MEET THE PENGUINS: 2017 NHL Entry Draft Recap

2017 Draft logoThis is your one-stop shop during the 2017 NHL Entry Draft! Whether or not you’re following along with the television broadcast or just hitting the refresh button on mobile, Skating on the Susquehanna is exactly where Penguins fans want to be on draft night.

Unless some deals are struck, Pittsburgh won’t make its first selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft until the very last pick of the first round. So we’ll be updating this live blog with anything interesting happening in the first round leading up to the Penguins’ pick at 31. After that, we’ll only cover every one of Pittsburgh’s picks on Saturday.

Every player selection will be accompanied by a detailed scouting report, so you know exactly who’s just joined the organization and who could be suiting up for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton someday down the line.

This blog was updated LIVE throughout the draft festivities on Friday and Saturday, and has since been reorganized to show the Penguins’ picks in chronological order first. You can scroll all the way to the bottom to see old updates from our first round coverage:

51st overall:


Zachary Lauzon – Defenseman

The younger brother of a highly touted Bruins prospect plays a much more reserved game than his brethren. Lauzon excels by playing comfortably in a stay-at-home style. In fact, he was awarded the QMJHL’s Kevin Lowe Trophy, which is given annually to the league’s best defensive defenseman. Lauzon is a great penalty killer, and he’s already developed a good sense of when to lay out and block a shot and when to back off and let the goalie make the save without an extra screen. When given time and space, he can reliably deliver pinpoint breakout passes. That being said, not a lot of people expect much offensive production from him. That’s just not his style.

93rd overall:


Clayton Phillips – Defenseman

This slick-skating puck distributor isn’t going to wow anyone with his physical gifts. It’s all about brains over brawn with this young man. He has a good first pass and is willing to join the offensive rush after connecting on the breakout. A converted forward to the defensive position, he’s been known to take the occasional calculated risk, but he has the skating ability to recover if it backfires. The Fargo Force blue liner has a good one-timer and skirts around like a waterbug on the power play to keep opposing killers guessing. The defensive side of his game isn’t refined yet, but added strength and more reps on D are expected to translate to development in this area.

152nd overall:


Jan Drozg – Left Wing

A Slovenian winger playing in Sweden’s junior system, Drozg hasn’t played against high competiton just yet, but he’s dominated in international affairs. Drozg is routinely one of the best players on the ice when he suits up for his native Slovenia. A battler and heart and soul player to go with some above average puck skills. At both the U18 and U20 B-Division World Juniors, Drozg combined for 16 points (6G-10A) in eight games.

155th overall:


Linus Ölund – Centerman

After going undrafted the past two years, the Penguins scooped up Ölund after an impressive SHL Playoffs. After putting up 15 points in 39 regular season games with Brynäs, he went off went six goals and four assists for 10 points in 20 postseason contests. He’s more known for his defense than his offense, though. He’s detail-oriented and never cheats on his defensive responsibilities. He has an explosive first step to get off to the races out of a stationary stance, but he’s no Mach-5 skater after that. He does a good job protecting the puck and cycles well down low.

186th overall:


Antti Palojärvi – Defenseman

Joining Lauzon and Phillips, Palojärvi is another defenseman who excels at ushering the puck up the ice and getting it into the hands of his forwards. His passing skills translate to the offensive zone, too, though you’ll rarely see him try and pull off a low-percentage play. He does a good job defending down low and around the netfront, which plays perfectly to his breakout strengths. He takes the puck away, and then moves it to a teammate. He does need to improve his work handling quick, skilled attackers in transition, though.

217th overall:


Will Reilly – Defenseman

Mr. Irrelevant is one of the best freshmen in the ECAC this past year, Will Reilly. Reilly finished third among R.P.I. rearguards in points (15). He’s talented puck carrier who likes to play with pace. He himself isn’t the fastest skater, but he works at a high temp at all times. He makes quick decisions and doesn’t like to wait until someone is breathing down his neck to make a play. That works to his benefit and determent, because his impatience can cost him positioning in the D-zone every now and then. Reilly likes to carry the puck out of the zone on his own and join his forwards on the attack.



First round action

6:15 p.m. – Okay, wow. A lot has happened today tradewise, and it’s shaken up the draft order. Let’s take it from the top…

• The Chicago Blackhawks dealt defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for d-man Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin. No picks were exchanged here, but it’s a significant trade because Hjalmarsson had been a staple on the blue line of the Blackhawks during their three recent Stanley Cup titles.

Both of these teams weren’t done yet.

• The Chicago Blackhawks sent back-to-back 30-goal scorer Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte to the Columbus Blue Jackets for former Hawk Brandon Saad and goalie Anton Forsberg. Furthermore, the Blue Jackets get the Blackhawks’ sixth round pick this year and gave up their 2018 fifth rounder to Chicago.

Panarin has been a scoring machine in his two NHL seasons, but Saad won two Cups with Chi-town, and now he’s back. Motte is a promising 22-year-old prospect who logged and handful of games with the Blackhawks this past year, while Forsberg was a part of the AHL All-Star Classic in Allentown.

• The Arizona Coyotes acquire center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers in exchange for the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft along with defenseman Anthony DeAngelo. Stepan will almost certainly slide right into the Coyotes line-up as their No. 1 center on opening day. Raanta was considered one of the best back-up goalies in the NHL, but was stuck playing behind Henrik Lundqvist in New York.

This moves gives the Rangers two first round picks, and unprecedented total for a club that hasn’t made a single selection in the first round of a draft in five years. In fact, the last time the Rangers picked higher than seven was in 2003, when they scooped up goalie Al Montoya (sixth overall). He went on to play in 156 NHL games, none of which were with the Rangers.

6:48 p.m. – Teams are being announced in Chicago. Lots of boos for teams that aren’t the Blackhawks. Rowdy crowd early. We’ll see if they fade as round one drags on.

7:00 p.m. – Jim Cornelison sang the national anthem. The fans reacted like it was a playoff game. Everyone’s pumped. Let’s get this draft going!!!!

7:08 p.m. – Here we go. The traditional booing of Gary Bettman has taken place, and now John Hynes and the New Jersey Devils are on the clock. Nico or Nolan?

7:15 p.m. – It’s Nico Hischier, the first ever Swiss-born No. 1 overall pick. Unless something crazy happens, expect Nolan Patrick to be taken by Philadelphia. He’ll provide and excellent one-two punch down the middle playing behind Claude Giroux.

7:37 p.m. – A random though, do not let the services of Craig Button and Bob McKenzie go underappreciated. If you’re watching the draft on NBCSN, you’re getting the best coverage in all sports because of those two men’s insights.

7:39 p.m. – Now that the top four prospects are gone (Hischier, Patrick, Miro Heiskanen and Cale Makar,) this thing is wide open. A lot of latitude with the remaining field. Vancouver starts this portion off with Swedish centerman Elias Petterson. Don’t expect Cody Glass to remain on the board for very long.

7:44 p.m. – Oh, well there you go. Glass gets taken right after Vancouver’s selection, and now he’s the answer to a trivia question for the rest of time. He’s the first ever draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights.

7:56 p.m. – Jason Botterill’s first pick as GM of the Buffalo Sabres is Casey Mittlestadt. This young man is an electrifying offensive talent and will be a good compliment to the Sabres’ current corps. Won the Minnesota’s prestigious Mr. Hockey Award.

8:02 p.m. – Memorial Cup champion Gabriel Vilardi has taken a bit of an unexpected slide. No professional scouting service or hockey insider had him ranked lower than eight (and that was only one outlet). He’s still available as we approach the 10th overall pick…

8:14 p.m. – Vilardi falls to the Los Angeles Kings. Once again, this broadcast is the best. NBCSN drawing the comparisons to this Vilardi selection and the last time the Kings picked 11th overall. They took Anže Kopitar. It worked out okay.

8:29 p.m. – Adam Foote’s son, defenseman Cal Foote, gets taken 14th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are trying to shore-up their blue line.

8:36 p.m. – Vegas makes the first big surprise of the night at 15th overall. The Golden Knights take Erik Brännström, who was projected to go anywhere from 20-40. This is a very, very calculated risk, though. He’s got more tools than Batman’s utility belt. Size is the only concern scouts have with him. He ain’t big, but he’s got it all goin’ on.

9:00 p.m. – I thought this would only happen in my dreams, but it is now a reality. The St. Louis Blues drafted a young man named Rob Thomas with pick No. (Matchbox) 20. That’s the most “Smooth” pick of the draft, by far.

Seriously, I’m so happy this happened. Thank you, St. Louis.

9:12 p.m. – Another moment of appreciation for Button and McKenzie. They’ve been killing at predicting who teams will pick almost immediately before the announcement is made. It’s gotten to the point now where host Liam McHugh was audibly chuckling after the Edmonton Oilers took Kailer Yamomoto shortly after he was the topic of discussion between McKenzie and Button.

9:40 p.m. – Trades! The Dallas Stars traded up from 29th to 26th overall to take goalie Jake Oettinger, the first tender off the board. The Chicago Blackhawks slid down to 29th overall and added a third round pick (70th overall).

Here’s a big’un. The St. Louis Blues shipped the 27th overall pick and Jori Lehtera to the Philadelphia Flyers for Brayden Schenn. The Flyers used the 27th pick to select well-rounded forward Morgan Frost.

9:52 p.m. – The hometown Chicago Blackhawks have made their way to the podium. Crowd going nuts. “Chelsea Dagger” blaring in the background.

9:55 p.m. – Swerve! Chicago’s GM stops mid-announcement and brings out Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to make the pick. Patrick Kane leans into the microphone and announces, “Henri Jokiharju”.’

Nashville is on the clock. The Penguins are on deck.

10:02 p.m. – We’ve finally reached the 31st pick. The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the clock.

10:04 p.m. – Trade. The Penguins have traded the 31st overall pick and Oskar Sundqvist to St. Louis for Ryan Reaves and the 51st overall pick.

So we’re waiting until tomorrow to see who Pittsburgh will take with it’s first pick of the 2017 NHL Draft.


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