Insider Only Farm Report: Player Observations through 34 games

The Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (18-14-1) got a three point night from Wyatt Smyth, getting goals from five different players en route to a 6-3 win Wednesday night over the Binghamton Senators.
Chris Lee (4), Mark Letestu (8), Luca Caputi (13), Eric Tangradi (7) scored for Wilkes Barre while Smyth (7, 8,) added two goals.
John Curry made 24 saves to earn his 15th win of the season.
Aside from Wyatt Smyth, two bright spots on the night were top prospects Luca Caputi and Eric Tangradi.
In the midst of a mini-slump, Luca Caputi the teams’ leading goal scorer, scored his first goal since December 18th and 13th of the season.
Caputi also had an assist and was tied for a team high 4 shots on goal.
Eric Tangradi has gotten off to a slow start but is starting to pick up his game. Tangradi notched his 7th goal of the season Wednesday night and added an assist for a two point night.
Tangradi’s second period goal would end up being the game winner for the second straight game. A source told me he’s starting to become a more of a presence in the offensive zone and is adjusting to playing against bigger, stronger players.
Wilkes Barre returns to action Friday night.
Player Observations through 34 games
1. Dustin Jeffrey (32 GP – 10 goals – 26 assists – 36 points – +11)
*Team leading scorer through 34 games this season. Jeffrey was named to the Canadian All-Star team and has been among the top playemakers in the American Hockey League.
Has made the jump to left wing in recent weeks, finding great chemistry with Mark Letestu and Nick Johnson.
Knock on his game has been holding onto the puck too long. The move to left wing has forced him to move the puck quicker which is helping his progression.
As for his NHL prospects, needs become more physical, gritty. Doesn’t project to be a top-6 player at the NHL level.
2. Mark Letestu (25 GP – 8 goals – 19 assists – 27 points – +10)
*Smart two-way player who has drawn some comparisons from NHL scouts to Mike Zigomanis but with more offensive ability. Very good on the power play and centers Wilkes Barre’s top line consisting of Dustin Jeffrey and Nick Johnson.
His NHL stock is rising and has shown the ability to project as a role player in the NHL. Needs improvement on the penalty kill.

3. Luca Caputi (34 GP – 13 goals – 13 assists – 26 points – -2)
Caputi has a team leading 13 goals and ranks second on the team with 26 points. Is playing with an edge and aggressiveness in the offensive zone which he failed to do consistently last season.
Has been discussed internally as a potential call-up before the trade deadline to play alongside Evgeni Malkin.
Has hit a minor speed bump of late and in the midst of a minor slump until his two point game Wednesday night.
His play over the next 17-20 days will determine his future in the NHL this season. Pittsburgh is torn on whether bringing him up which could rush his development. The consensus right now is that Caputi will stay in Wilkes Barre, however no decision has been made.
4. Nick Johnson (18GP – 7 goals – 10 assists – 17 points – +8)
*The most under-rated prospect in the Penguins system. The 24 year old winger is on the cusp of being NHL ready.
Since returning from a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for 7 weeks, Johnson has 6 goals and 13 points in 11 games.
Has great size, strong skating ability and one of those players who has the look of being a productive third line player at the NHL level with the ability to play on a top-2 line in certain situations.
5. Eric Tangradi (26GP – 7 goals – 5 assists – 12 points – +2)
*Off to a modest start, Tangradi has clearly shown that he is a work in progress. Only 11 PIM (one fighting major) on the season, has not been a physical presence that he was in juniors.
Has the ability to be great on the cycle but is still learning to create his own play in the offensive zone.
After this season, team scouts believe he will need at least another half season in the minors.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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