NHL Mock Draft: 7 Picks the Pittsburgh Penguins Would Love in the First Round

Eron NoreContributor IIIJune 15, 2011

NHL Mock Draft: 7 Picks the Pittsburgh Penguins Would Love in the First Round

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    Prospects Nicklas Jensen and Brandon Saad
    Prospects Nicklas Jensen and Brandon SaadClaus Andersen/Getty Images

    When the NHL Entry Draft gets underway from Saint Paul, MN on June 24th, the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to wait a while before they get to make their selection. Nobody within the organization or fanbase will complain, however, since their late pick is a reflection of the team's on ice success.

    There are no shortage of interesting topics from a Pittsburgh perspective at this year's draft. For starters, the Penguins will need to make the most of the picks they have, not having a full compliment due to some past deals. According to the Penguins official website, 12 of 29 players (41 percent) from the 2010-11 roster were acquired through the draft.

    The Penguins will not have their third, fourth, or seventh-round picks in the draft. This is the price paid for acquiring the rights to Dan Hamhuis this past offseason, Mathieu Garon a few seasons back, and Alexei Kovalev for the stretch run last season.

    With an eye on free agency just around the corner, the 'Guins figure to need to draft well for the future. They will not be able to keep all of their current free agents. In fact, local airwaves have been inundated with talk of a potential trade involving the rights of Restricted Free Agent  Tyler Kennedy to move up in the draft or gain more picks.

    Trib Total Media's Rob Rossi stated via a June 11th post on his "Chipped Ice" blog that he was "taking some steps back" on this topic. While it's still possible, he says, he does not believe it is a certainty.

    Also, Rossi reports that the Penguins are willing to listen to offers for D Matt Niskanen and that the price would not need to be high. Perhaps a draft pick scores him for any trade willing to taken on the salary.

    Another angle of local interest is the likelihood of five prospects with local ties being drafted. G John Gibson, LW Brandon Saad, F J.T. MIller, C Vincent Trocheck, and G Michael Houser add a very local flavor to the event.

    While this may not benefit the Penguins directly, having these guys join players like R.J. Umberger and Ryan Malone as local area kids that make it to the NHL is further proof that Penguins have inspired a countless amount of kids to learn the sport of hockey.

    Will any of the Pittsburgh area guys end up with the Penguins? Time will tell. Maybe they will turn up in the slideshow. Join me as we look at seven picks the team would love to score with their first round selection. Keep in mind this is a wish list, not necessarily a draft prediction.

No. 7 Player the Penguins Would Love to Draft in the First Round

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    MISSISSAUGA, CANADA - MAY 29: Nathan Beaulieu #28 of the Saint John Sea Dogs celebrates with the Memorial Cup after the win against the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors in the 2011 CHL Mastercard Memorial Cup final on May 29, 2011 at the Hershey Centre in
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Player: Nathan Beaulieu

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 174 lbs.

    Born: December 5, 1992

    From: Strathroy, Ontario, Canada

    Position: D

    2010-11 Team: Saint John's Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

    2010-11 Stats: 65 games, 12 goals, 33 assists, 52 PIM, plus-44 (regular season); 19 games, 4 goals, 13 assists, 26 PIM (playoffs)

    What To Like About Him: Played with future Penguin D Simon Despres. Helped the Sea Dogs win The Memorial Cup.

    NHL.com's Scouting Report: "He'll be an offensive defenseman...he's a very good skater, good puck mover. He has a good shot and is very poised with the puck. He's a veteran who has a lot of responsibilities for Saint John." - NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau

No. 6 Player the Penguins Would Love to Draft in the First Round

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    Player: Alexander Khokhlachev

    Height: 5'10"

    Weight: 188 lbs.

    Born: September 9, 1993

    From: Moscow, Russia

    Position: LW/C

    2010-11 Team: Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

    2010-11 Stats: 67 games, 34 goals, 42 assists, 28 PIM, plus-9  (regular season); 18 games, 9 goals, 11 assists, 8 PIM (playoffs)

    What To Like About Him: Put up numbers and played in North America. Probably not as high of a flight risk to a KHL team as other Russians.

    MyNHLdraft.com's Scouting Report: "An offensively, extremely talented striker. A very good skater with great creativity. A good playmaker but an even better finisher. Has soft hands. Needs to gain strength." - eliteprospect.com's Matias Strozyk

    Photo via NHL.com

No. 5 Player the Penguins Would Love to Draft in the First Round

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    TORONTO, CAN - JANUARY 19:  Vincent Trocheck #89 of Team Orr skates against Team Cherry in the 2011 Home Hardware Top Prospects game on January 19, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 7-1. (Photo by Claus Anders
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Player: Vincent Trocheck

    Height: 5'10"

    Weight: 184 lbs.

    Born: July 11, 1993

    From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Position: C

    2010-11 Team: Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

    2010-11 Stats: 68 games, 26 goals, 36 assists, 60 PIM, plus-14  (regular season); 12 games, 6 goals, 5 assists, 4 PIM (playoffs)

    What To Like About Him: Pittsburgh guy with talent and the ability to rise to his linemates play.

    Penguins.NHL.com's Scouting Report: "Although Trocheck is smaller in stature, his ability to make plays when paired up with elite talent makes him an intriguing prospect as he evolves in to a point per game player during his second season in the OHL." - Jason Seidling

No. 4 Player the Penguins Would Love to Draft in the First Round

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    BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 26:  Joel Armia #20 of Finland carries the puck during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship Group A game between USA and Finland on December 26, 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Player: Joel Armia

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 191 lbs.

    Born: May 31, 1993

    From: Pori, Finland

    Position: RW

    2010-11 Team: Assat Pori (SM-liiga)

    2010-11 Stats: 48 games, 18 goals, 11 assists, 24 PIM, plus-9  (regular season)

    What To Like About Him: Size and ability.

    MyNHLdraft.com's Scouting Report: "Armia has an incredible shot and uses his size to his advantage on the cycle. Already drawing comparisons to Finnish great Teemu Selanne, Armia possesses a similar scoring touch, though not the same degree. Although he underwhelmed during the World Junior Championships, the Finnish team collectively flamed out during the medal round. Though he is one of the top offensive players in the draft, Armia may not go straight to the NHL, as his defensive game needs rounding out." - Hugo Sanchez

No. 3 Player the Penguins Would Love to Draft in the First Round

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    MISSISSAUGA, CANADA - MAY 20:  Tomas Jurco #13 of the Saint John Sea Dogs skates against the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors in the opening game of the 2011 Mastercard Memorial Cup at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Canada. The Sea Dogs defeated the M
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Player: Tomas Jurco

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 187 lbs.

    Born: December 28, 1992

    From: Kosice, Slovakia

    Position: RW

    2010-11 Team: Saint John's Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

    2010-11 Stats: 60 games, 31 goals, 25 assists, 17 PIM, plus-46 (regular season); 19 games, 6 goals, 12 assists, 8 PIM (playoffs)

    What To Like About Him: Played with future Penguin D Simon Despres. Helped the Sea Dogs win The Memorial Cup. Knows how to score goals.

    NHL.com's Scouting Report: "He's a very good skater with size and excellent puck skills. He has all the tools of a first round draft pick." - NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau

No. 2 Player the Penguins Would Love to Draft in the First Round

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    TORONTO, CAN - JANUARY 19:  Nicklas Jensen #17 of Team Cherry skates against Team Orr in the 2011 Home Hardware Top Prospects game on January 19, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 7-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Player: Nicklas Jensen

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 187 lbs.

    Born: March 6, 1993

    From: Herning, Denmark

    Position: RW/LW

    2010-11 Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL)

    2010-11 Stats: 61 games, 29 goals, 29 assists, 42 PIM, plus-14 (regular season); 10 games, 7 goals, 4 assists, 2 PIM (playoffs)

    What To Like About Him: Size and skills. Speaks fluent English.

    NHL.com's Scouting Report: "Nicklas has adjusted very well to the OHL. His puck-handling and play-making ability are excellent. He has an excellent wrist shot that he gets off quickly." - NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards

No 1 Player the Penguins Would Love to Draft in the First Round

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    TORONTO, CAN - JANUARY 19:  Brandon Saad #22 of Team Orr skates against Team Cherry in the 2011 Home Hardware Top Prospects game on January 19, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 7-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/G
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Player: Brandon Saad

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 208 lbs.

    Born: October 27, 1992

    From: Gibsonia, Pennsylvania

    Position: LW

    2010-11 Team: Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

    2010-11 Stats: 59 games, 27 goals, 28 assists, 47 PIM, plus-8  (regular season); 12 games, 3 goals, 9 assists, 10 PIM (playoffs)

    What To Like About Him: Pittsburgh guy who may be one of the best "value" picks in the draft.

    NHL.com's Scouting Report: "Brandon has very good speed and agility and that makes him dangerous, he's solid on his skates and fights through checks very well. He plays a solid two-way game and is very responsible defensively." - NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards