Courtesy of Point Park University

The 2019-20 prospectus: Justin Almeida


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Justin Almeida. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

This is a continuation of the series of profiles of members of the Penguins’ organization. Dave Molinari recently completed profiles of the Penguins' roster, and now I'm taking a look at select prospects not on the major-league roster:


Age: 20
Size: 5 foot 11, 165 pounds
Position: Forward
Acquired: Drafted in the fifth round in 2018
2018-19 WHL stats: 33 goals, 78 assists in 64 games

How he fits: Earlier this summer I ranked Almeida the Penguins' No. 5 overall prospect, and No. 3 forward prospect. He can play either center or wing, which will give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Mike Vellucci options as to where Almeida will play this season. He'll most likely play in a top-six role.

Shortcomings: Easily his size. Almeida was able to use his speed to set himself apart in junior hockey, but he won't find himself quite the space he needs as easily in the pros. He needs to add core strength and lower-body strength in order to be stronger on the puck.

Strengths: Almeida is a strong playmaker, an agile skater, has exceptional speed, and has a quick release on his shot.

Hidden variable: As impressive as Almeida's stats were last season, they're even more impressive when you realize that he was playing with a torn labrum in his left shoulder that severely limited his mobility and required him to wear a brace since November. He had offseason surgery to repair the shoulder, which explains his absence from both development camp and the Prospects Challenge. Almeida needs to get stronger, which he may not have been able to do while rehabbing the shoulder.

2019-20 expectationsTim Hunter, Almeida’s coach in juniors, told our site that Almeida is "an NHL player, no question in my mind.” He's probably a year or two away from seeing any NHL time and will need to focus on just learning how to be a pro for the time being. I wouldn't be all that surprised to see Almeida finish as Wilkes-Barre's leading-scorer among rookies.

The big question: Was Almeida able to put on any strength as he rehabbed from his shoulder surgery, and will he be able to adjust to the physicality of the professional game?

All profiles to date can be found here.

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