Penguins’ Potential Diamond in the Rough

On Friday the Penguins made several cost-effective depth moves. Among them was the signing of Stuart Percy, a former first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This acquisition could be different from the rest as Percy has the potential to be a regular contributor in the NHL.

Many Maple Leafs’ fans were not happy that Percy did not receive a qualifying offer from Toronto. There appears to be the feeling that something kept him from realizing his potential, and that the possibility of success still exists. Injuries were a factor, but also a logjam of young players within Toronto’s system. Percy did have brief opportunities during the last two seasons, but they were short-lived, giving him a combined 12 games at hockey’s highest level.

Unrealized Potential

His skill set does match what the Penguins are doing with their defense, as he is a good skater with ability to move the puck quickly. But at 23, Percy still has some developing to do. Pittsburgh already has a young defenseman with unrealized potential in Derrick Pouliot, and they are still figuring out what they want to do with him.

This is a quote from the website ‘Hockey’s Future’ that pretty well sums up what people are thinking about Percy.

Percy appeared in three NHL games with Toronto in 2015-16, spending most of the year in the AHL. A first-round pick by the Maple Leafs by the previous regime in 2011, he has been slowed by injuries and not yet reached the level envisioned when he was a scoring threat and a physical defender in junior hockey. Percy would be an unrestricted free agent if not tendered a contract offer by the Maple Leafs. He no longer projects as a top pairing defender but could have some value in a lesser role for a team in need of defense help.

The rest of their analysis of Percy can be found here.

The above information is very telling. A player once regarded as offensively gifted with physical upside that has not lived up to the billing for one reason or another. He may simply be the victim of circumstances, and that is why this fresh start is so important.

Percy May Become a Steal

This is a very low-risk, high-reward scenario for the Penguins. Percy is signed to a one-year, two-way contract worth only $575,00. A deal that could be a huge bargain if he realizes even a fraction of his potential. This is also a big opportunity for Percy, and a fresh start in an organization that values the skills that he brings to the table.

It seems logical that Percy would get every opportunity to show what he is capable of when training camp opens in September. He may not make the team on opening day, but should be on the short list to be recalled during the season. He has the potential to at least become a bottom pairing defenseman, hopefully more.

The Oakville, Ontario native’s career may have hit a speed bump, but this is a chance for him to get back on track, and for the Penguins to have the best under-the-radar signing this summer.

Until next time.