Joined: Jul 2016
I know it's a bit early to be talking about the draft, but NHL Central Scouting posted their final draft rankings today, and there were a few names that caught my interest.
First, I know that the Penguins are picking, at best, 23rd in the draft. If all of the division leaders fail to make it out of the 2nd round, they take up spots 24-27, and the Penguins are 1st out of the non-division-leaders. Really, it's probably going to be more like 25th or 26th.
That being said, I really want the Penguins to draft a defender in the 1st round this year. I understand the whole "take the best player available" thing, but, in this case, the Penguins' forward corps is one of the best in the league, and all of the questions lie at defense. The cupboard's a little bare in terms of grade-A defensive prospects (sorry, Derrick Pouliot, I don't think it's gonna work out in Pittsburgh for ya), and, in particular, I kinda badly want the Penguins to get a RHD, mostly as Kris Letang insurance. I'm not entirely on the Justin Schultz bandwagon, even though he's done a good job of shouldering the defensive load in Letang's absence. Heck, the Penguins might not even be able to keep him, though it seems like re-signing him is a priority. With Frank Corrado possibly needing more seasoning in the AHL (though Jim Rutherford's hinted at the possibility that Corrado will be in the NHL next year), Ethan Prow probably needing another year in the AHL, and Lukas Bengtsson's long-term medical issues, RHD is veeeeeeery thin after Letang and Schultz.
I've been eyeing Conor Timmins and Henri Jokiharju for a while now. They're both RHD and fairly good offensively (Timmins was tied for 4th in points among OHL defenders this year, and Jokiharju was tied for 16th in defensive scoring in the WHL and 2nd on his team). They also both made pretty good jumps from midterm to final rankings (Timmins from 26th to 18th, and Jokiharju from 22nd to 19th). I'd be fine with drafting either, though Jokiharju played for Portland, and the last 2 defenders the Penguins drafted out of Portland... well, let's not mention that.
Nicolas Hague also would be an interesting pickup. Though left-handed, he's got the size and "grit" that all of the old-school types seem to like (6' 6", 215 lb, 107 PIM in 65 games this past year) and the points to back it up (18 G, 46 P, 15th in OHL defensive scoring, and led the Steelheads' defenders). He fell pretty sharply in the rankings, from 11 to 20.
The fact that all of these defenders are in the late teens may make it difficult for the Penguins to get either, even factoring in European skaters. I wouldn't be surprised if they were off the board by the time the Penguins went up to the podium to pick. In that case, somebody like Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Urho Vaakanainen, or Erik Brännström would be the pick of choice.
What do you guys think?