As things wrapped up on the draft board Saturday afternoon, Pittsburgh Penguins director of scouting Jay Heinbuck stepped toward the fence dividing members of the press and team to discuss the latest additions in the 2009 NHL Draft. Take the jump to read or listen to the audio below.
What we saw in Samuelsson was a really smart defenseman. Hard to play against. Uses his stick real well. Has some abrasiveness like his father did. We want his skating to get better but we think the kid's work ethic is so good that that's going to improve and by the end of it all we'll have a very good player on our hands.
Is it a plus or a minus to have a name like Samuelsson where, are they going to expect him to be as nasty as his dad was?
Some people will, I'm sure. And I think the kid has a bit of demeanor in him. The game's changed a little bit. I don't think the game is as stick wielding as it once was and I say that in all due respect to Ulfy, but i mean there's more video cameras and everything on ya. What we see in this kid is just a guy who's going to frustrate some top forwards down the road because he's hard to play against. He's in your face all the time. So in that respect he's like his dad. Now for Bathgate; Bathgate's an interesting situation. Obviously he comes from good stock, his grandfather being Andy Bathgate. Andy had a year where he hurt his shoulder and he had shoulder surgery and he's had it all tightened up and it's 100% percent now so he missed a lot of the hockey season. His statistics, when you look at his statistics, aren't great numbers in Belleville. But we know Belleville well enough and the coaching staff there. A guy like Eric Tangradi in his draft year only have five goals during the regular season and then had a great playoff. We saw enough in Tangradi that we liked and stored in the back of our memory and that's the same thing with Andy Bathgate this year. We saw him play some games, then he got injured. And we take that into account - what coach and GM George Burnett in Belleville has to say that this kid has an upside to him and the next couple of years are going to be really good seasons for him. So we have respect for what George Bunett says and we're happy to get this kid.
Is there a general thought with drafting players with NHL bloodlines that their upside is maybe more realistic to be reached?
Yeah, I think that there's a thought process that goes into that. That those players have an advantage is because of the genes but part of it is the demanor of a kid too. The kid maybe knows through the father what they need to do off the ice. I can't say so much Andy Bathgate's case because the training and everything has changed now compared to what it was with Andy Bathgate there but Ulf Samuelsson is still in the game coaching. He can tell his son, "Hey this is the work ethic you need to have. This is what you need to do off the ice, away from the game to make yourself faster, stronger so you take that into account. but you can't hold a ton of stock in it because there's a lot of good hockey players that had sons that weren't good hockey players. To a point we look at that.
Is there anybody you thought wouldn't be there when you were selecting?
No, not so much today. We targeted some guys. We got a feeling that Samuelsson would be there and probably more last night that we wondered whether Despres would be there last night and he was. He was on our A-wish list and ended up still being there at the 30th pick. Not so much today.
Do you view Tangradi as part of this class or do you look at him as if he makes up for not having picks in the first round of last year, in terms of what you expect?
That's a good question. Never really looked at it like that. All I can tell you about Tangradi is we really liked him a lot in his draft year and we were hoping he was there with our second pick and he wasn't. But we knew the player, followed his career the last couple of years and when we had the chance to make that deal we were ecstatic that Eric was a part of that. I think people that can't remember that he was part of that deal this year are eventually going to know more about Eric Tangradi.
What's Tangradi's situation rigth now with the injury?
Supposed to heal 100% but he just needs recovery time - I think it was six to eight weeks recovery time because he did sever the nerve and the tendon but surgery went very well and he expects to have a full recovery.
There was some talk going around that it was potentially career-threatening or ending. Nothing at all like that?
No. No. I haven't heard any of that and I think I probably would have.
What were your reactions here when you saw Samuelsson still available on the board? Was he someone you guys had your eyes on?
Yeah. Our staff really liked him. He's just steadily getting better and better all year. Our reaction was kinda a neat reaction because we knew there was a history of his dad playing and everything and we had an idea that he might be there. We were happy. I just feel bad. I gotta go up and congratulate him because we picked at 61 and I was so busy organizing at pick 63 cause it came so much faster so I'll have to go up there and talk to him.