Coming into the start of the season, the Penguins quite possibly could have had three of their young defensemen (Brian Strait, Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres) on the NHL roster, but instead they have to fight for ice time in the American Hockey League with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.
This has led to a serious problem in getting everyone enough ice time to fully develop their skills. Top prospects such as Brian Dumoulin and Joe Morrow are not getting a full chance to develop.
Dumoulin, a key piece of the Jordan Staal trade, was a healthy scratch once and Morrow, a first-round pick in the 2011 draft, has had to sit and watch three games already this season.
If you are not a top prospect it gets even harder to get ice time. Alex Grant, who led all Baby Pens defensemen in scoring last year, has missed 11 games this season. Philip Samuelsson, a 2009 second-rounder, has missed seven games.
Then there is Carl Sneep, who has a body built for the NHL. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he has had to settle for playing for the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL where there is far less competition to play against.
The best the Penguins can do is increase the practice time they spend with the young defensemen and hope that it will be enough to help them mature into the defensemen we all predict them to be.
And pray for the lockout to end.