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Penguins to relinquish rights to defense prospect Connor Hall

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Connor Hall, a defenseman taken in the third round of the NHL Draft, showed good two-way skills in his first day on the ice at the Penguins' development camp.
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Getty Images
Connor Hall reacts after being selected in the third round by the Penguins during the NHL Draft on Saturday, June 25, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y.

The Penguins will not sign oft-injured prospect Connor Hall, relinquishing their rights to the physical defenseman chosen in the third round of the 2016 draft.

Hall will go back into the prospect pool for the 2018 NHL Draft, having failed to sign a deal before a June 1 deadline.

The move isn’t a surprise because of Hall’s lengthy injury history.

When the Penguins chose Hall with the 77th pick in 2016, he was described as a throwback defenseman with a strong physical game and enough puck-moving skills to register as a strong pro prospect.

However, he has played a total of 103 regular-season games over the last three years for the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers, including just 17 in 2016-17, because of surgeries to both shoulders and a broken jaw.

It’s common for NHL teams to relinquish the draft rights of oft-injured players, but it’s not a decision that comes without risk. The Penguins did not sign 2007 fifth-round pick Jake Muzzin in large part because of his injury history, and Muzzin became a standout defenseman with the Los Angeles Kings.

Hall’s departure leaves the Penguins prospect pool even thinner on defense.

Top Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenseman Lukas Bengtsson and Andrey Pedan have left the organization to sign with European clubs. Zach Lauzon, their second-round pick in 2017, was limited to 25 games this season with Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL because of a shoulder injury.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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