Pre-competition games for the World Junior Championships get underway tomorrow and one Penguins prospect was released today, while two of the Penguins top blueline prospects and one of their top forward prospects will be representing their countries.

Team Russia today released forward Anton Zlobin who had a strong showing this summer in the Canada-Russia series for Team Russia. After dropping to sixth round of 2012 NHL entry draft, Zlobin was a player being talked about during that series after playing on a line with Nail Yakupov and meshing well with top talent. Zlobin a skilled winger, has yet to become a complete player as scouts contend he doesn’t go to the tough areas with the type of consistency he needs to.
Zlobin, the Penguins 2012 6th round pick, has 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points and a plus-6 rating in 30 games for Val-d Or of the Quebec league.
2012 2nd round pick Teddy Blueger is expected to represent Latvia for the second straight year. Blueger arguably the Penguins second most skilled forward in their system, has great hands and see’s the ice very well. As a freshman for Minnesota State, Blueger has 2 goals and 10 assists in 18 games. Still learning the North American game, the Penguins regard him as a long-term prospect who will probably spend at least three years in college.
Meanwhile, London Knight teammates Olli Maatta and Scott Harrington project to play pivotal roles for their respective teams. Harrington regarded by some scouts as the Penguins best defensive defenseman in their system, is expected to anchor a No. 2 pairing for Team Canada.
Maatta, the Penguins 2012 1st round pick is expected to play a top-3 pairing role for Finland. Team Canada and Finland face off tomorrow in pre-competition games.
This will be Maatta’s third WJC for Finland. He became the youngest player ever to be named to Finland’s WJC team at the age of 16 in 2010.
Maatta has 3 goals and 21 assists and a plus-9 rating in 32 games for the London Knights. Penguin scouts I’m told see Maatta as the total package on the blueline and they are giddy about him. He has great size for an 18 year old at 6-2, 208 lbs, can play a shutdown role/sound game defensively and is a calm and composed player in the puck moving department, an area that is evolving for him. There’s some higher-ups in the Penguins organization I’m told (these are lofy comparisons) who see some Ryan Suter comparisons in Maatta.