Top 25 Under 25, no. 12: Matt Puempel

Moving up one spot from last year to #12 is Matt Puempel, who was impressive during his rookie campaign in Binghamton last season.

The 6'0, 190 pound left-winger, Matt Puempel, was selected 24th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators and signed to an entry level contract in December of 2011. According to Randy Lee, the Senators organization was worried that they may have made a mistake in drafting him because Puempel had some injury trouble in the OHL and missed a lot of playing time because of it. It appears that the now 21 year-old is proving the doubters wrong as Lee has since said that Puempel worked hard this past season in Binghmaton and "exceeded expectations with his offence."

After playing four seasons in the OHL for Peterborough and Kitchener, Puempel began his professional career with Binghamton last year. He put up solid numbers, notching 30 goals and 18 assists, which were good enough to tie him for the most goals in Binghamton. His point totals also put him in the AHL's top ten in rookie scoring.

Luke Richardson has said that Puempel has an excellent shot and he isn't afraid to go into the dirty areas and play tough. Indeed, Puempel's scouting report will tell you that he's a natural goal-scorer with good passing ability and vision on the ice. His eight fights and 94 penalty minutes show that he can be feisty and play with an edge on the ice as well.

Puempel did need to work on becoming stronger and more defensively minded (he was -11 last year), but Richardson said he would put him on checking lines from time to time in order to help develop his defensive game. Richardson also commended Puempel for his hard-work and dedication to improvement, saying that Puempel is the first to ask questions and implements changes to his game when he's receives criticism.

Puempel will most likely spend the majority of next season in Binghamton. He made great strides this year improving his all-around game and no doubt he needs another season in Binghamton to polish some things. He may very well suit up in a couple games for Ottawa too, as management will probably want to assess how he can compete in the NHL.

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