Penguins

Prospect Watch: D’Orio’s fresh start

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Alex D'Orio keeps his eye on the puck. -- Chicoutimi Saguenéens / QMJHL

Penguins goaltending prospect Alex D'Orio finally has a chance to win this season.

This week, the Saint John Sea Dogs traded D'Orio to one of the QMJHL's top teams, the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. It was a move made partly out of respect for D'Orio, to give him an opportunity to win a second QMJHL championship in his final year of junior hockey.

D'Orio was regularly hung out to dry in Saint John over the past two seasons. This season, Saint John was averaging 38.8 shots against per game at the time of the trade and ranked next-to-last in the league. D'Orio recorded a 5-20 record, .883 save percentage, and 4.48 goals against average with Saint John.

Baie-Comeau ranks fourth in the league and averages just 28.3 shots against per game. Life just got much better for D'Orio.

“It’s going to be a good opportunity for me to go (to Baie-Comeau) to achieve something with the team," D'Orio said in a team release. "We have a strong team and I’m sure we can make a push to the final and hopefully get another President Cup. Saint John was my second home, I’ve been here for three years and won a cup. I came here a young kid and leave a man.”

In D'Orio's Baie-Comeau debut on Jan. 6, he made 23 saves on 24 shots to earn a win over the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. Chicoutimi head coach Yanick Jean pointed to D'Orio's powerful start as a reason for his team's loss.

"Before each of (Baie-Comeau's) first three goals, we had a golden chance to score, and then D'Orio made some good saves at the right time," said Jean.

The outpouring of support from the people of Saint John speaks to how highly D'Orio was respected in the city -- not just for his play in net, but his demeanor off the ice.

“He’s a first-class human-being, he’s an outstanding teammate that carries and conducts himself like a pro – and he’s going to be a heck of a pro,” head coach Josh Dixon said of D'Orio. “He’s been our MVP as long as I’ve been here.”

Saint John's general manager Trevor Georgie had these parting words:

This came from the strength coach:

One broadcaster offered these words:

Teammates wished D'Orio well:

D'Orio returned the favor with this message:

French Canadian goaltenders of such high character tend to be pretty popular among Penguins fans, if my memory serves.

Baie-Comeau is poised to make a deep run in the QMJHL playoffs, so D'Orio may not make it to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as a Black Ace this spring after all.

D'Orio will likely make his professional debut with Wilkes-Barre next season. He may just have another championship ring on his finger when he arrives.

____________________

FORWARDS

Justin Almeida
Position: Center/Wing
Size: 5-9/158
Drafted: 2018, fifth round
Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Season totals: 
32 games, 11 goals, 39 assists

In the three weeks since the last edition of Prospect Watch, Almeida has played in six games, scoring three goals and five assists.

Jordy Bellerive
Position: Center
Size: 5-10/195
Drafted: Undrafted
Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Season totals: 
39 games, 20 goals, 31 assists

Bellerive exploded over the past three weeks, with four goals and eight assists in six games.

When he's not victimizing other teams with his shot, he's doing some damage to the facilities:

Kasper Bjorkqvist
Position: Wing
Size: 6-1/198
Drafted: 2016, second round
Team: Providence College (NCAA)
Season totals:
20 games, 9 goals, 10 assists

Since returning from holiday break, Bjorkqvist has registered an empty net goal and three assists in four games.

On this goal, Bjorkqvist drove to the net and his teammate picked up the rebound:

Jan Drozg
Position: Wing
Size: 6-0/174
Drafted: 2017, fifth round
Team: Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Season totals: 
33 games, 12 goals, 24 assists

Drozg has been producing over the past three weeks, with four goals and an assist in six games. Three of those goals came on Jan. 5, his first hat trick of his junior career. All three goals came on the power play:

Liam Gorman
Position: Center
Size: 6-2/188
Drafted: 2018, sixth round
Team: St. Sebastian’s School (USHS-Prep)
Season totals: 
?

Gorman’s high school team does not post box scores or stats. He has at least four goals this season, judging from his school's Twitter feed.

Filip Hallander
Position: Center/Wing
Size: 6-1/190
Drafted: 2018, second round
Team: Timrå IK (SHL)
Season totals: 
23 games, 5 goals, 7 assists

Hallander was away from Timrå to represent Sweden in the World Junior Championship. Hallander was scoreless in five games, and Sweden was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Hallander may have not been producing offensively in the tournament, but he was ranked Sweden's best defensive forward by HockeyNews.Se.

Nikita Pavlychev
Position: Center
Size: 6-8/225
Drafted: 2015, seventh round
Team: Penn State (NCAA)
Season totals: 
20 games, 10 goals, 10 assists

Pavlychev was scoreless in Penn State's two games since returning from the holiday break. With a point per game, he's more than doubling last season's production of 14 points in 35 games.

DEFENSEMEN

Calen Addison
Size: 
5-10/180
Drafted: 2018, second round
Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Season totals: 
32 games, 4 goals, 30 assists

Addison has been on fire of late, registering three goals and four assists in six games over the past three weeks.

Niclas Almari
Size: 6-1/167
Drafted: 2016, fifth round
Team: HPK (Liiga), HPK U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
Season totals: 
22 games, 1 goal, 3 assists with HPK; 2 games, 1 assist with HPK U20

Almari played in four games with HPK over the last three weeks and scored his first goal of the season, a power play tally:

Ryan Jones
Size: 
6-2/186
Drafted: 2016, fourth round
Team: Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA)
Season totals: 
18 games, 5 assists

Jones played in two games since returning from holiday break and recorded one assist.

Zachary Lauzon
Size: 
6-1/187
Drafted: 2017, second round
Team: Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Season totals: 
None

Lauzon, who has been rehabbing from the neck injury he sustained last season, will not play this season. He was not able to resume skating with the team.

The Huskies announced that Lauzon will remain around the team for the remainder of the season and will travel with his teammates.

If the Penguins wish to retain Lauzon's rights, they would have to sign him this summer. That won't happen. Lauzon's time as a Penguins prospect is most likely over, if not his entire career.

Antti Palojarvi
Size: 
6-1/176
Drafted: 2017, sixth round
Team: Lukko (Liiga), Lukko U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
Season totals: 
14 games, 2 assists with Lukko; 25 games, 4 goals, 6 assists with Lukko U20

Palojarvi has been with the main Lukko team over the past three weeks, playing in six games.

Clayton Phillips
Size: 
5-11/182
Drafted: 2017, third round
Team: Minnesota (NCAA)
Season totals: 
18 games, 1 goal, 7 assists

Phillips was scoreless in three games since returning from holiday break.

William Reilly
Size: 
6-2/197
Drafted: 2017, seventh round
Team: Rensselaer Polytech (NCAA)
Season totals: 
16 games, 3 goal, 6 assists

Reilly scored one goal and an assist in his four games since returning from holiday break.

GOALTENDERS

Alex D’Orio
Size: 
6-2/209
Drafted: Undrafted
Team: Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Season totals: 
27 games (6-20), 4.35 goals against average, .885 save percentage

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