After our thorough review of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ coming decision with top prospect P.O Joseph, a couple of external sources admitted there was more to the Joseph story, which could impact some of the NHL trade chatter this summer.
An NHL source with direct knowledge admitted the New York Islanders did some poking around before the NHL trade deadline and graded Joseph well.
The 2020-21 season was a shortened season write-off for most AHL players. Joseph played in 23 games, not exactly a treasure trove of development opportunities. The season was barely salvageable with taxi squads, quarantines, and limited travel. Joseph had 13 points (1-12-13), but followed up with growth this season.
In 61 AHL games, Joseph was on point. He had 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points and was the top defenseman for the WBS Penguins.
Scouts have noticed.
In addition to one Metro scouting department, which graded Joseph well, the scuttle in the scouting community was the Montreal Canadiens checked in on Joseph before the NHL trade deadline, too.
“He ends plays and then distributes the puck up ice. I’ve seen him neutralize three-on-ones without the other team even sniffing a chance,” said a professional source who has watched Joseph. “…for whatever reason seems very timid about asserting himself (in the offensive zone).”
Joseph will turn 23-years-old on July 1 and next season will no longer waiver-exempt. So, he must remain on an NHL roster or be fair game on the waiver wire. The Penguins’ decision is a complicated one.
Of course, Montreal is an attractive potential suitor. Joseph is a Laval, QC native who played junior hockey in the QMJHL. Montreal loves its native sons. The dots are easy to connect to the rebuilding Canadiens, who also possess a potential replacement should the Pittsburgh Penguins lose top defenseman Kris Letang.
Montreal’s top right-side defenseman, Jeff Petry, put himself on the NHL trade block before the mid-season purge. Ownership fired GM Marc Bergevin and coach Dominque Ducharme in favor of new GM Kent Hughes and eventually head coach Marty St. Louis.
After St. Louis took over, Petry reportedly reconsidered his trade request.
Should circumstances shove Penguins GM Ron Hextall into replacing Letang, the 34-year-old Petry would be an obvious potential replacement.
Knowing that Montreal valued Joseph enough to inquire only adds another dimension to the coming summer decisions.