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30 in 30

Top prospects for Pittsburgh Penguins

Hopefuls will wait their turn to play for Stanley Cup champions

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have taken advantage of a deep farm system to build a talented, young roster that won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and has a chance to repeat.

Forwards Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl, Scott Wilson and Kevin Porter have proven to be effective offensive threats in the NHL. Sheary and Rust, in particular, excelled playing with centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the latter portion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Defenseman Derrick Pouliot could take a step forward this season replacing veteran defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who signed with the New Jersey Devils as a free agent.

Goalie Matt Murray, 22, helped Pittsburgh win the championship last season and likely will battle Marc-Andre Fleury for starts in his second NHL season.

Those developments obviously helped the Penguins but depleted their once-rich prospect pool. That's not to say Pittsburgh's cupboard is completely bare, however.

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Here are the Penguins' top five prospects, according to

Video: PIT@NYI: Sundqvist beats Berube for first NHL goal

1. Oskar Sundqvist, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 81 pick in 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Pittsburgh: 18 GP, 1-3-4; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL): 45 GP, 5-12-17

Sundqvist, 22, had a chance to start this season as Pittsburgh's fourth-line center before veteran forward Matt Cullen signed a one-year contract with the Penguins on Aug. 17. But Sundqvist (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) could be an important role player in his first full NHL season.

"You always want to play and it's not fun to be sitting in the press box and stuff like that," Sundqvist said. "So, it gives you a lot of motivation to get better and you want to be one of those who are playing [this season]."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

2. Daniel Sprong, RW

How acquired: Selected with No. 46 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Pittsburgh: 18 GP, 2-0-2; Charlottetown (QMJHL): 33 GP, 16-30-46

Sprong, 19, has a good amount of offensive talent. Unfortunately, he might not be able to showcase it in the NHL this season.

Practicing during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Sprong (6-0, 180) injured his right shoulder. After successful surgery on June 17, he will be sidelined 7-8 months.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: OTT@PIT: Sprong goes top-shelf for first NHL goal

3. Tristan Jarry, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 44 pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL): 33 GP, 17-13-3, 2.69 GAA, .905 SV%

If the Penguins have their way, Jarry, 21, won't be needed in their crease this season. Pittsburgh seems to be in good hands with Murray and Fleury, but Jarry (6-2, 194) is another talented young goalie coming through its pipeline.

Jarry received a very small taste of the playoffs last season, when he sat on the bench behind goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who started Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Rangers.

"I think every year, I like to think that I'm growing," Jarry said, "both as a player and as a person."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

4. Jake Guentzel, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 77 pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL): 11 GP, 2-4-6; Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA): 35 GP, 19-27-46

Guentzel, 21, made a late splash with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season when he had two goals and four assists in 11 games on an amateur tryout contract, and five goals and nine assists in 10 Calder Cup Playoff games. Guentzel signed a three-year, entry-level contract on May 23.

Penguins player development coach Mark Recchi said he would project Guentzel (5-10, 167) as a top-nine forward with top-six potential.

"His hockey IQ is off the charts," Recchi said. "He competes like crazy and he plays everything. He plays center, he plays wing. He's very versatile."

Projected NHL arrival: 2018-19

5. Ethan Prow, D

How acquired: Signed as free agent on March 29, 2016

Last season: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL): 5 GP, 0-1-1; St. Cloud State (NCAA): 37 GP, 8-30-38

Prow, 23, adds some much needed defensive depth to Pittsburgh's prospect pool. A 2015-16 Hobey Baker Award finalist out of St. Cloud State, Prow (5-11, 180) has the ability to earn NHL minutes in the future.

In four college seasons, Prow had 99 points (19 goals, 80 assists) in 149 games.

"I think he's a little ways away still, but I think he's a prospect," Recchi said. "His hockey sense is very good. He has to get a little bit stronger."

Projected NHL arrival: 2018-19

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