Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Pens excited about rare first-round pick

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Penguins

The Penguins have been a Stanley Cup contender every season for a dozen years. And winning a Stanley Cup sometimes takes calculated risks - like sacrificing the future to help the present. 

That usually translates to trading draft picks in the annual NHL Draft for an asset that can help the current club contend for a title. The moves have paid off, resulting in Pittsburgh winning three Stanley Cup titles in the past decade - including two in back-to-back campaigns in 2016-17. 

Pittsburgh hasn't been afraid to take a risk, particularly with its first-round pick. The Pens have shipped off their first-rounder in five of the last six years. The last time they made a first-round selection was in 2014 for Kasperi Kapanen - who was later traded along with another first-round pick in acquiring Phil Kessel from Toronto. 

But the Pens held onto their first-round pick (21st overall) for the 2019 NHL Draft, which takes place in Vancouver on June 21-22. 

"You can sense when we have a chance with a first-round pick (the scouting staff is) excited," Director of Amateur Scouting Patrik Allvin said. "When you don't have it, you sit there the first day and watch a lot of players get picked. You like them and you're not going to get a crack at them. That's part of working in the NHL in today's game, too.

"Here in Pittsburgh we want a chance to win the Stanley Cup every year. That means you give up the future a little bit, at the same time it's a challenge to be prepared and ready for any scenario."

That means the club is prepared for everything from losing that first-round pick to possibly even gaining a first-round pick and having a chance at a blue-chip prospect. Thus, the scouting staff has done its due diligence on every signal player available. And that info could come in handy later on. 

After all, even if the Pens aren't drafting in the top-10 it doesn't mean they won't have a chance to acquire those players in the future with a trade or free agency. 

"That's our job, to know all the players in every year's draft," Allvin said. "I think the more information we can get, the better off we are down the road if we can steal a player from another organization that we really liked at a young age and maybe has been struggling a little bit and maybe have a chance to get him later on. I encourage all our scouts to meet all the players in the draft."

A lot can change between now and the draft. But if everything holds, the Pens feel they will get a strong prospect in that 21 position. 

"We want to bring in a good player that can contribute sooner than later," Allvin said. "Picking 21 is hard. You hope that some of the players that you have listed higher will fall through and you get lucky. I think the other teams ahead of us will dictate who we're going to get at 21. 

"At this point I do think that this year's draft is actually pretty good. I think there are a lot of good players in this year's draft. There a lot of good players up top and a lot of good players on the backend of the draft."

The Pens' drafting philosophy isn't to draft to fill what the team is lacking, but to take the best possible player available. 

"I don't think you necessarily pick for a need right now because that could change," Allvin said. "You want to have the best player up, but the best player has to fit the identity and culture of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"But in order to play in today's game you have to have a skillset, too. Hopefully, the fans and you guys can say that we can see and appreciate what a Penguin player is."

The Pens currently do not have a second- or third-round pick in the draft. Meaning they'll really need to make that first-round selection count. It also means that they'll have to make those late-round picks count. 

But the scouting staff has done the hard work and research. Soon the time will come to execute. 

"We have a model in place, an identity in place of a player for the Pittsburgh Penguins," Allvin said. "I want my guys to be prepared for any scenario. You never know.

"Here with the Pittsburgh Penguins a lot of things can happen that draft week. Our staff is very prepared for every year."

View More