PITTSBURGH—Jordan Staal said Pittsburgh is in for a treat.
Staal, one of the NHL's best two-way centers, said being drafted No. 2 by the Penguins in Vancouver in 2006 remains one of the biggest thrills of his life. He has watched other drafts since then, and he said it's always entertaining to watch a young player learn where he is going to begin his professional career.
"The draft was pretty cool for me," Staal said. "It's your first step into your new dream and it's a pretty fun experience that I'm sure a lot of players will never forget. I'm excited that it’s going to be in Pittsburgh, and I'm sure it’s going to be a lot of fun."
When the Entry Draft was last held in Pittsburgh in 1997 -- at the now-closed Civic Arena -- Joe Thornton was the No. 1 pick by Boston, followed by forward Patrick Marleau, San Jose; forward Olli Jokinen, Los Angeles; goalie Roberto Luongo, the New York Islanders; and defenseman Eric Brewer, the Islanders. Other first-round picks included Sergei Samsonov, Marian Hossa and Brenden Morrow.
Thornton became only the second 17-year-old to be selected No. 1, joining Pierre Turgeon. Luongo was the first goaltender drafted as high as No. 4 since the draft began in 1969.
The Penguins' top pick, forward Robert Dome at No. 17, turned out to be one of their less-successful first-rounders. Dome, who wore his hair long to mimic then-Penguins star Jaromir Jagr, had 7 goals and 7 assists in 53 career NHL games, all but one with Pittsburgh.