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Friday, August 16, 2013

Pittsburgh Penguins 2013 NHL Draft Picks

The 2013 NHL Draft is long behind us and since I hadn't taken the time to review the players that will make up the "Future" of hockey in Pittsburgh, I thought I would take a moment and talk about each of the 6 picks the Pens received.  This was by far the deepest draft class in many years and a lot of talented young players were selected in the first three rounds.  I'm not sure the Penguins nailed any super-mega-awesomeness in any of these guys but it's hard to tell from just a draft position.

Most of the picks the Penguins made were for players that are not going to be called on for an immediate impact in the NHL.  A lot of these guys are very raw and will need a great deal of development.  To me, these 6 guys are long-term prospects (with one exception).

I will say this, if anyone out there has any of these guys on cardboard, I would be happy to take them off your hands.  I know Jarry has a few cards out there in the ITG Draft set and the ITG Between the Pipes set but I doubt the others will yet since most of them were still in High School.

Let's take a look

Tristan Jarry

Jarry was the first pick in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Penguins.  He came to them in the 2nd Round with the 44th overall pick (they didn't have a 1st round pick), but not without a price.  Ray Shero gave up their 50th pick in the 2nd round along with a 3rd round pick in order to move up the that spot and take Jarry.

Jarry played for the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings last season and finished with a league leading .936 save percentage and a record of 18-7.  He is a a butterfly-style goaltender and uses his size and agility well in net.  He is basically the complete opposite of Marc-Andre Fleury.  His stick work and glove side skills are top tier in the junior leagues and he is considered by many to have one of the best mental games around.  Plus, you won't see him slamming his stick, yelling at himself, or generally whining about giving up bad goals.

My take....First, he looks like his is 12 years old.  Heir apparent, indeed.  But if I've said this before, I'll say it again, I have very little expectations in the first few years for a highly touted goalie pick moving from junior hockey to the NHL.  The maturation process for a goaltender in the NHL is much longer than a forward or defenseman.  Skaters have an advantage because the speed of the game changes in intervals.  There is a big difference for a goalie from lower division hockey to the NHL.  Even at Penguins player development camp this summer, Jarry mentioned to the coaching staff that he thought the pucks were smaller because they were coming at him a lot faster than he was used to.  I think you will see him in Juniors for a few more years before he gets an opportunity on WBS or even a pre-season NHL game or two.  The Oil Kings should be giving him 35-40 starts this season.


Jake Guentzel

Guentzel was obtained in the 3rd round with the 77th overall pick.  Guentzel is still young and was scouted early on while playing for the Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, MN.  In 2010-11 he racked up 15 goals and 28 assists, followed by another 25 goals and 46 assists the following year.  In 2012-13, he played for Sioux City in the USHL where he put up 73 points and was named to the Second Team All-Stars.  His senior year at Hill-Murray, he committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he will play alongside another Penguin prospect, Josh Archibald.

My take...This guy is small.  But don't let size fool you into thinking he can't play.  He has all the prerequisites of a top-line NHLer, with the speed and agility of a guy 6 inches taller.  He has a head for hockey as his dad was once a prospect for the Rangers and is now an assistant coach for the University of Minnesota.  The Penguins are still hoping for a growth spurt in him (since the other men in his family are over 6' tall) and with a solid college program to compete in, the strength and condition will certainly help.  Because he is very skilled on both sides of the puck, I think he will inevitably get his shot sooner rather than later (as long as he grows).


Ryan Segalla

Segalla is a defenseman straight out of high school.  The Penguins selected Ryan with their 4th Round, 119th overall pick.  Segalla is a very big, strong, hard-hitting defenseman that can skate well and has excellent puck handling skills.  But the foundation of his ability lies in his physical game.  He is a very tenacious player with all the same capabilities of any "nuisance" grinder-type guy in the NHL.  He scored 10 goals and 8 assists in 28 games last year for Salisbury Prep in Connecticut.  He will also be playing in two seasons for the University of Connecticut.  Next year, he will most likely spend a year in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints who took him 15th overall in their Entry Draft.

My take...I didn't like this pick.  While Segalla is a great player to have on any team the looks to go deep into the playoffs, the Penguins are already so deep on defense that having another prospect is only going to muddy the waters more.  Their drafts over the last few years have been D-man heavy and they have also picked up a few prospects from other teams along the way.  I get the fact that he is raw enough that they will have at least 4-5 years of development before he straps on the Black & Gold but spending a 4th rounder on him, at least to me, was kind of a stretch.  I hope he can prove me wrong.


Dane Birks

Dane is another big defenseman that the Pens took with their 6th Round pick, 164th overall.  At 6'3", 190lbs, Birks has a big size advantage over a lot of the more speedy forwards that he faces, all of which could translate into a promising NHL career.  He is mobile and a very adept passer but with his lack of experience, he can only get better.  He played in the BCHL last year for the Merritt Centennials and will probably spend another year there before going on to play at Michigan Tech.

My take...Again, here was another pick that I was not too keen on but what do I know.  Apparently Birks has a wicked point shot already and a huge upside for skill development.  These young guys are all projects that are 4-5 years away and Birks is no exception.  With college in his future, he can hopefully learn what it takes to be a quality two-way defenseman because the Pens need that guy that can put up points on the PP and shut it down on the PK.  The depth they have already in the younger ranks of defensemen is quite astonishing when you compare that with other teams around the league.  It's one thing to have prospect depth.  It's another thing entirely when most of them will probably compete at the Pro level.


Blaine Byron

Blaine, while professionally raw, has all the skill to be a top-line forward in the NHL.  Last season, he put up 52 points in 51 games playing in the CCHL, winning the Top Propect Award for 12-13.  What he lacks in size, he makes up for in stick work, playmaking ability, and tenacity.  He is heading for the University of Maine where he should be able to hone his skills and hopefully develop into a premier shooting forward.  

My take...The fact that Byron was still available in the 6th round with the 179th pick is beyond my comprehension.  If anyone involved in prospecting hockey talent was unaware of this guy, they should have had their career path re-examined.  He is immensely talented on the ice and has the ability to create plays out of thin air like a couple other Penguins we know.  If he can get the right kind of tutelage in Maine, cut down on neutral zone turnovers, and bulk up a bit, this guy could be a defenseman's nightmare in a few years.

Troy Josephs

Mr. Irrelevant from a team perspective, Troy Josephs is anything but.  He is probably the most high-intensity, up-tempo, fore-check you to death guy they picked in the draft.  At 19, he has already shown that he can play at a high level from both a third or fourth line battler position or a goal scorer.  Last season, he put up 17 goals and 22 assists in 42 games.  Add to that another 20 points in 24 playoff games.  But like the others, he is a raw "work in progress" player that will be a long term project for the Pens to develop.  He is going to Clarkson University in the fall.

My take...Josephs is a checker.  Plain and simple.  The guy bangs on the fore-check, he bangs on the boards, and he is the first one into the pile in the corners.  If there is a need for a solid two-way guy for a checking line or the PK, Josephs will most certainly become one of the best at it.  Plus, with his on-ice vision and ability to put pucks tape-to-tape, there is no telling the potential here for Troy.  His stint in college should help clean up his game a little and strengthen his ability to compete at the NHL level.

Here are the particulars of the players in case you are into that kind of thing.

RndPickOverallTeamPlayerPosCountryHeightWeightAmateur LeagueAmateur Team
21444PITTristan JarryGCAN6' 1"183WHLEdmonton
31677PITJake GuentzelCUSA5' 9"157USHLSioux City
428119PITRyan SegallaDUSA6' 0"190HIGH-CTSalisbury
613164PITDane BirksDCAN6' 3"190BCHLMerritt
628179PITBlaine ByronCCAN5' 11"163CCHLSmiths Falls
728209PITTroy JosephsCCAN5' 11"176OJHLSt. Michael's

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