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31 in 31

Top prospects for Pittsburgh Penguins

Addison, Joseph on cusp of NHL; Poulin likely to return to QMJHL

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to NHL.com.

 

 [Penguins 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]

 

1. Samuel Poulin, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 21 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Last season: Sherbrooke (QMJHL): 67 GP, 29-47-76

Poulin was the first player selected by the Penguins in the first round of the NHL Draft since 2014, when they took forward Kasperi Kapanen with the No. 22 pick. The 18-year-old forward joins Sidney Crosby (No. 1 in 2005) and Evgeni Malkin (No. 2 in 2004) as the only first-round picks by Pittsburgh remaining in the organization.

Poulin (6-foot-1, 208 pounds) said his goal is to make the NHL roster out of training camp, but a more likely outcome would be for him to play two more seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"It's my dream to play in the NHL," Poulin said. "So I'll try to make my place on the team right away. ... I'll do everything I can to make that team right away."

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22

Video: Penguins draft F Samuel Poulin No. 21

 

2. Calen Addison, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 53 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL): 3 GP, 0-2-2; Lethbridge (WHL): 67 GP, 11-54-65

The 19-year-old models his game after Erik Karlsson and Kris Letang, but he worked on improving his play in his own zone last season to become more of an all-around defenseman.

Playing three games in the American Hockey League after taking part in Pittsburgh's training camp last season helped Addison (5-10, 180) take another step toward realizing that goal.

"I think he went back to junior and really worked on his game and took a lot from camp last year," Penguins player development coach Tom Kostopoulos said. "You can just see him developing. You can see his confidence on the ice."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

3. Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D

How acquired: Trade from Arizona Coyotes on June 29

Last season: Charlottetown/Drummondville (QMJHL): 62 GP, 9-38-47

Joseph (6-2, 185) seems to be the overlooked part of the trade that sent forward Phil Kessel to the Coyotes and brought forward Alex Galchenyuk to the Penguins. But after being selected by Arizona in the first round (No. 23) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Pittsburgh views Joseph as a valuable part of its defense in the near future.

That likely won't be this season -- the 20-year-old is expected to play in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before making the jump to the NHL -- but if the Penguins have some injuries, Joseph could be called upon.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

4. Filip Hallander, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 58 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: Timra IK (SHL): 45 GP, 7-14-21

Hallander (6-1, 190) found the opportunity to play in the Swedish Hockey League last season invaluable, crediting the experience with helping him increase his strength to the point he thinks he's physically prepared to play in the NHL immediately.

"I want to play here as soon as possible," the 19-year-old center said. "Then it's up to Pittsburgh to tell me when I'm ready."

The transition to the NHL isn't expected to happen this season though. Hallander will play for Lulea HF of the SHL, and he sees it as an opportunity to grow further before possibly shifting to North America next season.

"Playing against men, I'm a 19-year-old trying to take advantage of my strengths out there," Hallander said. "Trying to do the best I can against stronger and bigger guys."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

5. Nathan Legare, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 74 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Last season: Baie-Comeau (QMJHL): 68 GP, 45-42-87

A childhood friend of Poulin, Legare (6-foot, 205) also hopes to debut in the NHL sooner rather than later. But like Poulin, he'll likely have to wait a bit longer than he would like.

The 18-year-old is valued by the Penguins, as evidenced by them trading three draft picks to the Coyotes to move up to select him in the third round. He has been labeled a power forward by general manager Jim Rutherford and is expected to bring grit when he arrives in the NHL.

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22 

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