The Pens ended up with six picks in the 2016 NHL Draft, none of them coming in the first round. After taking a goaltender and a forward with their two second-round picks, the Pens proceeded to select defensemen with their final four choices.
"We’re delighted," director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton. "We came into the draft knowing there was a very slim chance at getting a first-round pick, but we felt because of the depth of this year’s draft that we would be able to get first-round talent in the second round and we believe that was the case."
It started with Filip Gustavsson, who Sexton and his staff believed was the best netminder in the entire draft. And while general manager Jim Rutherford had leaned more towards taking defensemen at that point, they just couldn't pass on the young Swede – and Sexton said he won't be disappointed.
"I think when Jimmy has a chance to see him next week at development camp he’s going to be pretty happy," Sexton said with a smile. "Jim’s incredibly supportive. We walked him through our whole list and we laid out where we thought we could get some D-men. We talked about trading up but in our opinion the D-men that were available to trade up were of marginally better than the guys we thought we could get and we just didn’t think it was worth losing a pick or two to get someone who’s marginally better. He supported us in that."
Here’s a quick look at each selection, coupled with a scouting report from Sexton.
Name: Filip Gustavsson
Selection: 2nd round (55th overall)
Amateur Team: Lulea Jr. (Sweden Jr.)Notes
: Gustavsson was one of three junior-aged goaltenders to suit up in the Swedish Hockey League in 2015-16, winning four of six appearances for Lulea ... Backstopped Team Sweden to medals at a number of major international events, including silver at the U-18 Championship where he was named Top Goaltender. Red Line Report
: So calm and relaxed in net – composed and exudes confidence. Team plays differently when he's in net – gives his 'mates confidence that he will bail them out on mistakes. Very good at getting low to absorb low shots, leaving no rebounds – soft pads. Great flexibility to get across crease quickly and cover far side post. Economical in his movements. Always manages to get squared up to shooters, even when moving cross-crease on his knees. Resets quickly for second shots. Takes away the lower half with an effective paddle-down style, but plays too much on his knees – needs to cover top corners better. Technically sound and always in position. Anticipates well and never has to get scrambly. Excellent directing shots to the corner with blocker. Finds pucks through traffic. Challenges when necessary. Doesn't play the puck much and doesn't handle it well when he does.Sexton’s Take:
"Our first pick, Filip Gustavsson, was in our opinion the best goalie in the draft. I think when our fans and particularly Jimmy has a chance to see him next week at development camp (they're) going to be pretty happy. He’s a technically very strong goalie, he’s got tremendous rebound control and tremendous poise and mental toughness. He didn’t play on the greatest junior team in Sweden, their national team was just okay. But he helped them win several medals in the tournaments over the course of the season because of his outstanding play."
Name: Kasper Bjorkvist
Selection: 2nd round (61st overall)
Amateur Team: Blues Jr. (Finland Jr.)Notes
: Represented Finland in several international tournaments, including the WJC Championship, 4-Nations Tournament, U-18 World Championship and Ivan Hlinka ... Posted 21 points (9G-12A) in 21 games for the Blues U-18 team in Finland ... Friend and former teammate of fellow Pens' selection Niclas Almari. Sexton’s Take
: "We saw Kasper play at the World Juniors. He had a fourth-line role there; he’ll have a significantly more prominent role this year. He’s going to be playing at Providence College. We think he’s a year or two away from being ready to turn pro. He’s physically very strong, he’s got great hockey sense, his overall skillset is very, very strong."
Selection: 3rd round (77th overall)
Amateur Team: Kitchener (OHL)Notes
: Plays for head coach and former Penguins Jay McKee in Kitchener ... Posted 49 PIMs in 39 games in 2015-16. Sexton’s Take
: "Connor Hall, our third-round pick, is kind of a throwback, old-style NHL defenseman. He’s got good size, he skates very well. His puck skills are solid and he plays with a lot of aggression. Very, very physically aggressive defenseman."
Name: Ryan Jones
Selection: 4th round (121st overall)
Amateur Team: Lincoln (USHL)Notes
: Set career highs in assists (27), points (30) and PIMs (112) in 2015-16 with Lincoln. Sexton’s Tak
e: "Ryan played in the USHL, he’s been through the draft a couple of times, little bit of a late bloomer, 6-foot-3, he’s extremely mobile like Hall and plays with a real edge. He’s going to be going to the University of Nebraska-Omaha next year."
Name: Niclas Almari
Selection: 5th round (151st overall)
Amateur Team: Jokerit Jr. (Finland Jr.)Notes
: Played for Blues and Jokerit of the Finnish Junior League ... Represented his country at the U-18 5 Nations Tournament ... Friend and former teammate of Kasper Bjorkqvist. Sexton’s Take
: "Almari is a little bit like Oskar Sundqvist from a physical perspective. Tall but very lean. Oskar is in year 4 of the development program and kind of close to knocking on the door. Almari will be the same. He’s tall, but he’s very slender, very lean. He’s an excellent skater, he’s real smooth-skating, puck-moving transitional type D-man. Don’t know if he’ll ever play on our power play, maybe in a secondary nature. But certainly a mobile puck-moving, transitional type D-man."
Name: Joseph Masonius
Selection: 6th round (181st overall)
Amateur Team: University of Connecticut (Hockey East)Notes
: Sexton’s Take
: "Extremely mobile. Not quite the same size as Ryan or Connor Hall, but very mobile. His puck skills are fine. And he also plays with some bite. It was a great example of a kid who played at the U.S. development program, was buried a bit behind some of the higher-end guys two years ago but when he got to Hockey East in UConn this year he had the opportunity to play a more prominent role and play with a lot of confidence and was really their go-to guy on the backend as a freshman."