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Scouting Penguins Brayden Yager In-Person; What Pens Have on the Way (+)

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Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Brayden Yager
Brayden Yager: Photo courtesy of Eric Young/CHL

SAGINAW, Mich. — The Memorial Cup is a blend of college bowl games, a celebration of hockey, and a heated best-on-best tournament featuring the top Canadian Hockey League junior teams. Pittsburgh Penguins top forward prospect Brayden Yager led his Moose Jaw Warriors to the franchise’s first-ever Memorial Cup but that’s only the start of the scouting report.

Moose Jaw’s roster features several heralded NHL prospects, including defenseman Denton Matechuk (2022 12th overall, Columbus) and Matthew Savoie (2022 9th overall, Buffalo), as well as Jagger Firkus, who the Seattle Kraken took in the 2022 second round.

For the tournament, Yager has played with Firkus and Savoie, but the lines were shuffled a couple of times.

Mateychuk’s game is simple to describe: Imagine a smaller Erik Karlsson. He acts as a primary forward more than a defenseman, and as the No. 1 Moose Jaw D-man, he’s often on the ice with Yager, Moose Jaw’s top center.

The symbiosis of the two players is an important piece of the scouting report because it affects Yager’s game. So, too, did Moose Jaw coach Mark O’Leary’s strategic decisions, line shuffling, and Yager’s ability to accept changing roles throughout a game.

O’Leary changed his points of attack throughout the tournament, but it didn’t always benefit Yager. Neither did facing top CHL competition benefit the Penguins’ top forward prospect, but it did give us a good look at Yager—confirming some things we saw last September at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo and adding a few more insights.

It’s important to get eyes on Yager in person. Video highlights are nice, but they’re just a sliver of his full game and only show the good things. If you’re looking for sunshine and roses, look at a stat sheet. After two games and a few conversations with the Penguins’ prospect, we complete picture of what the Penguins have on the way.

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