Pittsburgh Penguins have little to show from 2008 draft

By Ian Altenbaugh

Nick D'agostino - Pittsburgh Penguins

Photo: Defenseman Nick D'Agostino (left) is one of only four selections the Pittsburgh Penguins made in the 2008 NHL Draft. (Rich Barnes/Icon SMI)

For as significant as the 2007-08 season was in Pittsburgh Penguins' history, the 2008 draft was fairly forgettable. The organization traded their first three picks in the 2008 draft in three separate trades. All three trades were vital in equipping the Penguins for back-to-back runs to the Stanley Cup Finals, but the most significant was the one which sent their 2008 first round pick, prospect Angelo Esposito, and forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen to the Atlanta Thrashers for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis.

Though Hossa would play only 32 total games with Pittsburgh, Dupuis has been in Pittsburgh ever since and is a frequent linemate of captain Sidney Crosby. Of the Penguins remaining four picks 2008, only Patrick Killeen and Nick D'Agostino are still considered prospects within the organization and while both have potential, their future in the NHL at this point is murky.

Nathan Moon, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) – 4th round, 120th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Drafted for his combination of offense and sandpaper, Moon never quite developed as hoped in his two years in the Penguins prospect pool. He had a penchant for terrible penalties which he never shook, he was a liability in his defensive zone, and while he was fairly dynamic offensively, he did not possess the skating or strength to make the most out of that skill. Furthermore, there were questions surrounding his commitment to improving his conditioning and overall play.

After the Penguins forwent his rights in the 2010 off-season, Moon would play an overage season in Kingston before signing a minor-league deal with the San Jose Sharks in 2011. He spent most of the 2011-12 season with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL. He is now playing with the Evansville Icemen of the ECHL.

Alexander Pechurskiy, G, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia) – 5th round, 150th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 1

Pechurskiy was the first of two picks the Penguins made in an attempt to solidify their goaltending pipeline, an issue they also tried to address in the 2012 draft. Pechurskiy played for Magnitogorsk's junior team for a season before coming over to the Tri-City Americans of the WHL in 2009-10. He was solid in the WHL, posting a 13-10-1 record, a 2.61 goals against average, and a .912 save percentage. He would even make an appearance in the NHL as an emergency relief backup for John Curry, as the Penguins had already lost Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson to injury.

Pechurskiy played another season in North America, mostly with the Mississippi RiverKings of the CHL, before returning to Russia for the 2011-12 season. He currently is playing for Yuzhny Ural Orsk of the VHL, a Eurasian minor league. At this point he does not appear in the Penguins long-term plans. While his future in the NHL can not be ruled out entirely, it seems unlikely.

Patrick Killeen, G, Brampton Battalion (OHL) – 5th round, 150th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Killeen has the notoriety of being the only pick the Penguins made in 2008 to sign an NHL entry-level deal. A big-bodied, rangy goaltender, Killeen put together a fair body of work in the OHL, managing a 62-45-17 record in 131 starts. In the fall of 2010, the Penguins assigned Killeen to the ECHL out of training camp with the idea that he would benefit from having a lot of starts. He has spent the vast majority of the last three seasons in the ECHL, where in 89 starts he has a 41-33-4-6 record, a 2.94 goals against average, and a .883 save percentage.

Poor numbers aside, Killeen has also been very inconsistent in his play, sometimes appearing dominant, but on more than one occasion has also played his way out of the starting job. It remains to be seen what his long-term future is with the Penguins.

Nick D'Agostino, D, St. Michael's Buzzers (OPJHL) – 7th round, 210th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Of the four drafted, D'Agostino is the only one to not yet play professionally and seems the most likely to become a meaningful NHL player. While that is by no means a guarantee, he has the requisite hockey IQ, skating, size, and ability to move the puck up ice. He also possesses a hard shot, which has been heavily utilized on Cornell's blue line over the past four years.

While the Penguins will not be able to keep all of the many defensive prospects they have throughout their system, it would make sense for them to at least ink D'Agostino to a tryout deal after he has graduated, seeing as how they invested five years of time developing him.