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2016 NHL Draft: Pittsburgh Penguins select Kasper Björkqvist 61st overall

The Penguins add a Finnish forward with size with the final pick of the 2nd round of the NHL draft

The Penguins took Finnish forward Kasper Bjorqvist with their second pick, the final pick of the 2016 NHL second round at #61.

A lot can change from draft day until the final verdict is in, but this pick looks like a reach. Or at least a developmental one. Bjorqvist was eligible in 2015 and went undrafted. He was only the 22nd ranked European skater. Pittsburgh took him very high. Here's a Hockey Prospectus profile, they were not all that complimentary, projecting him as a 6th round pick


Björkqvist is a strong skater with good speed. He is not very agile or skilled skater, but it can’t be considered a weakness either. Grade: 55


Björkqvist has a decent shot that he likes to use often. He is especially strong near the crease and can shoot quickly from tight spaces. Grade: 50

Puck skills:

Björkqvist is not known to have very smooth hands, but he can handle the puck relatively well at high speeds. Grade: 45


Defensive plays and shorthanded situations are the ones where Björkqvist’s smarts really show. He is very good positionally playing PK and can often create turnovers and break passes. His offensive vision is actually quite good, although it is sometimes a bit underrated. Grade: 60

Hockey's Future was a little more complimentary:

While his offensive numbers may be a bit inflated playing in the domestic junior league — he scored one goal with one assist in seven games for Team Finland — Bjorkqvist’s combination of size, speed and a willingness to compete all over the ice suggest there is some pro potential.

And here's what All About the Jersey had to say

It doesn't seem like we can expect Bjorkqvist to develop into much offensively. Based on this report it seems like his skating and puck skills are ok and that he gets most of his goals from cleaning up rebounds in front of the net. I am encouraged to read that he is responsible defensively and an asset on the PK. That could go a long way into him carving out a role in the pro game one day.

For what Bjorkqvist lacks in offensive talent, he definitely seems to make up for it with a strong defensive game and great work ethic. It's not surprising to read that his strong point totals in the Finnish junior league has a lot to do with his size. Still, it seems like he has the makings as a bottom 6 guy that can contribute on the PK.

Bjorkqvist will be playing at Providence this fall, so it will be interesting to have him in North America. Finns are known for their work ethic and responsibility, seems like that and his skating and good frame made him attractive to the Pens at this point.

Unless projections are incorrect, it doesn't seem like Bjorkqvist has the highest of ceilings as a potential scoring line winger. However, the NHL draft is the one that requires the most patience to see what the final product looks like, which can be quite different than draft day projections. It's very interesting that the Penguins said they wanted defensemen with their second round picks, but ended up taking a goalie and a checking-winger. Not sure if that speaks to the quality of the players they selected or if they were just unimpressed with what remains on the board at this point.

The Penguins, as of now, aren't scheduled to pick again until the 4th round.