Monday: The Penguins have officially announced the contract.
Sunday: The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed a recent draft pick to his entry-level contract. Whispers emerged early last month that 2017 fifth-round choice Jan Drozg, a right wing for the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes, was close to signing his rookie deal with Pittsburgh, but it was unclear whether the pact would begin this year or next. CapFriendly reports that the three-year deal has been completed and it does in fact begin with the 2019-20 season. The Penguins have yet to confirm the signing.
Drozg’s ELC carries an AAV of $925K, but a base salary of just $700K in the first two years and $750K in the final year. The young forward, who turns 20 next month, will be supplemented by a $278K signing bonus, as well as performance bonuses of up to $132,500 in the first two seasons and $82,500 in the final season. Of course, none of this is guaranteed to begin next season, as Drozg has a year of junior eligibility remaining and could be a candidate for an entry-level slide next year if the Penguins decide they would prefer for him to return to the QMJHL.
Drozg, who stands tall but slight at 6’2″ and 174 pounds, became just the seventh Slovenian player drafted and the highest selection outside of Anze Kopitar when the Penguins took him 152nd overall in 2017 out of the Swedish junior ranks. A fast, hard-working forward, Drozg is omnipresent on the ice and helps to create a lot of offense for the Cataractes, a team that lacks much game-breaking talent. Last season, Drozg made the jump to North America after being selected by Shawinigan in the first round of the CHL Import Draft and immediately made his presence felt, leading the team with 50 points in 61 games. The effort even earned him a tryout game with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, in which he notched an assist. Drozg has outdone himself this year, scoring at a point-per-game pace to again lead the Cataractes with 52 points in 53 games thus far. Making Drozg’s accomplishments more impressive is the fact that Shawinigan has been arguably the worst team in the QMJHL over the past two years and Drozg’s offensive potential has a much higher ceiling once he is surrounded by superior talent. As such, the Penguins could opt to start Drozg in the AHL next season rather than return him to junior, as putting him in a competent lineup may be the best thing for the young winger’s development. If he can continue to produce consistently at the pro level as he has in junior, Pittsburgh may have found a diamond in the rough in the late-round forward.