#WBSPens Team Preview Part Two: Defense

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
The Penguins organization has stockpiled blue line prospects in recent years and is starting to see the competition it has created. The pipeline is rich. Here is where all the organization's defensemen stand right now:
NHL: Kris Letang (IR), Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi, Matt Niskanen, Robert Bortuzzo, Deryk Engelland, Olli Maatta, Harrison Ruopp
AHL: Simon Despres, Brian Dumoulin, Philip Samuelsson, Brendan Mikkelsson, Scott Harrington, Reid McNeill, Nick D'Agostino, Peter Merth (AHL)  
Sent back to WHL: Derrick Pouliot
Simon Despres was re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) yesterday, and while he could be called back up to the NHL at any time, the pure fact he didn't join forward Beau Bennett (re-assigned to closer Wheeling, WV) signals his arrival time back to Pittsburgh could be a little longer than Thursday.

With Letang on injured reserve and Despres in the AHL, it looks like Olli Maatta will get an NHL tryout. Remember, Maatta can play the first nine games and still be returned to his junior team. That 9-game stint should be enough to get the picture of the blue line in the organization a little more clear.

It was interesting to see Harrison Ruopp on the NHL roster as well. I see him joining the AHL Penguins once Ray Shero and company re-shape the roster in the coming days.

For the WBS Penguins, they'll look to replace their veteran presence on the blue line from last year in Dylan Reese and Joey Mormina.
  • They brought in a veteran in Brendan Mikkelson, who played on the Syracuse Crunch last year.  
  • They have Philip Samuelsson stepping up into a more prominent role after a much improved Samuelsson took to the ice last season. 
  • Brian Dumoulin is looking to build off a solid rookie season. 
  • Rookies Reid McNeill, Scott Harrington and Nick D'Agostino bring a variety of strengths to the table.
As the roster stands right now, the AHL Penguins look to have a very solid top four of Despres, Dumoulin, Samuelsson and Mikkelson with a pair of former London Knights on the third pairing in Harrington and McNeill.

D'Agostino impressed me during the preseason with great exits from the defensive zone and crisp passes. He also has a great shot from the point and would be a great fit on WBS' 2nd power play unit.


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