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September 25, 2013
Top 10 Prospects 2013
Pittsburgh Penguins

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Pittsburgh Penguins Top 10 Prospects

1. Olli Maatta, Defense
2. Brian Dumoulin, Defense
3. Derrick Pouliot, Defense
4. Scott Harrington, Defense
5. Oskar Sundqvist, Center
6. Tristan Jarry, Goaltender
7. Teodors Blugers, Left Wing
8. Anton Zlobin, Right Wing
9. Eric Hartzell, Goaltender
10. Josh Archibald, Right Wing

Organizational Ranking: 23rd

System Overview

The Penguins, through recent drafts and amateur acquisitions, have made a notable effort to improve their goal prevention, as their top prospects are mostly defensemen and goaltenders. Their top four prospects, all defensemen, are all different kinds of players as well. Maatta is a great two-way player, Dumoulin is a big puck mover who can defend, Pouliot is an offensive dynamo, and Harrington is a great shutdown player. While Pittsburgh has some decent forward prospects, they lack significant players at that position, and they do not have many noteworthy talents close to NHL ready.

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1. Olli Maatta, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 5th
Date of birth: 08/22/1994
Age: 19
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 198
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 57 GP, 8 G, 38 P (London, OHL)
Acquired: First round, 22nd overall in 2012 by Pittsburgh

Year in Review: Maatta was the top defenseman for the OHL champion London Knights, and he was again a top defenseman in that league. However, he had an average World Juniors.

The Good: Maatta has elite two-way hockey sense: his advanced defensive play, quick game processing, calmness under pressure, and offensive instincts deliver a ton of value to his game. He will not wow anyone, but he finds ways to make plays on every shift. Over the last 12 months, he has become more confident with the puck, and he makes many above-average offensive plays. He projects as a do-it-all defenseman.

The Bad: Maatta's skating has always been an issue, particularly his mechanics. He has worked well to improve his lower body strength to get his speed up another notch. His stride still looks wonky, however. He could still gain more strength as well.

Projection: He could be a top pairing defenseman.

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2. Brian Dumoulin, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 2nd
Date of birth: 09/06/1992
Age: 22
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 210
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 73 GP, 6 G, 24 P (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL)
Acquired: Trade from Carolina; second round, 51st overall in 2009 by Carolina

Year in Review: Dumoulin was one of the top defensemen on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in both ends during his rookie AHL season, showing he is right on the cusp of being NHL ready.

The Good: Dumoulin is a big, strong defenseman who uses his body well when engaging the opponent. He makes quality defensive reads, and he is an effective shutdown player thanks to his stick, positioning, and brawn. Dumoulin also displays above-average skill as a puck mover, with impressive hands for a big man. He has solid power play skills, and he will jump into the attack when he senses an opportunity.

The Bad: Dumoulin's skating has gotten better, but he still moves at a slightly below-average level. He can still make the odd bad decision as well.

Projection: He could be a good second pairing defenseman.

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3. Derrick Pouliot, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 6th
Date of birth: 01/16/1994
Age: 19
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 203
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 44 GP, 9 G, 45 P (Portland, WHL)
Acquired: First round, eighth overall in 2012 by Pittsburgh

Year in Review: Pouliot was one of the top offensive defensemen in the WHL, and was a key part of Portland going to the Memorial Cup.

The Good: Pouliot is a highly-skilled offensive player who has a lot of flash and dazzle to his game. He is a very good skater, with an explosive first step and agile movements. He is dangerous with the puck due to his great vision and high-end puck skills. Pouliot controls the play very well from the point or off of the rush, and he contributes a lot with space on the power play.

The Bad: Pouliot's physical and defensive games both still needs work. He has improved his positioning, but poor defensive-end reads can still victimize him. He also is a tad small, and despite putting on more bulk, he can get outmuscled for pucks.

Projection: He could be a second pairing defenseman who is a top-end power play option.

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4. Scott Harrington, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 7th
Date of birth: 01/01/1993
Age: 20
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 202
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 50 GP, 3 G, 19 P (London, OHL)
Acquired: Second round, 54th overall in 2011 by Pittsburgh

Year in Review: Harrington was a First-Team All-Star in the OHL, and a top player for Canada at the World Juniors.

The Good: Harrington is a very gifted defensive defenseman who is advanced beyond his years in terms of his defensive acumen. Harrington gets in lanes, closes his gaps well, positions himself effectively, anticipates the play, and wins battles. He makes a good first pass, and he shows above-average mobility. Harrington works hard, and he has some grit to his game.

The Bad: Harrington's offensive game is not his strong suit, and while he has some offensive ability, he does not have the "killer instinct" needed to go on the attack.

Projection: He could be a second pairing defenseman who plays tough defensive minutes, but he will likely not contribute to an NHL power play.

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5. Oskar Sundqvist, Center
2011-12 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 03/23/1994
Age: 19
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 196
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 38 GP, 17 G, 33 P (Skelleftea, J20 SuperElit)
Acquired: Third round, 81st overall in 2012 by Pittsburgh

Year in Review: Even though he did not get much time in the SHL, Sundqvist was pretty impressive in Sweden, with good showings in international play and in the junior league.

The Good: Sundqvist is a big, strong, skilled center. He has the frame to protect pucks effectively, and he also has physical game value when he drives the net and gets involved in the high percentage areas. He has above-average puck skills, and he can make plays in tight and in open ice to create offense. Sundqvist's instincts are slightly above average, as he will move the puck around well.

The Bad: Skating is Sundqvist's most notable area of issue. His feet are heavy, and he can have trouble putting pressure on defensemen with speed. His defensive positioning could use work as well.

Projection: He can be a below-average second line center.

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6. Tristan Jarry, Goaltender
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 04/29/1995
Age: 18
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 183
Catches: Left
Statistics: 37 GP, .936 SV% (Edmonton, WHL)
Acquired: Second round, 44th overall in 2013 by Pittsburgh

Year in Review: When he was in the lineup, Jarry was one of the top goaltenders in the WHL, leading the league in save percentage, but he shared the net with Laurent Broissoit.

The Good: Jarry's natural abilities stand out. He is a toolsy, athletic goaltender who moves well post to post, has quick feet, and recovers well from the first shot. He displays quality reflexes and is able to make tough stops outside of when he has to square up pucks. He is a competitive goaltender who fights through screens and battles for loose pucks. Jarry reads the play at a quality level as well.

The Bad: Jarry's rebound control could use some work, and he tends to leave the puck loose a little too much. He could also bulk up some more.

Projection: He could be an average starting goaltender.

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7. Teodors Blugers, Left Wing
2011-12 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 08/15/1994
Age: 19
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 165
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 37 GP, 6 G, 19 P (Minnesota State, NCAA)
Acquired: Second round, 52nd overall in 2012 by Pittsburgh

Year in Review: Blugers was up and down in his freshman season, but he showed well in international play.

The Good: Blugers is a skilled player who brings a lot of components to the table. He has above-average to plus puck skills, and he displays great coordination and creativity with the puck. He reads the play well, makes good decisions, and has the ability to slow the tempo down to move the puck around. Blugers can be used on the point on the power play and quarterback it. He is quick, with a quality top gear. Despite his size, he plays tough, and he will go the net.

The Bad: Blugers needs a lot of work on his frame, as he is small and needs to put on a lot of strength before turning pro. He also has to work on his defense.

Projection: He has top-six potential, but he is a long ways away.

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8. Anton Zlobin, Right Wing
2011-12 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 02/22/1993
Age: 19
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 198
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 61 GP, 29 G, 91 P (Val-d'Or, QMJHL)
Acquired: Sixth round, 173rd overall in 2012 by Pittsburgh

Year in Review: Zlobin finished off his QMJHL career by finishing top 10 in league scoring. He earned an entry-level contract from the Penguins.

The Good: Zlobin is a gifted playmaker who can create a lot of offense. He is at his best when given time to work with the puck, as his vision can flash top end, and he can be pretty dangerous on the power play. Zlobin has above-average hands as well, and he certainly has some flashiness to his game. He also features an above-average shot. Zlobin is about an average skater, with a good first step.

The Bad: Zlobin's all-around game is not the best. His defense and physical games can leave you wanting. There is also a question if he is dynamic enough offensively, given his size.

Projection: He could be a below-average second line winger, but he has above-average uncertainty on his projection.

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9. Eric Hartzell, Goaltender
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 05/28/1989
Age: 24
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 205
Catches: Left
Statistics: 42 GP, .933 SV% (Quinnipiac, NCAA)
Acquired: Signed as a collegiate free agent by Pittsburgh

Year in Review: Hartzell had a great final college season, where he was his conference's top goaltender. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as best college player.

The Good: Hartzell is a big goaltender with above-average athletic ability. Already 24 years old and in his physical prime, Hartzell's frame is filled out, and he covers the net well. His side-to-side movements are quality. Hartzell reads the play at a desirable level, knows how to position himself to square up pucks, and generally makes good reads in between the pipes. He battles well, and he can be tough to beat down low. He could be an NHLer soon.

The Bad: Hartzell does not have a glaring weakness other than the fact that he is not a very dynamic talent. Given his age, he likely does not have a ton of development left in him.

Projection: He could be a fringe starter or good backup goaltender.

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10. Josh Archibald, Right Wing
2011-12 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 10/06/1992
Age: 20
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 183
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 39 GP, 19 G, 36 P (Nebraska-Omaha, NCAA)
Acquired: Sixth round, 174th overall in 2011 by Pittsburgh

Year in Review: Archibald notably improved his offensive output, ranking second in goals and points on Nebraska-Omaha.

The Good: Archibald is a very good skater with legit high-end speed. He brings a ton of energy and grit to every shift, and even at his size, he has a solid physical game. With his speed, he pressures defensemen well, and he can be a nuisance to deal with. Thanks to his intangibles, he is a solid defensive forward, and he will go the net well.

The Bad: Archibald really lacks in terms of offensive ability. He can flash some average offensive instincts here and there, but he is not all that skilled. He can be a limited north-south player at times.

Projection: He could be a bottom-six forward.

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The Next Five

11. Scott Wilson, Left Wing: Wilson can do a little of everything. He can skate, handle the puck, and make plays. He may be a tweener, but he has potential.

12. Nick D'Agostino, Defense: D'Agostino is a gifted offensive player who moves the puck well, and he has good hands. His defense has improved, but he could still use work.

13. Tom Kuhnhackl, Left Wing: Lack of playing time has hurt Kuhnhacklís development, as he has played under 50 games over the last two seasons, with only 13 last year. When he is healthy, he is a skilled playmaker.

14. Dominik Uher, Left Wing: Uher is a very good skater who brings a lot of physicality and energy to the table. He may just be a potential fourth liner, but there is enough to his game where he could maybe play a higher role.

15. Jayson Megna, Center: Megna is a pretty good skater with some offensive skill, but he remains a work in progress.

The Sleeper: Jake Guentzel, Center

Guentzel is a talented puck possessor with very good offensive instincts. He is small, and about an average skater. If he can get an extra gear in his speed, he could elevate his game to the next level.

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Pittsburgh Penguins Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2013 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Olli Maatta, Defense
2. Beau Bennett, Right Wing
3. Simon Despres, Defense
4. Brian Dumoulin, Defense
5. Derrick Pouliot, Defense
6. Scott Harrington, Defense
7. Oskar Sundqvist, Center
8. Tristan Jarry, Goaltender
9. Teodors Bluegers, Left Wing
10. Anton Zlobin, Right Wing

Both Bennett and Despres struggled to get NHL level ice time, although Bennett pushed for some scoring opportunities. Bennett was really impressive in the AHL, and with his high skill level and continued development, he could be a really nice young piece alongside the Penguins stars. Despres is a mobile, skilled player, but with the talent coming for the Pens on defense, he will have to show he is deserving of tougher assignments, or he may find himself being passed on the depth chart.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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