Angelo Esposito was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first round draft choice this summer, being chosen 20th overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft. Born February 20, 1989, in Montreal, Quebec, the 18 year old Center brings the potential of another rising star to the Penguins organization.
Esposito spent the last two years playing for the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). His signing with the Remparts was a bit of a controversy. Esposito had been considered the potential top draft pick for the QMJHL, but he reportedly informed all of the General Managers of the QMJHL that he intended to play NCAA collegiate hockey instead. Just prior to the draft, the Remparts traded for the 11th draft pick and selected Esposito, after he had been passed over by the previous 10 teams based on his assertions that he would not play in the QMJHL. Shortly thereafter, Esposito signed an agreement with the Remparts and was officially a QMJHL player.
After a productive pre-season, he was selected to center the first line. He quickly cashed in by scoring in his first regular season game on his very first shift against the Rimouski Oceanic. In his first year, he was selected as the league’s top rookie of the month twice and offensive player of the week once. He racked up a staggering 98 points (39G, 59A) in just 57 games, carried a +42 rating, and a 19.5% shooting percentage. He went on to win the Memorial Cup with the Remparts that year, the championship trophy of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). He was awarded the Michel Bergeron Rookie of the Year Award for 2005-06 as the best offensive rookie in the QMJHL (the same award won by Sidney Crosby in 2003-04). In his second year with the Remparts, he put up 79 points (27G, 52A) in 60 games.
He also performed exceedingly well on the international stage, being selected captain of Team Canada at the 2006 Under-18 Junior World Cup where he took home a Gold Trophy. He also competed in the 2007 World Under-18 championship.
Scouting reports note that Esposito is an excellent skater with great speed and mobility. He is also a noted playmaker with excellent on-ice vision and tremendous passing skills, as evidenced by his QMJHL stats. His hand/eye coordination is also noted, and he has the flair and potential to be a number one center. Scouting also suggests that he needs to improve his off-puck play and increase his physical strength to reach his full potential as a great point producer in the NHL.