Anthony Angello, 5 others likely to play for Penguins this season
Hockey is, as Penguins coach Mike Sullivan likes to say, a belligerent game. Players often get hurt.
It also can be a lucrative line of work. Even the players on the fringes of NHL rosters cash seven-figure checks these days.
With those facts in mind, it’s hard to imagine a player more prepared for his chosen career than Penguins prospect Anthony Angello.
As a student at Cornell, Angello started out in pre-med, then switched to applied economics with a concentration in finance.
He got within five classes of a degree when the Penguins came calling in April, offering an entry level contract.
He can finish up his degree in a couple of summers, he figured. Now it’s time to make his mark on the ice.
“It took a lot of thought,” Angello said. “I thought I had a great year at Cornell. From an on-ice perspective and the physical and mental components, I felt I was ready. I was mature. I was past the college level. I was ready to take that next step in my hockey career. I jumped in with both feet, and I’m ready to get after it.”
Angello is the best power-forward prospect the Penguins have had had in their pool in years. A fifth-round pick from the 2014 draft, he uses his 6-foot-5 frame to play an appropriately physical game, is comfortable at center or wing and hit double digits in goals in each of his three seasons at Cornell.
He didn’t look out of his depth in three preseason games, but given the veteran nature of the roster the Penguins brought to camp, there was little chance Angello could mount a Cinderella run for an opening-night roster spot.
That doesn’t mean there’s no chance he pays a visit to the western half of the state at some point this season.
While a productive full season in Wilkes-Barre would be a good step in his development, Angello has a legitimate shot at making his NHL debut at some point this year. Here’s a look at five other players sent down in Sunday night’s sweeping round of cuts who could do the same.
1. Ryan Haggerty: Coming in on an AHL contract, the 25-year-old winger was little more than an afterthought at the start of camp. Then, he scored clutch goals in a pair of intrasquad scrimmages. Then, he scored two more goals in exhibition games. Now, the Penguins have to be considering upgrading him to an NHL contract. He’s an NHL-caliber shooter, and though his skating isn’t pretty, it’s effective.
2. Teddy Blueger: Patience will be a virtue for the 24-year-old Blueger. He’s as close to NHL ready as any prospect sent down Sunday. He’s added a respectable scoring touch to his already sound defensive game. The problem is he’s seventh on a stacked center depth chart. Brighter days are ahead, however. Four centers ahead of him — Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, Matt Cullen and Derek Grant — will be free agents next summer.
3. Adam Johnson: A second-year pro out of Minnesota-Duluth, the undrafted Johnson was the biggest bright spot for the Penguins at the pre-camp rookie tournament in Buffalo. He’s slight at 6-foot, 174 pounds and there’s a danger he could get blown off the puck at the NHL level, but man, can he skate.
4. Thomas Di Pauli: After an injury plagued rookie season, Di Pauli had 12 goals in 58 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season. He’s a great skater and a fitness fanatic who projects as a bottom-six winger in the NHL.
5. Sam Miletic: If Angello is the best power-forward prospect in the system, Miletic is second. He plays a straight-line game, he didn’t get pushed around in exhibition action and he’s coming off a 36-goal season in juniors last year.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at email@example.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.