by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2023 season is in full swing and many fans wonder what kind of prospects the team has in the minors. Draft 412 will review the top Penguins prospects and offer insights as to when they may appear in the league.
Name- Brayden Yager
Team- Moose Jaw (WHL)
HT/WT- 6’0” 170 lbs.
Home – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
The Penguins selected Brayden Yager with the 14th pick in the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft. The first selection of the Kyle Dubas era, Yager was coming off a solid season at Moose Jaw, scoring 78 points in 67 games.
He turned heads in training camp with his skating and playmaking abilities but as expected, was sent back to Moose Jaw for his 4th season with the Warriors. Yager has been scoring goals at a clip higher than any other time in his career and has 17 goals already in his first 25 games. His 39 points in 25 games is the highest point per game pace throughout his career as well at Moose Jaw.
Before the draft, Yager showed as an up and down player seeking consistency to his game. In one contest, he simply dominated, and then the next game he’d disappear or not contribute as much.
2023 has been a different story. Yager now takes over games and is developing more of a shoot first persona. His accuracy and strength on his shot have always been considered his calling card but he is an explosive skater who can shoot with accuracy off the rush. In transition, Yager stick handles through crowds regularly and opens up space for his teammates. He plays a responsible game and has a high hockey IQ.
Yager will need to improve his game strength to excel at the next level. He spends too much time in the offensive end roaming up high and not getting involved in the dirty areas more. As he gets stronger and matures into his body, he should be able to improve his battle level in the corners and in scrums.
Brayden Yager will go down as the first building block of the Kyle Dubas era. Realistically, he projects as a second line center who should become a dependable 60 plus point player with a strong 2-way game. Draft 412 thinks that out of all the Penguins' prospects, he has the least chance to get moved in a trade.