With all the talk of drafts and free-agency heating up, the one area you rarely hear mentioned in regards to the Pittsburgh Penguins is defenseman.
Don’t get me wrong, people have been been up on their soapbox for months about trading Rob Scuderi and whether or not the Pens should re-sign Matt Niskanen, however when it comes to drafting new talent and bringing in new faces vis free-agency, most Pens fans have reached a consencus agreement that it’s forwards, not defenseman, that Pittsburgh should target.
Over the past several seasons, Pittsburgh has developed a glut of talented, young, defensive prospects, many of whom are now ready to break into full-time NHL jobs. “Next Ones” will be a recurring post, each one dedicated to profiling one of the penguins up-and-coming blue liners. First Up: Scott Harrington.
Hometown: Kingston, Ontario
Position: Defenseman Height: 6’2, Weight: 205 lbs
Shoots: Left Drafted: 2nd round, 54th overall (2011) by Pittsburgh
2013- 14 AHL Stats: 76 GP, 5 G, 19A, 55 PIM, +9
First off, lets look at the profile description from the draft geniuses at hockeysfuture.com.
“Harrington is a reliable two-way defenseman with phenomenal hockey IQ and on ice-awareness. The foundation of his game is centered on his strong, mobile skating ability and good awareness in his own zone. He is particularly adept winning 50/50 battles in the corner and quickly getting the puck out of the defensive zone. Harrington also has the vision and puck-skills to make good first passes and start the play up ice.
Harrington’s style of game is pro-ready and with continued maturity and experience, he should have little difficulty making the eventual transition to the NHL.”
Pittsburgh went out and signed Rob Scuderi in the 2013 offseason in the hopes that he would be able to return to his 2009 form, where he was a top shut-down, “stay at home”, defenseman, and a major factor in the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in 2009.
It hasn’t worked out as planned for the Penguins, however Harrington is looking like just the guy to fill that role once he makes the jump to the NHL.
In fact, Penguins Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald recently drew comparisons between the two players, noting “The pride. The way they play without the puck, and he attention to detail,” we’re all aspects of Harrington’s game that reminded him of Scuderi in his prime.
A young, talented, defensively sound player with an extremely high hockey IQ, Harrington will almost definitely see time on Pittsburgh’s penalty kill unit.
And at 6’2, Harrington is not afraid to play physical. Part of a Wilkes-Barre Scranton team that hit and fought a ton, Harrington was no pushover. Though he’s had just five fights between the OHL and WBS, Harrington has handled himself well in all of them.
Pittsburgh didn’t draft Harrington for his fists, and the likelihood of him getting into many NHL scraps are pretty slim, however its the intensity and fearlessness of Harrington, in addition to his skills with the puck on his stick, that Pittsburgh brass love.
Harrington will make the team out of training camp, and will most likely stick around the remainder of the season.
He ultimately projects as a reliable, stay-at-home defenseman with a physical side and a high hockey IQ.
In addition to Scuderi, he’s also been compared to Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse.