LATEST PROSPECTS BUZZ
The Pittsburgh Penguins are an organization that has struggled mightily to develop forwards in their system. There’s no denying that fact.
The team doesn’t have one forward in their system right now that screams top-6 forward/winger, but there’s a small group of forwards who project as the next wave of young forwards who could become NHL players in the next 1-2 years.
Jayson Megna has come onto the scene this year and has shown enough where he could earn a full time bottom-6 role next year and Brian Gibbons has some in the organization believing he’s an NHL player who could have a future here, though, he’s more of a tweener.
After those two, there’s not a lot of players on the cusp of pushing to be regulars next season or the year after.
Expectations were high for 2010 4th round pick Tom Kuhnhackl but he has yet again disappointed. Kuhnkackl has 8 goals and 10 points in 48 games for Wilkes Barre and has bounced between the AHL and ECHL.
Adam Payerl a power forward type role player with great size and strength, was a prospect the organization couldn’t stop raving about during the summer. He took a step back this year and wasn’t even able to earn callup despite an abundance amount of injuries for the Penguins at the NHL level. He’s one of those players who wows team officials and coaches in practice, weight room, but when it comes to game situations you come up disappointed. Payerl, though, is playing better of late, scouts say. He has 3 goals and 9 points in 37 games and has often been a healthy scratch.
Dominik Uher, 2011 5th round pick and Anton Zlobin, 2012 6th round pick, are two notable draft picks in Wilkes Barre. Uher plays a solid two-way game and could develop into a 4th line player at the next level but doesn’t project to be an impact player. Zlobin is one of the most skilled players in the Penguins system but will need to develop into more of a 200ft player to have a shot at making it at the next level. He has 8 goals and 15 points in 38 games this season for Wilkes Barre. There’s some intrigue with him but he’s a ways away from getting into the conversation of pushing for NHL time.
ARCHIBALD, WILSON, RUST PROJECT AS NEXT WAVE OF POTENTIAL NHL FORWARDS FOR PENS
The consensus among team officials and even scouts outside the organization is that among prospects in the organization (signed), Josh Archibald, 2011 6th round, Scott Wilson, 2011 7th round, and Bryan Rust, 2010 3rd round, project as the next wave of potential NHL forwards for the Penguins when it comes to pushing for NHL time in the next 1-2 years.
The interesting thing is that all three are turning pro at the same time.
Archibald and Wilson have both by-passed their senior years, turning pro, with Archibald joining Wilkes Barre/Scranton last week and Wilson officially signing a two year entry level deal today.
Rust a four year player at Notre Dame signed this week.
Josh Archibald had a breakout junior year with 29 goals and 43 points in 37 games for Omaha-Nebraska University. Archibald had 56 goals in 112 collegiate games. He has already appeared in three games with Wilkes Barre and has 1 goal and a +2 rating.
The Penguins love the pace that Archibald plays with. He plays at a high pace, skates really well and plays with a good mix of skill and aggressiveness. One scout says Archibald is built to play the Penguins type of style. One concern, though, is Archibald’s size.
Scott Wilson saw his numbers dip significantly in his junior season with Umass-Lowell, collecting 7 goals and 19 points in 31 games. He had back to back 38 point seasons in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.
The drop in production isn’t concerning to the Penguins.
What the Penguins like about Wilson is that they feel his game will translate to the pro level. That’s an opinion of several in the organization. Wilson has a good blend of skill and grit, and plays tenacious. For an undersized player he can deliver crushing hits.
Bryan Rust is a true two-way player. He can give you some offense but he plays with a defensive mentality first. If some of the offense can translate to the pro level, Rust has a good chance to have a career in the NHL as a bottom-6 player.
Rust had 17 goals and 33 points in 40 games for Notre Dame in 2013-2014.
Rust made a significant jump in his junior year. Here was our writeup on him over the summer
It will be big for the organization if at least two of the three develop into NHL players within the next two years.