Drafting Skills: Pittsburgh Penguins

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Pittsburgh Penguins

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Joe Morrow (D) 23rd overall – The Pens traded Morrow to the Stars along with a 5th round pick that brought in Brenden Morrow and a 3rd round pick in 2013 (more on that below). Morrow has never blossomed into the NHL player many thought he would. He had a great junior career, but has only appeared in 65 NHL games since being drafted in 201, which ranks 61st in games played out of that draft. That’s not good enough for a first round pick.

Round 2 – Scott Harrington (D) 54th overall – Harrington is another player traded from the Pens out of this draft, originally part of the deal to Toronto that brought in Phil Kessel, and then onto Columbus. Harrington has bounced back and forth from the AHL to NHL over the past few years, never really finding his groove at the NHL level. It doesn’t look like he’ll amount to much, as he currently sits under 50 games played at the NHL level.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to the Flyers for the rights to Dan Hamhuis. He wouldn’t end up signing with the team, so this looks like a lost deal for the Pens.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Derrick Pouliot (D) 8th overall – There are many that still believe Pouliot can be an NHL player, however he’s yet to stay in the NHL for very long. He was drafted 5 years ago this June, and has only suited up for a total of 67 NHL games. The Pens are going through an extremely rough patch with their defenders in these playoffs, and he still isn’t a full-time player for the Pens. This is a pretty good indication on where he sits on their depth chart. Pouliot was a top-10 pick. Jacob Trouba was taken right after him, and has played in 271 games. He would fit in great with today’s Penguins.

Round 1 – Olli Maatta (D) 22nd overall – The second defenseman that the Pens took in the first round has turned out to be all that they hoped. He’s played in over 220 NHL games, and while he’s dealt with injuries over his young career, he’s played very well when in the lineup for the Pens. He’s seeing increased minutes in these playoffs, especially with the Pens decimated blueline. He’s a smooth skating d-man that sees the ice very well. This was a great selection by Pittsburgh.

Round 2 – Teddy Blueger (C) 52nd overall – Blueger played a full 4 years of College hockey before making the jump to the AHL 2 years ago. In his second season, he played a total of 54 games putting up 31 points. These numbers don’t jump out at you. He plays a very solid defensive game. He will likely develop into a bottom-9 centre for the Pens. He also plays a fairly physical game, while not taking an abundance of penalties (20 minutes in 54 games). This is a nice 2nd round selection by the Pens.

Round 3 – Oskar Sundqvist (C) 81st overall – Sundqvist has been working on his consistency at the AHL level, and has improved greatly in his 2nd year. He put up 20 goals and 46 points in 63 games this year. The Pens have an abundance of offensive players, but will likely see some change over the next couple of seasons with Chris Kunitz and others on their way out. He still has the chance to develop into an everyday player.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded to Calgary in the deal that brought in Jarome Iginla. Everyone wanted this to work out well for Iginla, one of the most likeable players. Sadly, it didn’t end in a Cup win. He was everything they hoped for, but not enough to push them over the top.

Round 2 – Tristan Jarry (G) 44th overall – Jarry put up great numbers in the AHL this year. He had a record of 28-15-1, with a SV% of 0.925 and a GAA of 2.15. This is great for a young goaltender in only his 2nd pro season. With Matt Murray likely the future in Pittsburgh, and the very likely possibility of Marc-Andre Fleury being shipped out this offseason, there’s no reason to think Jarry won’t be the backup as early as next season. Playing being the Pens is a great way to enter the league, and will likely help Jarry in his development.

Round 3 – Jake Guentzel (C) 77th overall – Talk about what looks like a steal. Guentzel started his first full pro season in the AHL this year by putting up 42 points in 33 games, including 21 goals. He got the call halfway through this year, and scored 2 goals in his debut! (check out his family celebrating his first goal, it’s great). He finished the year with 16 goals, and 33 points in 40 games. Through 18 playoff games, he’s got 16 points. What a steal in the third round for the Pens, even if this is a small sample size.  This was a great draft by the Pens.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Kasperi Kapanen (F) 22nd overall – Kapanen was part of the Phil Kessel trade, and is now part of the Leafs organization. He’s dominated at the AHL level, but struggled to find his game at the NHL level until late this season. Overall for his selection in this draft he’s performed well, however with David Pastrnak being taken 3 picks later (123 pts in 172 GP), it’s hard to wonder how even more powerful the Pens would be with the crafty right-hander on Crosby’s wing.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to San Jose in a group of picks for Douglas Murray. Murray played well for the Pens, and this pick hasn’t turned into anything great for the Sharks (Noah Rod).

Round 3 – Pick was traded to Calgary for Lee Stempniak. He never found his groove in Pittsburgh, putting up 7 points in 21 regular season games, and only 3 in 13 playoff games. The Pens were hoping for secondary scoring, and didn’t get it. Luckily, it was only a 3rd rounder that they gave up.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded to the Oilers for David Perron. He wasn’t the player the Penguins were hoping for. He played better parts of 2 seasons there, but never scored more than 22 points. This pick ended up being Mathew Barzal, who is projecting as a top-6 forward with high skill (79 points in 41 WHL games this year).

Round 2 – Daniel Sprong (RW) 46th overall – Sprong scored over a goal-per-game in the QMJHL this season, putting up 59 points in 31 games played. He has the offensive talent that should immediately translate to the NHL level, especially on a team like Pittsburgh where he won’t be heavily relied on to perform. He will likely make the team out of camp next season, and will get a shot at top-9 minutes for the Pens. Many are hoping he can find instant chemistry with either Crosby or Malkin, and make an impact immediately.

Round 3 – Pick was traded in a package of picks that brought in Marcel Goc. He only played 12 games that year for the Penguins scoring 2 points. Not a great pickup for the Pens.

 

Overall, the Pens have been average at the Draft. They struggled early on in this article, but have had great success in recent years, despite limited picks. They’ve hit on their 2nd and 3rd round picks way more often than on their first round selections, which is surprising but also lucky for the Pens. It’s easy for them to deal with a mediocre draft score, when they have 2 of the best players playing in today’s NHL in Crosby and Malkin.

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