Making it to the NHL is a dream for prospects fighting through the Pittsburgh Penguins system. Only a select few players can reach the premiere level of their sport, and even fewer can remain once they do.
Kasper Bjorkqvist reached the summit last season as he made his NHL debut but has chosen to sign a contract with Finland's Oulun Kärpät. While Bjorkqvist could still sign a contract and return to the Penguins organization, his leaving opens the door for other Penguins prospects to step up.
The most likely beneficiary of this vacancy is Filip Hållander. Hållander also made his NHL debut last season, playing 5:52 in a game against the New York Rangers in early April. His instant promotion up the depth chart makes him a candidate to potentially see more playing time at the NHL level next season.
In his first season in North America, Hållander finished with 14 goals and 28 points for the AHL's Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.
Another name that may be more prevalent next season is Lukas Svejkovsky. The Penguins selected Svejkovsky in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Draft, but he still has one year of eligibility in the Western Hockey League.
While he probably won't be a candidate for the NHL this upcoming season, he will have an opportunity to make the roster in Wilkes-Barre and, with the new vacancy in the center depth chart, could be given an invitation to training camp.
The final prospect that could benefit from Bjorkqvist's departure is Nathan Légaré. Légaré's stock is at an all-time low after a rough rookie season in Wilkes-Barre. Coming off a tremendous Memorial Cup run in 2021, Légaré finished his first pro season with seven goals in 57 games played.
Légaré is expected to play a more significant role on Wilkes-Barre's top power play unit next season and, in general, should receive more opportunities overall as the Penguins will look to get more out of their 21-year-old right-wing prospect.
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