Updated Pittsburgh Penguins Top 20 prospects

By Erik Johnson

Now that the World Junior Championships have completed and most leagues are at the halfway point of the season, it’s time to readjust the Top 20 prospect list for the Pens prospects. And because of a graduation prospect, we have a new #1. First off, because of time played in the NHL, this prospects have been moving off the list to graduated status:

Kris Beech, C Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)

41 games, 5 goals, 12 assists, 17 points

Josef Melichar, D Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)

41 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points

Toby Peterson, C Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)

41 games, 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points

And now for the newly updated Pens prospect list:

1) Brooks Orpik, D Wilkes-Barre (AHL)
Season: 40 games, 1 goal, 11 assists, 12 points, -8, 50 PIM

Moves up to the first spot with the graduation of Kris Beech. Played well early in the season, was one of the only players on the team with a positive +/-. Play has slipped a bit lately, but still playing well for during his first professional season. Will be a candidate for a spot on the NHL team next season or a possible late season callup.

2) Michal Sivek, C Slava Praha (Czech)
Season: 25 games, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, -12, 30 PIM (WBS)

First season in the AHL cut short with the news that his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Left the team (with permission) and has cauhgt on with a Czech team. Will be back in North America next year.

3) Colby Armstrong, RW Red Deer (WHL)
Season: 35 games, 16 goals, 24 assists, 40 points, +15, 75 PIM

Tried out for Canadian World Junior team, but didn’t make team. Top player for one of the better teams in the WHL.

4) Konstantin Koltsov, LW Spartak Moscow (Russia)
Season: 11 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point

Traded to Spartak Moscow during the season. Hasn’t produced as expected yet for his new team. Needs to prove that he can

cash in on the chances he creates with his speed.

5) Matt Murley, LW RPI (ECAC)
Season: 10 games, 9 goals, 5 assists, 14 points

Having another solid season. Playing very well in the conference at the moment (averaging almost 2 points a game in

conference). Last year in college, so he will be competing for a spot on the roster next season.

6) Shane Endicott, C Wilkes-Barre (AHL)
Season: 41 games, 15 goals, 12 assists, 27 points, -14, 34 PIM

One of the last cuts in Penguin training camp, was ready to go back to Seattle when he was signed by the Pens and assigned to

Wilkes-Barre early in the season. Named to the AHL Canadian All Star team recently. One of the few WBS forwards producing

on a consistant basis for the team.

7) Ross Lupaschuk, D Wilkes-Barre (AHL)
Season: 36 games, 7 goals, 12 assists, 19 points, -6, 67 PIM

Acquired in the Jagr deal, Lupaschuk was another late cut from training camp. Struggled terrible early, but has turned play

around significantly in the past 2 months. Has cut at least 4 or 5 minuses off his plus/minus total since beginning of


8) Michel Ouellet, RW Rimouski (QMJHL)
Season: 37 games, 27 goals, 37 assists, 64 points, +13, 34 PIM

I’ve hesitated placing Michel this high on the board in the past, but I’m going to start giving him the benefit of the doubt

until proven wrong. Was a tryout cut from the Canadien WJC team and has been the best player for Rimouski all season. It

remains to be seen whether he can translate this kind of production to the pro level, but he should definitely get a chance

to prove it.

9) Ben Eaves, C Boston College (Hockey East)
Season: 13 games, 8 goals, 17 assists, 25 points

Ben sees the biggest jump of any prospect in the system, moving from #20 to #9. Not only is he averaging almost 2 points a

game in college as a sophomore, but he was listed as one of the best players in the USA’s WJC team that recently competed in

the Czech Republic.

10) Noah Welch, D Harvard (ECAC)
Season: 11 games, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points

Was originally selected to play for the US WJC team, but was replaced when he was injured and couldn’t compete. One of the

better freshman in the ECAC this year, possibly one of the better freshman defensemen in the NCAA.

11) Sebastian Caron, G Wilkes-Barre (AHL)
Season: 21 games, 3-14-4, 3.53 GAA, .886 SvPct

Struggled mightily early in the season and got in to a real hole. Play has stablized a bit as the team has started to play a

bit better. Still needs to increase play significantly to move back up the prospect rankings.

12) Peter Hamerlik, G Kingston (OHL)
Season: 17 games, 4-7-3, 3.41 GAA, .901 SvPct

Not playing great for his OHL team, but played well enough to earn a spot on the Slovakian WJC as a backup to starter Peter

Budaj, playing in some of the lesser games. Played in 4 games in the tournament, stopping 92% of shots faced.

13) Vladimir Malenkykh, D Lada Togliatti (Russia)
Season: 31 games, 3 goals, 0 assists, 3 points

Playing on the top defensive pairing for a top Russian squad with plenty of more experienced players. Because of this, Vlad

moves into the rankings for the first time.

14) Ryan Malone, LW St. Cloud St. (WCHA)
Season: 21 games, 14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points

15) Rob Scuderi, D Wilkes-Barre (AHL)
Season: 41 games, 1 goal, 11 assists, 12 points, -14, 46 PIM

Solid 2-way performer for the Penguins this season. Has probably played better than people have expected this year. Already shown strong leadership abilities. Might be a candidate for a captaincy later in his career.

16) Tom Kostopoulos, RW Pittsburgh (NHL)
Season: 5 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, +1, 2 PIM (Pit)
35 games, 15 goals, 11 assists, 26 points, +1, 52 PIM (WBS)

Recent callup by the NHL Penguins. Plays a non-stop gritty game. One of the offensive leaders for the WBS Penguins this year. Skating is suspect at the NHL level, so he might be relagated to 4th line duty as an NHL player. Needs to prove that he has the hands to overcome skating deficiencies.

17) Eric Meloche, RW Wilkes-Barre (AHL)
Season: 42 games, 12 goals, 8 assists, 20 points, -6, 67 PIM

One of the assistant captains for the WBS Penguins this year, in only his 2nd season as pro. Good player who will probably be a solid 3rd line winger as a pro.

18) Steven Crampton, RW Moose Jaw (WHL)
Season: 11 games, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, +2, 30 PIM

Injuries have robbed Steve of much of a season this year for the Warriors. Injured a knee late in the season last year and missed the first part of the season recovering from surgery related to that injury. Came back and played well only to get injured again. Played well in his short time healthy this year.

19) David Koci, D Wilkes-Barre (AHL)
Season: 26 games, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, -1, 98 PIM

One of many rookie bluliners for the WBS Pens this year. Struggles at times, but his play hasn’t been too bad, considering all of the inexperience on the team this year. Will likely need a few more years of development before he is ready to make a run at a roster spot.

20) Joel Laing, G Wheeling (ECHL)
Season: 21 games, 10-10-1, 2.60 GAA, .926 SvPct

Proving that he deserves a shot at playing at a higher level. Been an ECHL All Star both seasons as a pro. One of the better young goalies in the ECHL at this point. Really needs a shot to prove that he can play in the AHL, whether that is in this organization or another. Currently injured and on the injured list.