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Key Dates for the Pittsburgh Penguins Offseason

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Here's a look at what's on the calendar for the Pittsburgh Penguins this summer.

May 8: 2023 NHL Draft Lottery

The Penguins did not have a shot at landing the top overall pick and the right to draft Connor Bedard, who is expected to become a generational talent. That honor went to the Chicago Blackhawks, who entered the event with the second-best odds behind the Anaheim Ducks.

Tweet from @PensInsideScoop: Connor Bedard, on the player he idolizes:���It���s always been Sidney Crosby."

The draft lottery participants were ranked from fewest regular-season points to most, and Pittsburgh had the third-best record amongst those teams, which put them at 14th. They had a slight chance of moving up 10 slots, which is the maximum amount a team can jump, but that is where they remained when it was all said and done. This will be Pittsburgh's highest first-round pick since they had the eighth overall selection back in 2012, and drafted Derrick Pouliot.

More details on the NHL Draft Lottery rules can be found here.

May 12-28: IIHF World Championship

The Penguins haven't had a lot of representation here over the years, as the timing coincides with the Stanley Cup Playoffs - but there will be more players going to Tampere, Finland and Riga, Latvia this spring.

Nick Bonino, Drew O'Connor and Casey DeSmith are on Team USA's roster (full details here). Bonino, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh who won bronze at the tournament in 2018 and '15, is serving as captain for this year's squad.

P.O Joseph is representing Canada for the first time on an international level (full details here).

And Alex Nylander - who signed a one-year contract to remain with the Penguins on April 29 - is playing for Sweden. 

Other countries should be announcing their rosters in the coming days.

June 4-10: NHL Scouting Combine

This event showcases the top draft-eligible prospects from North America and Europe. Staff members from each NHL team will travel to Buffalo - which has been the host city since 2015 - for a few days of interviews, medical assessments and physical fitness tests.

The interviews take place in the first part of the week, and they give the scouting staff an opportunity to put faces with names and dig a little deeper into players' personalities.

"You can't really get to know a player in 20 minutes, but you put together the 1-on-1 interview with each regional scout during the year and this interview in more of a group setting, and try to get the best feel for the kid you possibly can," Penguins director of amateur scouting Nick Pryor said at last year's combine.

The combine ends with a battery of about seven fitness tests that generate an overall profile for the athlete. Penguins strength and conditioning coach Alex Trinca explained that it helps the Penguins determine if these prospects have the raw materials or capabilities that can be developed over time by training and performing to ideally get to the NHL level.

June 26: NHL Awards

The NHL Awards kick off a busy week in Nashville for the league, as this is the first year that the ceremony and the draft will be hosted at the same location: Bridgestone Arena. Typically, the awards are held in Vegas, while the host city for the draft changes each year.

Kris Letang is Pittsburgh's nominee for the Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. The three finalists will be announced on Tuesday, May 9.

Read more about how Letang came back stronger than ever after suffering a stroke, the second of his lifetime, and dealing with the passing of his father … all in the span of a couple months.

June 28-29: NHL Draft

As of now, the Penguins have six total selections in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Round 1 is set to begin at 7 PM on Wednesday, June 28, where the Penguins are picking 14th (as outlined above in the Draft Lottery section).

Rounds 2-7 are scheduled for Thursday, June 28, starting at 11 AM. The Penguins have a third-round pick (94th overall); a fifth-round pick (142nd overall); a sixth-round pick (174th overall); and two seventh-round picks (209th and 221st overall).

July 1: Free agency begins

For the first time since 2019, free agency will open at 12 PM on its usual date, July 1. 

There are a few notable names set to become unrestricted free agents, including Tristan Jarry, Jason Zucker and Brian Dumoulin. I went into detail about their situations here.

The other players on that list include forwards Nick Bonino, Danton Heinen and Josh Archibald, and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

Ryan Poehling and Drew O'Connor are restricted free agents, which means their initial entry-level contracts have run out, but they have yet to accrue seven seasons or are younger than 27 years old. The Penguins will have a deadline to extend them Qualifying Offers.

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