You don’t have to look very far to find out that the Pittsburgh Penguins get a lot of production from their AHL team and next season will be no different.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a lot of potential waiting on deck from all over. Still in college, the CHL, but for the purposes of this article, we are looking solely at the Penguins AHL team. The American Hockey League has produced some dandies of the years, and next season will be no different.
To refresh your memory, new names like Tristan Jarry, Jake Guentzel, and even the Pittsburgh Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, have come out of the Penguins farm system and progressed within the NHL. With the current crop of mini Penguins waiting in the wings, this off-season leading up to next year could see a lot of potentials when it comes to the WBS Penguins team.
So what will our crystal ball tell us? Who will make the biggest splash in progression this off-season and grow from an AHL star to a full-time name in the NHL? Let’s start at number 3 and work out way down to give you the top 3 players to make the jump next season.
Position: Right Winger
As a jack of all trades and a master of none, Riley Barber has been around long enough to see a few things. This AHL veteran of 5 years now has been allowed to play in the NHL but never really got it going. However, being trades to the WBS Penguins in February means that the Pens brass must value him, right?
Not necessarily, but he hasn’t given them a reason not too. Before the league shut down, he was able to grab three goals and three assists in just seven games. He’s been mediocre at best, but this Pennsylvania native has seemed to have found home again. With a lot of unknowns to come in the NHL offseason, look for this winger to take the plunge, just maybe not with as much pizzazz.
Position: Right Winger
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In his third season with the WBS Penguins, Anthony Angello had already tied his goal-scoring number from last season just before the halt in play. Even though the mini Pens aren’t scoring lights out this year… Angello has been as he leads the team. Not to sound uneducated, but typically players that progress to the NHL score a lot in the AHL.
Angello made a splash already this year with 8 appearances for the Pens but failed to stick. Besides scoring, he’s big, and being 6 feet 5 inches tall helps in the progression to the league. Much like Barber, the RW position for the Penguins will be up in the air come to the summertime, and it could be perfect timing for Angello to get another shot playing in the big stage.
Do you want to talk about pressure and stress? PO Joseph has loads of it after being the prized possession in the Phil Kessel trade, and being a young defender to boot, makes it even harder because we all know the road to the top as a defenseman can be a long one. He started the year on a slow roller but was getting going just before the world was put on hiatus.
He’s not yet shown much to be known as an offensive defender, but his new-found skills in the PK and PP lines have been found useful. The Pittsburgh Penguins need more sound defense, and POJ can be just that. He may not find himself on the first line or even seeing more than 10 minutes a game for starters, but he can work himself into a good shot and follow in some big footsteps.
- Jordy Bellerive
- Kasper Bjorkqvist
- Sam Miletic
- Jon Lizotte
A lot will depend on how the Penguins off-season goes with who they bring in, let go, and what styles of play Sullivan and Co will want to implement or keep next year. If it’s not next season, we will see the likes of POJ, Barber, and Angello very soon, but all signs point to a quick accession into the ranks of the NHL and the Pittsburgh Penguins.