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Penguins Prospect Broz Lights Up NCAA Tourney; Will Meet with Pens



Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Tristan Broz

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a prospect who scores game-winning goals and lifts his team in crucial moments.

Tristan Broz was the Penguins 2021 second-round pick (58th overall), and his overtime heroics have the University of Denver in the NCAA championship game on Saturday.

Thursday night, Broz raced across the blue line, backing in the Boston Terriers defensemen and snapping a shot past Boston goalie Mathieu Caron for the OT winner. Denver will play for the school’s 10th national title, which would be the most all-time.

Broz, 21, was selected by the former regime, GM Ron Hextall and director of scouting Nick Pryor (given the title a few days after the draft), who remains on the job under the new president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas, but it sounds like the new Penguins’ management are equally excited about him.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now spoke with Penguins assistant general manager Jason Spezza about Broz on Friday after Broz scored his second OT winner of the tournament, a school record.

The Penguins’ prospect also beat UMass in the round of 16 with an OT winner, and the Penguins management team has been cheering him on from afar.

“It’s been a really successful year, and not just with the overtime goals,” said Spezza. “It’s great when your prospects have big moments like that. It gives them confidence, but I think he’s done a really good job of rounding out his game more and taking some steps, especially from Christmas (onward).”

Noted Boston alumni Penguins’ coach Mike Sullivan may have grimaced at the result on Thursday, but he also may be getting a player in the near future.

Tristan Broz Evolution

It’s been a different path for Broz, who played three seasons in the USHL before entering the college ranks with the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

After one season, Broz transferred to Denver, and it has been a good match for both player and team. This season, the junior upped his point total from 28 in 40 games to 40 points in 42 games with 16 markers.

The scouting report on Broz offers a mixed bag, which Spezza also noted.

“He is a good passer and can finish plays with an accurate shot. At times, he can be too passive defensively, and he will occasionally drift to the perimeter,” SportsForecaster’s scouting report reads.

Spezza confirmed to PHN that after the season, the Penguins will sit down with Broz’s representation to discuss turning pro.

“That’s a conversation we’ll have with him and his representatives after the season,” said Spezza. “Yeah, that’s a big decision. Once you play games (even) on an ATO, you can’t go back to school. It’s different than the OHL kids. Those are conversations that will happen at the end of the year.”

The initial draft scouting reports indicated Broz’s biggest drawback was skating. As a winger, he could be gritty but needed to improve his footspeed. To help, Denver coach David Carle moved Broz to center this season, allowing Broz to play with motion, thus increasing the speed of his game.

The Penguins did the same with 2019 first-round pick Sam Poulin.

Also of note is that Broz’s weight has increased. He was originally listed at 6-foot, 178 pounds, but now Denver lists him at 190. That’s a good improvement for a player who will need to play between the dots at the pro level.

“I think this is a point of emphasis for him. I think he’s taken to using more crossovers, which I think he has the ability to do,” Spezza told us. “And when he does crossover more, he’s more dynamic. And he’s worked at it. He’s worked on his skating, and he’s made some progress and needs to continue to make progress. But he’s definitely been open to working on his game and understands the areas to work on.”

The clock will start ticking on Broz soon, and the Penguins may want to hustle to get him into the organization. Per the NHL CBA, if the Penguins do not sign him shortly after next season, they will lose his rights, and he will become a free agent.

Remember, the Penguins were the beneficiary of a college free-agent situation when they acquired John Marino from the Edmonton Oilers for merely a sixth-round pick. Marino, from Harvard, wasn’t going to sign with Edmonton, who recouped an asset with the trade.

However, the Penguins may not have much difficulty getting Broz under contract. Last July, he told PHN he would leave college “when the Penguins think I’m ready.”

Spezza noted getting between the dots has been something else Broz has worked on.

“It’s generally a theme for most guys who have perimeter skills: You have to teach them how to get inside. And I think he’s no different,” Spezza explained. “It’s just something that we have to continually help them figure out—different ways to get yourself a good-chance spot.”

There’s a clear difference between Broz’s recent play and what observers may have seen at the UPMC Lemieux Complex in Cranberry last July. Broz did not stand out among the Penguins’ prospects and seemed to be lost in the shuffle.

Broz has not been able to participate in the annual Prospects Challenge in Buffalo to further his involvement and integration with the team. Because of NCAA rules, he would have to pay his own way and not miss any classes, which is impossible or unfeasible for most players.

However, with the improvements, Broz could leap toward the top of the Penguins’ prospect pool. One more overtime goal wouldn’t hurt. Denver plays Boston College for the championship Saturday at 6 p.m.