Sacrificing the future for the present, the Pittsburgh Penguins traded away their first three picks in the 2008 draft en route to their first appearance in the Stanley Cup finals since 1992. The Penguins 2008 first-round pick, along with Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, and Angelo Esposito were sent to the Atlanta Thrashers for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. The Penguins’ second-round pick of 2008, along with a fifth round pick in 2009 was traded to the Maple Leafs for Hal Gill. Finally, their third round pick was packaged with Daniel Carcillo and sent to Phoenix for Georges Laraque during the 2007 trade deadline. These trades left the Penguins with only four draft picks in 2008, none of which were before the fourth round.
The four picks the Penguins made did address organizational depth needs. With David Brown and John Curry, the top-rated goaltending prospects within the organization getting up there in age, the Penguins decided to restock that position. This year’s fourth-round selection, Nathan Moon, was taken around the same place Luca Caputi and Alex Grant in 2007, two players who have raised their stock considerably since then. The Penguins rounded out their draft by taking Nick D’Agostino, an unrated Cornell bound defenseman from the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League.
Nathan Moon, C – OHL Kingston
Jan 4, 1990, 5’11, 179
The Penguins first pick in the 2008 draft, Nathan Moon was the 134th ranked skater by ISS. A skilled and offensive-minded forward, Moon has spent the last two seasons playing for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. The right-handed forward posted 35 goals and 77 points while playing on a team that only won 25 games.
His draft stock likely fell due to his defensive shortcomings — he finished last on his team in 2007-08 with a -25. He has difficulties with give-and-go situations and does not appear comfortable playing off the rush. Another apparent knock on Moon was his skating but that has since improved.
The Penguins drafted Moon for his offensive potential. As a right-handed shot with a finishing touch and the versatility to play all three forward positions, Moon could fill any number of needs for the Penguins down the road.
Moon will go back to what is likely to be an improved Frontenacs team for two more seasons in the OHL. The young forward will then make the jump to the pros.
Alexander Pechurski, G – Russia-3 Magnitogorsk-2
Jun 4, 1990, 6’0, 187
The Penguins second pick in the draft, the athletic Pechurski was ranked tenth among international goaltenders by the NHL’s Central Scouting.
Pechurski had a strong showing in 2007-08 for Magnitogorsk posting a 2.07 GAA in 26 games. Additionally, the young goaltender helped team Russia to the silver medal in the U-18 tournament where he posted a 3.06 GAA and an .885 save percentage.
Considered a project by most, the Penguins drafted the quick goaltender with the intent to replenish organizational depth at the position. With a lack of transfer agreement the young Russian’s future in North America remains uncertain.
Patrick Killeen, G – OHL Brampton
Apr 15, 1990, 6’4, 194
The 6’4 goaltender for the Brampton Battalion posted 20 wins in 34 appearances to go with a 2.76 GAA and .908 save percentage.
Killeen is a huge bodied goaltender who is good at taking up the bottom half of the net. Still a project, Killeen needs to work on his shot recovery, rebound control, and glove control.
Drafted for organizational depth, Killeen will develop in the OHL for the next couple seasons and slowly transition to the professional level.
Nicholas D’Agostino, D – OPJHL St. Michael’s
Jun 24, 1990, 6’3, 192
A potential late-round gem, Nicholas D’Agostino was selected in the seventh round out of the OPJHL with the Penguins final pick in the 2008 draft.
Overlooked by many scouts as a Junior A player and unranked by most scouting services, D’Agostino considers himself a puck-moving defenseman who prefers to utilize his long reach instead of his 6’3 frame to separate opponents from the puck.
D’Agostino posted respectable numbers for St. Michaels of the OPJHL where he scored 5 goals and posted 18 assists in 46 games while playing on the power play, penalty kill, and in five-on-five situations.
The left-handed defender has a hard slap shot that is not overly accurate but consistently makes contact with the net. His defensive positioning is sound and he is effective at removing passing and shooting lanes from opposing players. A very active defender, D’Agostino keeps his feet and stick moving at all times.
The young blueliner still has a lot of work to do before he can be considered an NHL ready prospect. His work along the boards and in and around the net, where he is often times beat by more physical players, is his most glaring weakness. His frame, which has gained 15 pounds since the beginning of the 2007-08 season, still needs to fill out further.
He will play for Cornell University next season.