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Penguins Add Six Players to the Organization at the 2017 NHL Draft

Pens load up on defensive prospects for second-straight year

by Pittsburgh Penguins @penguins / Media Release

General manager Jim Rutherford's scouting staff added six players to the organization's prospect pool on Saturday, beginning with defenseman Zachary Lauzon.

For the second-straight year, the Penguins chose four defensemen. Over the past two drafts, eight of the 12 players selected by Pittsburgh have been blueliners. 

Pittsburgh made Lauzon, who won the Kevin Lowe Trophy as the best defensive defenseman in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, its first pick with the 51st overall selection of the second round.

Lauzon, whose profile can be viewed here, wasn't the only blueliner added to the Pens' stable on the back end. The Penguins also went with a defenseman with their second choice, nabbing American-born Clayton Phillips in the third round (93rd overall). Later, the club added Finn Antti Palojarvi in the sixth round (186th overall) and William Reilly with the final pick of the draft in the seventh round (217th overall).

In Round 5, the Penguins chose a pair of European forwards. Slovenian-born Jan Drozg was selected with the 152nd pick, followed by Swedish native Linus Olund at 155th overall.

Phillips, 17, spent the past season with Fargo in the United States Hockey League. He was named to that circuit's All-Rookie Team after compiling 20 points (7G-13A) in 56 games. Phillips is slated to join the University of Minnesota, where he was recruited by Mike Guentzel, father of the Pens' Jake Guentzel.

A 5-10, 180-pound blueliner, Phillips was ranked 72nd overall among all prospects by The Hockey News, which described him as a "smart, puck-moving D-man made for (the) modern NHL." The Edina, Minnesota native was the 99th-ranked North American prospect by NHL Central Scouting. This year, he suited up for Team USA at both the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the World Junior-A Challenge.

Drozg, 18, enjoyed a stellar offensive season in 2016-17 competing for several clubs in Leksand's minor-league system in the Swedish League. In a combined total of 39 games split between three different leagues, he had 22 goals, 32 assists and 54 points.

Drozg, who stands 6-foot, 174 pounds, and hails from Maribor, Slovenia, starred for Slovenia at both the Under-18 and Under-20 World Junior Championships, both of which Slovenia competed in the 'B' division. In the U-18 tournament, Drozg helped Slovenia take gold, winning "Best Forward" and "Top Player on Team" honors after leading the tournament in assists (8), points (13) and faceoff percentage (83.3%).

Back in 2016, Drozg also won "Best Forward" and "Top Player on Team" U-18 WJC 'B' division honors, producing three goals and seven points, with a 71.6% faceoff percentage, in five games. Drozg is the only two-time winner of the "Best Forward" award in the 'B' division of the U-18 WJC.

Olund, 20, was the 57th-ranked European skater this year by NHL Central Scouting. A native of Gavle, Sweden, Olund just finished his second year skating with Brynas in Sweden's top professional league. He had eight goals, 15 points and was plus-9 in 39 regular-season games. Olund broke out offensively in the playoffs, contributing 10 points (6G-4A) in 20 postseason contests, as Brynas finished as the league's runner-up. 

During the 2016-17 campaign, Olund also skated in 12 games with Brynas' minor-league club, registering 17 points (8G-9A). Olund served as captain of Brynas' minor-league club in '15-16, where he finished as the team's second-leading scorer with 34 points (18G-16A) despite skating in only 27 contests. 

Olund was an alternate captain for Sweden's entry into the 2015 Under-18 World Junior Championship, picking up five assists in five games. That same year, he made his Swedish Hockey League (top league) debut at age 18.

Pittsburgh further enhanced its defensive depth in the sixth round when it chose the 6-foot-1, 176-pound Palojarvi from Kuovola, Finland with the 186th-overall selection. He split the season between minor-league clubs for Lukko of the Finnish League, compiling 14 points (1G-13A) in 52 games. Palojarvi also logged action with Finland's national team throughout the season.

Reilly, 19, brings size to the group of prospects added on defense, as the Toronto, Ontario native stands 6-foot-2, 197 pounds. He just completed his freshman season at RPI of the ECAC, where he had 15 points (2G-13A) and 68 penalty minutes in 35 contests.

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