Photo: Jean Sebastien Dea is part of a large group of forwards who are beginning their professional career with the Penguins organization. Dea was signed as a free agent in 2013. (courtesy of Mark Spowart/Icon Sportswire)
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.
Photo: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Josh Archibald begins his pro career after a breakout season offensively with the University of Nebraska-Omaha (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)
Before the St. John’s IceCaps knocked off the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in last year’s AHL Eastern Conference Final, the conference’s champion and representative in the Calder Cup Finals had come out of the East Division the last ten years. Read more»
Photo: Olli Maatta has been one of the top young defensemen in the NHL this season, with seven goals and 18 assists through 58 games. Maatta also helped Finland win the bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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.
Photo: Brian Dumoulin is one of many talented young defensemen in the Penguins minor-league system. Dumoulin made his NHL debut on December 14th and played in six games before returning to the AHL. (courtesy of Abelimages/Getty)
The Pittsburgh Penguins currently lead the NHL in man games lost to injury and at one point were missing their entire top-four defensive unit. The team has not missed a beat, however, and currently leads the NHL's Eastern Conference with 63 points and 31 wins.
Photo: The Penguins first pick of the 2011 NHL draft, defenseman Joe Morrow brings a familiar blend of skill, toughness, and skating to the organization. (Photo courtesy of Ian Altenbaugh/HF)
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.