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Allvin's efforts in Europe rewarded

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

When Patrik Allvin first started with the Penguins back in 2006, for the first couple of years he ended up being the only European scout on their staff. 

Allvin worked his way up to head European scout, where he oversaw a staff that former director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton called "the best European scouts in the league" after the 2017 NHL Draft concluded on Saturday.

Now Allvin is being rewarded for the tremendous work he's done over the past 11 years as the team announced on Wednesday that he had been promoted to director of amateur scouting, replacing Sexton, who left to become assistant general manager for the Buffalo Sabres.

"We are very fortunate to have Patrik on our staff to make this an easy transition," Pens general manager Jim Rutherford said. "He is a terrific judge of talent, and he has the leadership qualities to lead our amateur scouting department into the future."

Allvin actually began his career as a scout with Montreal after his playing career had ended. After playing for the famed Leksands program in his native Sweden, Allvin came overseas and played a couple of years in the ECHL in the late 90s before returning home.

After five more seasons playing at various levels in different Swedish leagues, Allvin suffered a knee injury at age 28 and wasn't sure if he would be able to keep playing. That's when a friend who worked for the New Jersey Devils told him he should try scouting.

And so Allvin did, getting hired by Canadiens assistant general manager Andre Savard as a part time scout in 2002. When Savard was let go by Montreal four years later, the new general manager in Pittsburgh, Ray Shero, hired him as an assistant coach. 

"When Ray got in, they cleaned house and Andre actually recommended me, and that's how I started," Allvin said.

Allvin was promoted to head European scout in 2012, which is when he hired Tommy Westlund.

"I thought Tommy was excellent because he played in the NHL, so that was a great fit," Allvin said.

And it ended up working out perfect, since Westlund had actually been drafted into the Carolina organization when Rutherford was general manager of the Hurricanes and played three-plus seasons in Raleigh, so he had the connection there. Allvin then rounded out his current staff by bringing on former Finnish pro player Petri Pakaslahti.

"I thought Petri, with his experience, would be a nice fit for the group," Allvin said. "I'm happy to work with those guys."

Increasing the European scouting staff from one person to three and dedicating more resources to their efforts overseas has worked out tremendously for the Pens, as those men have done an unbelievable job. Especially since their duties in Europe aren't limited to just amateur players - they are responsible for scouting professional players as well.

As head European scout, Allvin would focus more on those professional free agents to start the season while Westlund covered his native Sweden and Pakaslahti covered his native Finland. Later in the season, Allvin would go in and collaborate with those two on the players they wanted him to see.

Their hard work has paid off the last two years, as the Pens drafted six total European prospects in 2016 and '17 - out of 12 total selections - that the organization is excited about.

"Patrik and Tommy and Petri do tremendous work," Sexton said. "They're thorough, they work hard, they communicate and collaborate as well as anybody else, and I think Pittsburgh's been the beneficiary of the tremendous work that they've done in Europe."

While Allvin is proud that half of Pittsburgh's draft picks have come from his area the last two summers, he reiterated that it's always a team effort when it comes to their scouting and selection process.

"I think we still want to have the best players and sometimes it just shakes down that it's European guys," he said. "But it's great. The bottom line is you want to help the team. It doesn't matter where they are from. But it's nice to see the guys excel."

And it's nice to see Allvin excel as well.

Here's a look at the six European draft picks scouted by Allvin and his staff that Pittsburgh has taken the last two years…

2016:

Name: Filip Gustavsson
Selection: 2nd round (55th overall)
Position: G
Height: 6-2
Weight: 184
2016-17: Split the year between Lulea's Swedish Elite League club and its junior team. Also suited up for Sweden at the World Junior Championship.
Quick Take: Pens felt he was the best goalie available in the 2016 draft. Called him a technically sound netminder who's got tremendous rebound control, poise and mental toughness.

Name: Kasper Bjorkvist
Selection: 2nd round (61st overall)
Position: RW
Height: 6-1
Weight: 198
2016-17: Came to North America from Finland and played his freshman season at Providence College, scoring 3 goals and 9 points in 30 games.
Quick Take: Is an all-around center who is physically very strong, has got great hockey sense and a terrific overall skillset.

Name: Niclas Almari
Selection: 5th round (151st overall)
Position: D
Height: 6-1
Weight: 167
2016-17: Played with Liiga of the HPK (Finnish Elite League), LeKi of Mestis (second top league in Finland) and Liiga's junior team.
Quick Take: Sexton compared him to Oskar Sundqvist from a physical perspective in terms of being tall and lean. Added that he's an excellent skater who is a mobile, puck-moving, transitional defenseman who has the potential to play on the power play. "Niclas Almari is going to play in Pittsburgh," Sexton said. "I believe that."

2017

Name: Jan Drozg
Selection: 5th round (152nd overall)
Position: LW
Height: 6-0
Weight: 174
Amateur Team: Leksand (Swe-Jr. - U20 and U18)
Quick Take: Is from Slovenia but played in Sweden last year. Is an offensive player that needs time to put on strength, but has the Pens thrilled about his offensive ability.

Name: Linus Olund
Selection: 5th round (155th overall)
Position: C
Height: 5-11
Weight: 185
Amateur Team: Brynas (SHL)
Quick Take: Pens see him as a future bottom-six NHL player who broke out offensively in the playoffs with Brynas in Sweden's top professional league.

Name: Antti Palojarvi
Selection: 6th round (186th overall)
Position: D
Height: 6-1
Weight: 176
Amateur Team: Lukko Jr. (Fin-Jr. - U20 and U18)
Quick Take: Is a puck-moving defenseman that the Pens see as more of a longer-term prospect.

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