The Pittsburgh Penguins Prospects’ appearance at Buffalo, N.Y.’s Harbor Center ended not with a bang but with a painful whimper earlier today. The team assembled for the tournament went an abysmal 0-3 and were outscored an incredible 20-6 (yes, you read that right) over the course of the event.
The weekend started off with a decidedly not good first period against the Bruins prospects and then, somehow, got worse. They lost each game by a wider margin than the last until their final shellacking at the hands of the number three prospect pool in the NHL, The Buffalo Sabres.
The good news is that it ultimately means absolutely nothing because these games are like “Whose Line Is It Anyway” the teams are made up and the wins don’t matter. But losing 10-2 is definitely the kind of thing that would hurt anyone’s pride hey, at least it wasn’t 10-1? right?
But if you want to figure out why they performed so poorly look no further than the rosters. Pittsburgh, being a little too busy winning Stanley Cups two of the last three years, hasn’t drafted in the first round very much lately.
Case in point – The Penguins only had two players chosen in the first four rounds of the draft playing this weekend and their highest drafted player came in the form of 2018 second-rounder Calen Addison. In fact, of the 24 players who traveled to Buffalo to represent the Penguins, 12 were undrafted. This included all three of their goalies who definitely looked young, nervous, and overall just not too impressive.
That doesn’t mean the tournament was a lost cause though. Actually, it was quite the opposite. For Jordy Bellerive, who was injured over the summer at a campfire accident, this tournament was his return to play. He had previously been told he wouldn’t play for a year due to his injuries so the fact he was there and looked better as the tournament wore on is amazing. In the final game against Buffalo he had some real zip and clanged one off the crossbar.
Incoming Rookies for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Sam Lafferty and Anthony Angello both had strong shifts, plays, and moments. Angello is roughly the size of fellow Penguins prospect Justin Almeida on the shoulders of Jake Guentzel at 6’5″ but moves really well for his size. A lot of folks have him replacing Oskar Sundqvist easily in that potential bottom six call-up. And in the contest against the Bruins he threw his weight around and showed he can skate.
Lafferty had a few strong plays including a great shift during the match-up with New Jersey that could have easily been a goal for any of the three forwards on his line but the Devils goalie stood on his head:
Then we get to the MVP of the not-particularly strong team – Adam Johnson. Johnson, who was signed out of college last summer, was slightly upstaged in the last 12 months by the meteoric rise of Bellerive. But Johnson, who put up a solid stat line of 11-20-32 in his rookie season, has been the kind of slow and steady prospect the Penguins have seen before. Like Bryan Rust before him, he’s not someone who gets top prospect billing most of the time but is effective in his position. He’ll be one to watch this season the Wilkes-Barre turns the roster over once more.