Like any other draft in professional sports, the NHL entry draft, which will kick off on June 27 in Philadelphia, is a wonderful tool used by clubs to bring in the best players from around the world.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, who currently hold the No. 22 overall pick of the first round, have a variety of options at their disposal.
First and foremost, let’s understand that defense will not be a primary area of concern for newly-installed general manager Jim Rutherford and the front office.
The team has done a great job over the past few years by building a deep, talented and youthful defensive corps that will surely keep improving as the season goes on, and this year’s selection of players isn’t all that impressive when it comes to blueliners.
I will be focusing on what the Penguins will likely do during the first round. After the first, they won’t pick again until late in the fourth. Their second-round pick was traded to the San Jose Sharks for Douglas Murray last year, while their third-rounder was given to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Lee Stempniak back at the March 5 trade deadline.
That being said...the draft is wide open.
The top four prospects, nicknamed the “Fantastic Four” by The Hockey News, consist of Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl, Aaron Ekblad and Sam Bennett.
Though they will be at the top of many teams’ draft boards, the Penguins could easily make a move early in the day to swipe one of the future stars. It certainly would show fans that Rutherford and Co. are eager in making a splash early in their tenure.
Now let's take a look at three areas of concern the Penguins can fill with their first pick in the 2014 NHL draft.
Prospect information and player statistics courtesy of EliteProspects.com