This article will review where the Penguins target their drafting and how successful the
various avenues have been.
From 1998 through 2002 the Penguins have selected 51 players (28 forwards,
14 defenseman and 9 goalies). Of the 51 drafted players 36 have been from
North America and 15 have been from Europe.
NORTH AMERICAN DRAFTING
The Penguins have favored college players over the past five years, drafting
12 from college and selecting six others who have gone on to play in the NCAA.
Of the three major junior leagues, the Penguins seem to prefer the WHL,
drafting eight of 17 CHL players from that league.
“The Orpik Effect”. In the six seasons Darius Kasparaitis played
for the Penguins, he was easily one of the most popular players. This was
due largely to the bone-crushing checks he gave out. In 2000 when the Penguins
drafted the hard-hitting Brooks Orpik, fans were excited because they
had the heir apparent to Kasparaitis. Orpik was the first defenseman the
Penguins had picked in the first round in nine years since they selected Stefan Bergkvist
in 1993. During the following drafts in ’01 and ’02 the Penguins used eight
of their 20 picks on defensemen, signaling the beginning of their metamorphosis from fire wagon hockey to a more structured and defensive style. Orpik was
also the first American player the Penguins have ever chosen in the first
round. In 2001 and 2002, for the first time Penguins American picks outnumbered
their Canadian picks (4 to 3 and 5 to 3 respectively).
1998 to 2002
|OHL||5 ||7/146 |
Jeremy Van Hoof*
|Avon Old Farms (Conn)|
St. Sebastien’s H.S. (Mass)
* No longer with the Penguins organization.
Of the 15 Europeans who have been picked during the last five years,
six hail from the Czech Republic. The Penguins have had good luck with Czechs
in the past, drafting Jaromir Jagr, Martin
Straka, Jan Hrdina, Michal Rozsival and Josef Melichar. Robert Lang and Jiri Slegr were also successful when they
played in Pittsburgh.
If the Penguins do not draft a player from Russia or a player from
Finland this weekend it will be the fourth consecutive year without a Russian
and the fifth year consecutive year without
1999 was the final year the Penguins went for “the homerun” by drafting
an offensive-minded European player in the first round (Konstantin Koltsov).
The earlier homerun attempts were 90-Jagr, 91-Markus Naslund, 92-Straka,
95-Morozov, 97-Robert Dome, 98-Milan Kraft.
With a weak foreign class in 2003, look for the Penguins to select even fewer
1998 to 2002
Jan Fadrny *
Roman Simicek* x
|Sweden||1||4/101||2002||Daniel Fernholm ||Djurgarden||D|
* No longer with the Penguins organization.
x Czech player drafted from the Finnish League.
2001 and 2002: Mid Round Luck
For much of the past decade, the Penguins weren’t having any luck with their
top draft picks, let alone their mid-round and late picks. Perhaps their
luck has changed over the past two years. In the fourth round of 2001 the
Penguins selected Tomas Surovy, a pure sniper who scored 23 goals
in 65 games in his first season in North America. He scored 19 goals last
year in 39 games after being injured for the early part of the season. Surovy
was impressive enough to get a call-up to Pittsburgh, where he became the
first member of the Penguins 2001 class to do so. Eleven picks later in the
fourth round the Penguins selected Ben Eaves from Boston College. He recorded
the same number of points in 2002 as he did in 2001 despite missing 18 games.
In 2002-03 he played in 36 games and recorded 57 points, won the Leonard
Fowle Award (Best Collegiate Hockey Player in New England), was nominated
for the Hobey Baker Award and was a First-Team All-American. In the fifth round the Penguins selected Andy Schneider. Schneider was tied for
second in the WCHA for points by defenseman with 41 (11G, 30A).
This past season 2002 third round choice Erik Christensen won the WHL
scoring title, almost doubling his point total from the previous year. Sixth
round pick Robert Geopfert stole the show at the World Junior Championship
this year with his 1.77 goals against average and tournament leading .937
save percentage. Seventh round pick Patrick Bartschi led the WJC’s in
scoring with 10 points six games (6G, 4A). Bartschi also finished the season
third in scoring on his team, despite being one of the youngest players on
the team. Eighth round pick Maxime Talbot captained the Hull Olympiques
to the Presidents Cup and the Memorial Cup Final. Talbot finished the season
fifth overall in scoring and first overall in playoff scoring. So much for the
2002 draft being one of the worst of the past decade.
One Malone to Another: The Penguins 2nd Round Curse
In 1976 the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Greg Malone in the second
round of the Amateur Draft. He played 495 games in Pittsburgh and scored
364 points before he went to Hartford and Quebec where he played in 209 more
games and scored 137 more points. A very successful career. Malone returned to the Penguins in 1988
and became their Head Scout shortly afterwards. Every year subsequent to
Greg Malone being drafted (1977-2002) has produced just four second round picks
that have suited up for more than 130 NHL games. These four players are Rick
Tabaracci (2/26-1987), Paul Laus (2/37-1989), Richard Park
(2/50-1994) and J.S. Aubin (2/76-1995). None of them have had a significant
impact in the NHL.
The curse might be breaking. The Penguins
last four second round choices have already shown promise. Pittsburgh used their
second pick in 2002 on Ondrej Nemec, an offensive defenseman from
the Czech Republic. In 2001, The
Penguins selected Noah Welch with the 54th pick. He is already one of the best defense prospects
in the NCAA. In 2000 Pittsburgh selected Shane Endicott with their
second pick; he is expected to have a prominent role in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
next year. Pittsburgh took Matt Murley with the 51st pick in 1999.
A sniper who played at R.P.I., Murley just completed his first pro season
and finished third on the team in scoring.
The Penguins second round picks from 96-98 are out of the organization already.
What was so special about 1999 that it might have lifted a 22 year old curse? If
one believed in superstitions, as many people in the hockey world do, they
would notice that the Penguins 4th round choice in 1999 was Ryan Malone,
son of Greg.
Was drafting another Malone all it took? If so, maybe they should have drafted Jim
Malone back in 1980.
Over the last 10 Entry Drafts, the Pittsburgh Penguins have selected 101
players. Of the 50 selected from 1993-1997, only six players remain with the
team or its AHL affiliate.
|Year ||Round||Pick||Name||Position||NHL Games||Expected Role for 2003-04|
|1993||11||286||Hans Jonsson||D||242||More than likely will not return.|
|1995||1||24||Aleksey Morozov||RW||376||1st line winger. Looking to duplicate the success|
of last year.
|1995||3||76||Jean-Sebastien Aubin||G||146||#1 goalie in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.|
|1996||4||105||Michal Rozsival||D||237||1st/2nd pair defenseman. |
|1996||7||186||Eric Meloche||RW||36||3rd/4th line checker.|
|1997||3||71||Josef Melichar||D||86||1st/2nd pair defenseman.|
2003 NHL Entry Draft
The Penguins have four draft picks in the top 70 and a total of 11 in a
very deep draft year. Their first selection is the third overall choice followed by picks 32, 55,
70, 121, 161, 169, 199, 229, 232 and 263.
The Penguins have a few goal scorers in their system in Murley and Bartschi
and few more on the big club with Ramzi Abid and Surovy. They could
stand to add a few more at the draft, and could get Nikolai Zherdev
or Nathan Horton with their first pick.
Management believes in Caron as the goalie of the future, but Craig Patrick
has talked about moving up to the no. 1 spot, where he would more than likely
select M-A Fleury. Goaltending is one position that can never have
too many prospects in one organization.