The Pittsburgh Penguins will participate in their first NHL Draft Lottery since 2006 Monday. The balls start bouncing at 8 p.m. ET.
They would have been in the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery had former GM Jim Rutherford not shuttled the 15th overall pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Kasperi Kapanen. And as PHN noted Sunday, the last few times the Penguins were in the lottery, things worked out pretty well with Evgeni Malkin (2004), Sidney Crosby (2005), and Jordan Staal (2006).
The Penguins will most likely retain the 14th pick in the draft, but pending the bounce of the ping-pong balls, there is a 1.5% chance they leap to the fourth overall pick.
While the hockey world awaits the landing destination of Connor Bedard, we can look at recent history for what to expect from the coming Penguins draft.
In 2022, the Seattle Kraken selected Shane Wright fourth overall. Wright stared down the Montreal Canadiens table after Montreal passed on Wright, the presumed No. 1 pick.
This season, Wright struggled through eight NHL games before being sent back to juniors. He played eight games in the AHL and posted six points, and his career path is still being written.
The Winnipeg Jets selected Rutger McGroarty 14th overall. This season, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound freshman RW lit up the Big 10 at Michigan with a point per game and is seen as a legitimate top-six NHL forward in waiting.
The draft was not as deep in 2021. The New Jersey Devils snagged Jack Hughes’s sibling Luke Hughes with the fourth overall pick. Hughes, a defenseman, had two points in two NHL games this season, then roasted the competition at the University of Michigan with 48 points in 39 games.
The Buffalo Sabres used the 14th overall pick to select RW Isak Rosen from Leksands IF of the Swedish Elite League. This season was Rosen’s first in North America, and he had 37 points (14-23-37) in 66 games with the AHL’s Rochester Americans. He didn’t play in the NHL.
In 2020, the Detroit Red Wings got an absolute steal at No. 4 when they selected Lucas Raymond. Alex Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield were the top two picks. Whoops. Raymond had 57 points in his rookie year and 45 points this season.
At 14th overall, the Edmonton Oilers took versatile forward Dylan Holloway. He lacks high-end scoring talent but can play all three forward positions and has a complete game. Holloway made his NHL debut this season and played 51 games but scored only nine points (3-6-9). He also spent time in the AHL.
In 2019, the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Sam Poulin 21st overall. Earlier in the draft, big names and big talent came off the board quickly. The Colorado Avalanche selected Bo Byram fourth overall. Concussions and injuries have limited him to just 91 NHL games, but he scored 24 points (10-14-24) in 42 games this season.
At 14th overall in 2019, Penguins fans might thank their stars that Ron Hextall is no longer GM. With the Philadelphia Flyers, Hextall selected Cam York at 14th overall, passing up Cole Caufield, Alex Newhook, and Peytok Krebbs.
While York has struggled to stick at the NHL level, “Goal “Caufield is a top-six winger in Montreal and will be for some time. Alex Newhook is finding his way in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche as a bottom-six center, as is Peyton Krebbs with the Buffalo Sabres (traded from Vegas to Buffalo in the Jack Eichel deal).
In 2018, Brady Tkachuk was the fourth overall pick by the Ottawa Senators. He’s had an undeniably solid career so far, scoring 30 and 35 goals in the last two seasons, respectively.
Hextall got it right in 2018 when he selected Joel Farabee 14th overall, who has played 252 NHL games. The three players immediately following Farabee have played a combined 205 games (Grigori Denisenko, Martin Kraut, and current Penguins farmhand Ty Smith).
But lest you think Hextall was doing OK, we’ll finish with 2017. With the second overall pick, the Philadelphia Flyers enraged Sr. advisor Bobby Clarke by taking Nolan Patrick. The Colorado Avalanche snagged Cale Makar with the fourth pick.
Makar is an elite defenseman and a perennial Norris favorite.
The Tampa Bay Lightning probably missed when they selected Callen Foote (TB) at 14. The large defenseman has played more than 35 games in an NHL season only once in four years and was frequently a healthy scratch in Tampa Bay before being traded to Nashville at the 2023 NHL trade deadline as part of the Tanner Jeannot deal.
In a statistical oddity of the 2017 NHL Draft, players selected 19-27 were more successful than the players taken ahead of them. The list includes Josh Norris, Robert Thomas, Filip Chytil, Kyler Yamamoto, Penguins defenseman P.O Joseph, and Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger.
The Canadiens took Ryan Poehling 25th overall.
Many teams are making their GM available to the media following the lottery, which will take place at the NHL Network studios in New Jersey. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins don’t yet have the luxury of knowing who will make the selection at four or 14.