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Role: Power Forward
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12
Notables: 22 years old, 6-5, 219 lbs., Right handed shot
Season Stats: 66 games played, 12G, 24A, +17, 122 PIM
Playoff Stats: 11 games played, 2G, 2A, -1, 12 PIM
After playing just nine games in 2009-10 before a season ending shoulder injury, Keven Veilleux needed to prove his wasn't an injury prone forward that couldn't handle the day-to-day beating of the pro game. He played in 66 games this past season and punished several on the ice. The big 6-5 forward still has a lot to learn, but showed glimpses of NHL ready play down the stretch. Could Veilleux be the power forward the Penguins organization needs?
Veilleux notched just six goals and six assists after 34 games, but turned his play around from the start of February until the end of the season, posting six goals and 18 assists in the last 32 games he played.
I truly believe that Veilleux is right around the corner from becoming an NHL regular. With a good camp come September, he could be given a shot to play with Pittsburgh when injuries arise. He most likely won't make the NHL team from the start, but heading into the last year of his contract Veilleux has one year left to prove he was worth the 2nd round pick (51st overall) back in the 2007 Draft. I see him being a 50-60 point guy in the AHL in 2011-12 if he plays a full season there.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed another NHL forward, Pascal Dupuis, to a 2-year deal worth $1.5 million a season. That gives the NHL Pens 10 signed forwards with Dustin Jeffrey (RFA) being the 11th forward if/when he accepts his qualifying offer after July 1st.
The Penguins still have $6.4 million in cap space to go after another forward or two if they so choose, which is good news for WBS Penguins fans. Here's my forward depth chart with a group for clearly NHL, clearly AHL, and those tweener players that could go either way depending on further moves made.
NHL (9) Tweener (5) AHL (8)
Sidney Crosby Dustin Jeffrey Keven Veilleux
Evgeni Malkin Eric Tangradi Zach Sill
Jordan Staal Nick Johnson Geoff Walker
James Neal Joe Vitale Bryan Lerg
Chris Kunitz Ryan Craig Nick Petersen
Matt Cooke Ben Street
Pascal Dupuis Paul Thompson
Craig Adams Brian Gibbons
I think the Penguins will target 1-2 NHL forwards and 1-2 forwards for their AHL club. The Penguins still have Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Tom Kuhnhackl under contract, but I see Kuhnhackl going back to juniors and don't see Zabotel coming nowhere near Wilkes-Barre (AHL).
We are finishing up the player profiles from last season and have only a few left to do before Friday's free agency starts. I hope those who read have enjoyed them and look forward to Highland Park Hockey bringing top notch coverage of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Pittsburgh's prospects in 2011-12.