January Prospect Review

4th monthly recap, and a few more changes. Jarry will be added back onto the list next month (as he only appeared in 1 game this month) after losing the backup job to DeSmith and Simon will be removed as he’s seemingly carved out a role for himself in the NHL full time. All stats are accurate up to January 31st

Forwards:

Jordy Bellerive, 5’10, 194 (UDFA, 2017) – Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

In the 14 games since we lasted checked in Jordy Bellerive, he added 13 goals and 8 assists to get him to 68 points (33 goals, 35 assists) on the year. He has also been bestowed the honor of being named captain of Lethbridge after they traded away their previous captain. That trade also left Bellerive as the only player on the Hurricanes who is over a point per game. Lethbridge aren’t particularly good, but by the nature of their weak division, they’ll sneak into the playoffs more than likely. After being bounced early, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bellerive play some significant minutes for WBS.

Jan Drozg, 6’0, 174 (5th round, 2017) – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

Drozg has added 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) in the 9 games following the last update and despite his best efforts, Shawnigan have managed to fail their way into being the worst team in Quebec. Drozg has sole possession of being the leading scorer on his team, and with the trade deadline passing, he’s unfortunately going to have to stick it out with the team. His team’s failing may benefit him, however, as he’ll be free to join WBS on an ATO at the end of March.

Daniel Sprong, 6’0, 181 (2nd round, 2015) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

While he managed to get 8 games in at the NHL level, with 2 goals and 1 assist as the return, Sprong managed all those points in 1 game while going pointless for the other 7. While he didn’t play bad, he was clearly not impressing and was sent back to WBS, where he’s put up 1 goal and 3 assists in the 3 games he’s appeared in since being returned. It doesn’t appear there will be a spot for Sprong up in the NHL this year, so expect him to continue to light the AHL on fire.

Sam Miletic, 6’0, 196 (UDFA, 2017) – Niagara IceDogs (OHL)

Miletic has appeared in 13 games with a trade to Niagara coming in between, and has been on a blistering pace, adding 12 goals and 13 points in those games. This is especially impressive as Niagara are far from a high scoring team. Perhaps it is time to admit I was wrong about Miletic as a prospect, and that he has a future that I didn’t see. I’m interested to see how he translates to the AHL.

Kasper Bjorkqvist, 6’1, 205 (2nd round, 2016) – Providence College (NCAA)

Currently on quite a decent run with 8 games played with an additional 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) since our last check in, Bjorkqvist is trending in the right direction. Any additional offense would be nice from this point from Bjorkqvist, as we wait patiently to see if his junior provides an additional bump in offence for him.

JS Dea, 5’11, 175 (UDFA, 2013) – WBS Penguins (AHL)/Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)

In the 6 games Dea appeared in before being called up to the Penguins, he added 4 goals and 2 assists and then appeared in 5 games for the NHL Penguins, potting his first NHL goal in the process. He has slowly been earning more trust from Mike Sullivan, but the 4th line still sees Crosby and Sheahan rotate in as their center from time to time. Regardless, Dea has shown the ability to be a depth forward in the NHL and that’s a big step for him.

Teddy Blueger, 6’0, 185 (2nd round, 2012) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Blueger’s offensive output dropped off a little bit, putting up 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) in the 11 games since the last update, but he’s still playing exceptional defensive hockey despite an ever revolving cast of linemates with call ups and demotions affecting the WBS roster on a nightly basis. Not much has changed in the way of a projection for Blueger, and I expect him to keep ticking over the way he has.

Thomas DiPauli, 5’11, 187 (UDFA, 2016) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

A disappointing month for DiPauli with only 3 assists through the 11 games he appeared in. Without a doubt, the passing of his family relative that led to his absence around Christmas time had a profound impact on DiPauli and it will take time for him to rebound. He’s certainly not playing badly, but it’s obvious there’s a lot going on behind the scenes for him.

Adam Johnson, 6’0, 175 (UDFA, 2017) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Johnson started out January really well, getting 1 goal and 3 assists through the first 4 games of the month, but has since gone pointless in the 6 games that he appeared in following. This inconsistency is another product of his slight frame and something that will likely be addressed by the Penguins in the offseason. There’s clear talent there.

Linus Olund, 5’11, 185 (5th round, 2017) – Brynas IF (SHL)            

Brynas still aren’t good, and that only allowed 3 additional points (all assists) in the 9 games Olund. This isn’t a great return, but his 16 points on the year through 39 games puts him in the top 30 for scorers under the age of 24 in the SHL. I’m excited to see him over in the AHL where he’ll play with some better linemates relative to the quality of the league.

Nikita Pavlychev, 6’7, 212 (7th round, 2015) – Penn State (NCAA)

Pavlychev has only added 2 assists in the 8 games he’s played through January, which leaves him at 12 points through 28 games on the year. Not the best month, which seems to be a common theme right now, but we’ll see how the rest of his year goes. Pavlychev is still a sophomore, so there’s time for him to develop a little more, but not a great month.

Anthony Angello, 6’5, 205 (5th round, 2014) – Cornell University (NCAA)

9 goals, 2 assists, 8 games for Angello through January. Certainly cannot complain about that return and Angello is up to 20 points (12 goals, 8 assists) through 21 games this year, giving him the lead on Cornell for point scoring after a ridiculous return in the month of January. If he continues along a similar path, I very much expect an ELC to be tabled for him by the end of his college career.

Zach Aston-Reese, 6’0, 205 (UDFA, 2017) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Aston-Reese appeared in all 11 games for WBS in January, scoring 4 goals and 8 assists in the process while scoring a goal in each of his last 3 games. Much like Angello, ZAR has bucked the trend of downtrending January for the Pens prospects and has got himself to a respectable 28 points (9 goals, 19 assists) through 40 games. Aston-Reese appears to be more confident with his shot as of late and I expect his goal scoring to continue to trend upwards.

Sam Lafferty, 6’1, 185 (4th round, 2014) – Brown University (NCAA)

Lafferty has 2 goals and 2 assists in 9 games, and this hasn’t been a great year for Lafferty after breaking out as a junior. Certainly not helped by Brown being awful at hockey, but they also weren’t good last year and that didn’t stop Lafferty from putting up points. I’m interested to see how he does on an ATO.

Freddie Tiffels, 6’1, 201 (6th round, 2015) – WBS Penguins (AHL)/Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)

Adding 3 assists in 6 games for Wheeling, as well as 1 goal and 1 assist in 8 AHL games, Tiffels has bounced up and down between Wheeling and WBS pretty freely. There’s still not much upside there for me, so I don’t expect him to carve a role for himself in WBS for a little while yet.

Defence:

Clayton Phillips, 5’11, 174 (3rd round, 2017) – Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA)

Phillips enrolled in Minnesota, where he’s appeared in 9 games through the month. He has, unfortunately, not managed to register any points in the time he has got for Minnesota, but he has managed to pick up 19 PIMs, which is impressive if nothing else. His offense will trend up as he is not long turned 18, so he’s still young.

Lukas Bengtsson, 5’10, 192 (UDFA, 2016) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Can’t tell you much about Bengtsson as he’s been on the shelf with an upper body injury all of the month. He has recently returned to practice, though, so expect to see him pop into a game soon.

Dane Birks, 6’2, 183 (6th round, 2013) – Michigan Tech (NCAA)

Dane Birks only added 2 assists in the 8 games he’s played, but he’s never been an offense first guy, so anything he adds is plenty useful. I still believe the Pens will try to convince him to turn pro, but it remains to be seen how his limited offense will translate to the pro game. It’s not a death knell because Michigan Tech aren’t very good, but it’s not a great sign.

Niclas Almari, 6’3, 210 (5th round, 2016) – HPK (Liiga)/LeKi (Mestis)

Still suffering from some suffocating systems, Almari hasn’t added much to this point return, but the sooner his season is over, the sooner he gets over to North America and likely never leaves. I’m very excited about his upside and I cannot wait for him to hit NA soil.

William Reilly, 6’3, 196 (7th round, 2017) – RPI (NCAA)

1 goal, 3 assists in 8 games through January for Reilly, putting him at 7 goals and 5 assists through 27 games and on course to exceed his returns from last year, which got him drafted as an overager. I expect him to continue to trend positively, and his size/skating combo makes him an intriguing prospect going forward.

Connor Hall, 6’3, 190 (3rd round, 2016) – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Hall has appeared in 11 games through the month of January, adding 4 assists in that time. A slight uptick in offense doesn’t make him much in the way of a prospect and I’m still of the belief that there won’t be much of a desire from the Penguins to tender an ELC to Hall. Injuries just derailed him as a prospect.

Antti Palojarvi, 6’1, 176 (6th round, 2017) – Luuko U20 (Liiga U20)

He’s certainly putting forward a better year than his draft year, but I don’t see much there for Palojarvi either. He’s not got a great offensive game, and being good defensively in a Finnish junior league doesn’t make me excited about his upside.

Joseph Masonius, 6’0, 190 (6th round, 2016) – Connecticut (NCAA)

Masonius has hit 5 points in his last 7 games, a goal and 4 assists. A little undersized for a guy who isn’t producing a tonne of points, but he possesses a very strong defensive game with good puck moving ability, so he’s a standard Penguins pick. I expect the Pens will also try to lure him out of school as he hasn’t got too much left to prove in college.

Zachary Lauzon, 6’1, 190 (2nd round, 2017) – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)

Still no games for Lauzon. As such, no update. Sorry friends.

Ryan Jones, 6’2, 192 (4th round, 2016) – University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA)

Jones added 3 assists in his last 8 January games. He’s still of questionable upside in regards to NHL impact, but the Nebraska-Omaha D are not relied upon to greatly produce offense so there may be some room there for improvement when he turns pro, but I wouldn’t hold out much hope.

Jeff Taylor, 6’0, 185 (7th round, 2014) – Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)

Taylor, much like Tiffels, has spent much of the month bouncing between the ECHL and the AHL, appearing twice to WBS without registering a point and then returning to the ECHL for 7 games in which he registered 2 goals and 5 assists. Taylor’s a victim of a stacked blue line, but has looked pretty solid when he has played in the AHL. I expect him to earn a full time spot next year.

Ethan Prow, 5’11, 185 (UDFA, 2016) – WBS Penguins (AHL)

Appearing in 6 games for WBS and registering 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists), Prow had a solid month of January and looked remarkably in control while playing in the AHL. While I’m not sure of his NHL upside, he’s carving a role for himself as a depth D at worst. Not what the Pens had hoped for as a highly touted college free agent, but not a bad pickup.

Goalie:

Filip Gustavsson, 6’2, 183 (2nd round, 2016) – Lulea HF (SHL)

Gustavsson was named in the media team of the WJC in Buffalo as the best goalie in the tournament and while I thought he was the 2nd best, it’s a nice honor. It boosted his confidence, clearly, too as he has bounced back to an outstanding 2.31 GAA and .913% in the SHL for a middle of the pack Lulea team. He already has an ELC that will kick in next summer, so Gusatvsson is going to be the next highly touted goalie to play for the WBS Penguins.

Alex D’Orio, 6’3, 196 (UDFA, 2017) – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

I have nothing but sympathy for D’Orio who is trying his best to keep his head above water with a terrible Saint John team. He’s currently at an unpleasant 3.81 GAA and .894%, but it’s super difficult for him to put up anything worthwhile with the team he’s on. I’m sure he can’t wait for the season to be over.

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