Latest Penguins Buzz

Insider Only Top 25 Prospect Rankings: Breaking down the Penguins system


The Pittsburgh Penguins enter Friday’s draft with a prospect system deep on defensemen, and there’s a good chance they still look to add to that area in the first three rounds.
In ranking the Penguins system leading into Friday’s draft, defensemen fill the top-10, taking up the first three spots and seven of the top 10 spots.
In the 11-20 spots, Pittsburgh has a number of fast rising prospects at the forward position who bring a lot of the same traits the Penguins seek; two-way capabilities.
Sorely lacking though is goal scorers in their system and goaltending depth as one goaltender made our top-25 list.
1. Joe Morrow – Age 19
Born: 12-09-1992 – Sherwood Park, AB
Height: 6–1 Weight: 209 lbs
Position: Defense | Shoots: L
2011 1st round draft pick
2011-2012 Team:Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 62 GP | 17 Goals – 47 Assists – 64 Points +7 rating | 99 PIM
2012-2013 OUTLOOK: Morrow will join the Penguins organization for the 2012-2013 season and he’s likely to make some noise once again in training camp. While there are some evaluators I’ve spoken with who feel Morrow’s already at the point in his development where he wouldn’t be hindered in a bottom pairing, top power play role at the NHL level, he’s more so viewed as being a full year out from a full-time NHL role. Look for him to spend most of next season in the Minors.
Scouting Report:Morrow is a puck moving defenseman who has tremendous offensive ability that was on display during his strong play in training camp this past fall.
Strengths/Weaknesses: Morrow is an excellent skater who has all the tools offensively.
– Has a booming shot and often regarded by scouts as having a “laser” from the point. Has a deceptively “quick” shot.
– Reads the play very well on the breakout, has a good first pass and can use his speed to get out of tough situations and is not afraid to carry the puck out of the zone himself.
– High upside as a power play pointman where he’s developed from a triggerman to a now above average puck distributor. Had 30 power play assists during the regular season, ranking 4th in the WHL and added 10 power play goals.
– Defensively, he plays a rounded two-way game and while Morrow is not overly physical, scouts praise his ability to not back down from a physical challenge.
Potential– top-4 puck moving defenseman with upside of running a No. 1 power play unit
 2. Simon Despres – Age 20
Born: 07-27-1991 – Laval, QC
Height: 6 – 4 Weight: 229 lbs
Position: Defense Shoots: L
2009 1st round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: WBS Penguins (AHL)/Pittsburgh Penguins
2011-2012 Stats (WBS) 44 GP | 5 Goals – 10 Assists – 15 Points -5 rating | 45 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Regardless of how the Penguins blueline shakes out this summer, the Penguins feel the soon to be 21 year old Despres is ready to push for a top-6 spot on the Penguins blueline.
Scouting Report:A big strong two-way defenseman who has the size and physical traits to be a dominant player in the defensive zone.
Strengths/Weaknesses: At 6-4, 230 lbs, Despres is an above average skater for a defenseman his size.
– Has good mobility and agility which gives him the upside to be a physically dominating defenseman down low andaround the net.
– His physicality has progressed nicely in the past year which was a major knock from scouts prior to his final season in QMJHL. The Penguins though would still like to see him play with more of an edge on a consistent basis.
– Underrated part of his game is ability on the breakout. Being a strong skater, Despres can elude in-coming forecheckers and change directions very well when pressured as scouts rave about his agility. Has an effective escape move
– Has the offensive ability to see time on a second power play unit
– Two years ago his shot was a major weakness in his game. He has made great strides in that area.
Potential– Top-4 defenseman
3. Scott Harrington – Age 19
Born: 03-10-1993 – Kingston, ON
Height: 6–1 Weight:195 lbs
Position: Defense | Shoots: L
2011 2nd round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: London Knights (OHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 44 GP | 3 Goals – 23 Assists – 26 Points +26 rating | 28 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Harrington is not eligible for the AHL next season and he’ll return to juniors and play under Dale Hunter.
Scouting Report:A defensive defenseman who is not limited offensively with a very high hockey IQ. Has the tools of a defenseman who can play the Penguins way. Has had the opportunity to play in big situations, named to Team Canada this past Winter
Strengths/Weaknesses For an 19 year old, Harrington is regarded as being more developed defensively than any Penguins prospect in recent years, scouts say.
– He’s a shutdown defenseman at the OHL level who can play all situations and plays his own end well from a positional standpoint and gets his stick in lanes effectively.
– Has showed a strong willingness to get better and is regarded as a very reliable defenseman
– Does not play with an edge defensively which is a knock from some scouts
– The intrigue about Harrington that has him so highly regarded in the organization is that he’s not limited offensively
– A smooth skater who has a good first pass, he see’s the ice really well off the breakout
Potential– Has the upside to be a No. 2 pairing defensive defenseman who can be a factor in all situations
4. Beau Bennett – Age 20
Born:11-27-1991 – Gardena, Calif.
Height: 6-1 Weight: 198 lbs
Position: Right Wing Shoots: Right
2010 1st round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: Denver University (NCAA), Sophomore
2011-2012 Stats: 10 GP | 4 Goals – 9 Assists – 13 Points + 3 rating | 5 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Bennett officially signed with the Penguins this spring, turning pro and signing a three year entry deal that begins in 2012-2013. Bennett appeared in just 10 games this season and had surgery on December 8th to repair a ruptured tendon in his wrist that he originally injured during practice in October. Bennett never returned to the lineup after the December surgery. He recorded 13 points on four goals and nine assists. Bennett is destined for Wilkes Barre this upcoming season.
Scouting Report: – Bennett is the most gifted player in the Penguins system possessing excellent offensive skills and shines at playing with skilled players.
Strengths/Weaknesses: Has great hands and playmaking ability
– A creative player who with excellent vision uses his linemates really well and looks to get everyone on the ice involved
– Has an accurate shot and can pick corners well and is impressive with his ability to keep his head up when shooting which is a knock on younger players.
– Once he learns to consistently get to the right areas, he will start reaching his goal scoring potential.
— Has the skill set where he has that “wow” factor in 1-on-1 plays but from a negative standpoint, gets caught too many times trying to play pond hockey in making that extra move that won’t work at the NHL level.
– What to watch for in the AHL is that he lacks consistency in tight physical games and scouts contend he can be taken out of a game easily, especially in physical situations.
Potential – Has upside of being a top-6 winger and major factor on the power play but has shortcomings in his overall game and must mature as a player (get away from pickup type hockey) and become more of a factor in physical type games
5. Tom Kuhnhackl– Age 20
Born:01-21-1992 – Landshut, Germany
Height: 6 – 2 Weight: 191 lbs
Position: Left Wing Shoots: L
2010 4th round draft pick
2011-2012 Team:Niagra Ice Dogs (OHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 34 GP | 8 Goals – 21 Assists – 29 Pts +14 rating | 35 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Kuhnhackl will join the Penguins organization and appears ticketed for Wilkes Barre.
Scouting Report: Is a potential proto-typical power forward with goal scoring potential
Strengths/Weaknesses: – Scored 39 goals in his first season in North America and has some upside as a goal scorer.
– Has a quick shot with a lot of velocity
– Kuhnhackl possesses power forward attributes, once his body feels out. Has a strong power move when driving to the net from the outside.
– Is versatile at wing and can play both sides easily
– Scouts say Kuhnhackl has made improvements in the puck distributing department and is not one dimensional offensively
– What’s impressive about Kuhnhackl’s overall game is that he has a strong understanding of defensive zone play and is excellent on the boards at getting the puck out of danger
– Biggest weakness in Kunhackl’s game is his skating and his body still has a ways to go in developing into a power forward type player
Potential – Low End Top 6 forward/ High End Third Liner
6. Robert Bortuzzo– Age 23
Born: 3-18-1989, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
Height: 6-4 Weight: 210 lbs
Position: Defense Shoots: R
2007 3rd round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: Wilkes Barre Scranton (AHL)
2011-2012 stats: 51 GP | 3 Goals – 9 Assists – 12 Points – +9 rating | 61 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: The Penguins are said to feel Bortuzzo is ready for NHL duty and he some traits that the Penguins lack, but whether hesticks around remains to be seen, as Bortuzzo is eligible for waivers and the Penguins are getting trade inquiries on Bortuzzo.
Scouting Report: Bortuzzo at 6-4, 210-pounds is a defensive defenseman who has progressed into a shutdown defenseman at the AHL level, matching up against top-end forwards.
Strengths/Weaknesses – Plays the body well, good positioning, keeps incoming forwards to the outside and flourishes at using his size and long wingspan at pinning forwards along the boards
– Has gone away from relying so much on his long reach and has developed a physical nasty edge to his game as his body has developed the past couple years
– Not afraid to mix things up in front of the net
– Good skater for a player his size, accelerates well, and his lateral skating is strong which helps him keep forwards to the outside
– Ability on the breakout has become a strength in Wilkes Barre which helps his NHL prospects in the Penguins organization
Potential: No. 3 pairing defenseman who can impact an game and has the potential where he could emerge in time as a No. 4 type defenseman.
7. Nick D’Agostino – Age 21
Born:6-24-1990, Missisaga, Ontario
Height: 6-1 Weight: 180lbs
Position: Defense | Shoots: L
2008 7th round draft pick
2011-2012 Team Cornell University (Junior)
2011-2012 Stats 32 GP | 8 Goals – 12 Assists – 20 Points +3 rating | 24 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Nick D’agostino will return to Cornell next fall for his senior season. D’Agostino had 8 goals and 12 assists in 32 games played in 2011-2012 for Cornell. A factor on the power play, D’agostino had 6 power play goals, 11 power play points and 5 game winning goals for Cornell.
Scouting Report: A high upside puck moving defenseman with good offensive instincts who is effective at joining the rush
Strengths/Weaknesses: Has some Alex Goligoski traits with his skating and puck moving ability
– Has gradually improved his poise with the puck in his three years at Cornell, according to scouts
– D’agostino excels on the power play where he led Cornell in power play points and goals.
While he has high upside offensively, D’agostino is improving defensively and is effective at using his long reach and getting his stick in passing lanes
Potential – No. 3 pairing puck moving defensemen
8. Brian Strait – Age 24
Born: 01-04-1988, Boston, MA,
Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 lbs
Position: Defense Shoots: L
2006 3rd round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: Wilkes Barre Scranton (AHL)/Pittsburgh Penguins
2011-2012 Stats (WBS): 41 GP | 4 Goals – 12 Assists – 16 Points +7 rating | 26 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Brian Strait showed last season he is ready to push for a bottom pairing, No. 7 defensemen role at the NHL level but he’s eligible for waivers and could be moved this summer if the Penguins decide he’s not going to be in their plans. Strait has received a qualifying offer.
Scouting Report: Plays a defensive minded game
Strengths/Weaknesses: Exceptional hard worker, a leader, great locker room guy
– Good positioning, clears front of the net well, excels on the penalty kill
– most under-rated part of game is ability on the breakout
– Moves his feet well, and joins the rush which is a must out of Penguin blueliners at the NHL level.
– Doesn’t put up big offensive numbers but creates offense due to a good first pass and a strong emphasis on joining the rush
Potential– Bottom pairing defensemen, leader in the locker room

9. Eric Tangradi – Age 23
Born Feb 10, 1989 – Philadelphia, PA
Height: 6-4 Weight: 232 lbs
Position: LW Shoots: Left
2007 2nd round draft pick (ANAHEIM)
2011-2012 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton/Pittsburgh Penguins
2011-2012 Stats (WBS): 37 GP | 15 Goals – 16 Assists – 31 Points +1 rating | 40 PIM
2012-2013 season Outlook: Tangradi showed signs late in the season of finally “getting it”, as he appears to be learning how to use his size and strength to his advantage, but where he fits into the Penguins picture remains to be seen. The Penguins have made a qualifying offer to Tangradi who is eligible for waivers next season.
Scouting Report: – Despite completing just his third professional season, Tangradi is no longer regarded as a potential top-6 forward by a number of evaluators who believe he lacks NHL caliber skating and hands to be an impact scoring forward at the NHL level
Strengths/Weaknesses: Tangradi’s effective when he can be a net-front player anda force in around the net
– Tangradi is solid at pinning the puck on the boards and using his big frame as a shield and his wall play has improved.
– He has also shown improvement at the NHL level in winning battles in the corners, most notably creating offense off the cycle.
– He’s showing signs of learning how to use his size
– Big concerns regarding Tangradi’s ability to play a top-9 role in the Penguins system is his skating and lack of hands andscoring touch around the net
Potential – Likely Role Player
10. Philip Samuelsson – Age 20
Born: 07-26-1991
Height: 6-2 Weight: 200 lbs
Position: Defense Shoots: L
2009 2nd round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: Wilkes Barre Scranton (AHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 46 GP | 1 Goal – 8 Assists – 9 Points + 4 rating | 26 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Samuelsson the Penguins 2nd round pick in 2009, remains a project and is nowhere near close to pushing for NHL duty. He is still just 20 years old though but he’s a hard read at this point. Samuelsson was in and out of the Baby Pens lineup last season
Scouting Report: Samuelsson is not a physically imposing defenseman like his father Ulf was, but he plays a sound defensive game within the team’s structure and knows what he’s good at and what he’s not.
Strengths/Weaknesses: Has a very good stick and anticipates the play well.
– Gets his stick in passing lanes and frustrates players in front of the net by being aggressive with his stick within the rules. He’s not scared to give the opposition a hard whack with his stick
— Was an excellent penalty killer in the college ranks
– Skating is a major issue and the one question mark that could keep him from being a regular NHLer. He’s made improvements but it hasn’t been enough yet. It’s an area the Penguins are working with him on.
– His anticipation though is very good and in 1-on-1 situations when he gets a good angle, he has the ability to lock down on the incoming player and is difficult to beat. If he doesn’t get a good angle, he can easily get beat to the outside as he doesn’t have great footwork.
– In the transition game he moves the puck well for a defensive defenseman
Potential– Bottom pairing defensemen
11. Dominik Uher– Age 19
Born:12-31-1992, Frydek-Mistek, CZE.
Height: 6-0 Weight: 195 lbs
Position: Center Shoots: L
2011 5th round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: Spokane Chiefs (WHL) Freshman
2011-2012 Stats:: 63 GP | 33 Goals – 35 assists – 68 points +29 rating | 60 PIM
Instant Updates: Uher joined the Penguins organization in spring and should earn a regular role next season with the Baby Pens.
Scouting Report: A fast rising prospect who brings a lot to the table. Regarded as a “strong two-way player”, Uher has speed and offensive upside to go along with his defensive instincts that has many believing he could emerge as one of the Penguins best forward prospects in the next year or two.
12. Ben Hanowski – Age 21
Born: 10-18-1990, Little Falls, MN, USA
Height: 6-2 Weight: 198 lbs
Position: RW Shoots: L
2009 3rd round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: St. Cloud State (NCAA), Junior
2011-2012 Stats: 36 GP | 20 Goals – 19 Assists – 39 Points |
2012-2013 Outlook: Hanowski will return for his senior season next fall. Hanowski had a rebound year, leading the team in goals, points and power play goals.
Scouting Report: Hanowski had a prolific high school hockey career scoring 73 goals and 135 points (73-62-135) in 31 games, for Little Falls (2008-2009) during his senior season. However, as expected, he’s been a prospect who’s taken time to develop in the college ranks. In his third collegiate season, Hanowski finally emerged as a top scoring prospect in the Penguins system.
Strengths/Weaknesses: Above average puck skills, goal scoring ability
– Has a knack for scoring goals
– Elusive when a defender is closing on him
– Good at moving the puck in tight and gets the puck off his stick quickly
– Smart two way player, high hockey IQ, hockey sense
– Captain at SCSU, Hard worker, student of the game
– Not a strong skater by any means, lacks breakaway speed but has quick feet
Potential – Top-9 forward but his speed could hold him back.
13. Kenny Agostino– Age 20
Born: 04-30-1992, Flanders, New Jersey
Height: 5-11 Weight: 195 lbs
Position: LW Shoots: L
2010 5th Round Draft Pick
2011-2012 Team: Yale University (sophomore)
2011-2012 Stats: 33 GP | 14 Goals – 20 Assists – 34 Points | +10 rating | 32 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Agostino will return to school next fall for his junior season.
Scouting Report: A player who shows a great commitment to his two-way game and impacts the game offensively. Got great experience with Team USA last summer
Strengths/Weaknesses: Smart two way player who shows emphasis on being effective in all three zones
– Has slick hands and scouts praise his vision and offensive ability to pick his spots. Doesn’t rush things when in command of the puck and waits for the play to develop
– Is good skater, quick and agile
– Not a physical player and may have to develop a scrappier game to ever make it as an NHL regular.
Potential – 3rd line role player with offensive upside
14. Carl Sneep – Age 24
Born: 11-5-1987,
Height: 6-4 Weight: 210 lbs
Position: Defense Shoots: R
2006 2nd round draft pick
2012-2013 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 34 GP | 0 Goals – 9 Assists – 9 Points -+6 rating | 21 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Carl Sneep has received a qualifying offer and he’s entering a crucial season in his professional career. Sneep, 24, made his NHL debut in December and had an assist in the Penguins 8-3 win against Buffalo. Sneep though has struggled to stay healthy and was lost for the season soon after, appearing in just 34 games for Wilkes Barre last season. If he can stay healthy, he has the ability to be an NHL defenseman but it’s likely not going to be with Pittsburgh.
Scouting Report: Sneep has the size, skating and physical traits that teams covet in blueliners but he’s never been a dominating defenseman at the AHL or college ranks, in addition to struggles of staying healthy.
Strengths/Weaknesses: Strong skating ability, moves the puck well.
– Good positioning, uses his size well
– Plays more physical than he is given credit for and clears the front of the net effectively
– Does well in 1-on-1 situations and uses his speed to his advantage which makes him difficult to beat outside
– Is a good puck distributor but the stats have never matched the talent.
Potential – He’s one of those players who has bottom pairing potential and fits the Penguins system but he’ll be 25 next year and behind several others in the Penguins system.
15. Scott Wilson– Age 20
Born:4-24-1992, Oakville, Ont.
Height: 6-0 Weight: 173 lbs
Position: Forward Shoots: L
2011 7th round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: UMass Lowell (NCAA), Freshman
2011-2012 Stats:: 35 GP | 16 Goals – 21 assists – 37 points +14 rating | 26 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Wilson is among the fastest rising prospects in the system and could move his way towards the top-10 by next season. Had an excellent freshman season at UMass Lowell.
Scouting Report: Wilson is widely regarded as an all-around player who can do it all. “Speed, tenacious, good skills, plays hard and in your face. He’s a power play, penalty kill guy, good around. He’s tenacious and he comes to you, ” Randy Sexton director of amateur scouting said about Wilson a while back. That evaluation is spot on about Wilson who’s also regarded as having elite hockey sense and being very intelligent with the puck.
16. Keven Veilleux– Age 22
Born: 6-27-1989, Canada
Height: 6-5 Weight: 218 lbs
Position: Center Shoots: R
2007 2nd round pick
2011-2012 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
2011-2012 Stats: N/A
2012-2013 Outlook: Healthy? That’s the big question mark surrounding the Penguins 2007 second round pick who just can’t stay healthy since turning pro. In 2009-2010, Veilleux had season ending surgery in November, followed by missing 14 games in 2010-2011 to not playing last season after suffering a major knee injury in a preseason season, leading to knee surgery that ended Veilleux season with a recovery time of over six months.
Scouting Report: Has the size, skill and smarts where the Penguins a few years ago envisioned Veilleuxbeing able to push for an NHL role by now. His development is now behind due to injuries but the skill is there where it’s too early to write off the soon to be 23 year old. Veilleux has offensive ability, and plays a powerful, north-south style of hockey that is simple and effective, to make up for his foot speed. If he can ever get it together, Veilleux has all the tools to be a strong two-way centerman at the NHL level. The Penguins though may still have plans to develop Veilleux on the wing. If he could stay healthy, Veilleux would be higher on this list.  
Potential – No. 3 Center
17. Josh Archibald– Age 19
Born: 10-6-1992, Regina, Canada.
Height: 5-10 Weight: 161 lbs
Position: Forward Shoots: R
2011 6th round pick
2011-2012 Team: Nebraska Omaha (NCAA), Freshman
2011-2012 Stats:: 34 GP | 10 Goals – 5 assists – 15 points +5 rating | 8 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Will be returning to school, looking to build off of his freshman year.
Scouting Report:A tremendous skater who has a hard worker mentality fitting the Penguins mold of a role player. Archibald made Team USA’s World Championship team this past December.
Strengths/Weaknesses In addition to often being the best skater on the ice, Archibald has good offensive instincts and the ability to produce offensively with 10 goals so far this season as a freshman.
– Reminds scouts of a Joe Vitale on the forecheck but has much higher offensive upside
– Is a coachable player but needs to learn better defensive zone play and that should come in his upcoming collegiate seasons
Bulking up will be key before he turns pro
Potential – Potential late round gem, Role player….Fast rising prospect…
18. Bryan Rust– Age 20
Born: 5-11-1992, Pontiac, MI
Height: 5-11 Weight: 202 lbs
Position: RW Shoots: R
2010 3rd round pick
2011-2012 Team:Notre Dame (sophomore)
2011-2012 Stats: 40 GP – 5 G – 6 A – 11 Pts | -2 rating – 14 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Rust will be returning to school for his junior season next fall
Scouting Report: As a third round pick just two years ago, you would think Rust would be higher, but internally I hear Rust is pegged in the 15-20 range. He’s one of those players though the Penguins are drawn to in the draft as he’s a smart player who plays the game at both ends and regarded as having great hockey sense. He has some offensive ability but hasn’t produced in the college ranks. Rust has excellent speed and regarded as a deceptive playmaker. When coming out of the US National Development Program, he was viewed as a possible top-6 forward in Notre Dame but he hasn’t evolved into much of a points producer. After a solid freshman year with 6 goals and 19 points, Rust had just 11 points in 2011-2012.
Potential – Tough Role Player to play against
19. Zach Sill– Age 24
Born: 5-24-1988, Truro, Canada
Height: 6-0 Weight: 200 lbs
Position: Forward Shoots: L
2011-2012 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 68 GP – 10 G – 7 A – 17 Pts | -1 rating – 40 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Sill is a player who appears stuck in the minors but reminds some members of the Penguins organization of Joe Vitale and could surprise some in training camp and make a surprise run for a roster spot in a year or two
Scouting Report: A tenacious player who fits the stereotype of a grinder. Strong on the forecheck using his speed and there’s rarely a time he doesn’t finish his checks. Uses his speed to the outside very well and has some offensive ability and a lot of attributes that the Penguins seek out of their role players. In Wilkes Barre has played a third line shutdown role for almost two years now, which enhances his value. He’s at No. 20 because his upside isn’t very high but he has the look of a possible NHL player.
Potential – Two-way Role Player
20. Alex Grant– Age 23
Born: 1-20-1989, Antigonish, Canada
Height: 6-2 Weight: 185 lbs
Position: Defense Shoots: R
2007 4th round pick
2011-2012 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 61 GP – 10 G – 27 A – 37 Pts | +5 rating – 73 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Grant found his way into the lineup, mostly as a regular last season with the Baby Pens. He led all defensemenwith10 goals, 37 points and7 power play goals. With a number of defensemen ready to graduate to the NHL ranks, Grant projects to play a top-2 pairing role next season.
Scouting Report: Grant is another offensive puck moving defenseman in the Penguins system. Has a hard shot from the point and his defensive game is starting to come around, making big strides last season.
Potential– Offensive Defensemen
21. Reid McNeil– Age 22
Born: 4-29-1992, London, Ontario
Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 lbs
Position: Defense Shoots: L
2010 6th round pick
2011-2012 Team: Barrie Colts, OHL
2011-2012 Stats: 51 GP – 3 G – 9 A – 12 Pts | +9 rating – 60 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: McNeil signed an entry level contract and will be joining the Penguins organization in 2012-2013.
Scouting Report: McNeil has some Scott Harrington traits in his ability to play a shutdown role at the OHL level, but also provide mobility and the ability to move the puck up quickly in the transition game. He played with Harrington a lot in London in 2010-2011, prior to being traded to Barrie, and has learned the right way to play defense under Dale Hunter in the junior ranks. Word from scouts is that McNeil has developed a physical edge to his game to go with his steady defensive minded play.
Potential– Defensive minded defenseman.
 22. Paul Thompson– Age 23
Born: Nov 30, 1988 Methuen, NH.
Height: 6-1 Weight: 205 lbs
Position: Forward Shoots: R
2011-2012 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 67 GP | 10 Goals – 15 assists – 25 points -1 rating | 37 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Thompson will be penciled in for Wilkes Barre next season after a solid but not spectacular season. What to watch with Thompson is whether he takes that next step offensively in his second professional season. He scored 52 points in 29 games, including 29 goals in his final college season in 2010-2011
Scouting Report:When Pittsburgh signed Thompson, they felt the NHL potential is there, and he has some offensive tools, possessing an accurate hard shot to go along with good vision and strong hockey sense. Offensively he provides a good mix of goal scoring potential and playmaking ability but he also brings a two-way game to the table which helps his NHL prospects down the road.
Potential – Top 9 forward
23. Nick Petersen– Age 23
Born: 5-27-1989, Wakefield, Canada
Height: 6-2 Weight: 190 lbs
Position: RW Shoots: R
2009 4th round pick
2011-2012 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins
2011-2012 Stats: 52 GP – 11 G – 16 A – 27 Pts | +15 rating – 25 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Petersen after being in and out of the lineup last season, should have an opportunity for a top-9 role with the Baby Pens.
Scouting Report: One of the more skilled forwards in the Penguins system and he could earn some NHL consideration down the road. The thing with Petersen is that he’s produced at nearly every level and has reached the point where he has no reason to play in the ECHL. The skill set and ability to score has always been there and he’s made some strides on his overall game, collecting a team-best +15 rating  last season. Does a lot of good things offensively, so he’s a player to still keep an eye on.
Potential – Skilled forward
24. Alex Velischek– Age 21
Born: 12-17-1990, Quebec City, Canada
Height: 6-0 Weight: 200 lbs
Position: D Shoots: L
2010 5th round pick
2011-2012 Team: Providence (junior)
2011-2012 Stats: 31 GP – 0 G – 7 A – 7 Pts | +2 rating – 18 PIM
2012-2013 Outlook: Velischek will return to school next fall for his senior season.
Scouting Report: The son of former NHL player Randy Velischek, Alex is a totally different player than his dad. A very strong skater, Velischek plays a defensive minded game with little to no physicality, compared to his dad who was a banger with the Devils. Alex is more of a defenseman who relies on positioning and using his longstick.
Potential– Defensive minded defenseman with good skating ability
25. Patrick Killeen– Age 22
Born: 4-15-1990, Almonte, Ontario
Height: 6-4 Weight: 205 lbs
Position: Goalie
2008 6th round pick
2011-2012 Team:Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 19-12-4, 2.69 GAA, .893 sv %
2012-2013 Outlook: Killeen’s outlook for next season remains up in the air, depending on what the Penguins do in regards to goaltender depth. Last season he 2-2-0 in five games with Wilkes Barre. Right now he’s No. 3 on the organization depth chart.
Scouting Report: At this point in his development, doesn’t project as an NHL quality goaltender. Killeen employs a style that has him down a bit too early and often, but he battles to make saves andhasatremendous knack for finding loose pucks in around his crease.
Potential – Depth Goaltender

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

Comments Disabled

Comments have been disabled for this post.