During last seasons incredible championship run, the Penguins were led by a few dominant forces. Phil Kessel was able to silence his haters, Matt Murray put up an amazing rookie performance, and Sidney Crosby solidified his spot as the world’s greatest. While Matt Murray was by far the Penguins best rookie, many players seem to overlook all of the other rookies that had quality minutes in Pittsburgh this season. Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, and Tom Kuhnhackl played crucial minutes as rookies in the playoffs. Along with these players, there’s a couple other players in the Penguins system that have a chanve to crack the lineup. Here’s a few rookies/AHL players that have a chance to wear a Penguins uniform this season.
David Warsofsky- A member of the Penguins last season, Warsofsky was claimed by the New Jersey Devils through waivers. If many Penguins fans forgot about Warsofsky, he was injured when referee Tim Peel slipped and knocked over the Penguins defenseman. David was brought up from the AHL due to injury, and if that happens again this year, surely Warsofsky will fill the gap. He was solid on defense and should be a great replacement defenseman.
Scott Wilson- Brought up with other players such as Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, and Tom Kuhnhackl, Wilson has a heck of a shot to even make the opening night roster. He scored goals in three straight games this season and looked to be a great offensive threat. Unfortunately, Wilson suffered a foot injury that required surgery and missed the entire championship run by the Penguins. With an offseason of healing and a strong training camp, Wilson has a great chance to start the season with the Penguins. While I don’t see Wilson playing much in the top six, expect him to be a bigger role player in the Penguins bottom six.
Oskar Sundqvist- After seeing his initial preseason play a few seasons ago, I thought Sundqvist was NHL ready. Thankfully, I am not an NHL General Manager. Sundqvist will fit in nicely as an injury replacement center for the Penguins, but with Matt Cullen now resigning, his chances of making the roster have decreased. There isn’t much offensive upside with Sundqvist, but his defensive awareness is very impressive. Sundqvist will be the Penguins future fourth line center, but for now, he will remain in the press box for the time being.
Jake Guentzel- A very pleasant surprise for the Penguins, Guentzel helps improve the Penguins depth and prospect pool. It will take some more seasoning in order for him to be NHL ready, but the Penguins have a great player in Guentzel. A their round draft choice in 2013, Jake spent three seasons at the University of Nebraska-Omaha before joining the Penguins late this year. Recording 14 points in 10 AHL playoff games, Guentzel was stellar for the Baby Penguins. Expect a midseason injury call up for Guentzel.
Carter Rowney- While there’s a slim chance that Rowney sees time with the Penguins this season, Rowney looked great with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season. Spending the last three seasons with the Baby Penguins, the Penguins extended Rowney to an NHL contract in March. This doesn’t mean Rowney is guaranteed a spot in Pittsburgh, it is encouraging to see the Penguins continuously find NHL calibre forwards. Scoring 24 goals and 56 points in 74 games last season in the AHL, Rowney has proven his offensive upside. If he begins the season at the same pace as last year, he should see some time in Pittsburgh.
Stuart Percy- A first round pick of Toronto in 2011, Percy was never able to blossom into the player that Toronto expected of him. Signing with Pittsburgh this offseason, Stuart is the Penguin’s newest reclamation project. After showing the rest of the league that the Penguins can rediscover talented offensive defenseman like Justin Schultz last season, Pittsburgh will hope to settle down Percy’s game. Percy has only ever played in 12 NHL games before and was never truly given a chance to show what he can do. If Percy can settle his game down and provide solid possession, then perhaps we will see him in a Penguins jersey at some point this season.