Now that the 2008 NHL Entry Draft is behind us and the initial Free Agency activity has occurred, it is time to step back and take a closer look at the Pittsburgh Penguins 2008 draft picks. While much of the reporting focused in on Patrick Killeen and Nathan Moon, the Penguins actually acquired a total of four players through the late June draft. This included two goaltenders, a defenseman and a center, all of whom the Penguins will likely allow to develop over the next two seasons in Juniors/College. As a result of previous trades involving Marian Hossa, Hal Gil and Georges Laraque, the Penguins didn’t have a first, second, or third round pick to exercise. Despite an attempt to get an earlier draft pick through a pre-draft trade of Ryan Malone, the Penguins came up empty.
The first pick-up came in the 4th round of the draft, as the Penguins announced the selection of Nathan Moon. The 5-foot-11, 179-pound, right-handed center from Belleville, Ontario, had 35 goals and 77 points in 68 games with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs last season. He posted those impressive numbers while playing on a team that only won 25-games. The 120th pick overall, he was rated the 134th best prospect available by International Scouting Services. Moon, who was born 1 April 1990, is a talented puck-handler and is great in the face-off circle. He also has good vision for a young hockey player and takes advantage of that vision by being able to find lanes and connect on good passes to his teammates. In an interview with Penguins’ Joe Sager, Moon expressed his excitement at being selected and his desire to improve his performance as he heads into Juniors. It is expected that Moon will play 1-2 more seasons in the OHL before moving up into ther NHL.
In the 5th round, the Penguins picked up goaltender Alexander Pechurski as the 150th overall pick. The 6-foot, 187-pounder is a native of Magnitogorsk, Russia. Ranked 10th among international goaltenders by the NHL’s Central Scouting, he posted a 2.07 GAA in 26 games in 2007-08 for Magnitogorsk. He went on to help team Russia to a silver medal in the U-18 tournament by going 4-1 and posting a 3.06 GAA and 0.885 save percentage. Born 4 June 1990, Pechurski catches left. While his future in North America remains uncertain due to the lack of a transfer agreement, the Penguins hope Pechurski will help them regain some organizational depth in goal within their system.
On to the 6th round, where the Penguins took goalie Patrick Killeen from Brampton (OHL), the 180th overall pick. A native of Almonte, Ontario, the 6-foot-4, 194-pound goaltender catches left. Killeen went 20-9-2 with a 2.76 GAA in 34 games with Brampton last season. Born 15 April 1990, Killeen is large goaltender that covers the bottom half of the net very well. Like Pechurski, Killeen was brought into the organization to add depth in net. Key to his development over the next couple of years in the OHL will be improvements in shot recovery, rebound control, and glove control.
Finally, in the 7th round, the Penguins added defenseman Nicholas D’Agostino from St. Michael’s Buzzers (OPJHL), selected 210th overall. The 6-foot-1, 177-pound defenseman is a native of Bolton, Ontario, was born on 24 June 1990 and shoots left. D’Agostino is slated to play for Cornell beginning in 2009. Playing for St. Michaels, he scored 5-goals and 18-points in 46 games. Unranked by most scouting services, D’Agostino has been effective in man-up, man-down and even strength play. He has a hard slap shot and is defensively effective by keeping his feet and stick active at all times. In an interview with Penguins’ Joe Sager at the Penguins Rookie Conditioning Camp, D’Agostino described himself as a two-way player who likes to jump into the play, albeit not a big offensive scorer. He will continue to develop physically and as a player as he heads off to Cornell in the fall.
It is good to see that the Penguins made the best of their later round draft picks and picked up some good prospects for the future of the club. Be sure to check back soon as I will be posting more in-depth player spotlights on each of the Penguins’ pick-ups in free agency.