Trading away prospects and picks is the cost a team pays if they want to win back-to-back Stanley Cups.
To rebuild the farm, the Penguins have dipped into the college free agent pool in recent years with varying levels of success. Two-time Cup-winner Conor Sheary, current Penguin Zach Aston-Reese, and some of the more prominent prospects currently in Wilkes-Barre -- Ethan Prow, Adam Johnson, Thomas Di Pauli -- were signed out of college.
The Penguins dipped into the pool of college free agents for the first time this season when they signed forward Jake Lucchini out of Michigan Tech last week.
Lucchini, who will turn 24 in May, attended the Penguins' prospect develop camp on a tryout invitation last summer. He returned to school for his senior season, where the Penguins kept an eye on his progress. Michigan Tech's season -- and Lucchini's college career -- ended with a series sweep by Bowling Green on March 9. He finished his senior year with 11 goals and 15 assists in 38 games.
The Penguins announced the signing of Lucchini two days later.
"During camp (the Penguins) kind of indicated that they were interested, just kind of see how my year went," Lucchini told me this week. "I had a lot of contact with them throughout the year. Towards the end of the year I talked with Billy Guerin, he kind of explained to me that they were going to offer me a contract. I was really excited. It's a real good opportunity."