The 2009 NHL off-season was one of the most important in Pittsburgh Penguins history as it marked their first Stanley Cup parade in over 15 years. The off-season also marked a major transition period for the Penguins as General Manager Ray Shero and his management team used the opportunity to rebuild the organization's then-barren defensive pool.
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.
Over the past four seasons the Pittsburgh Penguins organization has made a concerted effort to draft quality defensemen and now boasts one of the deepest groups of defensive prospects in the NHL. Their forward depth, while not as impressive as the defense, has also come a long way and now has quality prospects at every position.
The Pittsburgh Penguins organization injected their prospect pool with a massive amount of talent at every level this past off-season and will consequentially head into the 2012-13 season with many questions. There will be eight new additions to their minor-league roster, but there will also be many eyes on 2012 first round draft picks Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maata, both of whom recently signed entry-level contracts.