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A nice prospect summary...


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A good read...

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=639334

After winning the Stanley Cup with a core of homegrown players, the Pittsburgh Penguins' prospect pipeline was left a little thin by trades, picking lower in the draft and some selections not reaching their potential.

While the 2004 of 2005 drafts brought Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski and Tyler Kennedy, the only NHL regular Pittsburgh has drafted since 2006 is Jordan Staal, who was traded this summer to the Carolina Hurricanes. General manager Ray Shero and his staff have been replenishing the system, particularly with blue-chip blue line prospects, and after early positive reviews on the 2011 and 2012 draft classes and the Staal trade, the Penguins' pipeline is flush again.

30 in 30: Pittsburgh Penguins

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Shero's group has clearly focused on defense, and Pittsburgh might have the deepest collection of potential impact defensemen in the League. The depth up front and in goal isn't nearly as strong, and a couple of the organization's top forward prospects have dealt with injury problems. Those aren't exactly pressing areas of need though with Crosby, Malkin, James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury still on the front nine of their careers.

Here's a look at Pittsburgh's top 10 prospects:

1. Joseph Morrow, D: Morrow isn't expected to earn a roster spot in Pittsburgh at the start of this season. Of course, the same was said before last season and Morrow nearly forced the organization's hand with a dynamic showing at training camp.

The 23rd pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Morrow had 17 goals and 64 points for Portland in the Western Hockey League after being one of the last cuts at training camp. He was also one of Canada's final cuts from the 2012 World Junior Championship squad.

At 6-foot-1 and 204 pounds, Morrow will begin this season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League -- unless he surprises again during camp. He turns 20 years old in December and possesses the all-around skills to be a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL.

2. Simon Despres, D: Despres was ranked No. 8 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting in 2009, but the Penguins landed him with the final pick of the first round and it looks like they got a steal. Big (6-foot-4, 214 pounds) and skilled, Despres impressed in limited duty with Pittsburgh last season and has the inside track to a regular spot in the lineup vacated by Zbynek Michalek.

Despres had five goals and 15 points in 44 AHL games to go along with a goal and four points in 18 contests with the Penguins in 2011-12. Despres has the potential to be a top-four defenseman for Pittsburgh in short order, and being a long-term partner for Letang isn't entirely out of the question.

3. Brian Dumoulin, D: He's the least-publicized asset acquired from Carolina in the Staal trade, but Dumoulin could end up being just as important in the long term to the Penguins as Brandon Sutter or Derrick Pouliot. Carolina was willing to include him in part because the Hurricanes also are loaded with talented, young defensemen.

Dumoulin was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as a junior last season with Boston College. He had seven goals and 28 points while anchoring one of the best defense corps in the country for the NCAA champions.

He signed with the Hurricanes before the trade, so Dumoulin will begin the year in the AHL if he doesn't make the Penguins' roster out of training camp. There is going to be a lot of competition for at the most one or two spots, but Dumoulin could be ready to help the Penguins at some point this season.

4. Olli Maatta, D: Maatta was Pittsburgh's second first-round choice in the 2012 Draft, which was held at Consol Energy Center, but some draft experts had him ranked higher than Derrick Pouliot, who was picked ahead of him. At 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, Maata had a strong first season with London in the Ontario Hockey League (five goals, 27 points in 58 games and 23 points in 17 playoff contests) and was projected as a potential top-10 pick before ending up at No. 22 for the Penguins.

After a strong first season in the Ontario Hockey League, Olli Maatta was selected by the Penguins with the 22nd pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. (Photo: Getty Images)

He represented Finland at the 2012 WJC, but he got hurt during the tournament. Maatta, who doesn't turn 18 years old until later this month, will likely return to London for a second season.

5. Derrick Pouliot, D: Pittsburgh's scouting staff should be plenty familiar with Pouliot after seeing him play on the same Western Hockey League team (Portland) as Morrow. The Penguins made Pouliot the eighth choice in the 2012 draft just minutes after the Staal trade was announced, and he was welcomed to the organization with a healthy roar from the hometown fans still buzzing about the transaction.

Pouliot is similar to Morrow as an offensively talented defenseman, but he's a little smaller than his teammate at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds. He did have 11 goals and 59 points in 72 games for Portland last season while matching Morrow's postseason output (17 points in 22 games). He'll slide into Morrow's role as the No. 1 guy on the Winterhawks' blue line this season.

6. Beau Bennett, RW: Bennett is easily the Penguins' top forward prospect and could rank higher on this list if not for a wrist injury that limited him to 10 games in his sophomore season at the University of Denver. He had four goals and 13 points after a strong freshman season.

Bennett is listed at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, and the California native is the one forward in Pittsburgh's system with clear, top-six potential. Bennett signed with the Penguins in April, so he'll likely continue his development with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton barring a fantastic camp.

7. Scott Harrington, D: Harrington is another guy who has been part of the same blue line corps as someone else on this list. A second-round choice in 2011, Harrington had three goals and 26 points in 44 games for London last season.

Unlike Morrow, Harrington made Canada's entry in the WJC. Unfortunately, like Maata he was injured at the event and ended up missing part of the OHL season with a shoulder issue. He'll be back with the Knights for another season.

8. Brian Strait, D: If it feels like Strait has been a Penguins' prospect for a long time, well, he was taken in the same draft class as Staal in 2006. While Staal starred in Pittsburgh immediately, Strait spent three seasons at Boston University before signing a professional contract.

A stay-at-home type, Strait had a couple of call-ups in the past two seasons, but he's also amassed more than 200 games of AHL experience. He turns 25 in January, and has a chance to earn a spot with the Penguins this season.

Pittsburgh has six defensemen on one-way contracts, so all of the guys on this list (plus free-agent signing Dylan Reese and fellow prospects Robert Bortuzzo and Carl Sneep) will be competing for one or two roster spots. Despres is a sizable favorite to land in the top six, while Strait would probably be more likely to stick as the seventh or eighth d-man than some of the younger options.

9. Ben Hanowski, RW: Hanowski led St. Cloud State with 23 goals and 43 points last year as a junior, and will be the team's captain as a senior this fall. He was a third-round pick by the Penguins in 2009 and will turn 22 in October.

He's listed at 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, and is one of several interesting forward Pittsburgh prospects a notch or two below Bennett currently playing college hockey.

10. Matia Marcantuoni, C: Marcantuoni was considered a potential first-round pick before the 2011-12 season began, but for the second year in a row was held back by injury. He's missed time with ankle and shoulder injuries as a well as a concussion, and has played 66 regular-season games in two years for Kitchener in the OHL.

Listed at 6 feet and 197 pounds, Marcantuoni instantly became one of the fastest prospects in the Pittsburgh system. Should he avoid injury with the Rangers in 2012-13, he has the potential to move much further up this list by this time next year.

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I'm a little surprised they left out Zlobin on that list. Like Marcantuoni, I think he could end up being a steal.

Maybe Zlobin is too unknown to the writer or they had to decide on their top 10 and cut it there. I agree Zlobin could prove to be a steal.

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Should be exciting to see how Beau Bennett plays this year, ton of promise with that kid. You would think they will start concentrating on forwards in the coming drafts, they might have the most depth of any organization on the defensive side of the ledger. If those rankings are correct, and Morrow, Despres and Dumoulin are indeed more promising than Pouliout and Matta...WOW, that is LOADED. Just going on my knowledge of Matta, having that many young defensmen ranked ahead of him....that is simply stunning. I'm thinking maybe they are ranked ahead of him not on skill but age and ability to crack the line-up before him....regardless....just a scary stable of prospects....me no likely.....LOL!

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Should be exciting to see how Beau Bennett plays this year, ton of promise with that kid. You would think they will start concentrating on forwards in the coming drafts, they might have the most depth of any organization on the defensive side of the ledger. If those rankings are correct, and Morrow, Despres and Dumoulin are indeed more promising than Pouliout and Matta...WOW, that is LOADED. Just going on my knowledge of Matta, having that many young defensmen ranked ahead of him....that is simply stunning. I'm thinking maybe they are ranked ahead of him not on skill but age and ability to crack the line-up before him....regardless....just a scary stable of prospects....me no likely.....LOL!

I agree we should be set on D... But I think offensively they were thinking our core was young enough to last a long time. Tangradi was supposed to be a power forward type but he's going to have to step up. Bennett may be good soon but I dunno about this season.

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You would think they will start concentrating on forwards in the coming drafts,

Hopefully they have better luck than in past decades when it comes to drafting and bringing along wingers. The last winger drafted by the Penguins to score 30 goals was Jaromir Jagr back in 1990. They've gone 22 consecutive drafts without drafting and keeping a 30-goal winger. They gave one away - Markus Naslund, whom they drafted in 1991, and went on to have his fair share of 30 and 40 goal seasons in Vancouver. And Ryan Malone drafted in 1999, came close with 27 goals in 07-08.

But their record of growing talent on the wings through the draft has been, well, appallingly bad. As a result, they unfortunately have no choice - and have had no choice for decades - other than to take risks on free agents and trades in order to find scoring from the wings. In order to make those trades, they stock up on defensive prospects and trade them for wingers.

While I'm not completely against that particular tactic, especially after seeing how that Neal trade worked out for us, I do think we eventually need to find a way to start drafting and successfully grooming some offensive talent on the wings.

Edited by Penguins-66
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I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Beau Bennett ends the 30 goal drought from Pens drafted wingers. It might take a few years, but he will be the guy to do it.

Damn you @jammer2, I recently traded Bennett, along with Nick Sorensen (2013 eligible from the Q) for Chris Stewart.

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@Podein25 Wow has Chris Stewart fallen from grace quickly. He's nothing but a square peg in a round hole now, a obvious scoring winger who can't crack the top 6 of the Blues due to lack of effort. I expect more of the same from him, lazy is lazy....and Hitch won't tolerate it. Really, really surprised he was re-signed as a RFA (I think)....pretty sure it was only a one year deal....it's up to Chris now...

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has Chris Stewart fallen from grace quickly

Yup One final chance on a one-year with STL.

I think the word is still out on him long-term. Obviously I must, if I traded for him. Change of scenery could do it I guess is the thinking.

But if he is simply too lazy, nothin' is likely to change that.

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Hopefully they have better luck than in past decades when it comes to drafting and bringing along wingers. The last winger drafted by the Penguins to score 30 goals was Jaromir Jagr back in 1990. They've gone 22 consecutive drafts without drafting and keeping a 30-goal winger. They gave one away - Markus Naslund, whom they drafted in 1991, and went on to have his fair share of 30 and 40 goal seasons in Vancouver. And Ryan Malone drafted in 1999, came close with 27 goals in 07-08. But their record of growing talent on the wings through the draft has been, well, appallingly bad. As a result, they unfortunately have no choice - and have had no choice for decades - other than to take risks on free agents and trades in order to find scoring from the wings. In order to make those trades, they stock up on defensive prospects and trade them for wingers. While I'm not completely against that particular tactic, especially after seeing how that Neal trade worked out for us, I do think we eventually need to find a way to start drafting and successfully grooming some offensive talent on the wings.

Don't forget Matt Moulson was a draft pick of the Pens too... they gave up on early on and now he's a 30 goal guy.

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Was Clarke your GM for awhile and I missed it, or what?

In Shero's defense, he was just joining the organization when Moulson was ready to turn pro. He lacked firsthand knowledge about the kid and was receiving his scouting reports from scouts who were under the Patrick regime. On top of that, he also faced an August 15th signing deadline for Moulson and they did offer him a contract. Moulson turned them down and chose to hit the open market.

If I had to blame anyone for the Moulson situation, I place more of the blame on former scouts than I do Shero.

Plus, hindsight is always 20/20. We were definately not the only team out there who doubted Moulson's talents. There were 29 other organizations that passed on him for nine straight rounds in the '03' draft. Heck, the Kings let him walk after claiming him on the open market and after he put up some very solid numbers with the Monarchs.

Edited by Penguins-66
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@Penguins-66

I agree with everything you're saying actually. Just being silly. I think Moulson is a classic late bloomer.

Re scouts: I was around some for a bit last night at the Canada-Russia Challenge, and I still think many of them cannot spot certain things about players, or are blinded by obsession. I think in general scouts systematically undervalue or otherwise fail to acknowledge hockey IQ as a critical factor in a player. They have size bias and they don't value character enough (those last two are related). Generalizations I realize.

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@Podein25 I picked up Moulson off waivers in fantasy hockey last season, seemed like a reasonable move considering I had Tavares. Now with only 5 keepers, I'm faced with the decision of letting go of Patrick Kane to keep Moulson.That's essentially what it comes down to, Kane had a horrible year for goal scoring, and his pp points were down also. I would have never even entertained that thought last year, but things change quickly in hockey. After all 36 goals to 23 is a pretty wide margin.

The big question is, did Moulson (who turns 29 Nov 1) peak yet, I'm thinking he will continue to rise for a few years playing on Tavares's wing. I'm actually happy that P.A Parenteau will be replaced on that line by Okposo....more natural skill and creativity from Okposo. Thing is Kane only turns 24 on Nov 19, and has much more talent around him in Chicago...AND I have Towes. I think this decision might come down to youth and the fact Chicago plays on many NHL off nights..almost every Friday and Sunday at home.

Edit...sorry for going off topic Pens fans!

Edited by jammer2
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@Polaris922 Well, the forwards have Goals, Assists, Points, Plus/Minus, PIM, Game Winning Goals, power play pts Short handed pts and Faceoffs. The pts we have talked about, the PIM, Kane had 40 (a relatively small total) and Moulson had 6....which makes me ask, how in the world did he not win the Lady Byng with 3 minor penalties for the WHOLE year....a stunningly low total. Basically a wash with a slight edge to Kane, neither guy is a factor in that category. Kane was +6 and Moulson was +1, another wash. Shorties were 0 to 0, another wash, and Game winning goals were tied at 5-5.

The big difference was the face offs, 240 face off wins for Kane to 24 for Moulson. The Hawks experimented with Kane as a center, but you really can't count on that happening again. The deciding factor may just be power play points Moulson doubled Kane 24 to 12.....the Hawks pp was surprisingly off last year. I expect it to rebound a bit, but 24 to 12 is a BIG difference. Leaning towards Moulson.

Edited by jammer2
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Speaking of Zlobin, he held his own on a line with Yakupov and Grigorenko during the Canada-Russia Challenge , scoring two goals in four games. Hopefully he has a good 2012-2013 campaign in Val-d'Or.

Showing good hustle and speed on his Game 3 shorty...

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