Penguins Depth At Forward Can Be Found In NCAA
It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Penguins have assembled an arsenal of systematic defensive depth that is unrivaled in the scope of the National Hockey League. Names like Pouliot, Maata, D’Agostino, Morrow, and Bortuzzo are commonplace in the vernacular of Penguins faithful.
But outside of first round draft pick Beau Bennett, the offensive depth the Penguins boast, particularly in the NCAA, has been overlooked.
For the Penguins, the majority of their future at the forward position is currently blossoming at the collegiate level, and a few of these players are beginning to prepare themselves for a quick transition to the pro game within the next year or so. While the path to the NHL from the NCAA may be a bit longer, a few of these players might prove to be worth the wait.
Quick note: We did not list Bryan Rust in this ranking, as we will be featuring a full length article on him shortly.
Kenneth Agostino – LW – Yale – Junior – 6’1 – 200lbs
Agostino came to Yale having absolutely shattered the New Jersey high-school hockey scene with 261 total points in three seasons played. As he’s progressed through his junior year at Yale, Agostino has added size and strength to his already dynamic resume at the forward position.
Agostino’s game is very cerebral. His shot is accurate and his release is fast. He sees the ice very well and has come up big in tough situations for the Bulldogs’ program. He registered 34 points (14+20) in 33 games for Yale last season and is on pace to break those numbers this year.
Agostino has packed on a few pounds this year and added a bit of toughness to his game. His play offensively is predicated on smart plays along the wall, and a shark-like approach to getting open and ripping the puck on offense. His vision enables him to better his teammates and create chances with great forethought and excellent positioning. Agostino’s addition of some strength and increased board work to his arsenal has enhanced his future in the pro game.
2012-13 Statistics: 14GP – 7G – 10A – 17PTS – 18PIM – Even
Ben Hanowski – LW – St. Cloud State – Senior – 6’2 – 210lbs
Hanowski enters his senior year at St. Cloud State having the team captaincy for the second straight season. Regularly recognized for his academic achievements, Hanowski will be entering his first pro year of hockey next season should the Penguins decide to sign him.
Hanowski is a true puck hound that has a lethal shot, smooth hands, and solid offensive vision. The addition of toughness and size has consistently evolved and improved his game since his first year at St. Cloud. Coming out of high school, where he was a Minnesota wunderkind, Hanowski’s first year in collegiate hockey showed that he had to become more physical and get involved down low to produce offensively. He’s not only done that, but he’s lead the Huskies in that regard.
Hanowski’s hands and shooting ability give him a higher ceiling than many of the other young prospects in the Penguins system. His junior year and new approach to the game saw him shatter his sophomore year points total by registering 43 points (23+20) in 39 games played.
2012-13 Statistics: 17GP – 7G – 8A – 15PTS – 10PIM – +1
Josh Archibald – RW – Nebraska-Omaha – Sophomore – 5’10 – 170lbs
Josh Archibald registered a solid 36 games played as a freshman at Nebraska-Omaha which gave him the opportunity to become accustomed to the large bodies and physical style of play in the NCAA. The first thing that stands out about Archibald besides his quick feet, high-end speed, and creativity, is his size.
Archibald has consistently improved his ability to play through checks and become a true puck hound in the boards despite his disadvantages in the size department.
What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in the realm of offensive creativity, dangling, and shooting. Archibald uses his speed and smarts to get into position to chase down loose pucks and his elusive nature makes him tough to target in the boards.
The key for Archibald is to continue to bulk up and be willing to take punishment in the boards. In terms of pure offensive talent, this sophomore is right up there with the rest of his NCAA peers in terms of gifted abilities with the puck on his stick.
2012-13 Statistics: 22GP – 11G – 10A – 21PTS – 18PIM – +15
Teddy Blueger – C – Minnesota State – Freshman – 5’11 – 165lbs.
The most recent draftee on this list is off to a solid state for the Minnesota State Mavericks. A Latvia native, Bleuger’s game lies in his ability to see the ice and make great plays. His puck distribution and soft hands are above average for a player his age.
Blueger has registered two separate three point games this year in the assist column and is already showing signs of making his teammates better.
The road to the pros might be a long one for Blueger, who is the definition of long term investment, but you simply cannot teach the things this young player can do with the puck.
2012-13 Statistics: 18GP – 2G – 10A – 12PTS – 18PIM