The Pittsburgh Penguins prospect system isn't exactly flooded with top tier prospects. According to Scott Wheeler of The Athletic, the Penguins currently have the 29th ranked prospect system in the NHL. This article is the second of a series of articles breaking down the Penguin's prospects by position.
5. Nathan Legare
The shine has worn off the Penguin's 2019 3rd-round draft pick, but that doesn't mean he isn't still one of the top prospects in the system. The 21-year-old power forward experienced a rough first season in professional hockey, scoring seven goals and 16 points in 59 games with the AHL Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins last season.
Legare's stock has dropped quite a bit from where it was during his first year in the organization. Billed as the tag team prospect along with Samuel Poulin, Legare impressed Penguins scouts early with his quick wrist shot. He scored two goals in a preseason game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, showing a glimpse of his scoring acumen, but struggled to translate that into success at the AHL level. This season will provide plenty of answers on Legare, who will look to grow and recapture his scoring touch in year two in Wilkes-Barre.
4. Lukas Svejkovsky
Svejkovsky will become one of the youngest members of next year's AHL Penguins team as he jumps from juniors to professional hockey. The 20-year-old forward prospect will bring a scoring flair to the Penguins organization, utilizing a combination of speed and a quick release shot.
Svejkovsky impressed many, including Penguins director of player development Tom Kostopoulos. "He pretty dynamic. He's shifty and can make things happen offensively," Kostopoulos said. "I think there will be some things to learn along the way, but what he can do with the puck and what he can create is pretty special."
3. Filip Hallander
This season could be a make or break year for Filip Hallander. The 2018 2nd Round pick is heading into the final season of his entry-level contract. Hallander has already been traded for and by the Penguins. Hallander debuted in North America last season, scoring 28 points (14-14) in 61 games with the AHL Penguins. He also made his NHL debut on April 7th against the New York Rangers, logging 5:52 of ice time.
At 6'1", Hallander has shown that he is not afraid to play the net front but has also shown the ability to score from a distance. The departures of Brian Boyle and Kasper Bjorkvist clear the path for Hallander to slide in as one of the first injury replacement options at the center position for the NHL roster.
2. Samuel Poulin
Similar to what we've seen with Legare, Samuel Poulin's shine has worn off over the past couple of seasons. When the Penguins selected Poulin in the first round of the 2019 NHL draft, he was the first Penguins top round draft pick in half a decade. Noted for his heavy shot and playmaking ability, Poulin struggled early last season after jumping from juniors to the AHL.
Something clicked mid-season, sending Poulin back up the prospect boards for the Penguins and finishing the season with 37 points (16-21) in 72 games. If Poulin figured something out late last season, it'll be interesting to watch if he can carry that over into his second year with the AHL Penguins and put a stamp on his turnaround.
1. Valtteri Puustinen
Of all the Penguin's prospects to make their AHL debut last season, Puustinen was the most impressive. Puustinen has shown the scoring habits necessary to graduate to the NHL level sooner rather than later, already becoming a top offensive threat at the AHL level.
While a bit undersized at 5'9", Puustinen shares the same hockey sense as a player like Jake Guentzel, finding soft areas in the offensive zone to create high-danger scoring opportunities. While Puustinen made his NHL debut last season and will be allowed to earn a spot on the opening roster, expect Puustinen to spend the beginning of the season back in the AHL.
Other Prospects to Watch (Tristan Broz - Zam Plante - Raivis Ansons - Kirill Tankov)
If you want to read our other Penguins prospect rankings, click the link below.
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