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New Draft Picks Visit Pittsburgh

by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins

Nathan Moon, Patrick Killeen and Nicholas D'Agostino waited their whole lives to hear their names called at the NHL Entry Draft.

It didn’t take them long to fit right in with the Penguins organization.

Two days after the Penguins selected the three at the NHL Entry Draft, the trio arrived in Pittsburgh to take part in the organization’s rookie conditioning camp along with a bevy of other Penguins prospects.

MOON LEADS THE WAY


Moon Interview
 
06-27 PODCAST: Nathan Moon with Joe Sager 

The Penguins didn’t have a first-round draft choice this year. Actually, the team didn’t have a chance to draft until the fourth round, thanks to trades made the past two seasons. When the team finally got to make a selection, it chose Moon with 120th pick.

Nathan Moon

A 5-foot-11, 179-pound center, Moon is a native of Belleville, Ontario, and spent the past two seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs. Last year, he racked up 77 points (35+42) in 68 games.

“You work your whole life to get drafted in the NHL and it was a dream come true for me to hear my name called. It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s only one step, though. The next step is to try to crack the lineup and that’s what I am going to try to do,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to be in Pittsburgh two days after I was drafted, but it’s a great feeling to be here meeting all the guys. I am going to try to learn from the older guys and do what they do since they have been here before. I am just trying to soak everything in while I am here.

“This is great just to get your feet wet and see what’s going on in this organization. This organization is great. I had a chance to talk to some people early on and they told me if I have a chance to play, I just need to go with it because they’ll give me every chance to play. They let their young guys earn a chance to perform. So, I am just going to try to do that.”

Moon was a fast riser this season. He moved up the NHL’s Central Scouting rankings from No. 118 at the mid-term listings in January to No. 74 on the final list in late April.

“I am an offensive player. I like to put the puck in the net. I have great vision, great mindset; I’m a great faceoff guy; I can be a key contributor in all situations. My playmaking ability is pretty good,” he said. “I’ll do anything I can to help my team win, whether that means going down on the ice in the last minute of the game to block a shot or something else. I am willing to do that to help the team win.

“After my first year, I just wanted to improve in my second year. I thought I did a pretty great job at that. This season, I am going to try to do a great job taking another step and producing even more and taking on a bigger leadership role in all situations.”

Moon played against Penguins prospects Dustin Jeffrey and Luca Caputi, both 2007 draft choices, in the OHL. The two were among the league’s top scorers last year, so it was nice for Moon to be on the same team as the two this time around.

“Caputi had a great year last year; he was one of the leading scorers in the league. The same goes for Jeffrey,” Moon said. “They lit us up every time they played us, but I just want to do the same thing as they did and take another step in my career and hopefully go from there.”

The success of the Penguins and their farm team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton makes Moon excited to be a part of the organization.

“Both teams made it to the finals this year. Too bad they didn’t win, but they went on great runs and they are going to be great for years to come,” he said. “Pittsburgh is still young with Crosby, Malkin and Staal up the middle, Fleury in net and the list goes on. Wilkes-Barre has some really good guys coming up, too, and they are going to be great. I just hope I can crack the lineup in the next couple years.”

KILLEEN FILLS UP THE NET
Killeen Interview
 
06-27 PODCAST: Patrick Killeen with Joe Sager 

Killeen was the second goaltender the Penguins chose in the draft – Russian Alexander Pechurski was the first and he did not attend the camp in Pittsburgh – but Killeen is certainly the biggest.

Patrick Killeen

Listed at 6-4, 194 lbs., Killen, a sixth-round pick (180th overall) had a solid rookie season with Brampton in the OHL. He posted a 20-9-2 record with one shutout for the Battalion and was second among OHL rookies with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.

“My year went pretty well. I got thrown into a couple games right at the start because the other goaltender was injured. It ended up turning into a pretty good season and it was pretty productive and I am happy with it,” he said. “I played eight games with Brampton two years ago, so there wasn’t a huge adjustment, but it was definitely important to get the speed and everything down. It’s going to be another jump again to make it to this level.”

A native of Almonte, Ont., this year’s draft in Ottawa was even more special since he lives so close.

“It was great. I just showed up at the draft; it was a short 10-minute drive from my house and it turned out exactly the way I expected it,” he said. “It couldn’t have happened any better than coming to a great organization like this. Pittsburgh is a beautiful city and I am really excited to be here.”

Killeen tries to utilize his big frame as much as possible between the pipes, but doesn’t limit himself to one certain style.

“I like to do a little bit of everything, but pretty much anything to stop the puck. I like to use my size, but I don’t let that inhibit my speed,” he said. “It’s really important, especially in the new NHL nowadays, that you have foot speed, regardless of if you’re big or small. With the size of the equipment going down again most likely, it’s going to be important for me to work on that.”

The Penguins’ conditioning camp has provided a solid place to gauge where Killeen needs to be and things he needs to improve upon heading into the fall.

“I have played against a couple of these guys, but it’s nice to see the size and strength and determination you need to have to make it to this level,” he said. “It’s nice to be here to meet some people, make some friends and show them what I can do. It’s all about working hard and trying to be the best you can be. I just want to improve anything I can possibly do and give myself the best chance of getting to the next level.”

D’AGOSTINO ON DEFENSE
D'Agostino Interview
 06-27 PODCAST: Nick D'Agostino with Joe Sager 

D’Agostino was the Penguins’ last draft pick, but certainly not the least.

Selected in the seventh round (210th overall), the 6-1, 177-pound blueliner had 23 points (5+18 in 46 games this past season with the St. Michael’s Buzzers in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League, a Tier-II Junior A league.

Nicholas D'Agostino

“It’s a great honor to have your name called on that day. Throughout the Penguins organization and even the whole NHL, anything can happen, in terms of late draft picks. So, I am just going to come out here and work hard,” he said. “I am still soaking it in now. It hasn’t completely sunk in that I was drafted into the NHL. Just coming here and meeting the coaching staff and the guys is great. I am absorbing everything every day.”

D’Agostino focuses on playing an all-around game.

“I think I am a two-way defenseman. I like to contribute at both ends of the rink,” he said. “First and foremost, you have to take care of your own end. But, I like to contribute offensively. I am not a big goal scorer, but I’ll jump in the play and try to create offense. That’s what I like to do.”

He plans to play for St. Michael’s again this season and, by staying in the OPJHL, he remains eligible to compete in NCAA hockey. He has given a verbal commitment to Cornell University and plays to attend the institution starting in the 2009-10 season.

“I am going back to St. Michael’s for another year of junior. I want to be a big impact guy on my team,” he said. “There is always tons of room for improvement. I want to get stronger and more conditioned. I want to work on my skating and my shot. We are working hard both on the ice and off the ice. The staff here will tell you want you need to work on and you take that back home and then come back next year and prove to them you’ve been working hard and you want to make this team in the future.”

This is D’Agostino’s first visit to Pittsburgh and he’s been impressed.

“It’s a great city,” he said. “It’s nice that we were blessed with good weather. Everybody, from the prospects to the players to the citizens of Pittsburgh, has been so welcoming and so nice. It’s been a great experience.”

The Penguins’ success at the NHL and AHL levels makes D’Agostino especially happy to be part of the organization.

“The success of both teams in the playoffs just speaks volumes about the Pittsburgh organization,” he said. “They have a great core of young players here. Both of these teams are going to be good for a while, so I am just extremely pleased to be a part of this.”

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