The first round of the NHL draft is tomorrow night, and it appears the Pittsburgh Penguins might stay and select at pick No. 14. That would be the highest the team has drafted since back in 2012. Here’s our scouting shot at the big board.
Connor Bedard Adam Fantilli Leo Carlsson Matvei Michkov Will Smith Dalibor Dvorsky Ryan Leonard David Reinbacher
- Gabriel Perreault
- Zach Benson
- Matthew Wood
- Tom Willander
- Nate Danielson
- Dmitri Simashev
- Oliver Moore
- Brayden Yager
- Colby Barlow
- Axel Sandin-Pellikka
- Samuel Honzek
The top eight picks are all scratched out, in some order they surely should be selected in some order within the top-13 picks of the draft before the Penguins step up to the podium. Obviously, at least five more members of the list will also b
e gone when it’s time for Pittsburgh get their chance. Due to the variance of possible branching out points, it’s at least wishfully dreaming that starting with No. 9 on our board might still be out there to select.
I came up with this list before reading Scott Wheeler’s final mock draft ($) and his quote about there being a “perceived top 19” before the draft really falls off and opens up. My list incorporated all 19 of those players.
Another good resource to check out is our friends and former network mates over at Habs Eyes on the Prize where they have compiled 16 different rankings into one big consensus rankings. That compilation had this outlook in the key “wish list” area:
It was surprising to see Sandin-Pellikka and Colby Barlow ranked so highly in this outlook, perhaps speaking to a possibility that both get picked a bit earlier than most mock drafts might predict.
Along those lines, Ideally for the Pens, a moderate run on defensemen would happen within the first dozen picks. Reinbacher will go early, but if Willander, Simashev and/or Sandin-Pellikka get drafted before 14, the chances a quality forward like Benson or Perreault will still be around for the Pens go up exponentially. That could be a best case scenario for Pittsburgh to take advantage of having more options up front in what is a desperate area of need in their system to add skilled forwards.
As such, it would be a big win to walk out of Nashville with anyone in the top-19, even if it’s conceivable that Pittsburgh’s favored choice could be still even remain outside it. As always, the devil is in the details for if the Pens would take a higher floor/lower ceiling player like Samuel Honzek or Nate Danielson, or really roll the dice and go for a potential high-end player like Benson or Perreault, if they get the choice.
Soon enough tomorrow night, it will be time to find out.