Photo: Selected 22nd overall, Olli Maatta was one of two defensemen the Pittsburgh Penguins selected in the 1st round of the 2012 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Following a disappointing exit in the third round of the NHL playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins head into the 2013 NHL Draft as a team in need of minor roster re-tooling. The franchise traded their first, second, and fifth round picks in order to acquire rental players Jarome Iginla, Doug Murray, and Brendan Morrow, and consequentially will not have a selection until the third round.
Photo: Selected in the 2nd round of the 2011 NHL Draft, defenseman Scott Harrington has quickly developed into one of the Penguins most promising defensive prospects. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL)
If the old adage that says success breeds more success is correct, then the future for the Pittsburgh Penguins appears quite bright. The organization has many players who went the distance in their respective post-seasons, including three who competed for a Memorial Cup, two who played in the NCAA Frozen Four, and roughly a dozen more currently competing in the NHL and AHL playoffs.
Photo: Winger Beau Bennett has been impressive in his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 21-year-old was drafted 20th overall in 2010. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
The Pittsburgh Penguins had numerous prospects with standout seasons this year, but few if any rivaled the performances of NHL rookies Simon Despres and Beau Bennett. Drafted in 2009 and 2010 respectively, Bennett and Despres were instrumental in helping the team to a 36-12 record.
Photo: Detroit’s signing of Western Michigan defenseman Dan DeKeyser has improved the team’s breakout and transition game (courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI)
Below is the middle section of the Hockey's Future Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.
Photo: Forward Oskar Sundqvist is the only European trained prospect currently in the Penguins system. Sundqvist was selected in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
With a front office and coaching staff made up almost entirely of former NCAA hockey players, it should come as no surprise that the Pittsburgh Penguins love to draft and develop collegiate level talent. However, there are also pragmatic reasons as to why Penguins draft collegiate bound players. The biggest reason is because NHL teams are afforded two more years with NCAA players before they have to make a decision regarding whether or not they will sign the player to an entry-level contract. That extra development time is crucial for a team like the Penguins, who rely heavily on mid-to-late round draft picks to keep their cupboard stocked.