With NHL training camps opening last week and the regular season less than a month away, the 32 clubs are looking for young players to break out after playing in Europe, the NCAA, or the AHL to make their mark in the big show. For contending clubs, finding players on their entry-level contracts is essential to stay under the $83.5 million salary cap, while rebuilding teams are looking for youngsters as potential building blocks.
We finish our look at the possible breakout players from the Metropolitan Division:
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New York Rangers
Brennan Othmann – The Rangers 2021 first-rounder took a step back after scoring 50 goals in the OHL two years ago but could get the NHL fairly quickly with a good showing in the AHL this season.
Will Cuylle – The big left winger scored 25 goals with AHL Hartford and earned a brief NHL stint last season. New York added a group of veteran forwards to remain a Cup contender, but they may have need of some size up front during the year, and that might be Cuylle’s opportunity.
Tyson Foerster – The Flyers 2020 first-rounder got an early taste of pro hockey in AHL Lehigh Valley with the OHL shut down in 2021. Last season, the 21-year-old had 20 goals with the Phantoms and impressed in an eight-game stint with the Flyers. It would be surprising if Foerster is not playing a top-six role for the rebuilding club.
Ronnie Attard – After three years at Western Michigan, Attard had 42 points with Lehigh. A righty blueliner with size, the 24-year-old has an excellent chance to earn a spot with the Flyers, as their defense after their top pairing is a collection of hole-pluggers.
Samuel Poulin – The Penguins’ prospect pool is quite thin after years of trading draft picks and young players to remain a contender. Poulin is one of the few high draft picks that are still in the organization. After scoring 16 goals in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton two years ago, the 22-year-old missed significant time last season due to personal issues, but there is still belief that he has the talent to play in the NHL.
Joel Blomqvist – The Pens 2020 second-rounder spent most of the last two seasons putting up good numbers in Finland but served mostly as a backup with Karpat. The 21-year-old was present at the recent prospect tournament in Buffalo and likely will be the primary starter in the AHL this season, but with Pittsburgh’s goaltending a continuing question mark, he could climb the ladder fairly quickly.
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Ivan Miroshnichenko – The super-skilled Russian winger overcame non-Hodgkins lymphoma and was the Capitals first rounder in 2022. Only 19, Miroshnichenko will likely start with AHL Hershey, but with success, he could get a callup at some point this season.
Hendrix Lapierre – Lapierre scored 15 goals as a rookie with Hershey and was part of their Calder Cup-winning squad after averaging more than a point per game in the QMJHL in 2022. The hiring of Spencer Carbery is a sign that the Capitals are looking to develop and promote their young players, which may benefit the 21-year-old center.