|Top forward prospect Beau Bennett needs a season at the AHL level.|
As Penguins beat writer Jonathan Bombulie put it yesterday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward core is going through a complete overhaul. In years past, the Penguins relied on guys like the Bryan Lerg's, Ben Street's and Geoff Walker's of the world to play a vital role while being on AHL-only deals.
This season, young prospects on NHL contracts will be teamed up with some proven, elite AHL talent in the Penguins top minor league affiliate. With the top five scorers from last season moving out or moving up (in Eric Tangradi's case), this is certainly a new era in AHL Penguins hockey.
A look at the forwards in the organization that participated in last weekend's Developmental Camp Scrimmage after the jump.
Like with the defensemen and goaltenders, I'll start to individually profile each of the forwards that you will most likely see in the AHL next season in the coming weeks.
#9 Brian Gibbons - "Gibby" looked like the same speedy forward he was last season in the scrimmage this past weekend. I was hoping to see him bulk up over the off-season but I guess I will have to wait until he goes up against AHL competition to see if he has improved on his strength with the puck.
#11 Jayson Megna - An unrestricted free agent invited to camp. To be honest I hadn't heard of him before the scrimmage and after it was over I didn't really notice him too much on the ice. Put together a decent year at Nebraska-Omaha (WCHA) last season, registering 31 points (13G-18A) in 38 games.
#12 Matia Marcantuoni - Heard his speed and skating ability was unparalleled but glad I got to see it in person for myself. The 4th round pick of 2012 was all over the ice and really intrigued me. He's only 18 so he won't crack the professional ranks this season, but certainly a forward prospect to keep an eye on this year in the OHL.
#13 Anton Zlobin - The smallish right winger was a 40 goal scorer in the QMJHL last season and might have been able to better showcase his skills if paired with a better playmaker. No offense to Zach Sill in that regard, but Zlobin still impressed me. He got an assist on Sill's goal and the 6th round pick from the 2012 Draft could turn heads in Wilkes-Barre in 2013-14.
#15 Josh Archibald - The Pens 6th round pick from 2011 recently completed his first season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (WCHA). He definitely hustled in the scrimmage and kind of flew under the radar at the scrimmage as most were watching Morrow, Despres, Pouliot, Maata and Bennett. Who knows what will become of Archibald after a few more seasons of college hockey under his belt. Looks to be more of a long range prospect at this point, as he's only 19.
#17 Paul Thompson - I'm expecting big things from Thompson with the AHL Penguins this season after a 25 point (10G-15A) rookie campaign. Clearly a man amongst boys at the scrimmage as he's 23. Could be a top-six forward for the WBS Penguins this year.
#18 Kenny Agostino - The 5th round pick from 2010 recorded 34 points (14G-20A) in 33 games at Yale (ECAC) last season. Another guy I wasn't too familiar with beforehand and didn't stick out either way (good or bad). He wasn't overly flashy.
#19 Beau Bennett - Probably the one you skipped down to read first. The Pens 1st round pick has a lot of hype surrounding him with some writers claiming he could make a push to join the NHL club this season. I tend to disagree after seeing him in the scrimmage. Yes, he's very good. He wowed the crowd many times at the Consol Energy Center during the scrimmage and has shown flashes of brilliance at times. To me, he tends to make one too many moves or seems to be trying too hard. I think a year adjusting to the pro level in the AHL will do wonders for his development and WBS Penguins fans should start getting excited to see Bennett in 2012-13.
#23 Scott Wilson - The Pens 7th round pick from 2011 finished a season with Umass-Lowell (HE) registering 38 points (16G-22A) in 37 games. I thought he played pretty well and will continue to watch his development in college hockey. He could be a guy that joins the AHL Penguins on an amateur tryout at the end of the 2012-13 season.
#24 Zach Sill - To expect anything other than a hard-working, hustle and grit type performance from Sill is foolish. But he also scored a nice goal off a face-off in last weekend's scrimmage. As one of the oldest guys at camp (at age 24), he probably played to more of a leadership role at camp. He's a real character guy and a fan favorite with the AHL Penguins.
#25 Adam Payerl - Payerl joined the AHL Penguins at the end of last season and could fill in quite nicely in a grinder-type role in the bottom six this season. Really liked his ability to be physical on the forecheck and play a solid two-way game. He should continue to develop more in 2012-13 and its never a bad thing to have a 6-3, 218 pound forward on your checking line.
#26 Dominik Uher - Like Payerl, Uher also joined the AHL Penguins last season for the playoff run. And like Payerl, Uher also plays with a chip on his shoulder. He seems to have more offensive scoring touch to his game as he recorded 68 points (33G-35A) in 63 games last season with Spokane (WHL). One play in particular I remember from the scrimmage was Uher making a nice move and getting around Joe Morrow on his way to a nice shot on goal.
#28 Antoine Laganiere - The undrafted free agent recently finished his 3rd season at Yale (ECAC) and was near a point per game player (33 points in 35 games).
#31 Liam O'Brien - This 17 year old forward turns 18 next week and split time with two QMJHL teams last season (Rimouski and Rouyn-Noranda). Hustled in the scrimmage last weekend and had some nice offensive chances, just didn't finish them off.
#32 Oskar Sundqvist - The Pens 3rd round pick from 2012 looked as big as his 6-3 frame suggests. Just turned 18 back in March so he has some filling out to do but the Swede certainly has potential.
#37 Teddy Blueger - The Pens 2nd round pick from 2012 is coming off an 88 point season (24G-64A) at Shattuck St. Mary's High School in Minnesota. Has some growing to do as well but really impressed me at the scrimmage with his offensive abilities.