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 conclude the series with a look at the goaltenders in the system.
2018-19 status: QMJHL (NHL contract)
2019-20 status: AHL (NHL contract)
Age: 20 Catches: Right Size: 6-3, 210
D'Orio's 2018-19 season was his final year of junior hockey, and it was a wild one.
D'Orio began the year with the Saint John Sea Dogs, one of the QMJHL's basement-dwellers. His stats at face value with the Sea Dogs -- 4.48 goals-against average and .883 save percentage -- aren't impressive. But the Sea Dogs are a young team in a rebuilding phase, and D'Orio was the only player on the team with any ties to an NHL club. D'Orio faced an average of nearly 40 shots per game with Saint John and the most high-danger chances in the league during his time there.
As a courtesy to D'Orio, Saint John traded him to a contender -- the Baie-Comeau Drakkar -- at the QMJHL's trade deadline. As a result, D'Orio faced a much more reasonable 25 shots per game in Baie-Comeau, and posted a 2.55 goals-against average and .899 save percentage.
It's incredibly difficult to predict a goaltender's future success based on their junior career. However, when it comes to the things that do translate at any level — work ethic, mindset, calmness, confidence, and character — D'Orio excels. The number of people in the Saint John organization who spoke highly of D'Orio's character was incredible. On the Penguins' end, they were impressed by how D'Orio handled the adversity of carrying the team on his back.
“You learn a lot about his battle level and his mentality, and how he fights through adversity,” Penguins director of player development Scott Young said during development camp. “One of the things with Alex is that he played so many minutes, and that’s tough, but it’s actually great for a goaltender as far as the shots that he sees. It says a lot about him, and we’re really high on him.”
D'Orio will be in Wilkes-Barre full-time next season, where it’ll be exciting to see how he adjusts to the professional game. I would expect him to split the starts with a more veteran goaltender to help with the transition.