjustment, especially coming from Princeton...into (the AHL). And I thought he did well,” Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach J.D. Forrest said. “You’re used to just overpowering guys left and right (in college), and now you’ve got to dig a little bit deeper to do that. You get surprised by some of the strength on the other side of the puck.
“It was great for him to get his feet wet with those first five games and know what he’s getting into. It gives him a whole summer to get prepared for it. I still think he’s on the stronger side of things. He’s a big, strong guy. He can move his feet. He’s going to have to try to utilize some of that speed and not just rely on his strength. But that will come with time.”
Time isn’t something Andonovski has a lot of, since next year will be his age-23 season. Due to his age, his entry level contract is only two seasons, putting a very limited window for him to show his stuff and grow at the AHL level to demonstrate just how much of an impact he could make as a professional player.