Breaking down Penguins' deep defense prospect pipeline
WILKES-BARRE — At the start of this season, the Penguins had a deep, talented crop of defensemen in the prospect pipeline.
That hasn't changed.
In the NHL, Olli Maatta has been a teen sensation and Simon Despres a competent pro. In the AHL, Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin and others have been dependable. In the WHL, Derrick Pouliot continues to impress.
At other positions, however, there has been plenty of movement on the prospect depth chart this season. Here's a look at players who have seen their stocks rise and fall. Prospects are listed with position, height, weight and age.
1. Tristan Jarry (G, 6-2, 180, 18): Showing why the Penguins traded up to take him in the second round of last June's draft, Jarry posted 44 wins and eight shutouts for Edmonton and was brilliant in his first season as a full-time starter in junior hockey.
2. Josh Archibald (RW, 5-10, 170, 21): When he was picked in the sixth round in 2011, Archibald projected as a feisty forechecker. He's still that, but he also added an elite scoring touch, finishing second in the NCAA with 29 goals for Nebraska-Omaha.
3. Brian Gibbons (F, 5-8, 170, 26): In his third pro season, Gibbons showed his speed would translate to the NHL level. He might not be the answer in the top six, but he's a piece of the puzzle.
4. Matt Murray (G, 6-5, 171, 19): A third-round pick in 2012, Murray had a breakout season for Sault Ste. Marie, ranking in the top five in OHL stats in every major goaltending category.
5. Jayson Megna (RW, 6-1, 195, 24): The Penguins were high on Megna since signing him out of Nebraska-Omaha. His strong skating in his first extended NHL stint showed why.
1. Tom Kuhnhackl (LW, 6-2, 172, 22): Known for his NHL-caliber shot while an OHL scoring star, Kuhnhackl has battled injuries and inconsistent performance. He scored eight goals in 48 games with the Baby Pens and has been in the ECHL with Wheeling since the end of February.
2. Eric Hartzell (G, 6-4, 205, 24): After being named AHL goalie of the month in January, the All-American from Quinnipiac saw his rookie season fall off the rails. He's 1-4 with a 4.77 goals-against average for the Baby Pens since Feb. 1.
3. Scott Wilson (LW, 6-0, 175, 21): Observers of college hockey say Wilson played just as well as a junior as he did in his previous two seasons at UMass-Lowell, but a drop from 16 to seven goals is noticeable.
4. Matia Marcantuoni (C, 6-0, 202, 20): The Penguins still have faith in their speedy 2012 fourth-round pick, but he missed time due to injury and was a minus-30 for a 22-win Kitchener team in the OHL.
5. Teddy Blueger (C, 5-11, 165, 19): Picked in the second round in 2012 for his skill, Blueger will have to produce more as an upperclassman at Minnesota State-Mankato. He had four goals and 22 assists this year.
Jonathan Bombulie has covered the Baby Pens for the Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre since the team's inception in 1999. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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