Penguins 1999 draft evaluation

By Tim Seaman

The 1999 NHL entry draft was very important for the Pittsburgh Penguins for two reasons. The first is that it was the last time the Penguins took a gamble on a European forward in the first round, which they had done with seven of 10 draft picks from 1990 to 1999 starting with Jaromir Jagr and ending with Konstantin Koltsov. The second reason is that three high draft picks from this year became part of the most famous trade in franchise history. Kris Beech 7th overall, Michal Sivek 29th overall and Ross Lupaschuk 34th overall were traded from the Washington Capitals for Jagr and Frantisek Kucera in July of 2001.

Beech has played 99 games in the NHL and has amassed 27 points. He was named the captain of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL while Tom Kostopoulos was in Pittsburgh earlier in the season. He scored 45 points in 53 games while adding a nasty edge to his game that earned him 97 PIM’s. Sivek played in 38 games during the 2002-03 season and scored six points. He missed much of this season due to injuries. Lupaschuk has played three games in the NHL and has not recorded a point. This year in Wilkes-Barre he scored only 4 goals, down from 18 the year before.

The Penguins had 11 picks in 1999. Those 11 players have gone on to play 326 NHL games, for an average of 30 games per pick. This puts the Penguins in the middle range for this draft.

Konstantin Koltsov, RW – 1st Round-18th overall (Cherepovets – Russia)
Status: NHL Player
NHL games played: 84

Koltsov made the jump to North America in 2002-03, playing the season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. This year, as a rookie in Pittsburgh, Koltsov scored 9 goals and 29 points. He was also the only rookie on the team to play in all 82 games. His main asset is incredible speed, which makes him a threat on almost every breakaway, but he still needs to work on his shooting. After the season ended, Koltsov returned to Wilkes-Barre. On the way to the Calder Cup finals, Kolstsov has scored 6 goals, including the game winner in overtime in the seventh game of the first round series against Bridgeport.

Matt Murley, LW – 2nd Round- 51st overall (RPI – NCAA)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games: 18

After four productive seasons at RPI, Murley joined the Baby Penguins for the 2002-03 season. In his first year, Murley led the team in rookie scoring, captured the team’s rookie of the year honors as well as appearing in the AHL All-Star rookie game. After a strong training camp to open the 2003-04 season, Murley made the big club, and it looked like he was poised for a big year. After 10 unproductive games with Pittsburgh, he was returned to Wilkes-Barre. His production suffered in WBS after the demotion and his point total fell from 58 to 36. He has scored seven goals so far in the AHL playoffs.

Jeremy Van Hoof, D – 2nd Round- 57th overall (Ottawa – OHL)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games: 0

Van Hoof reentered the draft in 2001 and was chosen in the seventh round by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has appeared in 202 ECHL games where he has scored 40 points. He has yet to play in the NHL.

Sebastien Caron, G – 3rd Round- 86th overall (Rimouski – QMJHL)
Status: NHL Player
NHL games: 64

Caron won the Memorial Cup with Rimouski and was named the tournament MVP in 2000. He played sparingly in the next two seasons at Wilkes-Barre. It was during the 2002-03 season that Caron started to show that he was an NHL caliber goalie. He put up the best numbers of his career at the end of a very miserable season for the Penguins, posting a GAA of 2.64 and a save percentage of .916. Even though his NHL regressed this season, Caron still has a chance to be a quality NHL starter, but it just might not be for the Penguins. Caron, Andy Chiodo and Marc-Andre Fleury will fight for the starting job next season.

Ryan Malone, F – 4th Round- 121st overall (Omaha – USHL)
Status: NHL Player
NHL games: 81

After Malone finished his career at St. Cloud State, he signed a tryout with the Baby Penguins and played just three games for them in 2002-03. Many people believed that Malone was drafted because his father, Greg Malone, a former Penguins player is the team’s head scout. Malone has proved all of his doubters wrong and then some. After a strong training camp, Malone made the big club and hasn’t looked back. In his rookie campaign, Malone scored 22 goals, many of them in a spectacular fashion. It’s likely he won’t win the Calder Trophy, but he should get strong consideration for his incredible play on a team that finished last in the standings. He could turn out to be one of the biggest steals in the 1999 draft.

Tomas Skvaridlo, C – 5th Round- 144th overall (Kingston – OHL)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games: 0

After being drafted by the Penguins, the Slovakian center played two seasons in the OHL, scoring 73 points in 124 games for the Kingston Frontenacs. He has since returned to Slovakia and will not likely return.

Vladimir Malenkykh, D – 5th Round- 157th overall (Russia)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games: 0

Since being drafted, Malenkykh has developed into one of the best defensemen in the Russian Super League and has become one of the Penguins most intriguing prospects. Malenkykh is a stay at home defenseman, who is known for his strong physical play and hard hits. He has yet to sign a contract and come to North America.

Doug Meyer, LW – 6th Round- 176th overall (Minnesota – NCAA)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games: 0

After finishing the 2001-02 season at St. Cloud State, Meyer never played a game of professional hockey for the Penguins or anyone else.

Tom Kostopoulos, RW – 7th Round-204th overall (London – OHL)
Status: NHL Player
NHL games: 79

Kostopoulos is the current captain of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He has played 318 games and scored 248 points for the team in its five-year existence. He holds the club records for goals, assists, points and games played. Known for his scoring touch and leadership, Kostopoulos spent much of the 2003-04 season with Pittsburgh and collected 9 goals and 22 points in 60 games. He is currently leading the Baby Penguins in playoff scoring.

Darcy Robinson, D – 8th Round-233rd overall (Saskatoon – WHL)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games: 0

Robinson has been used sparingly during his first three seasons in Wilkes-Barre. He has scored 3 goals and 21 points in 145 games. He has only played in one of the Baby Penguins playoff games so far this season. Robinson does not appear to be in the team’s long term plans.

Andrew McPherson, F – 9th Round-261st overall (RPI – NCAA)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games: 0

A teammate of Matt Murley’s at RPI from 1999-2002, McPherson has not enjoyed the same post-collegiate success that Murley has. In the three seasons McPherson has played since graduating, he has been on three different ECHL teams, scoring 18 goals and 30 points in 93 games.