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Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: #5 - Valtteri Puustinen

Valtteri Puustinen has clawed his way from a seventh-round throwaway to the doorstep of the NHL.

NHL: MAR 11 Golden Knights at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 version of the Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25 countdown list continues with a look at Valtteri Puustinen, a forward who has clawed his way from a seventh-round throwaway to the doorstep of the NHL.

2023 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Departed
#25: Daniel Laatsch
#24: Cooper Foster
#23: Thimo Nickl
#22: Dillon Hamaliuk
#21 Mikhail Ilyin
#20: Jack St. Ivany
#19: Chase Yoder
#18: Emil Jarventie
#17: Nolan Collins
#16: Raivis Ansons
#15: Ty Glover
#14: Taylor Gauthier
#13: Isaac Belliveau
#12: Lukas Svejkovsky
#11: Tristan Broz
#10: Sergei Murashov
#9: Emil Pieniniemi
#8: Sam Poulin
#7: Jonathan Gruden
#6: Joel Blomqvist

#5: Valtteri Puustinen, RW

2022 Ranking: No. 8

Age: 24 (June 4, 1999)

Acquired Via: 2019 NHL Draft (Round 7 - No. 203 overall)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-9, 183 pounds

Elite Prospects resume:

In back-to-back seasons, Valtteri Puustinen has earned the distinction of being the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ leading point producer. In 2021-22, the Finish-born winger scored 20 goals and 42 points in 73 games played. Last year, he played in one fewer game and scored 24 goals and 59 points.

Puustinen was labeled as a restricted free agent earlier this summer, but the Pittsburgh Penguins secured his services for another year with a two-way contract.

From the Finnish leagues through the AHL, Puustinen has proven to be a generator of offense at every level. Even with his lean frame, he offers the Penguins valuable organizational depth from a younger player, something the team could not regularly say over the last handful of years. Such is the price of success.

Here is DobberProspects’ recap of Puustinen’s second year in North America.

Valtteri Puustinen followed his strong rookie campaign in North America with another standout season in the AHL. On a struggling Wilkes-Barre team, Puustinen once again paced the team in scoring, with 59 points in 73 games. He is a speedy winger who can fit up and down the lineup. At the NHL level, Puustinen looks to fit best as a transition-focused player who can provide support to whichever center he gets the opportunity to play alongside. I would look for Puustinen to be allowed to make the roster out of training camp in 2023-24. -Tyler Ball

The forward made a one-game NHL cameo during the 2021-22 season, and given his production in the AHL, all signs point to this player earning a regular look in a Pittsburgh sweater.

New general manager Kyle Dubas has already made his mark on Pittsburgh’s roster, bringing several new faces to the bottom six, the vast majority of which emphasize defense rather than offensive prowess, a skill that Puustinen has yet to fully integrate into his game to become more of a well-rounded player.

Perhaps the Kuopio native will get a look alongside Sidney Crosby while Jake Guentzel recovers from surgery.

But due to a lack of a true opening because of Rickard Rakell and Bryan Rust’s entrenched statuses in the top six on the right side, Puustinen may once again be relied upon as a top contributor in Wilkes-Barre rather than the Steel City.