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Insider Only Scouts Buzz on the Penguins notable prospects in Wilkes Barre and who’s knocking on the NHL door

bennett_beau121129ON THE FARM SYSTEM
The Penguins have loaded up for a Cup run but there figures to be a lot of turnover this summer with the cap going down to $64.3 million. The Penguins have several key unrestricted free agents in Jarome Iginla, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, Brenden Morrow, Craig Adams, Douglas Murray, Mark Eaton and notable restricted free agents include Tyler Kennedy, Dustin Jeffrey and Robert Bortuzzo.
A number of those players likely won’t be back next season.
Today’s we’ll take a look at the development of the Penguins notable prospects in Wilkes Barre and others who could be knocking on the door for an NHL role:

TOP-5 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Beau Bennett, RW, 2010 1st round pick
2012-2013 Stats: 38 GP – 7 Goals – 20 Assists – 27 Pts – -7
Scouting Report: Bennett has been a huge surprise in the organization of how well he’s transitioned from the college ranks to professional hockey. He’s gotten his feet wet at the NHL level and is in great position to have a full time role at the NHL level next season. Do the Penguins have another star in the making? Probably not but Bennett is going to be a productive NHL player for years to come. Has a lot of tools to like and thinks the game already at an young age like an NHL player. What’s really stood out with Bennett is his overall game as he showed he can be trusted in the defensive zone. He needs to continue to get stronger this summer for the grind of an NHL season.
Scouts Take: “Offensive instincts and vision are at a very high level.”

Brian Dumoulin, D, 2009 2nd round pick (CAR)
2012-2013 Stats: 66 GP – 5 Goals – 16 Assists – 21 Pts – -12
Scouting Report: Dumoulin acquired in the Jordan Staal trade has lived up to his billing of being a top-10 prospect in the Penguins system. He has great size at 6-foot-4, 215-pounds and while he’s not a big hitter for a player his size, the Penguins feel he can evolve into an all around defenseman at the NHL level who plays his own end well, be effective on the breakout in getting the puck up, and being able to play on the second power play. There’s areas of his game that still need work, especially in his own end as some dog him for not playing with a high intensity level, but Doumoulin is getting great experience in a No. 1 pairing role in Wilkes Barre and he figures to be an option to see NHL time next season.
Scouts Take: “High hockey IQ…..puts himself in the right spots.”

Philip Samuelsson, D, 2009 2nd round pick
2012-2013 Stats: 58 GP – 2 Goals – 8 Assists – 10 Pts – +10
Scouting Report: Samuelsson probably came out a year earlier than he should have but he’s progressed very nicely in his second professional season. Samuelsson has a team-best +10 rating and Samuelsson’s game resembles little of his father who was a punishing hitter and what you get out of Philip is a Mark Eaton type of game; Defensive defenseman, good positioning and keeps his game simple. One area he’s made improvement at is becoming a better skater which has been a must for him. He’s never going to be a great skater but the improvement has been a positive according to scouts. Samuelsson is putting himself on the radar of being an NHL depth defenseman in the next couple years who could play a No. 6/No. 7 role and eat up minutes on the PK.
Scouts Take: “He doesn’t play beyond his means….know’s what he does well and doesn’t. Has a really good stick. If the feet improve, chance to be a No. 6”

Jason Megna, F, UDFA
2012-2013 Stats: 49 GP – 4 Goals – 5 Assists – 9 Pts – -11

Scouting Report: We know the story with Megna. An undrafted free agent, Megna made a great early impression on the Penguins, emerging as Wilkes Barre’s best player in the Baby Pens training camp and he really caught Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma’s eye on scouting trips during the lockout. Megna’s impression on Bylsma was a big one as Bylsma handpicked Megna to be invited to the NHL Penguins training camp. But, what do the Penguins have in Megna? We don’t know at this point. He shows flashes in practice but has really struggled when the lights are on. I have him ranked among the top-10 Penguin prospects but that’s because I hear the Penguins regard him as one of their top-10 prospects. It’s not a comfortable ranking. What the Penguins like about Megna is that he plays at a high pace in the offensive zone and gets to the net but scouts are skeptical about his upside of becoming an NHL player.
Scouts Take: “Questionable defensive zone instincts.”

Paul Thompson, RW, UDFA
2012-2013 Stats: 51 GP – 16 Goals – 9 Assists – 25 Pts – 0
Scouting Report: Thompson is an emerging prospect in the Penguins system making the type of jump in his second professional season that the Penguins hoped would happen. Thompson has third line NHL qualities, knack for scoring some goals and plays a responsible game but at age 24 he’s likely peaked from an upside standpoint. Is he a good enough skater for the NHL. That’s one question mark and scouts appear skeptical of him being an NHL regular but it won’t surprise me if he has an NHL career somewhere.
Scouts Take: “A classic tweener (AHL/NHL player). I like him {but} question he can stick.”

OTHER NOTABLES
*Dominik Uher – 2011 5th round pick, had 33 goals and 68 points last season for the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL in 2011-2012 and he hasn’t been much of an offensive points producer in the AHL. Uher has 1 goal and 4 points in 47 games, playing a 4th line role. Despite the limited production, he’s not a prospect to write off by any means. He plays hard, has good speed and has the potential be a good two-way player. He’s a better offensive player than his production is showing.
* C Zach Sill – continues to be a solid all around role player in the American Hockey League and has flashed some NHL ability. He can play a shutdown role and skates extremely well. Has drawn some comparisons to Joe Vitale. I think he can play at the NHL level.

LONGSHOT NHL PLAYERS
D Alex Grant – 2007 4th round pick who has some good puck moving capabilities but has the look of a career AHL defenseman.
LW Adam Payerl– Has great size at 6-foot-3, 220-pounds but is unlikely to evolve into an NHL power forward. Has 2 goals and 8 points in 37 games for Wilkes Barre. Was never a big points producer in the junior ranks.
*LW Tom Kuhnhackl – 2010 4th round pick who was once regarded as one of the Penguins best forwards in their system. He has dropped significantly on the Penguins prospect board and is out for the season.
*F Keven Veilleux – The Penguins 2007 2nd round pick has been a huge disappointment and his days in the organization are numbered. Has dealt with injuries and the talent has never matched the production. Hasn’t been able to make the Wilkes Barre lineup and has spent most of the season in Wheeling. Was also involved in a racial incident this season with the Wheeling Nailers. He’s a bust.

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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