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Penguins Draft Potentials: 3 Prospects to Watch, One BIG Center

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Dean Letourneau, St, Andrew's College
Dean Letourneau: Photo Courtesy of St. Andrew's College

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a team trying to keep its competitiveness while letting its GM, Kyle Dubas, build up the farm system in the background. The only problem is that the Penguins don’t have a first-round pick this year, so their first pick has to have some upside and be a player with some first-round skills who could still be selected 44th overall. Having the 46th overall pick means they can go offense and defense if they like, and that’s what I would do.

Editor’s note: The story was written by prospects expert Russ Cohen, who can be heard on Sirius/XM radio’s NHL channel and NHLDraftbuzz.com. Follow him on X, @sportsology

A definite target in the 2024 NHL Draft should be Dean Letourneau. He’s a talented center with size and skill. At 6-foot-6.5 and 214 pounds, he is a big canvas that the Penguins can mold over time. After getting 61 goals and 66 assists in 56 games at St. Andrews College, 40 minutes north of Toronto, he explained to me what the competition was like.

“On our team this year, we only had 2006s and 2007s. The competition we played against was older guys. We played against some junior teams and GOJHL, so it ranges from 16 to 19 or 20,” Letourneau explained. “I think we played 10 or 12 games against them, and we were undefeated. For the rest of the season, we played against one or two Canadian prep schools, but we mostly played against teams in the states like Shattuck-St. Mary and Culver. I like playing against the GOJHL teams; they are a little older and hit harder.”

You may know that Shattuck-St. Mary is where Sidney Crosby attended school before joining Rimouski of the QMJHL.

The Penguins spoke to the big pivot, and he would be something they lack in their system. Sure, there is some risk here, but this guy could end up being a second-line center.

Prospect 1 Scouting Report: Dean Letourneau

My scouting report on Letourneau is:

“Big, skilled, decent speed via his crossovers. Has some finesse. He will use his body. Dangerous around the net.”

He announced at the NHL Combine that he would be attending Boston College a year earlier. So 2024 will be a big year for him in college hockey. He was going to go to the USHL first; he played two games there this year, but things changed when San Jose’s Will Smith left Boston College to turn pro. There will be a great chance for Letourneau to grab a key roster spot. Letourneau was happy with his performance at the Combine as well.

“I did pull-ups, think I did pretty well,” Letourneau said as he smiled. “I did five, I have some long arms.”

He’s not wrong. It’s hard for a big man like that to do a ton of pull-ups, but it showed he was training hard for the combine. An injury ended his season, but he came back even stronger when all the scouts were watching him.

Draft Prospect 2: Harrison Brunicke

One defenseman they could get with the 46th pick is Harrison Brunicke, who played for the Kamloops Blazers. He’s a right-shot and has a ton of upside. His 21 points in 49 games might be the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s my scouting report on him:

“He has size, he’s toolsy, and he has a quick release on his one-timer. He’s a good skater with the patience to see a play develop. He’s good defensively. A top-four defenseman.”

Draft Prospect 3: John Mustard

A third choice could be John Mustard. Even though the Penguins didn’t interview him at the combine, they may have spoken to him during the season. If he falls to 46, they may find him too appealing to leave on the board.

Mustard scored 56 points in 60 games for the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL. In the All-American Game this year, he used his speed to score the game-winning goal.

He chose Providence College and coach Nate Leaman, who has coached other Penguins prospects, including Kasper Bjorkqvist. Mustard should excel there.

“The coaching staff is the first one that had a lot of interest in me,” Mustard revealed. “It’s a spot where I can learn a pro-style game.”

Here is my scouting report on him:

“He has exceptional speed and a quick release on his shot. Probably a third-line weapon could be a second-liner if things break right.”

Any two of these three would be good gets in the Penguins draft class.