Courtesy of Point Park University

Prospect pool breakdown: Defensemen, Part 2

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Jeff Taylor. -- KDP PHOTOGRAPHY / WBS PENGUINS

As we head into the offseason, it’s time to take a look at where the Penguins’ prospect pool stands.

Just as I did last year, I’ll break down the status of each prospect in the Penguins system, including players on Pittsburgh contracts and players on AHL-level deals who spent time in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this past season.

I’ll take a look at their contracts for next season and where they are likely to play, as well as highlights from each player. If I interviewed the player this season, I’ll also share my favorite quote of the season from them.

Today, we look at the second half of the defensemen in the system.

JOSEPH MASONIUS

Drafted?: 2016, sixth round
2018-19 status: 
ECHL
2019-20 status: 
???
Age: 
22
Shoots: Left
Size: 6-0, 190

The Penguins still own the signing rights to Masonius, but those will expire Aug. 15.

It's not clear what happened to Masonius. He left school a year early with the intentions of turning pro in 2018-19 and signed an AHL-level deal with Wilkes-Barre, including an invite to Pittsburgh's camp. He left the first day of Pittsburgh's camp with an apparent injury and never returned. He was released from his contract with Wilkes-Barre in November without playing a game.

Masonius signed an ECHL deal with South Carolina days after being released, played one game, then was released from that contract. Over a month later on Dec. 27, he signed another ECHL contract with Manchester, where he played 12 games to finish the season.

ANTTI PALOJARVI

Drafted?: 2017, sixth round
2018-19 status: 
Jr. A SM-Liiga, Liiga, Mestis 
2019-20 status: 
Liiga
Age: 
20
Shoots: Left
Size: 6-1, 175
Quote: “(The ice) is smaller of course, little bit different to play here than in Europe. But it’s always the same hockey.”

Palojarvi played all over the place this season. When I spoke to him at development camp, he expressed confidence in his ability to spend the full year in Liiga, the top men's league in Finland. He didn't stick in Liiga all year, but he did make his Liiga debut, and took great strides in his development.

Palojarvi moved between Lukko of the top league and Lukko's junior affiliate for much of the year, recording four goals and nine assists in 29 junior games and two assists in 16 Liiga games. Unable to stick with the top Lukko team but needing to take the next step for his development, Palojarvi was loaned to SaPKo of the second-tier Mestis league for the remainder of the season. Palojarvi recorded one goal and two assists in seven games with SaPKo, missing some time to injury.

Palojarvi won't make the jump to North American hockey just yet; he'll look to spend a full year in Liiga first. He's young, so he has time.

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