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Penguins Retain 14th Pick in Draft; Chicago Gets No. 1 Choice



Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Draft Lottery

The Pittsburgh Penguins had no more than a microscopic chance to win the NHL draft lottery Monday evening.

Probably less than that, actually.

It is no surprise, then, that in the wake of the lottery, the Penguins have retained the 14th choice in Round 1 of the draft June 28 in Nashville. They entered the lottery in that spot because they finished with the third-most points of the 16 clubs that failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The lottery’s big winner is Chicago, which came away from it with the top pick in the draft. That will give the Blackhawks the rights to Regina Pats center Connor Bedard, regarded by many scouts as a generational talent and the NHL’s most-touted prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015.

The runner-up, in every sense, is Anaheim. The Ducks finished atop a second lottery and will have the No. 2 selection in the draft.

Although Michigan center Adam Fantilli is a popular choice to be the second player selected, Swedish center Leo Carlsson and Russian winger Matvei Michkov also have their supporters.

Here is the order of selection for the Nos. 3-16

  1. Columbus

  2. San Jose

  3. Montreal

  4. Arizona

  5. Philadelphia

  6. Washington

  7. Detroit

  8. St Louis

  9. Vancouver

  10. Arizona (from Ottawa)

  11. Buffalo

  12. Pittsburgh

  13. Nashville

  14. Calgary

Because all but the most accomplished draftees generally need additional time to develop into NHL-caliber players, teams tend to draft the highest-rated player still available per their rankings, rather than to address a specific, immediate personnel need.

(Some clubs are more willing to try to fortify organizational soft spots in the later rounds of the draft, when any player selected will have to overcome steep odds to reach the NHL.)

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ prospect rankings have been compiled by a staff working under former GM Ron Hextall; whether they will stick with, tweak or abandon that list will be up to Hextall’s successor, although the latter of those options would be neither practical nor prudent.

Because teams guard their player ratings as fiercely as they would their owner’s private diary, only a tight circle of scouts (and perhaps a few executives) know precisely how the Penguins have ranked the players available in this draft.

And because there rarely is a consensus among clubs (and draftniks) about the order in which prospects should be rated, especially after the first couple of picks, there is a wide range of candidates to go around the middle of the opening round.

Here’s a sampling of the players who might be available when it is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ turn to select:

Daniil But
Position: Left wing
Team: Yaroslavl (Kontinental Hockey League)
Size: 6 foot 5, 207 pounds
2022-23 stats: 2 goals, 0 assists in 15 games

Andrew Cristall
Position: Left wing
Team: Kelowna (Western Hockey League)
Size: 5 foot 10, 167 pounds
2022-23 stats: 39 goals, 56 assists in 54 games

Nate Danielson
Position: Center
Team: Brandon (Western Hockey League)
Size: 6 foot 2, 185 pounds
2022-23 stats: 33 goals, 45 assists in 68 games

Ethan Gauthier
Position: Center/right wing
Team: Sherbrooke (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
Size: 5 foot 11, 176 pounds
2022-23 stats: 30 goals, 39 assists in 66 games

Calum Ritchie
Position: Center
Team: Oshawa (Ontario Hockey League)
Size: 6 foot 2, 185 pounds
2022-23 stats: 24 goals, 35 assists in 59 games

Axel Sandin-Pellikka
Position: Defense
Team: Skelleftea (Swedish Hockey League)
Size: 5 foot 11, 176 pounds
2022-23 stats: 2 goals, 3 assists in 22 games