Connect with us


Penguins Reach Into Europe for Most Late-Round Picks



Mikhail Ilya

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mikhail Ilyin didn’t make it to the NHL Draft, where the Pittsburgh Penguins selected him in the fifth round Thursday.

That doesn’t mean that he won’t be spending time in North America at some point in the future, however.

Ilyin, 18, is a 6-foot, 181-pound forward who had no goals and two assists in 21 games with Severstal Cherepovets in the KHL in 2022-23 to go with four goals and 22 assists in 28 appearances with the Cherepovets junior team.

He is considered a solid, but unspectacular prospect, who plays a good two-way game but, at this stage of his development, is prone to spasms of inconsistency.

“Mikhail, we view as a really smart, 200-foot center,” said Nick Pryor, the Penguins’ director of amateur scouting. “Makes a lot of plays. A pass-first mindset. He’s really diligent with and without the puck. He’s one of those guys who makes those around him better, makes his wingers better.”

The Penguins’ sixth-rounder, Ottawa 67’s center Cooper Foster, had 19 goals and 17 assists in 63 games. He is 5-foot-11, 172 pounds

He plays a blue-collar, 200-foot game and is a capable penalty-killer.

“We really like his sense, on both sides of the puck,” Pryor said. “And then we feel that there’s skill and offensive production that are untapped at this time and when more opportunity comes his way, he’ll be able to take advantage of it.”

The first of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ two seventh-round selections was used on Finnish left winger Emil Jarventie, who is smallish but skilled.

He is 5-foot-10, 167 pounds and had one goal in 14 games with SalPa Lappeeranta in Finland’s top league, SM-liiga. Jarventie added four goals and three assists in 19 games for KooVee Tampere of Mestis, his country’s second-best league.

“Undersized winger,” Pryor said. “Offensive-minded. Really shoots the puck and really good in the offensive zone. For him, it’s going to be about rounding out the other parts of his game. But we felt that, at the point where we got him, it was good to take a chance on a guy who had that offensive instincts and offensive parts of his game.”

The Penguins saved their biggest pick of the day for their final selection, claiming Finnish defenseman Kalle Kangar with the penultimate selection in the draft.

He is 6-foot-4, 196 pounds and put up one goal and eight assists in 42 games with the Jokerit Under-20 team in Finland.

“Big defenseman,” Pryor said. “Extremely hard to play against. His skating is going to need to improve. He can move the puck. … He’s one of those guys who makes it hard on the other team.”