The final mock drafts are posted and the teams are having their final discussions. The 2019 NHL Draft first round is tonight and the Pittsburgh Penguins have a pick for the first time since 2017. The Penguins traded that pick and haven’t selected in the first round since 2014 when they nabbed Kasperi Kapanen. Every year some players fall and a few are surprised by that call as they make the walk to the draft floor to meet their new team and pose for pictures in their new team sweater.
NHL.com has released its mock draft for 2019, and their consensus was the Penguins will be looking for offense, but the three polled draft experts disagree from which position they will seek it. Staff writers Adam Kimelman, Mike Morreale and Guillaume Lepage each a took shot at predicting who the Penguins will select, and we will explore what they can provide in the Black and Gold.
Earlier this week longtime QMJHL scout and current team consultant Simon Boisvert dropped insider knowledge about one of the prospects below and offered his candid opinions on the candidates which should be available for the Penguins with the 21st overall pick.
Today we’ve analyzed the three names put forth by the NHL website. I’ve combined my analysis and video work with consensus opinions to form a look at three more potential Penguins draft picks.
Raphael Lavoie, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
Adam Kimmelman of NHL.com likes Lavoie. He plays a responsible two-way game and is a versatile option with experience on both wing and center. He’s brawny below the circles and makes smart decisions with the puck. His stock has benefited from strong showings in both the World U18 Hockey Championships and CHL playoffs. Lavoie led Team Canada with five goals and collected 19 goals and 29 points in 19 games for Halifax in the postseason. The combination of size and scoring touch makes Lavoie an attractive target for the Penguins, but he will have to find consistency and work on his skating to be effective in the NHL.
The knock on Lavoie is that he takes nights off. It’s a severe knock, and Boisvert would avoid the player. You can read more about Boisvert’s take on him here.
Although Lavoie remains listed at center, it is more likely he ends up on the wing and may be suited for more of an offensive style than a two-way approach. Here is a taste of what Lavoie can do.
Morreale – Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (GER):
At 18, Seider won the rookie of the year award while helping Mannheim to the German league championship. He also had a strong performance for Germany at the World Championship while playing with and against current NHL players. At 6’3 and 208 lbs, he has the frame to have a physical edge to his game but will have to work on conditioning and build lean muscle. The offensive upside of Seider is what the majority of teams are salivating at and should be the main tools he rides to an NHL opportunity. The lack of a large sample size in the DEL and the league’s history of producing talent might scare some teams off but it is also possible he could be drafted in the top ten. The Penguins have a history of drafting offensive-minded defenders although their recent selections. If the Penguins select Seider, he will undoubtedly be a student in the Sergei Gonchar School of Defense. Here is what the big German can do:
Bobby Brink, RW, Sioux City (USHL)
The 17-year-old forward averaged 1.58 points per game in the USHL, most among any player with at least 25 games and looks like the most well rounded of the draft-eligible forwards. At times Brink was an offensive hurricane, blowing through defenders and chalking up points, but he does have flaws. At a generous 5’10, the question of size might diminish the offensive gifts he has, but the highlights are electric no doubt. Brink will also have to work on his skating, but it seems teams are not too concerned with it’s development. He’ll play next season at the University of Denver which will provide the opportunity of better opposition and the whetstone to correct his two evident critiques. The Penguins should love the offensive poise and fans will fantasize about him on Crosby’s wing, but it might be sometime before he makes an impact at the NHL level. Given the necessary time and support, Brink could continue the legacy of “little engines that could” like Johnny Gaudreau and Martin St. Louis.
All this talk could be null and void, however, if the Penguins decide to trade their first-round pick like years prior. PHN’s Dan Kingerski reported GM Jim Rutherford would be open to the possibility. The first round is Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS); Rounds 2-7 are Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).