February prospect review

Time to recap the month of February. We lose Filip Gustavsson as he was moved to Ottawa in the Brassard trade. I’m opting to lose Aston-Reese given his impression at the NHL level, and I’m also choosing not to reinclude Simon even though he is technically re-assigned. I’m not going to include either of the prospects acquired in the Brassard deal as they have been loaned back to their original teams and were clearly contract moves.

Forwards:

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

It’s been 12 games since the last recap for Bellerive and he just keeps doing the same ridiculous things. He’s added 10 goals and 9 assists through those goals to get up to 87 points (43 goals, 44 assists) in 61 games. He is doing everything he possibly can to drag Lethbridge to the playoffs right now and I’m very excited to see him get to WBS so we can evaluate how he does ins

Jan Drozg, 6’0, 174 (5th round, 2017) – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) 34 (13/21) – 40 games

Drozg got into 13 games in February, only managing 2 goals but adding 13 assists in the process to put him at 49 points in 53 games and the clear lead in team scoring for the god awful Cataractes. While you’d like to see higher goal scoring numbers, points are points and if Drozg is having to essentially one man army the puck into the offensive zone as I’d guess he is given the quality of his team, it can certainly be forgiven. He’s having a decent season all things considered.

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

Spending all of the month in WBS as the Penguins have been unnaturally healthy and he was passed over by Aston-Reese due to his more pro ready game, Sprong has appeared in 11 games for the Baby Penguins and registered 2 goals and 10 assists to get him to 44 points (21 goals, 23 assists) in 43 games this year. The issue remains with Sprong, however, regarding even strength production, as both goals this month have been PP goals. The same issues plaguing Sprong remain.

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

12 games for Miletic as an IceDog in February resulted in 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points. This is a bit of a tail off for the masses of production that we’ve seen from him so far this year, which follows with Niagara being an especially high scoring team. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of Miletic. Blowing up solely as an overager isn’t exactly the sign of a great prospect, but the Penguins seem to know what they’re doing with these things.

Kasper Bjorkqvist, 6’1, 205 (2nd round, 2016) – Providence College (NCAA) 28 games, 11 goals, 5 assists

Having only appeared in 6 games since the last update, Bjorkqvist added 2 goals and 1 assist in those games to bring him to 19 points (13 goals, 6 assists) in 34 games. Not exactly a stellar return, but he is just a sophomore and it’ll be interesting to see if he makes a big jump as a junior. There’s not a tonne of offensive upside there, but he has a bottom 6 skillset and adds PK abilities.

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

Dea is still ticking over in the AHL, appearing in 11 games, registering 2 goals and 6 assists for 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in 48 games for WBS on the year. Dea’s biggest issue is that he doesn’t really bring anything special to the table. He’s perfectly adequate at the majority of things in hockey, but he doesn’t add anything you can’t find elsewhere. He may make room for himself as a 13th forward next year, but it’s not super likely.

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

Blueger spent a couple of weeks up in the NHL as a scratch but didn’t manage to appear in any games. As such, he only got in 6 games at the AHL level, and added 3 assists in the process. This gives him 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 48 games in the AHL, which is reasonable given the defensive deployment he gets. There’s a chance he makes the NHL next season as a 4C, depending on what happens with Sheahan’s contract.

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

Another disappointing month for DiPauli with a goal and an assist through 11 games putting him at 18 (10 goals, 8 assists) through 47 games this year. DiPauli started off the year very well, but has slowly petered off, and while he’s still a solid PK guy, there doesn’t appear to be much of a future there as an NHL player.

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

The 6 game pointless streak that Johnson ended last year on became a 13 game streak as he was pointless through the first 7 games of the 11 he played in February. In the last 4 games, he added 3 goals and 2 assists. The masses of inconsistency in Johnson’s game is of concern, but follows with the update provided by Guerin about his slightness and how he wasn’t prepared to turn pro. Hopefully he comes back stronger next year.

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

Olund is up to 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) through 45 games, which gets him to the 20th best point producing in the SHL under the age of 24. I am very excited about getting Olund over to North America and having him get used to the more physical game because his point return considering his age, linemates and team quality lend themselves to a player who may be a steal.

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

The hulking Pavlychev has got himself up to 14 points (9 goals, 5 assists) through 34 games for Penn State, and while that’s an improvement on his freshman year, there’s still a lot of growth needed for him to be seen as a legitimate prospect. Hopefully his junior year will bring him some more offensive opportunities.

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

Angello has cooled a little from his hot January, adding 1 goal and 4 assists through 8 games to be at 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 29 games for Cornell. He’s still a very good candidate to turn pro and add some size to the center depth the Penguins have. He’s certainly got a pro ready body and I’d like to see him come out this summer.

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

8 goals and 11 assists through 29 games for Lafferty is a disappointment given his play last year, but he’s clearly lacking any help from his team mates as he has taken the lead in scoring despite his absolutely awful start to the year. His ATO will be an interesting time to see how he stacks up to the AHL in terms of physicality.

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

Another month of splitting his time between Wheeling and WBS has allowed Tiffels to get into one game at the AHL level, where he did score a goal and seven games at the ECHL level, where he added 5 goals and 2 assists. Despite a rash of injuries to WBS, he hasn’t yet found a role at that level full time.

Defence:

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

Phillips’ struggles to produce offense have led to him only getting into 2 games this month, in which he failed to register a point. It’s a little disappointing for Phillips to enrol and fail to register a point, but jumping into university half way through a year is difficult to do, especially as an 18 year old. Next year will be much better for him.

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

Returning from injury, Bengtsson got into 3 games before taking a check to the head and likely suffering a concussion as a result. An incredibly frustrating couple of months for Bengtsson who appears to have the least luck this side of Beau Bennett.

Dane Birks, 6’2, 183 (6th round, 2013) – Michigan Tech (NCAA) 8 games 1 goal 2 assists

Dane Birks added 1 goal and 2 assists in the 8 games he appeared in this month, getting him to 5 goals and 11 assists in 37 games. His offensive upside is clearly limited, and as such, we’re not sure on a pro projection, but it’s interesting that he has jumped a little as junior.

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

Getting into 9 games, and registering 2 goals and an assist in the process, Almari has certainly tried to produce, but his ice time is odd. He started out the month registering over 20 minutes, but has bounced around 16-17 minutes recently. Regardless, playing as a third pairing D of a men’s team at his age is very good and I am excited to see him on NA ice.

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

Just 1 assist in the 7 games we last checked in is disappointing for Reilly and there’s some clear inconsistency to his game. He does have a lot of physical tools with his size and skating, but it’s difficult to get a grasp on the ceiling for him if he struggles to stay consistent.

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

Hall once again picked up an injury and only ended up appearing in 3 games, where he registered 0 points. I think Hall’s rights will be allowed to expire, as he’s not really shown much growth. It’s somewhat beyond his control due to the injuries, but if he can’t handle the junior schedule playing the way he does, he’s very unlikely to contribute at any pro level.

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

I didn’t really get the pick at the time, and his draft+1 year isn’t endearing me to Palojarvi. He’s still in the Finnish junior leagues and not exactly excelling. I don’t see anything there, and I don’t really know what the plan is going forward for him.

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

5 games with 4 assists for Masonius and I very much expect him to be lured out of college by the Penguins once he finishes the season. He’s got little else to prove and could do with learning how to use his frame at the pro level as there’s going to be an adjustment for him.

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

Lauzon finally got into some games, 6 to be exact, but he delivered 0 points in those games. There were questions asked when the Penguins went way off the board to get a low scoring, defensive D from the Q and his injury riddled, low production year hasn’t really settled any nerves.

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

Despite the offense not quite being there for Jones, I do think it’s something to do with UNO itself and how it uses the D as Jones is 2nd on the team with his 1 goal and 10 assists in 30 games this year. In February itself, he played 6 games and added 3 assists. Not an amazing return, but some offensive life is decent for someone with Jones’ talents.

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

Taylor is still bouncing between the AHL and ECHL pretty freely, getting into 5 AHL games registering 0 points and 7 ECHL games, where he registered 6 assists. Taylor’s defensive game at the AHL is a little more advanced than I thought it would be, albeit difficult to quantify due to the lack of statistics tracking these things available. He should get himself a full time spot next year.

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

Prow has benefited from a mass of defensive injuries for WBS to appear in 11 games this month and in response, he has registered 4 assists and 1 goal through those games. His defensive game isn’t quite as advanced as Taylor’s, but he’s certainly on his way. The biggest issue for Prow is that he’s already 25, and as an upcoming RFA, it remains to be seen if he gets retained. He’s shown some growth, but is it enough? I don’t know.

Goalie:

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

The last remaining ‘prospect’ goalie for the Penguins, his awful team is making his season a bit more miserable than it needs to be. He’s at 3.86 GAA and .896%, which looks not ideal, but I cannot make it any clearer through these recaps just how awful Saint John is. Will be interesting if he gets into WBS on an ATO.

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