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Exclusive: Penguins’ Top Pick Brayden Yager–Bigger, Faster, & On a Roll (+)



Pitsburgh Penguins prospect Brayden Yager

In the last few months, 19-year-old Brayden Yager has gained a few pounds of muscle in the weight room, picked up a step on the ice, set career highs with 35 goals and 90 points, and led his Moose Jaw Warriors to their first WHL championship and first berth in the Memorial Cup.

The 2023 Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick is on a roll.

Friday, Moose Jaw will begin its Memorial Cup journey in Saginaw, Michigan. For the newly acquainted, the tournament is a four-team round-robin to decide the best team under the CHL banner, which includes the top three Canadian major junior leagues. It’s part celebration and part hockey tournament. The ceremonies and parties begin Thursday with the “Arrival of the Cup,” in which the Memorial Cup will be paraded into town.

The other three teams in the tournament are this year’s host, the Saginaw Spirit, the OHL champion London Knights, and the QMJHL champ Drummondville Voltigeurs.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now will cover several Moose Jaw games in person to get a first-hand look at the prized Penguins prospect.

Saturday, PHN began our coverage when we spoke with Yager via phone after Moose Jaw’s practice.

The Yager Path

At the 2023 NHL Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins did something they had not done in more than a decade. They kept and used a pick in the top 15 of the NHL draft. Yager was the pick, and for the first time in recent memory, the Penguins had a forward prospect with unquestioned middle-six potential and a bright future.

Since hearing his name and climbing those stage stairs to accept handshakes and his Penguins jersey as the 14th overall selection, the center has done nothing to create buyer’s remorse and everything to brighten the optimism that he could be on NHL ice sooner than later.

The organization has invested time, in person and from afar, into its new star pupil. Even Matt Cullen has been involved.

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