Breaking Down Experts' Picks for Pittsburgh Penguins' 2014 Draft
The Pittsburgh Penguins head into the 2014 NHL draft with new general manager Jim Rutherford at the helm. The arrival of Rutherford and firing of his predecessor, Ray Shero, makes for an interesting storyline this year despite the Penguins holding on to just a single selection in the first four rounds.
Steel City residents will be fixated on the draft when it kicks off on June 27 in Philadelphia to see which direction their beloved franchise is heading in.
I sifted through a few recent mock drafts from experts to see what they think the Penguins might do on Friday.
In each of their mocks, they predicted the Penguins selecting a winger with the No. 22 pick, which isn’t all that surprising.
On offense, the Penguins have a solid lineup down the middle with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter anchoring the top three lines. The problem the organization is finding players to help these guys out on their wings.
With Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz continuing to age and Jussi Jokinen expected to walk in free agency, the Penguins are in dire need of finding their replacements.
Despite having a late first-round pick, the team has quite a few promising options at its disposal. Let’s take a look here at each of the aforementioned experts' picks for the No. 22 overall selection.
Please comment below on which player you think the Penguins should draft in the coming days.
Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara (OHL)
In his most recent mock draft, Bleacher Report's Allan Mitchell went with Brendan Perlini of the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs as the Penguins’ first-round pick. The 18-year-old left winger born in Guildford, Great Britain, weighs in at 205 pounds and stands at 6’2”.
Perlini began his major-junior career as a Barrie Colt, but didn’t receive a whole lot of ice time with the club, which was loaded with star players.
He was traded midway through the 2012-13 season. In his first full year with the IceDogs, Perlini made great strides by netting 34 goals and 37 assists in 58 games.
Eliteprospects.com gives Perlini a great review: “Perlini is a lethal combination of speed, puck skills and hockey sense, which allow him to make dynamic plays in all three zones. He plays a high puck possession game and thrives when the puck is on his stick.”
Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News (video) voices only a single concern for Perlini: He tends to “disappear” at certain moments of the game.
With his deadly combination of size and speed, Perlini is the new prototypical NHL player, which will make up for what worries Kennedy.
Overall, Perlini would be a solid pick for the Penguins if he were to fall into their lap on June 27.
Joshua Ho-Sang, C/RW, Windsor (OHL)
I have voiced my fondness for Windsor Spitfires winger Josh Ho-Sang in past write-ups, so it is nice to see someone (Adam Kimelman of NHL.com) agree with me that he should become a Penguin by the time the draft has concluded.
Despite his small frame, Ho-Sang has been regarded as an exciting and crafty player who reminds me a lot of Patrick Kane.
Like Kane, he has the ability to post a tremendous amount of points, which was seen last season when he scored 32 goals and 53 apples for 85 points!
Chris Edwards of NHL Central Scouting gave the Toronto native a very promising review: “He handles the puck very well at top speed and sees the ice well. His skating is excellent and his first step is explosive. He cuts to the middle often and can split the defense with surprising speed.”
I don’t think size is much of an issue for the Penguins' roster, so I expect the front office to overlook Ho-Sang’s 5’11”, 176-pound build.
The Penguins’ roster is one that is capable of putting on a show for its fans, and I’m sure Ho-Sang wouldn’t mind being a part of it.
Brendan Lemieux, LW, Barrie (OHL)
Nicholas Goss of NESN.com has the son of a famous Lemieux shaking Rutherford’s hand on draft day. No, it's not Mario’s son, but Claude’s.
Brendan Lemieux of the Barrie Colts has a lot in common with his father besides sharing the same last name and household. He is known to make life miserable for opposing teams as an agitator, but has the offensive skills to back it up.
Lemieux was one of the top producers on the team in 2013-14, posting 27 goals and 26 assists in 65 games.
Goss pushes the pest factor to the side and praises Lemieux for his hard shot and quickness on the ice.
Director of NHL Central Scouting, Dan Marr, noted that he can play the role of the agitator, but realized there is more to his game than just that:
Brendan is a guy you can put in front of the net because he can agitate and be a pest; I think that’s in his DNA. He has the same skating stride as his father. He’s also got a great one-time and can finish. He’s one of these guys who has an equal number of goals and assists, and he brings an important ingredient to a hockey game.
While he may not see time in the NHL for a year or so, the Penguins need an Andrew Shaw-type of player on their roster.
There really isn’t anyone who can fulfill that role, which is almost a must for any team in today's game. We've seen it work for the Blackhawks and Shaw in Chicago, so why couldn’t it work for the Penguins?
Nikita Scherbak, LW, Saskatoon (WHL)
NHL.com staff writer Mike G. Morreale finished his final mock draft on Monday and has yet another left winger heading to the Penguins at No. 22.
Nikita Scherbak is a skater who can produce a lot of points for his team. As a member of the Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blades, the 18-year-old Russian registered 28 goals and 50 assists for 78 points over the course of 65 games.
The Penguins need a forward who is capable of putting up a crazy number of points, which is what all the guys on this list have in common. They know how to produce and can sense scoring opportunities.
Scherbak is also known to be a very unselfish player, which is crucial to a team that has other attacking phenoms like Crosby and Malkin.
Eliteprospects.com stated that Scherbak needs to work on his defensive game, but I think that is the least of the front office's worries.
This would be a very safe and solid pick for the Penguins.