The Pittsburgh Penguins hold the number 2 pick in this year’s draft and rumors of the Penguins trading the pick have already started. Defenseman Eric Johnson is the top rated player in the draft who has the potential to be the cornerstone of a franchise for years to come. After Johnson, it’s anyone’s guess on how the top 10 will fall out. Despite the fact of Eric Johnson being the concensus #1 pick, he is not the overwhelming pick like Crosby and Ovechkin of years past. Here are 5 players the Penguins have their eyes on

My top 5:
1. Erik Johnson: D, 6ft4 225 18yrs old U.S. National team: Big defensemen who can do it all. Will be a All star for years to come. Type of Player he resembles ( Rob Blake

2. Jordan Staal C, – Peterborough Petes (OHL) 17 yrs old 6ft4 215: Jordan the brother of Eric Staal is big tall center who has the skating ability of a player 5ft10. He is a big time scorer and more physical than his brother. Some scouts believe he has the potential to be better than Eric.

3. Phil Kessel: C, University of Minnisota 18yrs old 6ft 190: Coming into the 06 season Kessel was #1 rated player and there was even word that some GM’s would have drafted him over Crosby if Kessel was in the 05 draft. That’s a funny joke huh. Kessel has tremendous speed and playmaking ability but did not perform to well this season and his stock because of on ice and off ice issues has dropped significantly. Despite the disspointing season Kessel endured he has the most potential in my opinion of any player in this draft. The kid is built for the New NHL and would score 50 goals playing on Crosby’s wing.

4. Nicklas Backstom C, – Sweeden 6ft 185 : Strong two way player who has drawn comparisons of Petr Forsberg. After watching sparingly at the World Championships he reminds of more of Mike Peca in his prime with a more scoring ability. Backstom is a guy who will put up 30-35 goals 80 pt seasons on average and a player who will have the job of shutting down the opposing teams top centers.

5. Jonathan Toews C, – North Dakota 6ft1 195: Toews like Backstom is a strong two way player who has great playmaking ability. Toews is the kind of player any team would want on their team but he is not worthy of a top 2 pick.

If the Penguins don’t trade up to obtain the #1 pick to draft Erik Johnson and keep the #2 pick, it will come down to Jordan Staal and Phil Kessel. There both centers and the Penguins are already stockpiled at the center posistion with Crosby and Malkin so why would they draft another center? Here’s why: Jordan Staal is the obvious choice because of his potential to be a towering super star in the NHL like his brother. Staal is probaly a year away from the NHL and if Staal’s the choice then in the long run Crosby being the smaller and more versatile player of the three could be moved to wing and what a towering combo up the middle Malkin 6ft3 and Staal 6ft4 would be. Phil Kessel on other hand is another center but will be most suited for left or right wing in the NHL. Kessel is the sleeper of the draft and i just have a hunch that if the Penguins keep the pick Kessel will be Shero’s guy based on his speed and potential ability to score 40-50 goals on Crosby’s wing.

Check in tommorow for Part 2 – Rumors surrounding the Penguins #2 pick and the Blues #1 pick.