Courtesy of Point Park University

NHL Draft: Penguins want ‘best player up’ in first round

Patrik Allvin, the Penguins' Director of Amateur Scouting, sat down with team reporter Sam Kasan to discuss the Penguins' plans for the upcoming NHL Draft, which will be held on June 21 and 22 in Vancouver, B.C.

This is an important draft for the Penguins. The Penguins haven't had a first-round pick since 2014, when they took Kasperi Kapanen. The only player drafted by the Penguins in the first round since 2005 who is still in the organization is Olli Maatta.

The Penguins are looking forward to making their first-round selection at No. 21 overall, and making a step toward restocking the prospect pool.

"You can sense when we have a chance with a first-round pick (the scouting staff is) excited," Allvin said. "When you don't have it, you sit there the first day and watch a lot of players get picked. You like them and you're not going to get a crack at them. That's part of working in the NHL in today's game, too."

Last week, I wrote this piece taking a look at what the Penguins really "need" out of this draft. The answer? A little bit of everything. The Penguins' prospect pool as a whole is weak, and that's a result of going all-in in recent years to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. While the forward prospect pool is the strongest of any in the Penguins' system, that isn't going to be a factor in the Penguins' draft strategy. They want to take the best player available, as long as he's a fit for the organization.

"I don't think you necessarily pick for a need right now because that could change," said Allvin. "You want to have the best player up, but the best player has to fit the identity and culture of the Pittsburgh Penguins. But in order to play in today's game, you have to have a skillset too. Hopefully, the fans and you guys can say that we can see and appreciate what a Penguin player is."

This is a deep draft, and that is critical for the Penguins who, after their first-round selection, hold only a fourth-round, a fifth-round, and two seventh-round picks.

After the first few first-round standouts, it's a tight race for the rest of the players projected to go in the first round. I wrote this piece taking a look at some potential options who may be available at No. 21.

The player the Penguins take with that first-round pick will likely become one of the top prospects in the organization, if not the top prospect. The odds are that they'll be choosing someone who will contribute at the NHL level in the future.

"We want to bring in a good player that can contribute sooner than later," Allvin said. "Picking 21 is hard. You hope that some of the players that you have listed higher will fall through and you get lucky. I think the other teams ahead of us will dictate who we're going to get at 21.

"At this point I do think that this year's draft is actually pretty good. I think there are a lot of good players in this year's draft. There a lot of good players up top and a lot of good players on the backend of the draft."

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