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NHL Draft

Penguins’ Late Playoff Push Settles One Decision



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Remember when Kyle Dubas took the precaution of making the first-round draft the Pittsburgh Penguins sent to San Jose in the Erik Karlsson trade last summer “top-10 protected?”

Turns out that wasn’t necessary, after all.

That provision in the deal gave the Penguins the option of retaining their No. 1 pick in 2024 if they finished in the bottom 10 of the overall standings, and to instead give the Sharks their first-rounder in 2025.

The issue effectively was rendered moot Saturday when Seattle, the last bottom-10 team with a mathematical chance to overtake the Penguins, was defeated, 3-1, in Dallas.

There had been a very real possibility for quite some time that Dubas, the Penguins’ president of hockey operations and general manager, would have had to to decide whether to keep his top choice this year, but the Penguins effectively made that a non-issue by going on the 7-0-3 run they will take into their game against Boston at PPG Paints Arena Saturday night.

Barring a trade to acquire one, this will be the seventh time in 10 years that the Pittsburgh Penguins have not had a choice in the opening round of the draft. The prospects they have claimed in Round 1 during that span are forward Sam Poulin, defenseman Owen Pickering and forward Brayden Yager.