Another month has gone by, and January wasn’t the prettiest for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The month and new year started outdoors at the NHL’s showcase event, the Winter Classic. It wasn’t one to remember very fondly for the Pens, who fell 2-1 and saw starting goalie Tristan Jarry get hurt along the way.
Unfortunately, both of these events could be seen a setting a negative tone that lingered on for a while. The injury would keep Jarry out for the majority of the month, and Pittsburgh would have a 5-5-3 record along the way.
NHL Player of the Month: Sidney Crosby
Crosby appeared in all 13 games of January, leading the Pens in assists (12) and points (17). Crosby’s production was also consistent, he recorded at least a point in 10 of the 13 games in January and leaves the month riding a seven-game point streak (3G+9A).
The captain’s amazing season keeps rolling on, he’s still on pace for a 40-goal and 100-point year, at the ripe age of 35. Not too much more to say other than to sit back and enjoy the show that Sid is putting on this season. Almost every shift, period or game he could be on the verge of doing something special, yet again.
AHL Player of the Month: Alex Nylander
Nylander put up 6G+5A in 12 games down in Wilkes this month, en route to being named to the AHL All-Star team.
When The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler recently ranked the NHL’s prospect pools (Penguins 29th woohoo!) he made a note that Nylander at 24-years old was outside the age range for his prospects. But also said, “there are still folks around hockey who think he’ll put it together and get back to the NHL as a middle-six winger.”
Are the Penguins among those folks? So far it’s difficult to find any evidence of that, Nylander was an early cut to training camp and has seemed off the NHL radar from the time he entered the Pens’ system in January of 2022.
Often times patience is needed for players to prove themselves and break through some of the roster jams, but at this point Pittsburgh can’t be but so patient with an older player who already boasts NHL experience.
Prospect of the Month: Tristan Broz
It was a lonely time for the Penguins at the 2022/23 World Junior Champioships, with exactly zero prospects participating in the hockey world’s biggest and brightest tournament for youngsters.
Broz is a player that’s flying under the radar a little, he was Ron Hextall’s very first draft pick for the Penguins in the second round of 2022. Broz’s first year in college as the University of Minnesota didn’t go very well and he ended up transferring to the University of Denver for this season.
The start of this season at Denver didn’t look much better, with Broz only producing 3G+4A in his first 17 games of the season. Lately though, Broz has been red hot, scoring 13 points (6G+7A) in his last 10 games, finally getting rewarded and seeming to figure out the college game and blossoming in real time.
Wheeler wrote the following about Broz in the aforementioned prospect review:
He’s capable of being more of a creator and utilizing spacing to find openings. He understands how to pull defenders in so that he can make a play through them into the gaps in coverage they’ve left behind. But he has struggled to do that against college defensemen and he hasn’t yet played in a role that has encouraged him to get back to that. He can also drift to the perimeter in control at times. And while I like his one-timer from the flank on the power play, he’s not going to get those kinds of opportunities unless he starts manufacturing more at even strength (where his on-ice results have actually been positive in college).
While Broz is only still a sophomore in college and has a couple more developmental years to go, it probably is fair to say at this point that you would hope a former second round pick would step up to become a impactful forward at the NCAA level. It could be argued that Broz is in the process of doing just that. It would be nice if his development hits a high gear and over the next year or so he’s able to justify his high draft slot by mastering the collegiate level and signing to go pro with the Pens.