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Penguins Recap: Signings, Draft Picks, Trade Rumors and Analysis

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The NHL expansion draft and the 2021 NHL Draft are over, but teams will not get a breather as the NHL free-agent frenzy begins on Wednesday. Teams now have a clear picture of their situation, and we have a clearer picture of who is better and who is worse. The Draft weekend had some clear winners, including some in the Metro Division, while the Pittsburgh Penguins moved along on their own path with a few solid picks, a “show-me” deal, and sources tipped off PHN on what’s to come for the Penguins.

It was a wild weekend, and here’s everything you missed unless you read all 12 stories on PHN.

Sources told PHN what to expect in the coming weeks, including the Penguins trade hopes and what holes they’re specifically trying to fill.

Some secondary sources put the Penguins’ name on the trade-rumor list for Arizona’s Christian Dvorak. We haven’t detected anything serious there, just as we didn’t detect anything serious regarding Marcus Pettersson or Jason Zucker leading into the draft.

The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t pick until Round Two (58th overall). GM Ron Hextall and Director of Player Personnel Chris Pryor visited their favorite hunting grounds–the USHL for Tristan Broz.

Here’s the analysis of the pick. 

Broz said the NHL is his goal. Even though he’s headed to the University of Minnesota, he’ll leave when the Penguins feel he’s ready. The young man has some personality. He grew up in Minnesota but became a Penguins fan because “The Wild were a boring team, boring to watch, and I had to take my fandom elsewhere.” Never change, kid. 

Before the draft, the Penguins signed former prospect Kasper Bjorkqvist, who hasn’t yet distinguished himself in North America, but he had a pretty good season in Finland. So, he earned him another shot with the Penguins on a one-year, two-way deal. 

The Penguins didn’t pick again until the fifth round. Consider this a bit of criticism or questioning; draft picks were being traded with frequency and ease, but the Penguins didn’t acquire any additional picks. There was some real meat on the bone in the third and fourth round. Given the Penguins’ empty prospects cupboard, that seems to be a missed opportunity.

Pryor gave a pretty thorough accounting, including “an edge to his game,” of fifth-round pick Isaac Belliveau out of the QMJHL. 

And the Penguins picked up three prospects in the seventh round. Ordinarily, a seventh-round pick would be a player never-to-be-heard-from again. However, the pandemic delayed development and access for many prospects, which made this year’s final rounds both difficult to assess and full of talent.

The Pittsburgh Penguins got a couple of raw players for whom they have hopes of meeting in the future, including a Russian center who played in Evgeni Malkin’s hockey hometown. 

Analysis: 

The Penguins didn’t get better. They didn’t create cap space, nor did they add assets. Perhaps one or a few draft picks will become useful NHL players; Belliveau and Broz have solid chances.

The Tristan Broz pick was interesting as a few players with first-round grades fell to them, such as Swedish winger Simon Robertsson who scouts believe had the best wrister in the draft. Pryor and Hextall have a good draft record so there is every reason to believe they made a good choice, but they also could have traded down for Broz.

Hextall certainly is a patient, straight-laced GM.

This was the approach the 2018 and 2019 Pittsburgh Penguins needed. But the Penguins largely punted as their closest rivals made big moves. We’ll see what follows in the coming days, but I know many of you were expecting Hextall to trade veterans for picks. We didn’t hear any Penguins trade chatter involving veterans for picks before the draft, and we haven’t heard any actual chatter after the draft (yet).

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Hextall have more holes to fill than they did a week ago. The expansion draft took more talent than it freed up money. The Penguins appear to be atrophying rather than re-positioning themselves.

We will explore that topic in the coming days as we get more background and more input from league sources and, hopefully, internal sources.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
1 month ago

Hextall is taking a maddeningly patient approach to this off season. Its a stark contrast to Rutherford’s shoot from the hip, wheeling and dealing style. I wish I had his patience! I am thinking that Petterson and Zucker either have little or no value on the trade market OR something big is in the works. There is also the possibility that they are stuck with what they have for now.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
1 month ago

Just for reference, here is what they are “stuck with” for now. I assume Malkin is in IR to start the season and they re sign ZAR, Zohorna, and Gaudreau:

Guentzel-Crosby-Rust
Zucker-Carter-Kapanen
ZAR-Blueger-Lafferty
Zohorna-Gaudreau-Angello

Dumoulin-Letang
Pettersson-Marino
Matheson-Ruhwedel

Jarry
Desmith

That isn’t a terrible lineup! They do have the cap space to re sign Ceci if they want and i actually like Rodrigues on the 3rd line instead of Lafferty if they could bring him back too.

Greg
Greg
1 month ago

Agreed! It comes down to coaching and players executing. You don’t need to have have big name players on every line to win. Remember the year the Caps won the Cup? There were considered also rans and ran away with the prize.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Zohorna is a greenhorn, but of the options they would have, he would seem like the best option for some playing time based soley on what the Penguins have on their roster right now. He produced pretty well at the AHL level and he didn’t do anything to hurt his chances with his brief NHL stint. IMO he was more noticeable than Drew O’Connor at the very least. This is not ideal, obviously, and he would benefit from some more AHL time.

Kris Francis Peterinelli
Kris Francis Peterinelli
1 month ago

Oh hell let’s just start the rebuild now and the “fourth” line of
Poulin – Hallander – Legare.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
1 month ago

Ideally, they could retool during the season like they did in 2016. They called up guys like Sheary, Rust, Wilson, Kuhnackl, etc. And gave them prominent roles. Unfortunately, they need nhl ready ahl players for that to happen

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

What is Zuckers problem he has to get his head outta his ()()

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

He seems to have no chemistry with Malkin. As long as they still have him on the roster, they should try him with other players and see if he can flip on the switch. If i recall, when he first came to the pens he played rw with Jake and Sid and did some damage. The past couple seasons they were trying to force a square peg in a round hole.

Joe Dekarski
Joe Dekarski
1 month ago

Malkins lost a step also , he looks bored 3/4 of the time and teams know how to get under his skin. Do u think he s still worth the $ he makes ?? I m not sure anymore

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[…] Could the Penguins be stealth players in free agency and on the trade market? (Pittsburgh Hockey Now) […]

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[…] Click here to view the original article. […]

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[…] Pittsburgh: The Penguins have trade hopes. Here is what draft the Penguins could do this week, and what they did and didn’t do this weekend.  […]

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[…] The Draft weekend had some clear winners, including some in the Metro Division, while the Pittsburgh Penguins moved along on their own path with a few solid picks, a “show-me” deal, and sources tipped off PHN on what’s to come for the Penguins. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now) […]

concernedpensfan
concernedpensfan
1 month ago

zucker has been overrated from day one; add to that he isn’t really a goal scorer and the pens paid too much money and gave up too much value to get him now the pens are stuck with him

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[…] Penguins Recap: Signings, Draft Picks, Trade Rumors and Analysis […]

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[…] — Looking at everything the Penguins did (and didn’t do) and what’s next in Pittsburgh.(PHN) […]

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[…] Hockey Now: Penguins draft recap and […]

Joe Dekarski
Joe Dekarski
1 month ago

I m alittle surprised tht Seattles expansion draft was completely different and alot more boring then Vegas. I could see Vegas taking Price and trading him to a team tht needs a goalie us for example. I wouldn t mind trading Jarry or Desmith , a player and our 2nd rd draft pick. With losing McCann and Tanev plus Jarry or DeSmith , Price would fit cap wise and would be a giant upgrade. Just thinking outside the box .I m bored with our off season and still upset with losing Tanev. All in all I don t think Seattle… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Joe Dekarski
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[…] Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Some sources have stated the Pittsburgh Penguins had some curiosity in Arizona Coyotes ahead Christian Dvorak but it surely will not be something severe. […]

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