Penguins depth chart breakdown: Defensive prospects to get chance
With the NHL Draft and the start of the free agent signing period approaching, Trib Total Media breaks down the Penguins' organizational depth chart. This week: defensemen and goaltenders.
For the past couple of seasons, Derrick Pouliot, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington have been like a box of old baseball cards or comic books stowed in the attic.
Everyone suspected they were worth something, but no one was sure of their exact value.
That will change in the fall. The Penguins are about to find out exactly what they have in their top three defensive prospects. With Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff likely to move on in free agency, there are spots open on the blue line, and general manager Jim Rutherford is committed to seeing how well the team's homegrown youngsters can fill them.
More young defensemen in the lineup means more young-defenseman mistakes, of course, but Rutherford is OK with that.
“All defensemen make mistakes. The thing about young defensemen, you know they'll continue to get better,” Rutherford said. “I'm excited about our group. They've gone through their development stage. There will still be a learning curve, but I believe our young group of defensemen, by December or the halfway point, will really grow into the job.”
Beyond Pouliot, Dumoulin and Harrington, the prospect pool on defense thins out. The Penguins undoubtedly will have to focus on building depth, whether through the draft, trades or free agency, over the next few summers.
Goaltending, on the other hand, is a position with excellent depth. For the first time in recent memory, the Penguins have a pair of high-end prospects in net — Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry — and don't have to prioritize adding players at the position.
In fact, the team's young goalies might prove to be attractive bargaining chips.