According to published reports in Sweden, the Pittsburgh Penguins will lose Swedish defenseman prospect Lukas Bengtsson to the Swedish Elite League following this season.
Foreign reports can be tricky. Recall the Swedish report on the eve of the NHL Expansion Draft which claimed the Vegas Golden Knights were reconsidering the deal which ensured Marc-Andre Fleury would be their selection? There are countless other examples, typically coming from Scandinavia and eastern Europe. However, Bengtsson has not denied the reports.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now is awaiting confirmation from sources close to the situation. No comments, official or otherwise, have been made. PHN will update this story as details become available.
Bengtsson, 23, will be a restricted free agent after this season. He has spent his two-year North American tenure with the Penguins AHL team, the WBS Penguins, but injury and illness have plagued the Swede. He played just 16 games last season and 28 this season but has amassed 19 career points (1g, 18a). Bengtsson was thought to have Lyme Disease last season but was later diagnosed with POTS Syndrome which affects heart rate and blood pressure.
Reports of Bengtsson’s play have been positive. WBS color analyst Nick Hart told Pittsburgh Hockey Now TV in December that Bengtsson “will play in the NHL, it’s just a matter of when.”
Update 5:38 p.m.: Per sources, there is no confirmation of the report. “None,” said a WBS source. “Lukas can’t sign anything until the summer.” The source denial doesn’t entirely deny the report’s claim of a verbal agreement, however.
If true, the loss would leave the Penguins without an NHL calibre defensive prospect in the AHL, though last season the Penguins selected Zachary Lauzon and Clayton Phillips in the second and third rounds, respectively. The Penguins could still tender a qualifying offer to Bengtsson, even if he bolts for Sweden, which would allow the Penguins to retain his rights until he is eligible for free agency in four years.