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Penguins make do with few picks

by Adam Kimelman

OTTAWA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins had about the quietest weekend of any team at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

The price for reaching the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals were three separate trades that cost the club its top three picks at this year’s selection extravaganza. Their first-round pick went to Atlanta at this year’s trade deadline for forward Marian Hossa, the same day their second-round pick was sent to Toronto for defenseman Hal Gill.

Their third-round choice had been moved on deadline-day in 2007 for fourth-line forward Georges Laraque.

There still was work to be done with the four choices the club still had, as the team stuck to its list and took the best player available when its turn came up.

“The plan coming in was to take the best players available at 120, 150, 180 and 210,” said Jay Heinbuck, the team’s director of amateur scouting.

Here’s a look at Pittsburgh’s 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:

No. 120, Nathan Moon, C, Kingston (OHL) – Moon flew up the Central Scouting rankings during the season, rising from No. 118 when the mid-term listings were released in January to No. 74 when the final list was revealed in late April.

Moon led the Frontenacs with 35 goals, 42 assists and 77 points.

"The plan coming in was to take the best players available at 120, 150, 180 and 210." -- Jay Heinbuck, the team’s director of amateur scouting.

“We targeted a guy that we hoped we would get in the fourth round, so we put him up pretty high up on our list, making sure that when we came to that pick, we hoped he would be there and be the next guy on our list, and he was,” said Heinbuck.

The Penguins are very excited about Moon’s offensive upside, but he needs to develop skills at the other end of the ice.

“He’s really clever with the puck, he protects the puck well, he moves the puck well,” said Heinbuck. “Just the skill package. We hoped he was there. We thought he could slide, because he’s got to learn to be more committed defensively, and maybe work a little harder on the ice in both directions, not just offensively. But he’s a kid we targeted that we thought might slide to us, and if he did we’d be very, very happy, and we are.”

With the Penguins’ glut of young players, the club can afford to be patient with Moon.

“He’s a fourth-round pick and he’s going to have to get himself stronger and get himself quicker,” said Heinbuck. “He’s got at least two more years left of eligibility in junior, so from here it’s up to him.”

No. 150, Alexander Pechurski, G, Magnitogorsk (Russia) – Pechurski made a name for himself with the Russian team at the Under-18 World Championships, when he went 4-0-1 with a 3.06 goals-against average and .885 save percentage.

The previous year at the U-18 tournament, he went 2-1 with a 3.90 GAA and .861 save percentage.

“Our evaluations on him have been really, really good all year,” said Heinbuck. “Just because of where he comes from and the ambiguity in that situation, he’s another guy that we thought might fall to us. And when it got to the fifth round, we said we’re not letting this guy go any further.”

No. 180, Patrick Killeen, G, Brampton (OHL) – At 6-4 and 194 pounds, Killeen filled up the nets for the Battalion this past season.

Killeen was second among Ontario Hockey League rookies with a 2.76 GAA and .908 save percentage, and he went 20-9-2 with one shutout.

No. 210, Nicholas D’Agostino, D, St. Michael’s (OPJHL) – A 6-1, 177-pound defenseman, D’Agostino had 23 points in 46 games this past season.

He has verbally committed to Cornell for the 2009-10 season.

Contact Adam Kimelman at

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