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During this lull in the NHL schedule, what better opportunity do we have to turn our attention beyond the usual hustle and bustle of the regular season and check out the young players in the Penguins organization?

Every summer, PensBurgh ranks and counts down the list of the top 25 young players with ties to the Penguins. Some are located in distant European outposts. Some are in college or in the Canadian junior system. Some may be just one step away from the NHL in Wilkes-Barre. Sometimes, the Penguins even find a young player good enough to play in the show.

Here’s our 2022 roster and rankings, updated by the respective seasons of prospects/juniors. In cases where players split time in different leagues, we will show the one with the most games played this year.

#25. Nolan Collins, Sudbury (OHL) – 39 games, 5G+8A, 39 PIM. A big linebacker (6’3, 194 pounds) who can move quite well, Collins is a great pick with late-round upside. Ideally, he would raise his statistical profile a bit more at the OHL level at this point, would like to see more production from him.

#24: Colin Swoyer, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 16gp, 0G+4A, 4 PIM. Well, college free agent signings aren’t always going to be the next John Marino, but you never know until you try. Swoyer has played in the AHL/ECHL back and forth in his pro rookie season and turns 25 next month. He may have a pro career, but an NHL future doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

#23 Jonathan Gruden, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 32gp, 11G+5A, 30 PIM. It’s been a torrid time in the AHL in December, just when the NHL Penguins needed a fourth-line center due to an injury to Ryan Pauling. That great time helped Gruden make his NHL debut, playing three games with Pittsburgh. There is a roadmap for how he returns. be a high energy, defensively responsible, PK capable fourth line.

#22: Ty Glover, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 26gp, 2G+2A, 7 PIM. A fairly quiet start to his professional career, which was a big jump in levels from the NCAA. Year 1 will likely be about learning and adjusting, next season will be big to see how far Glover can go.

#21 Kirill Tankov, SKA Saint Petersburg (VHL) – 1gp, 0G+0A, 0 PIM. Unfortunately, Tankov suffered a broken neck on the ice in his first game of the season. Long-term predictions for his future vary, but it will clearly have a major negative impact on his playing career.

#20 Judd Caulfield, University of North Dakota (NCHC) – 27gp, 8G+7A, 10 PIM. This late-round pick was always trying to “play” his way to the pro levels. He projects to be a hard-working low lineman, but his NCAA statistical profile isn’t all that impressive now in his fourth year at UND. He is eligible for an additional year, but will also turn 22 soon. Probably doesn’t have much more to learn or grow on the ice at that level.

#19 Corey Andonowski, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 36gp, 7G+6A, 50 PIM. A fast favorite in Wilkes, the rookie is highly motivated and good things are happening for him. He’ll be 24 soon and the long-term upside may be limited, but he’s a fun watch as a Patrik Hornqvist/Brandon Tanev little brother type of player. Also already on the older side of hockey prospects.

#18: Jordan Frasca, Wheeling (ECHL) – 14gp, 0G+2A, 0 PIM. We had high hopes after a big season in the OHL last year, but Frasca struggled as a rookie, hampered by a foot injury. Played two games with Wilkes and just a handful in the ECHL. He’s young at 21, but still has a lot of development to do.

#17. Isaac Beliveau, Gatineau (QMJHL) – 34 gp, 6G+27A, 18 PIM. Scott Wheeler said in The Athletic. Beliveau may be weak rushing and moving back, but he’s become one of Q’s best defenders with his stick and offense.

#16 Taylor Gauthier, Wheeling (ECHL). 16 gp, 8-7-1, .896 save%. It’s been back and forth from Gauthier Wilkes to Wheeling as the thankless “fifth goalie” in the organization this year. He posted a solid .916 save% in eight AHL games and overall had a perfectly solid rookie campaign as a young goaltender.

#15: Alex Nylander, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 40gp, 17G+17A, 8 PIM. Now an AHL All-Star, the former high draft pick and NHLer has proven he can score at that level. But did his play away from the court and at the competitive level show the Penguins that he has an NHL future? Based on the fact that they haven’t been recalled once, maybe there has been. Or maybe it will require more patience.

#14. Nathan Legare, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 40gp, 5G+5A, 23 PIM. Although he has been slightly more productive over the year, it would have to be considered a disappointing season for the highly touted Legare to not improve his stats. profile in the AHL. A player with that good shot shouldn’t have so few goals. But he still hasn’t figured out how to score or advance in the AHL.

#13. Tristan BroseUniversity of Denver (NCHC), 27gp – 9G+11A 12 PIM. Wrote about Brose’ spectacular season (and possibly early career) turnaround here , check it out.

#12: Rivis Ansons, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 29gp, 1G+2A, 16 PIMs. There’s not much stopping the boxcars, but Ansons has done relatively well in the AHL at a young age. Latvia’s Teddy Bluger was still an NCAA junior. Long way to go for Ansons who can/should develop more in the future.

#11: Lukas Svejkowski, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 26gp, 2G+6A, 8 PIM. A highly skilled but undersized player, Svejkowski has had some understandable growing pains as a rookie coming up to the AHL. Can he come close to where teammates like Puustinen and Nylander are now in a few years?

#10: Philip Lindbergh Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 17gp, 6-9-1, .901 save%. Lindbergh’s second pro season has unfortunately been a lot like his first when it comes to spending a lot of time on the injury list. While not without talent, he appears to be closer to breaking in or making a case for the NHL in the near future.

#9: Philip Halander, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 26gp, 8G+17A, 8 PIM. Haalander is back on the rink after a nasty fall a few weeks ago and being out on a stretcher. He has played two NHL games this season and is a strong candidate to graduate full-time to Pittsburgh next season. His upside/role may be limited, but he’s a solid, responsible player that coaches like and can trust.

#8 Valtteri Poustine, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 41gp, 16G+18A, 20 PIM. Has been productive in his two years with Wilkes, but Pittsburgh’s brass has been in no rush to give him an NHL look. Do they see him breaking out as a really good AHLer?

#7 Joel BlomqvistKarpat (SM-liiga) – 21 games, 6-5-8, .907 save%. He’s doing well in Finland, and seems excited to begin his North American journey once his contractual obligations are up.

#6: Sam Poole, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 13gp, 4G+0A, 6 PIM. Made his NHL debut in October, but has been away from the organization since early December on personal leave.

#5: Drew O’Connor, Pittsburgh (NHL) – 18gp, 3G+2A, 2 PIM. O’Connor is making strides this season. he also had 22 points in 20 AHL games. In Pittsburgh, several injuries on offense have opened up for O’Connor to become a regular in the lineup lately, and his play on the big stage has grown and improved in front of everyone.

#4: Ryan Pauling, Pittsburgh (NHL) – 35gp, 5G+6A, 2 PIM. Pauling appears to have found a place in Pittsburgh and as a result could be the fourth line center for the short term future. He has good size, moves well and has shown some production. An impressive and encouraging start to what was more or less seen as a turnaround in last summer’s Petry for Matheson trade.

#3. Owen PickeringSwift Current (WHL) – 37gp, 6G+21A, 12 PIM. Pickering has made modest strides in his stats, as one would expect from a first-round talent. Overall, he’s done exactly what the team would have wanted and hoped for in a draft+1, without any major surprises, either for better or worse.

#2: PO Joseph, Pittsburgh (NHL) – 45gp, 2G+10A, 28 PIM. In his fourth professional season, Joseph finally graduated to the NHL. He plays limited minutes as a protected third pair, but also stands out from time to time with how well he can move around the ice with smooth and beautiful skating. The question now becomes whether the Penguins can eventually step up his role to the second pairing. Or does he emerge as a third-pair player?

#1: Ty Smith, Wilkes-Barre (AHL) – 28gp, 4G+10A, 10 PIMs. Smith played nine games in Pittsburgh, but fell out of the team’s NHL plans this season due to dire numbers (both against the salary cap and players. him). Overall, Smith is touted as having hiccups in his own end and can be defensive at times. But he’s also a good skater and really good in the offensive zone with his paw distribution and point-to-net shots.


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