This was regarding an article published, on August 12th, 2015, by ESPN hockey writer Corey Pronman, when he ranked the organization/farm systems of all 30 NHL teams.
Now? September 12th, 2016? The Penguins are not only the most recent Stanley Cup Champions, and are "all-in" as you'd call it, but they have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL to boot. (Okay, perhaps not the best, but it sure as heck isn't near the bottom!)
Right now, I'm going to rank the top five prospects in the Pittsburgh Penguins system that were drafted/signed out of college.
5. G, Sean Maguire
Hockey's Future's analysis of Sean Maguire:
"Sean Maguire is a hybrid goaltender who possesses a solid frame and very good overall natural talent. He is athletic with good lateral movement, but he also has a calm demeanor. Maguire has a tendency to maybe overplay the puck or scramble around too much in his crease. He is considered raw at this point, but has the size and athleticism to potentially develop into an NHL caliber goaltender."
4. C/LW, Teddy Blueger
"Blueger is a Latvian forward who has played in North America since he was 14. He is a skilled, two-way player who possesses a great hockey IQ. He also plays with a fair amount of physical flair, and is not afraid to get dirty in the corners or down low. He is also very good at faceoffs. Physically, Blueger must continue to get stronger, but he has added a fair amount of strength since he was drafted in 2012. His skating is by no means a red flag but upgrading his explosiveness would make him a significantly greater threat offensively."
3. C/LW, Thomas Di Pauli
Jake Baskin's (@baskincase) analysis of Thomas Di Pauli:
"He's an undersized center with good defensive skills who just started to really develop his offensive game in the past couple seasons. I'm not sure if he's gonna play in WBS as a center or winger but I feel he's best suited in the middle."
2. D, Ethan Prow
Ethan Prow, a product of St. Cloud State, was signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 29th, 2016. In the 2016-16 college hockey season, Prow was: a Hobey Baker finalist, named to the All-NCHC First Team, named the NCHC's Player of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, and Offensive Defenseman of the Year. When he made his way to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after signing his first NHL contract, he only played a handful of games (5, in addition to 2 playoff games) where he managed to record his first AHL (and first pro-hockey) assist. This was understandable however, as head coach Donatelli was far into the season and already had a trusty d-core. If Prow doesn't earn a spot in Pittsburgh's training camp, he'll definitely have a full-time role this time around, in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Hockey's Future's analysis (and projected future) of Ethan Prow:
Prow skated for St. Cloud State and was one of the top defenseman in college hockey as a senior in 2015-16, signing a two-year entry-level contract with Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent in March 2016. He will challenge for an NHL roster spot in training camp and in all likelihood begin his pro career with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2016-17. The 23-year-old projects as a middle pairing attacking defenseman with power play potential."
1. C/LW, Jake Guentzel
If I'm being honest here, this wasn't that hard of a decision. Guentzel easily ranks #1 atop this list, and that is in no way whatsoever an insult to the other players on this list. Through his three seasons at the University of Omaha-Nebraska, Guentzel only failed to register over a point per game one time, and he was just 3 points under the amount of games played. The Penguins 2013 draft pick signed an amateur tryout contract with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on March 22nd, 2016. In his first 11 games with the Baby Pens, he managed 2 goals and 4 assist for six points. When the AHL playoffs started, however, Guentzel decided to become one of the best performers of the postseason. In a measley 10 games, the first-time AHLer exploded for 5 goals and 9 assists, accumulating 14 points in the playoffs. He had the most assists of any rookie in those AHL playoffs. On May 23rd, 2016, Guentzel had signed a 3-year entry level contract with the NHL club. Expect him to challenge for a roster spot in training camp.
Hockey's Future's analysis of Jake Guentzel:
Thanks for reading! Comment below which prospect you're most excited for!