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

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NHL Mock Draft: 7 Picks the Pittsburgh Penguins Would Love in the First Round
Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Prospects Nicklas Jensen and Brandon Saad

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.

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