Found October 05, 2013 on The Farm Club:
picture from The Pittsburgh Penguins enter the 2013-2014 season set with their lineups, but as James Neal, Kris Letang, and Tomas Vokoun have shown, every team must have depth to have continued success in the NHL. The American Hockey League (AHL) is the main pipeline of that depth, and for the Penguins it is no exception. Their AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Baby Penguins’ 2013-2014 team have a perfect blend of top prospects, AHL depth players, and depth players that could contribute on the fourth line of the NHL team. The top prospect playing for the Baby Penguins is Scott Harrington, the Penguins’ 2011 second pick, who has turned into a steady stay-at-home defenseman with top four potential, and could fit in perfectly on the second defensive pairing behind Olli Maatta and Kris Letang. Harrington enters his first full professional season, after making his pro debut last year during the AHL playoffs, so despite his upside, don’t expect to see Harrington’s name being one of the first names to get the call should the Penguins need an extra hand on defense. He had a strong camp, but his main focus should be getting a full season under his belt this year, and compete for a NHL roster spot next year with Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, and Paul Martin all set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. So outside of Harrington, who will have all eyes on him regardless, what other players playing for the Baby Penguins should Pens’ fans keep an eye on this season? 5. Brian Dumoulin Harrington arguably has more upside, but former Boston College Eagle defenseman Brian Dumoulin is the most NHL ready prospect the Penguins have, and it should and likely will be Dumoulin that gets the call to the show first should the Pens need an extra body on defense. In 73 games last year with Wilkes-Barre, Dumoulin scored 24 points (6 G, 18 A) and was a minus-11. He kicked it into high gear in the playoffs, scoring eight points (2 G, 6 A) in 15 games. At 6’4, Dumoulin has a huge reach, with two-way potential and look for him to take that next step this year in his offensive game. 4. Jayson Megna Megna was a curious case for the Baby Penguins last season, as scouts said he oozed potential, but could never put it together in games. In 56-games at the minor league level, Megna scored only 12 points (5 G, 7 A) but one thing to keep in mind about him, the AHL was his third level in three years. He played in the USHL one year, followed by a year in college, and turned pro, playing in the AHL this most recent year. In the organization’s prospect camp in July, Megna’s name kept being brought up by the coaching staff and Bill Guerin, the Penguins’ director of player development, even with the camp filled with high upside defensive prospects. In a system that lacks much forward depth, Megna is an interesting prospect who has a chance to separate himself from the pack this year and establish himself as a legitimate NHL prospect. 3. Adam Payerl 22-year old Adam Payerl fits the mold of a fourth line NHL prospect, and could follow the same path as current Penguins, Joe Vitale. Payerl only scored four goals in 48-games between the AHL and ECHL level, but that isn’t his bread and butter. His physical presence and willingness to drop his gloves is what makes him a prospect. Payerl had more fights (5) than goals (4) last season, and while that isn’t a lot, over a 82-game season that would equate to nine and fought 14 times in the OHL in 2011-2012. He the Penguins have plenty of depth on their bottom-six so Payerl will get another chance to develop in the minors before possibly getting a chance at the NHL roster next year. 2. Simon Despres The Simon Despres sage has been an interesting one, going from coach Dan Byslma declaring Despres is a top-four defenseman all the way to starting yet another season in the minors. Despres has top four defenseman written all over him, but he has yet to get a real shot at becoming one in Pittsburgh and time is running out. Despres is in his last year of his entry level contract, and with Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, Harrington, and Dumoulin all, going to be knocking on the NHL door next season, if Despres hasn’t established himself in the NHL yet he might be the odd man out. If the Penguins were going to trade him, they missed their opportunity at last year’s deadline where his value was likely the highest. Starting in the AHL for the third straight year isn’t likely to help his value, even if he is the first player that will get a call up if the Pens need a body. This is a make or break year for Despres, and sadly, there is nothing he can do but continue to play at a level that he clearly graduating from two years ago. 1. Eric Hartzell Last year’s Hobey Baker Finalist is the biggest name to watch this year in Wilkes-Barre for one simple reason, we will get our first look at if he can be a future starter, backup or depth option for the Penguins. Not only was the Tomas Vokoun injury a blessing in disguise for Jeff Zatkoff, who will get his first shot in the NHL but also Hartzell who will likely get more starts now as oppose if Zatkoff were in the minors. The Baby Pens signed Jeff Deslauries to a professional tryout contract and could get a look early in the season but if Hartzell plays to anything like they think he might be able to, the playing time will quickly shift in Hartzell’s favor. His window to establish himself in the organization will be small, as the Penguins drafted Tristan Jarry to be the goalie of the future and when he appears ready to move to the next level they won’t let any player stand in his way, even Hartzell   The post Wilkes Barre Scranton: 5 Players To Watch From The Penguins Affiliate appeared first on The Farm Club.

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