Tuesday: The Penguins have officially announced the signing of O’Connor to a two-year entry-level contract that will not begin until the 2020-21 season. O’Connor will join the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the rest of the season on an amateur tryout. GM Jim Rutherford had this to say about his newest prospect:
Drew is a powerful skater with good hands, which helped him have a very good year at Dartmouth. We are very happy Drew has joined the Penguins as we feel he can help our NHL club sooner rather than later.
Monday: With several college teams finishing their seasons, the wire will soon be filled with news of NHL contracts being handed out. Undrafted free agents could be the first to go, and a familiar team seems ready to jump into the fray. Frank Seravalli of TSN reports that the Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to a contract with Drew O’Connor, who just finished his sophomore season at Dartmouth.
The 21-year old O’Connor scored 21 goals and 33 points this season for Dartmouth, playing both the wing and center while using his 6’3″ frame to the best of its abilities. He was nominated for the Hobey Baker and Seravalli previously reported that there was “no shortage of NHL interest” in the power forward.
If Pittsburgh does make the signing official, it won’t be the first time that they’ve mined the college ranks to add talent to the organization. Players like Zach Aston-Reese, Conor Sheary, Chad Ruhwedel, Adam Johnson and Casey DeSmith were all undrafted college free agents that have helped team this season.
Even if O’Connor never develops into a top scoring threat, the Penguins have shown an ability to turn almost anyone into an effective option next to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. As they continue to move out draft picks to add depth at the deadline, securing players through places like college free agency is extremely important.