Penguins

Prospect Watch: Who remains unsigned?

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Calen Addison. -- LETHBRIDGE HURRICANES

The Penguins have signed Jan Drozg and Justin Almeida to entry-level contracts over the past two weeks. Who among the prospect pool remains unsigned, and when must they sign by?

The Penguins have two players who must be signed this summer or the Penguins lose their exclusive signing rights -- defensemen Zachary Lauzon and Joe Masonius. Neither are expected to be signed. Lauzon is still dealing with the effects of a concussion and may not play again. Masonius was supposed to play in the system this year, but he was injured on Day 1 of Pittsburgh's training camp and released from his AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton prior to the start of the season. He's played a handful of games with two ECHL teams since.

College players can't be signed to entry-level contracts and retain their NCAA eligibility, so they all remain unsigned, of course. Defensemen Will Reilly and Ryan Jones, and forwards Nikita Pavlychev and Kasper Bjorkqvist are all juniors and must sign by Aug. 15, 2020 for the Penguins to retain their rights. They can leave college early and sign their entry-level deals, as Bjorkqvist is expected to do.

Defenseman Clayton Phillips is a sophomore in college, so he has an extra year, and must sign by Aug. 15, 2021. Forward Liam Gorman won't enter college until next season, so he has until 2023 to sign.

Defenseman Calen Addison is the lone unsigned prospect in juniors who the Penguins will actually sign one day. He was just drafted in 2018 and has another year left of juniors. He doesn't have to sign until June 1, 2020.

Lastly, the Penguins have two unsigned defensemen in Finland, Niclas Almari and Antti Palojarvi. They have four years to sign following their draft year. For Almari, that is 2020. For Palojarvi, 2021. They are eligible to sign and play in the AHL prior to that, though.

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FORWARDS

Justin Almeida
Position: Center/Wing
Size: 5-11/160
Drafted: 2018, fifth round
Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Season totals: 
60 games, 30 goals, 70 assists

Almeida celebrated his new contract with three goals and two assists in two games to reach the 100-point mark for the first time in his junior career.

His third goal of the week and 100th point came in the form of an empty-netter:

Bellerive congratulated Almeida on the new contract:

Jordy Bellerive
Position: Center
Size: 5-10/195
Drafted: Undrafted
Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Season totals: 
66 games, 32 goals, 49 assists

Bellerive recorded three goals and four assists in three games this week.

His two goals against Calgary were part of a five-point night:

Kasper Bjorkqvist
Position: Wing
Size: 6-1/198
Drafted: 2016, second round
Team: Providence College (NCAA)
Season totals: 
36 games, 15 goals, 11 assists

Bjorkqvist scored one power play goal in one game this week. The Friars defeated Boston College 3-1 in the final game of the regular season.

Josh Wilkins, Bjorkqvist's linemate who will be attending Penguins' development camp, also scored in the win.

The Friars will play Boston College in the first round of the Hockey East Tournament.

Jan Drozg
Position: Wing
Size: 6-0/174
Drafted: 2017, fifth round
Team: Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Season totals: 
57 games, 20 goals, 36 assists

Drozg scored one goal and two assists in three games this week.

His goal was one of his most highlight reel-worthy shots of the season:

In the QMJHL, the top 16 of the 18 teams in the league make the playoffs. The Cataractes currently occupy the final spot by one point. There's a 20-point gap between the Cataractes and the team above them in the standings. If they do clinch the final spot, their playoff run will be quick and painful.

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

Gorman’s team’s season ended on Feb. 27. He’ll be at Boston University next season.

Filip Hallander
Position: Center/Wing
Size: 6-1/190
Drafted: 2018, second round
Team: Timrå IK (SHL)
Season totals: 
43 games, 7 goals, 13 assists

Hallander was scoreless in two games this week.

Nikita Pavlychev
Position: Center
Size: 6-8/225
Drafted: 2015, seventh round
Team: Penn State (NCAA)
Season totals: 
34 games, 14 goals, 14 assists

Penn State defeated Wisconsin in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The best-of-three series went all three games, and the final game went to overtime.

Pavlychev was scoreless in the series, but he did yank a tiny Wisconsin player around like a rag doll:

Penn State will play Ohio State next.

DEFENSEMEN

Calen Addison
Size: 
5-10/180
Drafted: 2018, second round
Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Season totals: 
65 games, 11 goals, 51 assists

Addison recorded one assist in three games, a rare slow week for him.

Niclas Almari
Size: 6-1/167
Drafted: 2016, fifth round
Team: HPK (Liiga), HPK U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
Season totals: 
42 games, 1 goal, 4 assists with HPK; 2 games, 1 assist with HPK U20

Almari was scoreless in one game.

Ryan Jones
Size: 
6-2/186
Drafted: 2016, fourth round
Team: Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA)
Season totals: 
34 games, 11 assists

Jones recorded no points in two games, the final games of Nebraska-Omaha's regular season. They'll play Minnesota Duluth in the NCHC playoffs this week.

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. 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), SaPKo (Mestis)
Season totals: 
16 games, 2 assists with Lukko; 29 games, 4 goals, 9 assists with Lukko U20; 6 games, 1 goal, 1 assist with SaPKo

Palojarvi did not play for the second consecutive week.

Clayton Phillips
Size: 5-11/182
Drafted: 2017, third round
Team: Minnesota (NCAA)
Season totals: 
33 games, 1 goal, 9 assists

Phillips was scoreless in two games as Minnesota swept Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.

Phillips and the Golden Gophers will play Notre Dame in the semifinals.

William Reilly
Size: 
6-2/197
Drafted: 2017, seventh round
Team: Rensselaer Polytech (NCAA)
Season totals: 
31 games, 5 goals, 13 assists

Reilly and RPI played Yale in the best-of-three first round of the ECAC playoffs this week.

RPI was swept in two games to end the season, losing 4-1 and 4-0. Reilly assisted on his team's lone goal.

GOALTENDERS

Alex D’Orio
Size: 
6-2/209
Drafted: Undrafted
Team: Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Season totals: 
46 games (19-26), 3.61 goals against average, .889 save percentage

D’Orio started in two games this week, both wins. He was the No. 1 star after making 29 saves on 31 shots in a 3-2 win over Drummondville, and made 19 saves on 22 shots in a 4-3 win over Shawinigan.

Note: The prospect features are running out of order this week because an interview had to be rescheduled

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