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Saturday, June 26, 2010

With the 20th Pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins select...

The Penguins had the 20th pick in the draft this year and in my opinion, didn't disappoint.  The biggest problem with the Pens this year, other than a shaky powerplay, was the lack of a power forward with scoring capabilities.  The wing positions have been a point of concern since the Stanley Cup run in 2009.  The Pens have, arguably, one of the best trio of centermen on any roster with Crosby, Malkin, and Staal.  Unfortunately they haven't had the supporting cast.  With their first round selection, they chose right winger Beau Bennett.

Going over the basics, Bennett is a 6' 1", 173 lbs, 18 years old forward and led the BCHL in scoring this past season with 120 points (41G-79A) in 56 games. He added 14 points (5G-9A) in 15 postseason contests for the Junior A Penticton Vees. His point total was the most in the BCHL since Tyler Bozak's 128 in 2007 and he became the first BCHL rookie to surpass 100 points in the past seven years. 

Much of the hype in this draft has been the resurgence (or emergence) of hockey in California.  With the Kings hosting the event this year, the west coast vibe is bigger than ever.  Bennett hails from Gardenia, CA and is a big part of that new wave of California skaters that grew up playing roller hockey.  He is also now the highest drafted California born player ever.  The one thing that makes many of these California players stand out is their unbelievable quickness and puck handling skills.  The obvious lack of ice rinks and weather to support outdoor play led to Beau's dad purchasing the neighboring lot and building a roller hockey rink.  Beau spent much of his life learning the game and perfecting his skills out there. 

Many of the pre-ranking predictions that I read had Beau as a later round pick, most of which in late round 2 or 3.  A lot has been made about drafting Junior A players with higher picks considering the development of Kyle Turris has been less than stellar to this point.  Bennett is planning to attend Denver University and play for the Pioneers, becoming only the third first rounder to play in Denver (the other two being Craig Redmond in 1984 and Joe Colbourne in 2008).  He is going to have his work cut out for him as he needs to get bigger and stronger if he is going to have a shot at a spot in the NHL.  Denver is a high profile organization and he will play in a ton of big games. 

When interviewed after his selection, he said about playing with Crosby and Co., "That would be unreal.  This is such an opportunity.  It's really what you do after the draft and I'm willing to do the work and can't wait to start in Denver." Here is some of the video press conference held after his selection.

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