• Old Time Hockey League

The Future is Bright in Pittsburgh

The Penguins have made their picks in the 2019 Entry Draft marking the start of big changes coming to Pittsburgh. With many upcoming youngsters like Brady Tkachuk (2018 Draft, 3rd Overall), Michael Rasmussen (2017 Draft, 11th Overall), and the recently acquired rookie Mackenzie MacEachern all set to crack the pro roster this season the future does look bright for Pittsburgh. This is, however, just the beginning according to new Penguins General Manager Nick Procyk, “We see a lot of potential in our young guys and we’re hoping to see them develop into pro players that have the opportunity to make it on the team next year.” The Penguins bolstered their prospect depth in this draft with a total of six players being selected. The first pick of the draft for the Penguins was the goal-scoring phenom Cole Caufield. He has the potential to be an elite scorer in the pro leagues but his height is definitely a concern as he currently stands at 5 ft 7 in. The USA Hockey National Development Program product has shown off his goal-scoring skills as he is the current NTDP record holder all-time for goals (126 goals in 123 games), including a 72 goal season. Pittsburgh should look forward to his development and see if he is cut out for the big leagues. The team kicked off the 2nd round with 2 picks, Brett Leason at 37th Overall and Pyotr Kochetkov at 40th. Brett Leason is a big, physical winger that has great hockey intelligence and is good with the puck. Some things that he’ll need to work on are his skating and his playmaking without the puck. The 20-year-old caught the eyes of the Penguins with his 89 point season with the Prince Albert Raiders. With a little work, the late-bloomer should see himself joining the Penguins in no time. Pyotr Kochetkov, like Leason, is a 20-year-old player that is hoping to prove the teams that passed up on him wrong. The Russian goaltender was ranked the top eligible international goaltender and has shown flashes of brilliance while playing in junior leagues in Russia with all his seasons resulting in a SV% greater than .910. His play at the 2019 World Junior Championships also turned heads as he started for Team Russia and was recognized for his efforts as he earned the Best Goaltender award. His development will be key as he will look to improve his skills further on a path to the OTHL. The Penguins followed up with Alexander Campbell at 80th Overall in the 3rd round. Campbell is a smart player that is good with the puck but there are questions surrounding whether his star teammate Alex Newhook is the reason behind his solid junior league seasons. While not as physical as most teams would hope for he is a solid pick for the Penguins but he has yet to face high-end teams so this pick is a bit of a gamble. Cooper Moore, a BCHL defenseman, went 164th to the Penguins. He has shown to be a capable defender who also helps a great deal offensively as he showed off his shooting skills with a 5 goal game that put him on the board as a potential pick in this draft. If he brings his skill set up to the big leagues the Penguins will be glad that he's on their team. The final pick of the draft for Pittsburgh was a strange one, projected to be a 7th round pick the Penguins took the winger Kirill Tyutyayev with the 181st pick. His skill is obvious but the question becomes whether this skill will translate into a dangerous player facing the best-of-the-best rather than his junior opponents. He has yet to play against tougher teams but remains a solid junior player. His 114 points in 31 games in the Russia U18 League seems to have captivated the Penguins as they go for a bit of a reach with their last pick of the draft. The Pittsburgh Penguins have many upcoming players that they hope will translate into solid pro leaguers. Roland McKeown, Dante Fabbro, and Joe Veleno are all likely to make it to the Penguins’ roster next season and the Penguins should look forward to watching these players, among others, compete for a spot on the roster of the rebuilding Penguins. The future is certainly bright in Pittsburgh.