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The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Prospect Confidential

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
The following is a weekly look at the progress of some of the top prospects within the Penguins organization.

1.    Alex Grant, D
2.    Casey Pierro-Zabotel, C
3.    Nick Johnson, RW
4.    John Curry, G

Alex Grant

Position: Defenseman
Attributes: 6-2, 185 pounds, Shoots R
Team: Saint John
League: QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
Acquired: Penguins 2007 fourth-round draft pick (118 overall)

Scouting Report
: Grant is an offensively blessed defenseman. He’s a fluid skater with good speed and is very talented with the puck on his stick. Grant makes crisp, tape-to-tape passes and can connect on those important breakout passes from his own zone. He also is a gifted shooter as well. The Nova Scotia native has a powerful shot from the point and great accuracy on his one-timers. He’s the quarterback on the power play and has leadership experience - captaining St. John’s the past two seasons.

Minor Report: Grant improved his offensive production drastically during his time at Saint John. He increased his point total from 13 to 32 to 48. Last year, Grant recorded 15 goals and 33 assists for 48 points in 70 games. He also had nine power-play goals and a plus-17 rating. On the current campaign, Grant is off to his best-career start. He has 28 points (8G-20A) in 32 games, nearly a point-per-game production.

Casey Pierro-Zabotel

Position: Center
Attributes: 6-1, 205 pounds, Shoots L
Team: Vancouver
League: WHL (Western Hockey League)
Acquired: Penguins 2007 third-round draft pick (80 overall)

Scouting Report: Pierro-Zabotel has a strong frame and a finisher’s touch. He’s a big kid that scores a ton of goals from in front of the net. Pierro-Zabotel has soft hands and a goal scorer’s sense around the net. The Kamloops, British Columbia native isn’t afraid to take a beating around the goal and has a knack for getting to rebounds and loose pucks. Pierro-Zabotel has improved his play-making skills and has become a dangerous setup man. He’s improved his skating and defensive coverage over the course of his development and is transforming into a strong player at both ends of the ice.

Minor Report: Pierro-Zabotel is absolutely lighting up the Western Hockey League. He ranks third in the entire league with 54 points on 15 goals and 39 assists in only 33 games, not to mention his plus-35 rating. Pierro-Zabotel had a successful rookie campaign in which he notched 48 points (19G-29A) in 49 games. He’s built on that and is currently producing 1.64 points per game.

Nick Johnson

Position: Right Wing
Attributes: 6-1, 183 pounds, Shoots R
Team: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
League: AHL (American Hockey League)
Acquired: Penguins 2004 third-round draft pick (67 overall)

Scouting Report: Johnson is a good two-way player that has deceptive speed. He works hard in his own zone and is a discipline defensive player. Johnson gets his stick into passing lanes and can create turnovers. He creates a lot of chances with his speed and has developed into an excellent finisher. He’s a great stick-handler with a knack for converting power-play goals. Johnson is very durable and didn’t miss a single game in four seasons at Dartmouth.

Minor Report: Johnson has split this season with Wheeling (East Coast Hockey League) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He played 18 games with the Nailers to start the season. He was promoted to the AHL after he blew up for 14 goals and 10 assists (24 points), including six power-play goals. In seven games with the Baby Penguins, he’s scored one goal and three assists for four points.

Prior to joining the AHL, Johnson played four seasons at Dartmouth while earning a degree in psychology. During his tenure in a Big Green uniform, he compiled 57 goals and 68 assists for 125 points in 133 games. After completing his senior season, Johnson joined WBS for its deep playoff run last season.

John Curry

Position: Goaltender
Attributes: 5-11, 185 pounds, Shoots L
Team: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
League: AHL (American Hockey League)
Acquired: Signed as free agent on July 13, 2007

Scouting Report: Curry is an undersized goaltender that makes up for his height with great lateral movement and quick reflexes. He has great anticipation on developing plays in front of him. Curry has a solid technique and uses his positioning to cut down on opponent’s shooting space.

Pro Report: Penguins fans got a glimpse of Curry’s potential when he joined the NHL club for a stint while Marc-Andre Fleury was injured. He saw action in three games, winning two of them. He had a 2.40 goals against average and .913 save percentage.

Minor Report: Curry spent four seasons with Boston University, the last three as the club’s starter. He finished with 59 collegiate victories and 13 shutouts. Last season he made stops in the AHL and ECHL. Curry when 24-12-0 with a 2.23 goals against average and .915 save percentage with the Baby Penguins. He then backstopped the squad to the Calder Cup Final. On the current campaign, he is 5-5-0 with a 2.98 GAA and .903 save percentage.

Prospect Confidential: 12/14

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