Pittsburgh Penguins Prospects Shine in Tournament Opener

The Pittsburgh Penguins kicked off the 2015-16 season with a 3-on-3 overtime victory against the Montreal Canadiens. Well, kinda.

The Pens opened their rookie tournament yesterday at 4 o’clock against the Canadiens with a roster headlined by Derrick Pouliot, Oskar Sundqvist and Daniel Sprong. Other notable players to watch are Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust and the surprising Ty Loney, son of former Penguin Troy Loney.

The game started on a fairly sloppy note as both teams were trying to find their grove. Within minutes though, it was almost like we were watching NHL hockey in early September. Before any scoring took place, the contest got pretty chippy with both Evan Wardley and Matt Murphy dropping the gloves in the first period. Wardley would later leave the game with a leg injury and is now out for the remainder of the tournament.

The Pens received goals from Scott Wilson, Ty Loney, Oskar Sundqvist and then Daniel Sprong buried the game-winner in OT. For what was assumed to be a somewhat boring affair between youngsters, the game turned out to be quite entertaining and had a really good pace.

The standouts for me were Daniel Sprong, Ty Loney, Conor Sheary and Oskar Sundqvist.

Sundqvist looks poised to make a case for himself again during this season’s training camp. The Pittsburgh Penguins made a tough decision in sending him back to Sweden last fall. And, despite the assumption that Matt Cullen will curb his ability to make the NHL roster, I’d recommend keeping your eyes peeled in order to see how that situation plays out. There’s more hockey to be played in this tournament and camp and if he continues this kind of performance, we may be watching Cullen occupy the left-wing position next month.

Ty Loney isn’t someone I’d expect to see in the NHL for another year or two but his ability to find the net sure is impressive. I saw him live during the prospect scrimmage in Pittsburgh and he’s always in the right place at the right time. It will be fun to watch him develop.

Sheary was a man amongst boys yesterday evening and consistently won 50/50 pucks, mainly using his speed and elusiveness. He was tenacious on the forecheck and often times hit the opponent’s goal line before the opposing defensemen. If he plans to make a bid for an NHL spot in 2015-16 he’ll need to continue that but also contribute on the score sheet.

Daniel Sprong was exactly what I had hoped for in this game. He was one step ahead of the play throughout the entire contest and looked too fast to be on the ice with other prospects. He again proved that he isn’t all that interested in back checking but when he’s creating offense it truly is something to marvel. I still don’t see him as an NHL forward yet but lookout when he fully develops and finds a place with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Pens will face the Ottawa Senators tomorrow at 4 o’clock and then face-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday at 7:30pm. If you’re able to check out the live stream at Penguins.NHL.Com I highly recommend it.