This is the first in a series of profiles about six Penguins prospects who attended this year’s rookie orientation camp.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are loaded with talented offensive prospects. The organization is pretty stacked on the blue line as well.
Jean-Philippe Paquet is one of those many skilled young defensemen. He was delighted to join the group when Pittsburgh chose him in the sixth round of this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
“There are a lot of great young prospects in this organization so I think it’s going to be a good hockey team for the next few years,” he said.
Paquet, who is 18, has a long-term vision to be a part of the franchise for many years. However, he is focusing on making himself better with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Shawinigan Cataractes.
“I think I am going to spend the next two seasons in the Juniors, maybe a third. It all depends on how it goes,” he said. “This season, I am going to have more responsibilities for my team and have a great year. I think we’re going to have a great year as a team. We have a great goalie. We made a trade to get Alex Bourret, the first pick (16th overall) for Atlanta. I think we’ll be one of the top five teams.”
A strong two-way defenseman, the 6-2, 202-pound Paquet was Shawinigan’s second-highest scoring blue-liner with 20 assists and five goals. He led Cataractes defensemen with two game-winning goals. He racked up 96 penalty minutes and helped lead the team to a second-place finish in the Western Conference with 76 points. However, Lewistown swept the Cataractes, 4-0, in the first round of the President Cup playoffs.
Paquet was selected to play in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver in January. He had an assist, but his Team Davidson teammates dropped an 8-4 decision to Team Cherry.
In addition, Paquet helped guide Canada to a silver medal at the Under-18 World Championships in April. He skated on that team with fellow defenseman Kristopher Letang, the Penguins’ third-round pick this year.
Despite all the recognition, Paquet is working hard to improve his game.
“I had a personal trainer all summer long to gain weight and improve the quickness with my feet for some explosion,” he said. “I gained weight to improve my physical play, too.”
Paquet is looking to settling in Pittsburgh on a permanent basis.
“I am sure all the people in Pittsburgh will be happy there is hockey this year and that they have (Sidney) Crosby and all the other great players,” he said. “It’s good for the next few seasons and I hope to be part of it.”