Tag Archives: draft

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:
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2017 NHL DRAFT PREVIEW: Potential Penguins Targets

Nolan or NicoAfter the historic expansion draft in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, the hockey world is back to its regularly scheduled program. Up next in the offseason is the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, for which the finest young stars will blow into the Windy City in hopes of being whisked away by an NHL club. Of course, many of the players selected on June 23 and 24 will dazzle fans in the AHL, as well.

At the top of the draft rankings are two centermen separated by the slimmest of margins, creating one of the most hotly contested “Who’s No. 1?” debates in hockey history. By virtue of winning the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row, the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t a part of the Nico or Nolan conversation. Pittsburgh’s first selection will comes 31st overall, followed by picks in rounds three, five (2), six and seven.

Just because the marquee-name prospects won’t mean all the talent will be scooped up by the time the Penguins are on the clock. Recent Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton stars like Oskar Sundqvist, Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson and Matt Murray weren’t even taken in the first 80 picks of their respective drafts. Jake Guentzel was selected 77th overall in 2013, and there’s not a hockey fan on planet earth who can try and belittle what he’s accomplished in his short pro career so far.

The point is: There’s always talent available at any point in any draft class. You just have to find it. Here are some names that Pittsburgh might be considering calling in Chicago this weekend…

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THE NHL EXPANSION DRAFT ALL-PURPOSE PRIMER

Now that the dust has settled from another year of hockey (and the Pittsburgh Penguins reign supreme once again), the offseason begins. This summer will not be your prototypical offseason, though. No, no, no. For the first time since the turn of the new millennium, the NHL will have an expansion draft.

And that event will be here before you know it.

Vegas gold

With the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights as the NHL’s 31st member club, the new team will fill out a roster through the expansion draft. The NHL has done this well before the advent of Sin City hockey, too. The league has held 11 prior expansion drafts, the first of which took place in 1967 when the NHL’s “Original Six” franchises were joined by the congregation of the Los Angeles Kings, Oakland Seals, Minnesota North Stars, St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The landscape of the game has altered significantly since 1967 (and, for that matter, from 2000, the last time an NHL Expansion Draft took place). The league exists in a salary cap era now, contract details have become increasingly more complex and widespread media coverage has evolved hand-in-hand with rampant fan fervor. Therefore, there are a lot of moving parts going into this upcoming event, and it can be very, very confusing.

Fret not, hockey fan, because we will happily explain everything you need to know about the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft and hope to answer any questions you may have.

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Meet the New Penguins: 2016 Draft Recap

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Pittsburgh didn’t make its first selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft until the late second round, but they certainly made the most of it.

As the draft started to shake out, it became clear that there would be plenty of talent available for the Penguins organization to choose from. And as we all know, that talent usually blossoms in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Below are the newest additions to the Penguins organization:

55th overall: FILIP GUSTAVSSONblog_Gustavsson

Gustavsson is a calm and mentally strong goalie who has shined in big situations on the international stage. He relies on perfect positioning and mechanics rather than flashy stops, and thus makes difficult saves appear like run-of-the-mill practice shots. The Skellefteå, Sweden native shows good footwork as well as lower body strength for excellent lateral movement to always be square to the shooter. A European cliché, he prefers to play deep in his crease. Statistically, he took a step back at the junior level, but in six SHL performances (and one playoff stint) with Luleå, he had a save percentage well-over .910.

61st overall: KASPER BJÖRKQVISTblog_Björkqvist

After going undrafted in 2015, Björkqvist insisted on remaining in the Finnish junior system so that he could maintain his college eligibility. He dominated the Jr. A SM-liiga as a result and clearly caught the attention of Pittsburgh’s scouts. He’s a responsible, two-way presence from the wing who may not be the quickest, but his smarts never allow his to fall behind the play. He’s committed to Providence College, where he will be able to adjust to the North American game and refine more of his skills before he makes the jump to the pro level.

77th overall: CONNOR HALL*blog_Hall

You’re going to like this guy, Penguins fans. He’s one tough customer, but he can maneuver the ice well, too. You do not want to end up on his bad side. The Kitchener Rangers defenseman knows how to keep his composure, too. Despite his reputation as a guy with a mean streak, he had just 49 penalty minutes in 39 games. At the junior level, you often see those totals a lot higher for someone of his ilk. He won’t be counted on for primary offense from the blue line, but remains a trustworthy player in transition and will help you get back possession of the puck and then move it out of your zone. Though Hall hails from Kitchener, Ont., he informed reporters that he actually attended several games at the old Igloo in Pittsburgh to see Sidney Crosby in action.

* = Pittsburgh acquired the 77th overall pick at the draft from New Jersey in exchange for the rights to Beau Bennett

121st overall: RYAN JONESblog_Jones

In his final year of draft eligibility, Jones thrived in a larger role with the Lincoln Stars. His point production improved from 13 points to 30 points. So it’s safe to consider him your prototypical “late bloomer”. He’s a smooth-as-butter skater who you can always count on him for a crisp, tape-to-tape feed. Racks up a lot of his points on the power play, too. Boasts a booming shot and some snarl to his game. Gustavsson might have the piercing eyes capable of staring deep into your soul (as seen above,) but nobody in the Penguins’ draft corps is going to top Jones when it comes to hockey hair.

151st overall: NICLAS ALMARIblog_Almari

Another defenseman on the board for Pittsburgh, and a second player out of the Jr. A SM-liiga. In fact, he’s from the same hometown and played in the same youth system as Björkqvist. Almari bounced around from team to team this season, but was revitalized when playing under the umbrella of legendary franchise Jokerit. Almari is an impressive skater who will add more power to his stride as he naturally matures. He uses good that skating ability to almost always have himself in the right position. He’s never going to wow you with eye-popping plays when the puck is on his stick. Instead, he prefers simpler, high-percentage plays.

181st overall: JOE MASONIUSblog_Masonius.jpg

A product of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Masonius went undrafted last year. This defenseman has no single outstanding trait, he’s just well-rounded and keeps his game simple. Masonius excels by making swift, simple decisions. Undrafted last year, a long college career of growth and development is likely ahead for the freshman out of the University of Connecticut. He is one of ten siblings, a family with an even split of five boys and five girls. His mother, Ellen, played collegiate basketball at Saint Joseph’s University.


 

That wraps up the Pittsburgh Penguins work at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, N.Y. The strategy from the scouts is a very simple one to see: Take defense. After the Penguins traded into the 77th slot, they selected four defensemen in a row. Pittsburgh also continued to show its fearlessness when it comes to picked players that were passed over in previous drafts. Three of the Penguins picks, Björkqvist, Jones and Masonius, were not chosen in their first years of eligibility. There’s a precedent for those kind of picks paying off, though, with Dominik Simon‘s success during his first season in North America as a great example.

Get to know these names, because there’s a good chance they’ll be groomed in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton someday.

2016 NHL Draft Preview

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The hockey world converges on Buffalo, N.Y. tomorrow as the best of the future take their first step toward stardom with the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Of course, many of the players selected this weekend will dazzle fans in the AHL, as well.

At the top of the draft rankings are sure-fire studs like Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, and Jesse Puljujärvi, but unless the Pittsburgh Penguins swing a wild trade in the hours leading up to the draft, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fans shouldn’t expect to see them in a black and gold uniform anytime soon. Pittsburgh will be picking much further down in the draft order, with their first selections coming six spots apart at 55th at 61st overall.

Just because the big name prospects will be gone in the top three doesn’t mean grade-A talent won’t be available to Pittsburgh. Recent Pittsburgh (and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) stars like Oskar Sundqvist, Bryan Rust, Tom Kühnhackl and Matt Murray weren’t even taken in the first 80 picks of their respective drafts. Jake Guentzel was selected 77th overall in 2013, and there’s no way Penguins faithful can forget how well he played in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

The point is: There’s talent abound in those areas. Here are some names that Pittsburgh might be considering calling as the newest members of the organization…

CLIFF PU – Forward – London Knightsblog_Pu

He may have played a secondary role on an absolutely stacked Memorial Cup-winning squad, but there’s no way you can miss Pu’s speed. He’s very quick and agile, and has good straight-ahead skating ability. His head can keep up with his feet, too, as he’s shown to be an intelligent player with and without the puck. He’s unafraid to crash the crease for greasy goals, and he came up clutch several times for London on their near-unstoppable postseason run. He’s a good fit for the organization based on the style of play Jim Rutherford and Mike Sullivan have cultivated in the Steel City.

JORDAN KYROU – Forward – Sarnia Stingblog_Kyrou.jpg

Kyrou packs a lot of energy into an impressive physical package. He’s a natural athlete and insatiable competitor, a combination that’s easy to love. He shows scoring ability around the net, good hands in tight spaces, never panics under pressure and is dilligent in his own end. There have been concerns about the consistency of his offensive output and how much he can chip in at the next level, but the fact remains that he’s as passionate as they come.

JOHNATHAN DAHLÉN – Forward – Timrå IKblog_Dahlén

The son of a former NHLer with 966 games in the show to his name, Ulf Dahlén, plays a much different style than that of his old man. Ulf was a wrecking ball power forward, while Johnathan has much more skill and flash in his bag of tricks. Unafraid to attempt eye-popping moves, he terrorized defenses in the Allsvenskan. Dahlén demonstrates an excellent shot, as well. So what’s holding him back from being in the first round conversation? Some scouts aren’t enamored with his strength and balance on his skates. His defensive game requires some fine-tuning, as well.

VICTOR METE – Defenseman – London Knightsblog_Mete

Smooth-skating but undersized rearguard turned heads during the playoffs for his stout two-way play. He was just as much an offensive catalyst as he was defensively stout. Played as a fearless shot-blocker en route to a Memorial Cup title (something Pittsburgh is very familiar with from its championship run). Mete needs to learn how to properly time his speedy play so as not to skate out of a passing lane and/or end up too far ahead of a play. He was projected to go in Pittsburgh’s territory for a while, but he may be off the board sooner after his contributions to London’s championship.

ADAM FOX – Defenseman – USNTDPblog_Fox

Mastermind playmaker. He has the confidence to try daredevil feeds and often ends up pulling them off, but that doesn’t mean he’ll ignore the simple play, either. He’s a trustworthy power play quarterback, too. Fox reads the play well when his team doesn’t have the puck, too, leading to solid defensive positioning. For all his gifts, he gets tossed around a bit in rough ‘n’ tumble match ups and his effectiveness fades. Some have him pegged as a first rounder, other consider him a mid-third round prospect.

MATT MURRAY – Goalie – Spruce Grove Saintsblog_other Matt Murray

No, don’t adjust your screen. You’re reading that right. Someone could draft Matt Murray. Again. This goalie is significantly shorter than the Matt Murray who won Goaltender of the Year and Rookie of the Year with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a year ago, but still clearly gifted. He was named the AJHL’s Goaltender of the Year this season, and that was based on a résumé he compiled BEFORE he put up a .947 save percentage in the playoffs. He never coughs up a bad rebound or gets caught in a panic, pulling him out of position. NHL teams have been trending towards tall crease-keepers for years now, so this would admittedly be a sleeper pick much more likely to go in the late rounds.

 

PITTSBURGH’S DRAFT PICKS

1. Second round, 55th overall

2. Second round, 61st overall

3. Fourth round, 121st overall

4. Fifth round, 151st overall

5. Sixth round, 181st overall

 

Make sure to check back after the draft has wrapped up to meet Pittsburgh’s new picks and future Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins!

The Daily Penguin – March 17, 2016

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Updates from yesterday’s practice at Coal Street, plus reaction to Rust, Wilson, and Kühnhackl’s contracts (CitizensVoice.com)

A look inside Bryan Rust and Tom Kühnhackl’s game of “Sewerball” (TribLive.com)

Scott Wilson’s injury not speculated to be of the long term nature (Post-Gazette.com)

The new D pairing of Ian Cole and Justin Schultz clinking early for Pittsburgh (Post-Gazette.com)

Matt Cullen’s wild ride rolls on (TribLive.com)

Expansion has been a hot topic around the NHL, so GMs have discussed what an expansion draft would look like (USAToday.com)