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Dubas’ Draft Philosophy Should Sound Familiar



Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Draft Lottery

Kyle Dubas knows the Pittsburgh Penguins need some significant personnel upgrades if they are to have any real hope of contending for a Stanley Cup.

He also recognizes that they’re not going to get that kind of help out of the NHL Draft next week in Nashville.

Not immediately, anyway.

Certainly not if they hold onto the 14th choice in the opening round, let alone trade down, and probably not even if Dubas would make a deal to move up in the draft order.

“I don’t think anybody we draft, especially at 14, is going to make an impact on the roster, probably — speaking just in probabilities — for another couple of years, two or three years,” he said. “At least.”

Consequently, Dubas’ draft philosophy appears to be quite similar to most of the GMs who preceded him here, and who work around the NHL, for that matter: Claim the best player available, rather than selecting a prospect to fill a particular void on the depth chart.

Most years, only a handful of prospects have a realistic hope of stepping directly into the NHL and contributing — Connor Bedard, who will go first overall to Chicago, is an example of that — so the roster needs a team has at the moment aren’t necessarily the ones it will have when players chosen Wednesday or Thursday are ready for the league.

“The (current) needs of our team, if you start to project in two or three years, are totally different,” Dubas said. “I know it’s cliche to say, ‘You take the best player available,’ but I think, especially where the organization is, in terms of the prospect pool and where the roster is at, you cannot worry about how a player may fit in two or three years. We have to get the best player we can at 14.”

It’s worth noting, though, that Dubas did not commit to sticking in that spot in the draft order, preserving the flexibility to move up or down, depending on the circumstances.

“If we can move up and acquire somebody who can really make a difference, we can do that,” he said. “We can move back to collect more draft capital and really add to the quantity of our prospects. But they have to be the best players available.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ organizational depth chart could use an infusion of young talent just about everywhere, so there’s no reason for Dubas and his staff to hone it on, say, left wingers or right-handed defensemen when they’re making their selections in Nashville.

“You’d like it to be spread, equally, when you come to the draft, with three forwards, two defense(men), a goalie … but for us, where we are right now, we have to absolutely focus on just adding the best players possible.”

Barring a trade, the Pittsburgh Penguins will have choices in the first (14th overall), third (90th), fifth (142), sixth (174) and seventh rounds (217 and 223).

Former GM Ron Hextall traded their second-round choice to Nashville for Mikael Granlund, the fourth-rounder to Montreal with Mike Matheson for Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling, their own third-rounder to Los Angeles with a 2022 third-rounder for Jeff Carter and their selection in the seventh to San Jose in the three-team deal that brought back Nick Bonino.

The Penguins got Ty Smith and a third-round pick from New Jersey in the John Marino trade last summer. Both of their seventh-rounders were acquired in trades; the higher came from Toronto with Filip Hallander in exchange for Jared McCann, the other from Florida for a seventh-round pick last year.