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Penguins farm system ranked 28th which is both fine and problematic

August 15, 2019, 11:43 AM ET [42 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
This month Corey Pronman of The Athletic is providing comprehensive coverage of where each NHL team ranks in regards to their farm system/prospects. He releases one team each day going from the 31st ranked team down to the best farm system in hockey. I

Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins did not have to wait long to their report. The Penguins are ranked 28th according to Pronman. The ranking isn't all that surprising. Pittsburgh is chasing Stanley Cups and teams that are in that kind of window tend to use their futures to boost up the now. That in itself isn't damning, in fact it makes a lot of sense.

Here are a couple passages from Pronman

After years of pushing all their chips to the middle of the table (and then reaching into their pockets for some loose change to toss in as well), the Penguins made some mild attempts recently to add some young talent to their farm. They made a first-round pick this past season, two seconds in 2018 and traded for a former first-round pick in the Phil Kessel deal. The system is thin, but they’ve been efficient with the picks they’ve had so there are some complementary players on the way.

Key additions: Samuel Poulin, Nathan Legare, Pierre-Olivier Joseph
Key subtractions/graduations: Daniel Sprong
2018 farm system ranking: No. 23
2019 draft grade: C

The issue I had with the draft this year was the Penguins weren't in an ideal position to add a player who will be fast tracked to the NHL to help with their current mantra of winning now. Neither Legare or Poulin are known for their skating prowess which is in contrast to how the league is trending. I don't think keeping the first round pick this year is going to do much for the now or the future. The dark day on the horizon are going to be dark. Sam Poulin isn't going to change that. It's the reality of the situation. Here is Pronman's list of the Penguins best players 23 and under.

Organizational Top 10 (23 and Under)

1. Jared McCann, C (23)
2. Calen Addison, D (19)
3. Nathan Legare, RW (18)
4. Marcus Pettersson, D (23)
5. Samuel Poulin, RW (18)
6. Filip Hallander, LW (19)
7. Jordy Bellerive, C (20)
8. Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D (20)
9. Justin Almeida, LW (20)
10. Emil Larmi, G (22)

We'll learn a lot more about McCann this season and whether or not he can ride shotgun with Sidney Crosby. The fact he's #1 on the list is pretty underwhelming. The player I'm most optimistic about is Calen Addison. His offensive numbers are tracking at a decent rate and he has the type of skill set I want in the team's defense moving forward. He's probably the only recent Penguins draft pick who could potentially make a significant contribution in the lineup before Crosby and Malkin are cooked. His selection was a nice departure from the offensively inept and lumbering defensemen the Penguins had been picking in recent years. He and Jordan Bellerive are two players to watch in WB/S this year. If Bellerive is a point per game player there might be something to be had there. The Penguins would be lucky to get another cheap player on an ELC capable of providing offensive depth ala Jake Guentzel, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust in recent memory.

Nate Legare's shot would be a welcome presence on the left side of the Penguins power play. The problem is he is only 18 and playing in the CHL only affords him the opportunity to keep playing in the QMJHL or play for the big club, not ideal. In a perfect world the Penguins would be able to see how he competes at the AHL level and how his skating holds up. This is a situation where he might be able to contribute at a certain point, but be stuck in the Q. The CHL transfer agreement needs to be fired into the sun.

Being 28th on the list is fine considering where the Penguins are as a franchise. Although using their first round picks at this stage is probably not going to move the needle now or the future. Picking in the 20's during round one has a low threshold for impact players ready to play during the Penguins win now window. There was a time period where they could have balanced both their short and long term needs, but I think they blew past that. They should probably just go all in and make the most of the next three years regardless of the cost to the years that follow. They aren't getting a Crosby and Malkin again. They need to own where they are as a franchise and stop trying to plug a breaking damn with bubble gum.

Thanks for reading!
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