Pittsburgh Penguins 2021 NHL Draft Recapby Liz Pendergraft September 4, 2021 0 comments
The Pittsburgh Penguins went into the 2021 NHL Draft with five total picks. However, they had no first-round selection, and three of their picks came in the seventh round. Since this was this first draft in the era of Ron Hextall and Brian Burke, fans were a little nervous about how the Penguins would approach the draft. Would they think of the future, seeing as players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin aren’t getting any younger? It was certainly something the front office kept in mind going into the draft.
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Tristan Broz, F, Fargo Force-USHL (Round 2, Pick 58)
Isaac Belliveau, D, Gatineau Olympiques-QMJHL (Round 5, Pick 154)
Ryan McCleary, D, Portland Winterhawks-WHL (Round 7, Pick 194)
Daniel Laatsch, D, Sioux City Musketeers-USHL (Round 7, Pick 215)
Kirill Tankov, F, SKA-Varyagi im. Morozova-MHL (Round 7, Pick 218)
Pittsburgh added five players, two forwards and three defensemen, to their organization. They may not have had many picks, but they were attempting to add size to the team without sacrificing the skill needed at the pro level. Even though it will be a few years before any of the players selected take the ice for the Penguins, there’s plenty of time for the players to grow. Becoming the player Pittsburgh needs is a delicate balance the front office believes they have achieved with this year’s draft choices.
Best Pick: Tristan Broz
Many scouts were eying Tristan Broz since he was ranked as the 28th best skater in North America. ISS Hockey and EliteProspects had him ranked 31st overall. He has the ability to develop plays and create options for his linemates. In the 2020-21 season, Broz registered 51 points over 54 games and 11 points over nine games in the playoffs. He does need to work on adding weight, and the strength training program at the University of Minnesota is exactly the place to do it.
Worst Pick: Isaac Belliveau
While Isaac Belliveau is effective and shows signs of being an offensive defenseman, he needs to be stronger on the defensive side of the puck. He has a lot of room for improvement, including his shot. Nevertheless, he’s been compared to Keith Yandle, and if he continues to improve, it’s a possibility he could be a valuable asset to the Penguins.
Sleeper Pick: Kirill Tankov
Although Kirill Tankov was drafted in his second year of eligibility, the Penguins saw something in him that persuaded them to take a chance. Tankov plays with a competitive edge and has a great hockey sense. The staff knows that patience will be a virtue, especially if they are possibly wanting him to be a center. However, it’s a position he’s played before, and with some work on his skating, it’s possible he might be just the player the Penguins need.
The probability of players making it to the NHL decreases exponentially after the latter half of the first round. However, it’s not impossible. There are quite a few players who go on to have a better or longer career than some round one picks. The Penguins have chosen to play the long game this draft season and take a chance on players who need time to develop. Fans will have to see how the new regime handles waiting.
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