The Pittsburgh Penguins signed 2019 third-round draft pick Nathan Legare to his three-year entry-level contract Friday. Legare earned his tender after a solid showing in training camp and a pair of goals Thursday night when the Penguins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 at PPG Paints Arena.
“Nathan has had a really strong training camp thus far,” said Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. “We’ve been impressed with his offensive instincts and his overall approach to the game. We’re thrilled to get him signed.”
The Penguins traded for a third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft to select Legare (74th overall). Rutherford dealt three picks (98th, 151st, and 207th) to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for the earlier selection. It was, of course, a precursor to another trade with Arizona in the following week when the Penguins shipped Phil Kessel to Arizona for Alex Galchenyuk and PO Joseph.
Legare has three points(2g, 1a) in two preseason games including two goals in 23 seconds Thursday night. He also scored three points (2g, 1a) in three games at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo from Sept. 6-9.
The 18-year-old forward will almost assuredly return to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL but he did impress Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, too.
“It’s really jumped out at all of us–his ability to shoot the puck,” said Sullivan. “He can finish. He can really shoot it.”
The entry-level deal will begin when Legare begins playing professional hockey, perhaps as early as next year. Legare is still in Penguins training camp and in theory, could earn a nine-game tryout which would not start his professional clock. Legare would not burn a year of his professional contract unless he played more than nine games at the NHL level, ala Daniel Sprong in 2015 when Sprong played more than nine games with the Penguins. The extended time in the NHL started his three-year deal and accelerated when he would no longer be waiver exempt.