Star Available at #5

By Stephen Payne

Penguin possibilities for the draft, ranked by Stephen Payne to simulate the
list that Patrick may have produced.

1. Jay Bouwmeester- Although the odds of Bouwmeester falling to the fifth
spot are close to one in a hundred, I believe that Penguin scouts are
drooling all over him. He is exactly what the Penguins need: a solid,
skilled #1 defenseman. If Patrick was to have a high-profile, draft-day,
trade scenario in mind, do not be surprised if Bouwmeester is the reason
behind it, not to say that this is a likely happening (it is not). However,
it is wise to consider all possibilities before hypothesizing about a team’s
draft selection.
Chance of falling to #5- 1%

2. Kari Lehtonen- With a hole in the Penguins’ goaltending depth, Lehtonen
would be a very logical choice. There are no limitations for his potential
in the NHL, and it is possible that he could end up being the best goalie in
Penguins’ history. Besides, there is a slim chance that any of the Pens’
present goaltending prospects will ever be starters, and Hedberg only has
about five years left in him. Lehtonen would be an excellent fit in the
Penguins’ organization, and I am sure that Patrick would love to see his
available at #5.
Chance of falling to #5- 25%

3. Joni Pitkanen- Pitkanen is another answer to the Penguins’ lack of
defensive help seen by numerous fans this season. Described in “The Hockey
News” as “Housley with size,” the smooth-skating defenseman would provide a
tremendous amount of help in the Penguins’ zone as well as on the attack.
Offensive defensemen are scarce in the Pens’ organization, and there is no
one better to fill that hole than Joni Pitkanen.
Chance of falling to #5- 20%

4. Rick Nash- Although the Penguins are stacked with offensive talent
Hrdina, Kraft, Morozov, etc.), they may want to beef it up with one more
dynamic player. Nash is an extremely gifted competitor who makes the hockey
rink look like a battle field game after game. Compared to Los Angeles
Kings’ star, Jason Allison, Nash is a natural goal scorer that will lift
Penguin fans from their seats.
Chance of falling to #5- 15%

5. Anton Babchuk- Babchuk is the closest that the Penguins will come to a
replacement for Darius Kasparaitis. He plays a strong, physical game and
possesses some offensive mobility. His desire for the game is matched by
none in the 2002 draft, and that is exactly what the Penguins need. Like
Lehtonen, Babchuk is a perfect fit for the team and may be ready to step in
right away.
Chance of falling to #5- 75%

Other Possibilities based upon talent alone:

Pierre-Marc Bouchard- Wayne Gretzky is a stretch, Cliff Ronning may be more
Chance of making the top 5- 10%

Jiri Hudler- Speedy forward reminds many of a young Martin Straka.
Chance of making the top 5- 5%

Joffrey Lupul- An amazing goal-scorer has drawn comparisons to Mike Bossy.
Chance of making the top 5- 15%

Alexander Semin- A prototypical Russian forward: small but tons of skill.
Chance of making the top 5- 1%

Ryan Whitney- A tall, skinny fellow, not blessed with the skills of the
potentials, is pegged to be a top three defenseman.
Chance of making the top 5- 12%