It’s been a very complicated few days for Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Raivis Ansons. On Friday, he was handed a one-game suspension for a high stick, meaning he missed the last game of the regular season in his final year of QMJHL hockey. Today, he was signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Penguins. He will remain with the Saint John Seadogs through their QMJHL playoff and Memorial Cup run.
Ansons, 20, has been great for the Sea Dogs after a midseason trade brought him over from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. The Latvian winger had 12 goals and 36 points in 37 games down the stretch, adding his usual level of physicality to every puck battle. Ansons isn’t a brilliant offensive piece, but his size, strength and skating make him an interesting NHL prospect all the same, even if it will be a limited ceiling for the young forward.
An entry-level contract was the next step toward that ultimate goal, though there is still plenty of work to be done. Selected 149th overall in 2020, he’ll be eligible for the AHL next season, where he’ll try to test himself with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. While his game may translate quickly, the grind and improved defense of that level will be a good indicator of whether he has enough upside to carve out a bottom-six role with Pittsburgh in the future.
For now, the Sea Dogs are not only trying to win a QMJHL championship, but as the host city, they’ll also get an automatic bid to the Memorial Cup. Those high-pressure matchups will certainly be a strong opportunity for growth, as he continues on an encouraging development path.