Penguins’ biggest needs, highest expectations

It’s been 15 years since Sidney Crosby and Evgeny became Pittsburgh penguins.

The team won several Stanley Cups and remained in contention throughout that time, but the youths took the back seat. As the Crosby-Malkin era draws to a close, the range of possibilities for penguins also appears to be at an all-time low.

In the past seven seasons, the Penguins have picked only once in the first round, and Samuel Boleyn picked 21st in 2019. For five of those seasons, the Penguins didn’t pick until the 1950s. It was the cost of winning, and the scale was due.

In fact, hockey news Pittsburgh’s odds pool ranked it the worst of all 32 NHL teams… which is an accurate depiction of their situation. Drew O’Connor was the youngest player to wear the Penguins this season in the NHL. The 23-year-old has only scored five points in 22 games.

Like Wile E.Coyote, the penguins have already come out beyond the cliff. When they realize it, the franchise is in a state of relegation to the NHL vault and a long, deep rebuild.

Wilkes Barr/Scranton, left winger, Sam Boleyn (22). (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The most important prospects

Sam Bolin – It wasn’t Pauline’s dream season in the American Hockey League. In fact, it was a healthy scratch at times. Pauline is a natural center, and after returning to that position, his playing style improved, and he finished with 16 goals and 37 points in 79 games as a rookie in the AHL.

The news was the fact that Pauline had not received a call-up for National Hockey League. Calling him ready for the NHL is a stretch, though depending on who’s re-signing with Pittsburgh, and who’s scouting for free agency, he might take a longer look at camp, but would be better off starting the season again in Wilkes Barre/Scranton.

Pittsburgh’s 2019 first-round pick has high expectations as the highest pick the penguins have made since 2012.

Joel Blomqvist – Heading into the season, the goalkeeper has been an organizing point for the Penguins’ depth. They used that depth to get rid of Kali Klang, who was Bloomqvist’s competitor for the future of Pittsburgh’s tuck. With this trade, Blomqvist became the rightful heir.

Fortunately, he’s been an astonishing 20 Liiga games for Karpat this season, posting a 1.32 GAA and 0.946 blocking percentage. When it really mattered in qualifying, those numbers improved to 1.10 GAA and 0.950.

The 6-foot-2 goalkeeper is known for his calm demeanor and controlling movements in the nets, making saves easy. He’s been slowed down by a concussion this season, but he’s healthy and should start the season as the number one with Wilkes Barr/Scranton in the AHL. Don’t expect Pittsburgh to rush into a potential goalkeeper in the future, as much as the lure of his talent.

Philip Hallander Pittsburgh’s 2018 second-round pick finally came to North America last season after three seasons with SHL’s Lulea. Hallander seemed more comfortable in the AHL as the year progressed and projects as a two-way forward and strong in his position.

He arrived intent on getting an NHL job out of training camp, but only managed one NHL game. This year, it will be his sixth lowest turn as the Penguins must start incorporating the youngsters into their squad.

one to watch

When it comes to late shorts, Jordan Frasca Fits the definition. A seventh-round pick for OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, Frasca began his career with Junior B. A trade with Kingston a year later changed his fate, and when he came back from the pandemic lost season at OHL, it looked like a new player had appeared.

Frasca’s overall game and scoring ability completed Kingston’s Venom Shane Wright. He’s scored 42 goals this season and will look to translate that match into the AHL to open up the 2022-23 campaign.

Nathan Leger He got to camp this year much faster, but his transition to the AHL hasn’t been without challenges. Returning to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season will be his chance to take lessons from his first year in the AHL and prove he’s still on the right track to join the Penguins at some point.

ready to step in

PO Joseph He plays a tight gap and controls the fairways with an active stick. He could have been a full-time member of the Penguins this season, but as we mentioned, youngsters weren’t a priority.

Joseph plays under control and has a smooth stride. What it lacks is an offensive upside. He won’t be the next coming from Kris Letang, but he will be a capable defender in the third pair who can play in the second pair when needed.

Requirements in the draft

Aside from Joseph, who looks set to join the NHL roster, the penguins don’t have a blueliner inside the top five, and possibly the top 10,. It is an organizational need that will double when Letang leaves.

Pittsburgh also needs to swing in the opening rounds when adding a skilled position. It’s unlikely Pauline will be the number one pivot in the NHL, and time is running out for the Penguins.

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