The Pittsburgh Penguins took 31 players in total to Toronto. Out of those players, 19 have spent time with the Baby Pens, showing a firm belief in growth from within the organization.
Some of those 19 are now or have been professionals for quite some time (Letang, Murray, Rust, Guentzel, Sheary, and Dumoulin). However, the Pittsburgh Penguins indeed have shown faith in some younger AHL prospects like Pierre Olivier-Joseph, Emil Larmi, and the Baby Pens veteran, Adam Johnson. (Check the full roster here)
The success of players like Jake, Rusty, Sheary, Dumo, and Matty ice (who all spent a lot of time with WBS) only to then become Stanley Cup champions, has attracted many young prospects looking for a place to grow. Grow, is what they are doing, and it shows.
“It’s awesome to see that, just off the bat, it’s nice to see familiar faces, and guys have that bond of playing in Wilkes. It’s also easier for guys that are here Black Acing and guys that are called up. Not feeling out of place definitely helps.”
A feeling of not belonging or being stressed out due to the overwhelming weight of the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be a lot, so seeing so many familiar faces absolutely can be helpful. A lot of these guys have seen each other play before, but for those who haven’t, they at least know where they came from and understand how they’ve been trained.
The Pittsburgh Penguins show a strong belief in their AHL system.
For the Pittsburgh Penguins, it truly is a top-to-bottom effort that all starts 100% with the ownership. The owners have bought into their AHL product, and continually provide the necessary support to keep developing it. Honestly, this comes as no surprise as this has been a project in the making since Mario Lemieux took ownership a decade and a half ago.
If anything, this article has already dug deeper than it needed to, as you don’t need to look any further than the head coach, Mike Sullivan. Sully was doing all the right things when he was coaching in WBS, and when he got the call to be promoted, so to speak, he took that responsibility by the horns, only leading the Penguins to back to back Stanley Cup victories.
Mike Vellucci, the current Baby Pens manager and his staff do a marvelous job of growing these youngsters both on and off the ice. Their production has spoken for itself with the current crop of “black aces” and fresh faces in the Penguins playoff roster, and it will only help grow the next batch of great, young talent that will be looking to excel towards their NHL dreams.