When Jim Rutherford took over the general manager job for the Pittsburgh Penguins last June, he inherited an organization that was shallow at forward, from the NHL level all the way through the prospect rankings. Rutherford did not take long to address the problem, first picking four forwards in the 2014 NHL Draft, then augmenting the Penguins NHL roster with several talented veteran players.
The Pittsburgh Penguins lead the NHL's Eastern Conference with 40 wins and 84 points despite amassing over 350 man-games lost to injury. The team has suffered major injuries at every position and at one point were missing four of their top-six defensemen, two of their top-six forwards, and their backup goaltender.
The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the 2011 NHL draft with five picks and left with two defenseman and three forwards. They spent their first two picks on defensemen, the second time in three years they have done so, and drafted several project forwards in the later rounds.
While there may have been some initial shock among fans that the organization drafted defensemen early, especially given the stockpile of blueliners they currently have in the organization, it should be no surprise given General Manager Ray Shero’s history. In his previous five drafts with the Penguins, Shero selected five defensemen in the first three rounds, a number that is accentuated by the fact the organization has traded away many of its early round picks over the past few years. Prior to joining the Penguins, Shero worked in the front office of the Nashville Predators, an organization renowned for stockpiling and developing defensemen.
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