Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nhl Draft Uncertainty Clouds What Penguins Will Do in First Round

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nhl Draft Uncertainty Clouds What Penguins Will Do in First Round

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA -- The Penguins are scheduled to make the 22nd selection in Round 1 of the NHL draft at the Wells Fargo Center.

Whether that actually will happen tonight is hard to say because general manager Jim Rutherford has not ruled out making a trade that would include his team's first-round pick.

Perhaps it's fitting that the Penguins aren't certain that they'll hold onto that choice because they also aren't sure what they'll get with it if they do.

Rutherford has gone on record as saying that he'd like to land a forward in Round 1, but prospect rankings for this draft vary so wildly from team to team that it's impossible to predict who might go much earlier than a lot of clubs anticipate.

Conversely, it's conceivable that a prospect who seems likely to go in the top 10 could slide all the way to the Penguins' spot.

This shapes up as one draft in which the cliche about a team's scouts and executives not being able to believe that a particular player still was available when it was their turn to pick actually could be true.

"It will be the kind of draft where a lot of teams come away happy with the player they got because there's going to be a lot of fluctuation and a lot of different evaluations of players," associate general manager Jason Botterill said.

There are a few high-end prospects -- guys like defenseman Aaron Ekblad and forwards Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett and Leon Draisaitl -- who are sure to be gone long before the Penguins turn.

Still, if they plan to present their first-rounder with a sweater bearing his nameplate, the Penguins likely should have about 10 of them made up in advance to cover all the possibilities.

"I would love to tell you it's two or three guys [who are likely choices for the Penguins], but you just have no clue how the draft is going to play out," Botterill said.

"I try to predict what the other 21 teams are going to be doing and how they're going to select, and that's a futile endeavor."

The 2015 draft will include two prospects, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, widely regarded as potential franchise players. No one available this weekend has a similar pedigree.

"Overall, maybe there's not the high-end, elite players," Botterill said. …

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