The Pittsburgh Penguins have plenty of defensive talent in their system – and it’s showing with the rise of Olli Maatta this season.
But one player that may not get recognized as much is Philip Samuelsson.
Samuelsson, 22, was originally selected by Pittsburgh in the second-round (61st overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and has progressed steadily throughout the Pens’ organization.
In 51 contests with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, Samuelsson has registered 20 points (3G, 17A) and established a plus-17 rating – which is tied for first on the team with Simon Despres. And to put those statistics into perspective, Samuelsson only garnered 10 points (2G, 8A) all of last season (65 games).
So to say he’s made a large step would be an understatement, given he’s doubled last season’s total in 14 less outings.
A little over a month ago, Samuelsson was awarded CCM/AHL Player of the Week, which is a phenomenal achievement, and continues to play exceptionally.
He even got a chance to make his NHL debut back on Dec. 16, and totaled five games with Pittsburgh before being sent back down to WBS. Although he failed to record a point, Samuelsson played sound defense, showed poised puck management, and gave us a glimpse of the future.
Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 192-pounds, Samuelsson isn’t huge, but he’s perfectly built to handle his own on the blue-line. A left-handed shot with an eye for the open-ice, Samuelsson seems to be becoming more-and-more comfortable every year inside the Pens’ system.
As for his status heading into next season, in terms of him making the Pens’ roster, that will be interesting. Already presumably set to add Derrick Pouliot, their 2012 8th overall selection, for the 2014-15 campaign – unless of course, they feel he needs more development – Samuelsson could be competing with fellow prospects Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington for that last spot.
That’s also assuming there will be another slot.
We don’t know what the Pens will do with Matt Niskanen, who’s an impending free agent, and is having a tremendous season. I don’t anticipate the team re-signing Brooks Orpik, but if I were to have a hunch as to where Samuelsson ends up playing, it’ll be in WBS again.
Paul Martin will become a free agent after next season, so I could plausibly see Pittsburgh delaying Samuelsson’s arrival for just a little longer. Still, there’s a chance he does make the roster given his pedigree.
For now, Samuelsson will look to expand off his great season so far down in WBS. But keep your eye on this guy. Pretty soon, we’ll all be seeing him thrive in the NHL. The potential is certainly there.
Catch Samuelsson and the rest of WBS tonight, as they go against the Providence Bruins. The tilt is set to start at 7:05 p.m.