On Sept. 14, the Pittsburgh Penguins released their development camp roster. Although this may not seem like big news, this is where fans get to catch a glimpse of the future stars of the franchise. In total, 14 forwards, seven defensemen and three goaltenders are attending. These are the more notable players that fans will want to keep their eye on.
Samuel Poulin and Nathan Legare
These two players are going to be lumped together because they can easily be considered Pittsburgh’s top two prospects, and therefore get a ton of publicity. Samuel Poulin was drafted 21st overall in the 2019 NHL entry draft. There are already high expectations for him as he was Pittsburgh’s first first-round draft pick since 2014. So far, he looks like he’s going to be a star in the future as he has a respectable 229 points in 192 games in the QMJHL.
Nathan Legare was also drafted in the 2019 NHL entry draft, but he was taken 74th overall. Despite being taken in the third round only two years ago, he’s already looking like he’s going to be a star with the Penguins. In 224 games with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL, he has 225 points. With both Poulin and Legare already point per game players in the amateur leagues, things are looking exciting.
What’s most exciting is the fact that these two are childhood friends. They played together, played against each other and train together. They both have big frames, so they tend to throw their weight around as power forwards. With these two having so much chemistry, watching them will be nothing short of entertaining.
If fans have been paying attention to the trades the organization has been making in the past year, this name may look familiar. Pittsburgh used Filip Hallander as an asset to reacquire Kasperi Kapanen. However, the Penguins got him right back when they sent Jared McCann to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hallander was taken by Pittsburgh 58th overall in the 2018 NHL entry draft. Despite only being 21 years old, he already has a good bit of experience in professional hockey as he’s played in the Swedish Hockey League, or SHL. Much like Legare and Poulin, he tends to use his size as an advantage. Hallander prefers to throw his weight around and park himself in front of the net. It seems the Penguins won’t need much more grit when these three make it to the NHL.
With Legare, Poulin and Hallander all classified as power forwards, Valtteri Puustinen is more of a goal-scorer. Pittsburgh drafted Puustinen 203rd overall in the 2019 draft, the same year as Legare and Poulin. His draft position should be ignored when his game speaks for itself. In the Liiga, the top hockey league in Finland, Puustinen has 94 points in 152 games as a 22 year old. That’s definitely worth noting.
Pittsburgh undoubtedly sees something in Puustinen, because they recently signed him to a two-year extension. Although he may be undersized at 5-foot-9, his speed and offensive vision more than makes up for it. It is also speculated that he is likely to start in the AHL next season, but that’s not guaranteed of course.
What is guaranteed is that the Penguins, despite being notorious for trading away draft picks and prospects like it’s nothing, have a nice little prospect pool. With the development camp rapidly approaching, fans should keep their eyes on some players. Who knows, in a few years these guys could be playing in the big leagues.
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