In service of the upcoming NHL draft, the league counted down what they recognized as the top draft picks of all time. After giving some recognition to Evgeni Malkin, it was no surprise that three familiar names for the Penguins made it into the top-20.
60 Diamonds: Really fantastic work here in counting down the greatest picks from the past 60 NHL Draft, Nos. 20-1, by @NHLAdamK, @davidsatriano, @KathrynTappen and Pierre McGuire -https://t.co/H5LInJbszm via @NHLdotcom— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) June 25, 2023
Sidney Crosby checked in at No. 14 (still a little low, but whatevs, an NHL countdown isn’t worth getting worked up over) and then somewhat surprisingly Jaromir Jagr (6) finished slightly ahead of Mario Lemieux (7) on the ranking.
Lemieux was the highest number one overall ranked, with the list giving more credit and love to players who were drafted with value to become iconic players.
Of Lemieux, Adam Kimmelman a deputy editor said:
“I can’t think of one player in the history of the NHL that has meant more to a franchise than Lemieux has meant to the Penguins. He’s one of the three greatest players in the game’s history, blending skill, speed, size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and strength in a way no one ever has. The Penguins were a moribund franchise before he arrived in 1984, and within eight years, they had two Stanley Cup championships and were an elite NHL team. He also helped the secure the Penguins’ future in Pittsburgh when he worked to find financing for PPG Paints Arena. Off the ice, the Mario Lemieux Foundation has helped raise millions of dollars for cancer research and to help Pittsburgh-area families dealing with the disease. To me, it was really easy to mark down Lemieux as the greatest NHL draft pick ever.”
No lies detected. Jagr and Crosby built on the foundation Lemieux laid to help preserve and sustain the Penguins, but if not for No. 66, everyone realizes there would be no Penguins in Pittsburgh in the first place. If that’s not a diamond of a pick, who knows what is.