It would be wonderful if the Penguins could make a last minute trade and nab a high 1st round pick, but it seems incredibly unlikely at this point, especially since the cost would likely be the loss of a key player like Kris Letang whom we have no immediate replacement for. So for now we must go ahead with the assumption that what we have now is what we will have to work with. So what do we have?
- #77 overall pick in the 3rd round, formerly belonging to the Minnesota Wild that we acquired from the Dallas Stars as part of the trade of Joe Morrow for Brenden Morrow (the pick also made a stopover with the Philadelphia Flyers before making its way to Dallas).
- #89 overall pick in the 3rd round, our original Penguins pick.
- #119 overall pick in the 4th round, our original Penguins pick.
- #164 overall pick in the 6th round, acquired from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Eric Tangradi.
- #179 overall pick in the 6th round, our original Penguins pick.
- #209 overall pick in the 7th round, our original Penguins pick.
So we have 6 picks to work with, our earliest being a mid-3rd rounder. Unfortunately, most of the draft rankings don't bother to go that high, and the ones that do don't tell you much about the players. And even then, its hard to tell who will still be available as the draft rankings are far from accurate, at least outside the Top 5-10 names. So I will look up some articles about late round draft picks and possible sleepers to try to get an idea of who we could be lucky enough to grab, but feel free to post your suggestions below too. But before I do that, here are some fun facts about Ray Shero's Draft history since becoming the Pens GM in 2006.
- Over the past 6 seasons, Ray Shero has selected 7 3rd round picks, 7 4th round picks, 8 5th round picks, 7 6th round picks, and 3 7th round picks.
- In the 3rd round he selected 4 Forwards, 2 Defensemen, and 1 Goaltender. 3 of those players were young American High School/US National Development Team players that went on to commit to playing College hockey. 1 was a young Canadian Junior A player that moved up to the WHL, 2 played in the OHL when drafted, and 1 played Sweden and moved up to the Elitserien.
- In the 4th round he selected 5 Forwards, 1 Defenseman, and 1 Goaltender. 1 of those players was a young Canadian Junior A player who opted to play College hockey, 1 moved from Germany in order to play in the OHL, 3 played in the OHL when drafted, and 2 played in the QMJHL when drafted.
- In the 5th round he selected 3 Forwards, 3 Defensemen, and 2 Goaltenders. 2 of those were young American High School players that went on to commit to playing College hockey, 2 played in College when drafted, 1 moved from Russia in order to play in the WHL, and 4 played in the OHL when drafted.
- In the 6th round he selected 3 Forwards, 3 Defensemen, and 1 Goaltender. 1 was a young American High School player who went on to commit to playing College hockey, 4 played in the OHL when drafted, 1 played in the QMJHL when drafted, and 1 played in the Elitserien when drafted.
- In the 7th round he selected 1 Forward and 2 Defensemen. 2 were young Canadian Junior A players who went on to commit to playing College hockey and 1 played in the SM-liiga when drafted.
- Of the 5 European players Shero has drafted, only 1 has played more than a handful of games in North America, and that was after moving over to play in the Canadian Major Juniors.
So what we have learned if that Shero prefers young American kids and players in the OHL (at least in rounds 3-7). He has a tendency to pick College players, which makes sense as the team retains their player rights until 30 days post-graduation, so it allows the players to continue to develop without costing the organization money and roster space.
When he does pick CHL players he then lets them finish out their Junior career before moving on to the AHL in WBS to flesh out their development. Keeping them in the Major Juniors the team only retains their player rights for 2 years, but once signed their contracts may slide, with their 3 year entry level not starting until after they graduate from the juniors. With late draft picks this extra developmental time is certainly needed, as they tend to be years away from being NHL ready.
It is also worth noting that Shero usually steers clear of European players, and when he does pick them it usually doesn't work out, so the safe bet is to look at young North American players or Europeans who have expressed a desire to move to North American for Juniors or College.
There is also a trend towards picking mostly Forwards in the 3rd and 4th rounds, which at this point is certainly a good thing as the Pens really need to add some depth via winger prospects. Since 3 of our picks occur in these rounds it is a good place to try to add forward depth. In the later round 5-7 the number of forwards and defense are very close, so we could see either or possibly even a goaltender with our last 3 picks.