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2018 first round picks showing hopeful path

Philly and CBJ’s 2018 first round picks show a road map for prospects to come

Columbus Blue Jackets v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Two Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

We know the Penguins have their first round pick in 2020. And at 15th overall, it’s the best pick they’ve had since 2012 (8th overall taking Derrick Pouliot) and second best pick they have had in 14 years other than that ill-fated Pouliot pick.

The Pens don’t have to look far for hopes this pick, or even 2019 first rounder Samuel Poulin, might pay dividends quickly when surveying the landscape of the NHL playoffs ongoing right now.

Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee (14th overall, 2018) and Columbus’ Liam Foudy (18th overall, 2018) are two prime examples about how quick turnarounds as high draft picks can start making impacts early.

Farabee spent his draft+1 season in 2018-19 at Boston University, his freshman and only season in the NCAA. He signed pro last summer and played 52 NHL games (8G+13A) this season, with only a brief five game cameo in the AHL. Currently Farabee is skating on the Flyers’ first line with no less than captain Claude Giroux and Selke nominee Sean Couturier. Farabee has three points (2G+1A) in four post-season games.

It’s sad to say considering who it benefits, but the drafting, development and path of a player like Farabee is about as much as you could dream for having a mid-round first round pick.

Foudy spent his draft+1 in the OHL, then played eight playoff games in 2018-19 with AHL Cleveland Monsters in Columbus’ organization once his junior season was over. Fouty was returned to the OHL for draft+2 this year in 2019-20, but was a very rare emergency recall in the middle of the junior season straight up to the NHL for two games in February.

The Blue Jackets brought Foudy to their Phase 3 training camp, he performed well and has played in all eight of their postseason games so far (notching 1G+1A).

For the Penguins, to file in the “for what it’s worth” file: one commonality between Farabee and Foudy is exceptional skating, acceleration and a burst of speed. Neither are considered future franchise players (they’re a lot more Bryan Rust or Jake Guentzel than Sidney Crosby) but both youngsters have good hockey IQs but standout because their skating puts them at an NHL level. Farabee went the NCAA route but signed after just one season, something of a rarity. Foudy played for one of the top and most elite organizations in the CHL in London.

That could be something to keep in mind for the Pens to carry forward to 2020. It might not matter NCAA or CHL. But in this day and age, speed kills and speed is everything. There’s no doubt Farabee and Foudy showcase that, and as a result they made it to the NHL in a hurry. Clearly the Pens need to project for the best overall player, and not just the best player at 19 or 20 years old, but given where they are as a franchise, it goes without saying that the sooner they can convert prospects like Poulin and their 2020 first round pick into NHL contributors, the better.

The Pens are not likely to take a long term prospect in October’s draft, if they can help it (you know, assuming they keep the pick). Mid first round successes like Joel Farabee and Liam Foudy show there is some hope that it could be sooner than later that some more youthful legs and enthusiasm could be added to Pittsburgh, assuming they make a wise choice.