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Meet Pittsburgh's 2015 NHL Draft Class

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pens had four picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, and they used all of them on forwards. Four of Pittsburgh’s five draft picks in 2014 were also forwards, meaning the team has restocked its forward depth in the organization in the past two years.

“We didn’t leap over defensemen to take forwards, it’s just the way it unfolded,” co-director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton said. “We did have a bit of debate about taking a goalie, but the way the draft unfolded, when it came time for us to pick most of them were gone and the ones that were remaining, we felt the organization was better suited to take the player we took.”

Here’s a quick look at each selection, coupled with a few words from the prospects we spoke with and a scouting report from Sexton.

Name: Daniel Sprong
Selection: 2nd round (46th overall)
Position: RW
Height: 6-0
Weight: 180
Amateur Team: Charlottetown (QMJHL)

Notes: Paced Islanders in goals (39), assists (49) and points (88) for second straight season in 2014-15. Also led team as a rookie in 2013-14 with 30 goals, 38 assists and 68 points in 67 games and was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team … Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands … Father, Hannie, played professional hockey in Holland in early 1990s … Sprong’s family moved to Montreal when Daniel was 7 to continue his development … Hopes to become first Dutch-born NHL player since Ed Kea (Weesp, Netherlands) played 5 seasons with the Atlanta Flames and St. Louis Blues.

Red Line Report: Tremendous one-on-one player is a wizard with the puck. Extremely hungry on offense and not afraid to take risks to make a play. Can snipe from anywhere on the ice with a quick and accurate wrist shot and also dishes with creativity and imagination. He’s dangerous every shift and a deadly force on the PP where he has a bit more room. Average skater, but plus hockey sense allows him to look faster by anticipating the play and finding openings. He is mostly a one-dimensional player who looks to take off early out of the defensive zone. Will need to be more accountable defensively and work harder away from the puck – the type of player that can frustrate coaches. Has grown a bit in the last year but still needs to get stronger, which would help him be harder on the puck and win more battles. Very career motivated, sometimes at the expense of the overall team picture.

Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting: He has blazing speed, a great shot, and the puck skills and hockey sense to be an effective playmaker.

Sprong on his role: “I just want to be a part of a team that sees a role for me. I could play any role up front. I can be more of a passer, scorer, anything. I’m just really excited to be a part of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ll let me know where they see and where they want me to play, what kind of role. I’m very excited to be a part of it. I’ll play any role they want me to play.”

Sexton’s Take: “We were delighted to get him. The two famous lines from every draft are ‘we couldn’t believe he was still there’ and ‘we had him a lot higher on our list.’ Both were true today for Sprong. He’s a tremendous goal scorer, has an NHL release and shot. He needs to work on the defensive side of his game like most young players. We think there is tremendous upside with him.”

Name: Dominik Simon
Selection: 5th round (137th overall)
Position: C
Height: 5-11
Weight: 176
Amateur Team: Plzen (Czech Republic League)

Notes: Played entire career in Czech Republic League … Helped Czech Republic top Canada at 2014 World Junior Championship with game-deciding shootout goal … Posted 18 goals, 30 points in 52 games for Plzen in 2014-15 ... Plzen is owned by former Penguin Martin Straka.

Sexton’s Take: “Dominik Simon is a late bloomer. He was a guy that played at the World Championships this year. He played a couple games with (Jaromir) Jagr and played well. He looked comfortable. Outscored and out-performed many NHL players that were there. We’re excited about him.”

Name: Frederik Tiffels
Selection: 6th round (167th overall)
Position: LW
Height: 6-0
Weight: 192
Amateur Team: Western Michigan (NCHC)

Notes: Born in Cologne, Germany … Played one season for the United States Hockey League with Cedar Rapids, Fargo and Muskegon … Represented Germany at the 2014- and ’15 World Junior Championships … Posted nine goals, 19 points in his freshman season with Western Michigan in 2014-15.

Sexton’s Take: “He’s got good skills. He’s a thickly built young man. He has good size. His speed is slightly above average. He plays for Andy Murray at Western Michigan so you know that he knows how to play both sides of the puck. We think we got a sleeper there. We’re pretty excited about him.”

Name: Nikita Pavlychev
Selection: 7th round (197th overall)
Position: C
Height: 6-7
Weight: 200
Amateur Team: Des Moines (USHL)

Notes: From Yaroslavl, Russia … Posted 16 points (6G-10A) and 80 penalty minutes in 42 games with Des Moines in 2014-15 … Played for Wilkes-Barre Knights with fellow Pens’ draft pick Daniel Sprong … Committed to Penn State for collegiate hockey.

Player quote: "It was really hard. I was losing hope. Thinking about what to do for next year. It turned out well. It's really awesome. Words can't explain it. It's really awesome."

Sexton’s Take: “He’s a longer term prospect. He’s big. He’s got good skill. He has some real bite to his game. His skating needs work. A longer-term prospect, but somebody that we have high hopes for.”

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