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Napa, CA • United States • 26 Years Old • Male
It is perhaps the most eniviable position to be in on draft day to be sitting at the table farthest from the draft stage. At that table sits the Stanley Cup champion. This year it was my beloved Penguins who had that honor, but I was not impressed with what they did from that position.

To be fair, I know little about the players that were selected by Pittsburgh. None of them played for the University of Minnesota last year, so I didn't see them play every time the Wild weren't on TV they way I saw Jordan Schroeder and a few of the Minnesota HS players (side note: Chuck Fletcher is going to be kicking himself for passing on Schroeder in favor of HS player Nick Leddy).

My issues with the Penguins draft choices lie instead with their organizational choices as opposed to the players themselves. Pittsburgh selected four defencemen with their seven picks, led by first-rounder Simon Despres and second-rounder Philip Samuelsson (son of former NHLer Ulf Samuelsson). The Penguins addressed an organizational need that just is not present at this time.

What the Penguins need are more forwards that can play on a second or third line. Most of the forwards in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton right now are third- or fourth-liners. They are role players, not secondary scorers. Janne Pesonen and Luca Caputi are pretty much it for scoring talent, and Pesonen is one of six forwards in WBS that is an unrestricted free agent on July 1 (faceoff-ace Mike Zigomanis is also in that group). Only two of the Penguins AHL defencemen are UFAs on Wednesday, and it is a pretty safe bet the Penguins will be able to resign at least one of the three UFAs on their blueline (my best guess: Mark Eaton and Rob Scuderi back, Hal Gill gone) and they expect Alex Goligoski to start next season in the NHL.

The blueline is not the issue right now because the Penguins have more than enough bodies and plenty of time to develop them. Again, they lack forwards who can put the puck in the net. They took a big step forward in that department by acquiring Eric Tangradi from Anaheim in the Ryan Whitney deal, but they need more talent for their developers to develop.

EDIT: Answering comments (because I don't trust the comment boxes on this site)

The successful teams at the draft don't take the best available player just because he's the best available player. Matt Hackett, for example, was one of the best available players and Pittsburgh passed up the top-rated North American goaltender three times. Hackett was a projected first round pick. Under upice's theory the Penguins were not successful because they didn't take the best available player.

If Pittsburgh were still in the front row at the draft (like the Islanders this year) then absolutely take the best player available, but he still has to fit your team. For a team that is already deep on defense (and has proven they know how to train blueliners) I see no reason to continue to select defencemen unless Ray Shero really doesn't believe he will be able to bring back Eaton, Scuderi and/or Gill. In that situation then yes the need switches to the blueline and Shero looks like a genius once again.
Filed Under:   Penguins   Draft  
June 28, 2009 1:29 PM ET | Delete
You're right. You know nothing about these young players. Despres will be a stud on the blueline for 15 years and Sammy will be a big contributor too. At the time they picked these two there wasn't a forward worthy of being picked this high. The succeccful teams pick the best available, not for need. Good job Ray.
June 28, 2009 2:48 PM ET | Delete
June 29, 2009 11:07 PM ET | Delete
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