The Pittsburgh Penguins made a roster move on Thursday that exemplifies the state of their minor league system. The much-anticipated arrival of Oskar Sundqvist is now a reality.
Yes folks, the third-line center of the future is now in Pittsburgh!
There was a huge uproar when Sundqvist did not make the big club during training camp. Now that he has been promoted there is a fair amount of buzz around the city. For a role player to be so heralded speaks volumes about the franchise and it’s prospect depth. It is a little concerning.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 2, 2014
All sarcasm aside, I am a big fan of Sundqvist, and I am excited to get a good look at him playing with the big boys. The Swedish product is exactly what the Penguins need in a big-bodied, two-way center with good hockey sense. He utilizes his size at both ends of the ice, making him a valuable asset. But at only 21 years-old, in what amounts to his first year as a North American professional, he is still very raw.
Oskar Sundqvist’s game is a lot like Eric Fehr’s. Rangy two-way center. Responsible player. Not a gifted natural finisher.
— Jonathan Bombulie (@BombulieTrib) February 4, 2016
In 39 games, Sundqvist has 5 goals, and 16 points, with a +/- rating of -1. Clearly his statistics do not overwhelm. But he is routinely matched up against the top opposition players, as you would expect a strong two-way third line center to be.
Sundqvist is likely to be returned after Evgeni Malkin returns from an injury that will keep him out, hopefully only over the weekend. But this brief promotion will give the Penguins a chance to see how Sundqvist handles himself in the NHL, and the experience should only be positive for him.
Our own Michael Pityk discussed the Penguins recent injury woes in his latest article.
Here’s a look at projected lines with the Penguins new injuries.
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin – Matt Cullen – Phil Kessel
Conor Sheary- Oscar Sundqvist – Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl – Kevin Porter – Scott Wilson
That’s right, the entire bottom-six of the Penguins for the next week or so will be comprised of AHL players.
It is very telling of the Penguins injury situation and their organizational depth that they promoted Sundqvist, as he possibly isn’t ready for the big show just yet. But he works hard, and could be an asset on the penalty kill. Aside from Daniel Sprong, Sundqvist is the Penguins prospect that most intrigues me. He has a very old school third-line vibe that will be fun to watch.
@GarBercury i’m not so sure he is ready for prime time
— Ryan Wilson (@GunnerStaal) February 4, 2016
He may not be the next Connor McDavid, but if there is a city that appreciates hard work and defense, it is Pittsburgh. My guess is ready or not, people will be welcoming him with open arms, and cheering him for years to come in a Penguins uniform. Just give him a chance to grow.
Until next time.