With the first step to financial recovery finally behind them, the Penguins began a new era with the draft on Saturday. None of their draft picks this season are expected to save the franchise like player-turned-owner Mario Lemieux did, but nonetheless, there could be a couple of impact players in this draft for the Penguins.
The Penguins seemed to make an attempt to fill some needs, such as their lack of depth on the left side and lack of size on the blueline. They drafted one goaltender, three defensemen, and seven forwards (six left wings, one right wing). Three picks came from Europe, two from the OHL, two from the ECAC, and one from each of the QMJHL, WHL, WCHA, and USHL.
Here’s a look at their draft picks this year:
1: Konstantin Kolstov, LW(1st Round, 18th overall)
Vitals: 6’0″ 187lbs 18 years old
Stats: Cherepovec (Russia) 33 Games, 3G-0A-3PTS 8PIM.
Belarus (WJC) 6 Games, 4G-3A-7PTS 30PIM.
Belarus (U-18) 5 Games, 5G-2A-7PTS.
A wild card who was unknown until the World Junior Championships, Kolstov is touted as the best skater in the draft with good speed and acceleration, some even go as far to say that he is faster than Pavel Bure. He is a good puckhandler and has shown his offensive skills in international tournaments, despite his low numbers in the Russian Elite League. He’s probably at least two years away and will spend at least all of next season in Russia.
2: Matt Murley, LW – (2nd Round, 51st overall)
Vitals: 6’1″ 192lbs 19 years old.
Stats: RPI (ECAC) 36 Games, 17G-32A-49PTS 32 PIM
A very good pick-up in the late second round, as Murley was originally slated to be picked in the late first round or early second round. Murley’s best assets are his offensive skills and his intelligence and hockey sense. He was named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team and was 21st in NCAA scoring as a freshman.
3: Jeremy Van Hoof, D – (2nd Round, 57th overall)
Vitals: 6’2″ 185lbs 18 years old.
Stats: Ottawa (OHL) 54 Games, 0G-13A-13PTS, 46 PIM
Van Hoof is projected as a mainly stay at home type defenseman and with time should be able to provide good physical presence. At six-foot-two and only 185 lbs, he could stand to bulk up a little bit. He is very good at moving the puck out of the defensive zone and works well in front of the net and in the corners.
4: Sebastien Caron, G – (3rd Round, 86h overall)
Vitals: 6’1″ 150lbs 19 years old.
Stats: Rimouski (QMJHL) 30 Games, 13-10-3, 3.25GAA, .913 Svpctg
Caron may not have been ranked very high among goaltenders by CSB, but the Penguins scouts seem to think that he has potential to play in the NHL someday. Judging by his jump from being unranked at the beginning of the year to 24th at midseason to 11th in the final rankings, he must’ve improved quite a bit over the course of the season. With Hillier and Skudra both having disappointing years, they need some insurance in goal, this is a good pick for them in the third round.
5: Ryan Malone, LW – (4th Round, 115th overall)
Vitals: 6’1″ 180lbs.
Stats: Omaha (USHL) 51 Games, 14G-22A-36PTS 81PIM.
The Penguins decided that they’d go with a little local flavor and pick Pittsburgh native and head scout Greg Malone’s son in the fourth round. He has good size, plays intelligently and is good in one-on-one situations. Malone will be attending St. Cloud University next season.
6: Tomas Skvaridlo, C/LW – (5th Round, 144th overall)
Vitals: 6’3″ 178lbs 18 years old
Stats: Zvolen (Slovakia) 36 Games, 21G-13A-34PTS.
Skvaridlo was the 22nd ranked European skater in the draft, he put up decent numbers in the Slovakian Junior league. He played for Slovakia in the U-18 WJC’s, getting one assist in 7 games while racking up 8 penalty minutes.
7. Vladimir Malenkykh – (5th round, 157th overall)
Vitals: 6’1″ 190lbs.
Stats: Togliatti (Russia) 9 Games, 0G-0A-0PTS
Don’t know much about this guy, except that I wouldn’t want to be the announcer who has to try and pronounce his last name.
8: Doug Meyer, LW – (6th Round, 176th overall)
Vitals: 6’1″ 197lbs.
Stats: Minnesota (WCHA), 36 Games, 4G-4A-8PTS, 18 PIM.
Don’t know much about this guy either, ranked 103rd among North American skaters.
9: Tom Kostopolous, RW – (7th Round, 204th overall)
Vitals: 6’4″ 204lbs 19 years old.
Stats: London (OHL), 60 Games, 27G-60A-87PTS 114 PIM.
Gritty, hardworking player, put up an impressive performance in the playoffs with 35 points in 25 games. His skating, however, needs work.
10: Darcy Robinson, D – (8th Round, 233rd overall)
Vitals: 6’3 1/2″ 220 lbs 18 years old.
Stats: Saskatoon (WHL), 48 Games, 3G-6A-9PTS, 86 PIM.
Big, aggressive, clear the front of the net defenseman. Defensive-defenseman with good mobility and passing skills. Ranked 74th among North American skaters.
11: Andrew McPherson, LW – (9th Round, 261st overall)
Vitals: 6’2″ 195 lbs 18 years old.
Stats: RPI (ECAC), 29 Games, 5G-4A-9PTS, 12 PIM.
Ranked 209th among north american skaters.
The Penguins had a pretty impressive draft considering their position. The losses of Ron Francis and Frederick Olausson to free agency gave them two extra picks, one in the second round, one in the fifth. They managed to fill some needs while getting a good mix of players.