It wasn’t the trade with Arizona many would have predicted before the draft, but the Penguins did pick up a power forward prospect in the process. The Penguins traded into the third round and used the pick to snag Nathan Legare, another power forward from the QMJHL. The pick mirrors the type of player they took in the first-round.
Activity finally picked up the 2019 NHL Draft. After only one trade and no player trades in the first round, the trades came fast in Round 2. The Pittsburgh Penguins joined the fun when they swapped three picks (98th, 151st, and 207th) for a third-round choice (74th overall).
Legare, 18, jumped 10 spots from the NHL’s Central Scouting ranks from 64th to the 54th ranked North American skater. He was an alternate captain for Team Canada at the 2019 U-18 World Championships. He scored four points (4g, 0a) in seven games. And according to Central Scouting, he styles his game after Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher and listed Sidney Crosby as his favorite player.
Legare, 6-foot, 200 pounds is similar in stature to Poulin and is good friends with Poulin, too. The pair train together in the summer with coaches including former Penguins forward Ramzi Abid
The consensus scouting report on Legare is that he has jam, hands to score in tight but his skating must improve. Scouting reports credit Legare’s wrister as “deadly.”
“My shot is one of my big strengths, also my physical game. I finish my checks,” Legare said.
He also acknowledged his skating must improve, in much the same way Poulin did Friday night. And the Penguins took Legare to dinner, just as they did Poulin, too.
“I had dinner at the (NHL Scouting) Combine with them, so I knew they liked me. It’s a nice feeling to be drafted by them,” Legare said. “I’m a power forward who brings offense and I’m reliable defensively.”
Legare was also happy to get drafted with Poulin, “He’s one of my good buddies, it’s pretty special,” he said. Legare and Poulin have been friends for a long time, “Since we were seven or eight years old. His father coached us when we were young.”
“We trained together and it will be very great to train together and go to Pittsburgh together,” he said. “I think we’re going to work hard together and it’s going to be more fun on the plane to Pittsburgh.”
Legare experienced a surge of offense this season which was his second in the QMJHL for Baie-Comeau Drakkar. He exploded from 29 points in his rookie year to 87 points (45g, 42a) in just 68 games this season.
“I was more confident this year and I made good plays on the ice because my confidence was there and I also have great linemates and teammates,” he smiled. Legare worked on his shot in the back yard with a net, which he sometimes missed to the detriment of a nearby garage door. “Sometimes I miss the net,” he laughed.
Legare is conscious of the changing NHL game, which seems to be coming to him.
“I watched a couple of games between the Blues and Boston, it was pretty physical. I’m a physical guy,” he said. “It’s fun to watch because I like that type of game.”
The Penguins draft strategy and their new organization philosophy is no longer a secret. The Penguins are getting bigger and tougher. And perhaps more skilled though we will see how the new kid’s hands translate to the pro game from the QMJHL.