Friday, September 13, 2013

One To Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins

"Beau Bennett and a bunch of defencemen". That's how I heard one analyst describe the depth of the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect system recently. While I think that's forgetting Teddy Blueger and some interesting goalies, the statement does hold up for the most part. The blueline appears to be solidified for the Penguins for the foreseeable future. 

Oli Maata, Brian Dumoulin, Simon Despres, Scott Harrington, Harrison Ruopp, Derrick Pouliot... the list is a lengthy one. Oddly enough, it's not a defender I'm going to focus on today. 

2012 Choice: Joe Morrow - The former Portland Winterhawk was a 1st round pick by Pittsburgh in 2011 but the Pens shipped him to Dallas in order to acquire Brendan Morrow at the deadline. At the draft in June, the Stars flipped him to Boston. I spoke at length with Morrow about last season and he was very candid about it all. Despite being part of his third organization in less than 6 months, Morrow is still a high quality prospect. 

My One To Watch for Pittsburgh in 2013-14 is after the jump. 

Tristan Jarry (G)
Edmonton Oil Kings
6'2, 180 lbs
Drafted 44th overall in 2013

Photo: Andy Devlin
Tristan Jarry was on a record setting pace last year in the WHL but his .936 sv% and 1.61 GAA won't be recorded that way simply because he didn't play in enough games to make it official. As the backup to starter Laurent Brossoit, Jarry managed to appear in 27 contests. He finished first in league rankings for both of those categories and his 6 shutouts were one off the lead of 7 held by three goalies, two of whom (Mackenzie Skapski and Andrey Makarov) played more than twice as many games.

The backup role was tough for him because it was his draft year so unlike Zach Fucale, Phil Desrosiers and Spencer Martin, Jarry wasn't seen as much by scouts. Still, when I had Penguins bird-dog Wayne Meier in studio last month, he hinted that Jarry was ranked in the top 20 on their list and that waiting for their first pick at 44th overall was white knuckle time. 

Photo: Dave Chan
This year the crease in Edmonton belongs to Jarry and fans can expect him to play in the neighborhood of 65 games. How will he respond to that workload? Does he come into the season with as much motivation as he had last year now that he's been drafted and recently signed by Pittsburgh? Although he wasn't part of the summer U20 camp for Hockey Canada in Lake Placid, he is on the radar; could a strong early season performance earn him a December camp invite?

There are lots of reason that make Tristan Jarry my Pittsburgh pick for One To Watch in 2013-14.

Up Next: Minnesota Wild  

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