The Pittsburgh Penguins prospect pool. The maligned, shallow, and largely ineffective group of NHL hopefuls over the past six years have provided the Penguins organization with little, though with some recent drafts and signings, there are still more than a dozen players still fighting to put their names on the NHL depth chart or at least force themselves into that conversation.
The Penguins have received only 13 games of NHL service from draft picks since the 2016 NHL Draft. College free agent Drew O’Connor, who signed out of Dartmouth in 2020, has been a late-blooming success story. A couple of other college free agents, including Anthony Angello, have contributed. Otherwise, Kasper Bjorkqvist’s six-game stint stands as the most games by a Penguins prospect in the last seven years.
2018 second-rounder Calen Addison has caught on with the Minnesota Wild. He and a first-round pick were the centerpieces of the Penguins’ trade for Jason Zucker. 2016 second-rounder Filip Gustavsson also stuck in the Minnesota lineup last season after a few years toiling for the Ottawa Senators and their AHL affiliate.
In fairness, the Penguins didn’t start keeping their first-round picks until the last two years. Sam Poulin (2019, 21st overall) was the only Penguins first-rounder between 2014 and 2021. And the 2021 draft class was especially barren for most teams; only eight players from that class have thus far played more than 15 NHL games.
However, the below-average NHL draft pools don’t help the Penguins, who have received so little, including zero games of service from their 2017 draft class, including never signing second and third-round picks; Zachary Lauzon’s career ended in juniors due to concussions, while Clayton Phillips didn’t earn a deal and spent last season in the ECHL.
Over the coming days, Pittsburgh Hockey Now will rank the Penguins’ prospects and will do so in thirds, as 14 players made the list.
The Dark Horses & Falling Penguins Prospects
11. Nathan Legare
The Penguins traded back into the 2019 third round to select the heavy shot and tough-shouldered Legare. He was Poulin’s contemporary since childhood and possesses a wrist shot that explodes off his stick.
With the addition of other prospects and two subpar AHL seasons, Legare has slipped out of our top 10.
The talented agitator is a step slow and has been unable to find space at the pro level to unleash that wicked shot. He has just 35 points (15-20-35) in 125 AHL games and didn’t show a significant leap forward in Year 2.
A third year without offensive production might end his prospect status unless he becomes a defensive player in the mold of Zach Aston-Reese, whose skating and offensive game didn’t translate as well at the next levels but learned how to fill a defensive role at the NHL level.
12. Sergei Murashov
A Russian goalie who purportedly fell to the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Draft because of the tangled and dangerous Russian situation, Murashov is on the small side at 6 feet and 190 pounds. Very little video exists from the Russian junior league, so we’re left to rely on the words of scouts, amateur and professional.
In 37 games with Loko Yaroslavl of the MHL, Murashov posted an impressive .948 save percentage and 1.53 GAA.
Scouts say he’s a quick, athletic goalie who can make unconventional saves. He showed well in one KHL game last season, with a .947 save percentage.
As a Russian goalie, his pedigree is interesting. As a Russian, his potential North American hockey future is murky. Russia is making it increasingly difficult for its prospects to escape, even adding military service requirements.
Philadelphia Flyers goalie prospect Ivan Fedotov is a prime example. The Flyers’ 2014 draft pick has not been able to come to North America, and the Flyers filed an appeal last month with the IIHF, claiming he’s fulfilled all of his obligations and should be allowed to continue his career with the Flyers organization.
Eligible and “allowed” are two very different things for Russian players now. Murashov would rank higher on the list if not for being caught in Russia.
13. Ty Glover
Glover was undrafted in 2019 and played a pair of seasons at Western Michigan after a year in the USHL. Last season was his first with the WBS Penguins, and he posted 12 points (5-7-12) after an admittedly tough adjustment.
Glover has size. He’s 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and remains a project. He skates well but has never really put offensive statistics at any level. However, if he can add a little more bulk with his 6-foot-3 frame and learn to do the dirty work necessary in the NHL, he could become a depth NHL player.
14. Lukas Svejkovsky
PHN has formerly touted the 2020 fourth-rounder (108th overall). He possesses slick offensive skills and lit up the scoreboard with Medicine Hat and Seattle of the WHL. He had a strong showing at his first Penguins Development Camp in 2021 but was returned to juniors for his overage season.
Svejkovsky turned pro last season, and like many of the prospects who landed in WBS, it didn’t go so well. The diminutive winger is listed at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, and had only three goals and 12 points in 47 games.
Svejkovsky was selected for his offensive ability, but he’ll need to figure out the pro game quickly as Penguins president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas has begun stockpiling NHL depth. The WBS Penguins roster figures to be crowded this coming season, and prominent offensive roles will be more difficult to earn. Like Legare, Svejkovsky must find a way to use his skills and minimize his deficiencies before his prospect status expires.