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Drive to the Net: Joseph brings skating, vision ☕️

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Pierre-Olivier Joseph. -- NHL.COM

The Penguins acquired prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph in the Phil Kessel trade Saturday evening.

Joseph, who turns 20 Monday, was drafted by the Coyotes No. 23 overall in the first round of the 2017 NHL draft.

The 6-foot-2, 168-pound defenseman played his final season of junior hockey in 2018-19, splitting time between the Charlottetown Islanders and Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL. He recorded seven goals, 18 assists, and a plus-8 rating in 27 games with the Islanders, and two goals, 20 assists, and a plus-28 rating in 35 games with the Voltigeurs.

Joseph appeared in 235 QMJHL games over four seasons, scoring a combined 29 goals with 111 assists.

His older brother, Mathieu Joseph, is a forward on the Lightning.

What kind of a player did the Penguins get in Joseph? Let's take a look.

STRENGTHS

Joseph is an all-around great skater. He has an explosive first few steps, and is able to maintain that speed. With his speed, he doesn't shy from moving forward and joining the rush. In addition, Joseph also is agile in his footwork.

"We saw a new dimension this year in terms of him joining the rush and being way more confident coming from behind," Islanders coach and general manager Jim Hulton told Arizona Sports in June 2018. "That’s what gets everybody excited is his ability to read the play and join the rush because that’s the modern-day defenseman."

Joseph's vision is one of his greatest strengths. That, combined with his strong passing, made him a power-play quarterback during his time in the QMJHL. In this clip, he picks up an assist from the point on the power play:

His hockey IQ appears to be good. He's not quick to pass the puck when it's on his stick, as he tends to hold onto the puck until he can make a strong play.

Joseph was a point-producer in the QMJHL, but the QMJHL is a league with a lot of offensive production. Everyone is a point-producer. His style is more like that of a shutdown defenseman. When he was a NHL draft prospect, ISS Hockey called Joseph a "big mobile defender, no fun to play against."

Joseph captained the Islanders in his final two seasons with the team, and Islanders management spoke highly of his character.

“He’s such a good person," said Hulton. "He’s a guy that motivates by encouraging and that became the atmosphere in our room.”

Joseph projects to be a top-4 defenseman in the NHL someday.

WEAKNESSES

The weakness that stands out with Joseph is his size. At 6-feet-2 and 168 pounds, he's very slender. He'll have to put on some weight to be strong enough at the NHL level. Adding more lower-body strength would allow him to be stronger on the puck and more effective in battles along the boards.

"(Joseph) can’t engage in a ton of physical battles until he has more strength and with the minutes he plays at our level, but by being smart he can make up for that," Hulton said.

Joseph also doesn't have the strongest of shots, which is in part a product of his lack of overall strength.

He is working on adding the weight, though. In the QMJHL, he lived with the Islanders' team nutritionist and worked extensively with the athletic trainer.

“We had a running joke that every time we did a video meeting he’d have three or four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in his hand,” said Hulton. “Every time I looked, this kid was eating. As my mid-life approaches, I’m thinking, ‘jeez, that would be a nice problem to have.’”

“We’re going to be patient with him," Coyotes general manager John Chayka said in 2018. "The physical side needs to continue to come. He’s here working every day so that’s up to him and it will take as long as it takes, but once he’s physically developed, we see a high upside for him.”

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