Here’s one of several draft features I’ll be doing over the next handful of days. Today’s feature is a look at the Penguins struggles to develop scoring wingers among their draft picks over the past 15 years.
One reason Penguin fans shouldn’t want to see the team lose Tyler Kennedy via restricted free agency or a trade: The franchise struggles mightily at developing 20 goal wingers.
Since the 1995 draft, the Penguins have developed just three 20 goal wingers through their system.
The three are Alexei Morozov, Ryan Malone and Tyler Kennedy.
Morozov, the team’s 1st round pick in 1995, hit the 20 goal plateau just once, netting 20 goals in the 2001-2002 season. In seven seasons with the Penguins, Morozov had 84 goals in 451 games.
Since the mid 1990’s, Pittsburgh’s own Ryan Malone has been the best goal scoring winger the Penguins have developed, among their draft picks.
Malone, the team’s 4th round pick in 1999, scored 20 goals or more in three of four seasons with the Penguins. Malone tallied 22 goals each in 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 and scored a career high 27 goals in 2007-2008.
Malone scored 87 goals in 299 career games with the Penguins.
In 2010-2011, Tyler Kennedy became just the third winger the Penguins drafted since 1995, to score 20 or more goals with the Penguins. Kennedy put up a career high 21 goals in 80 games. His previous career high was 15 goals and his 80 games played was the first time in his career he appeared in over 67 games.
In four seasons with the Penguins, Kennedy has 59 goals in 266 games.
The Penguins drafted several wingers high in the late 1990’s but none of them panned out.
Robert Dome, the team’s 1st round pick in 1997, scored just 7 goals in 52 career games with the Penguins and was out of the organization by the 2000-2001 season.
Alexander Zevakhin, the team’s 2nd round pick in 1998, left CSKA Moscow following the 1999-2000 season to join the Penguins organization. However, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Russian winger never progressed past the American Hockey League. Zevakhin went back to Russia in the middle of the 2002-2003 season. He scored 24 goals in 164 career games with the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins.
In 1999 the Penguins took Konstantin Koltsov with the 18th overall pick in the 1st round. The Belarus winger had tremendous speed but not the hands to go with his skating ability. Koltsov tallied 12 goals in 144 career games with the Penguins. He left the organization following the 2005-2006 season.
In the same draft, the Penguins took winger Matt Murley with the 51st overall pick in the 2nd round. Murley was nothing more than a 4th liner. He appeared in just 59 games with the Penguins and had 2 goals.
Of the players drafted since 2000, Tyler Kennedy (4th round pick, 2004) is the only winger so far to develop into a 20 goal scorer while still playing for the Penguins.
The Penguins next best hope among their draft picks comes from their 2010 draft class.
2010 1st round pick Beau Bennett has a dynamic skill set and is the Penguins top forward prospect in their system. He had 9 goals in his freshman season at Denver while battling a knee injury. Bennett is a candidate to sign with the Penguins following his sophomore season, if he’s able to take that next step.
A possible hidden gem for the Penguins is 2010 4th round pick Tom Kuehnhackl. The 6-foot-2, 191-pound winger scored 39 goals last season for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League and has yet to peak offensively.
Here’s a look at the Penguins draft picks from 2000 through 2010 with analysis on wingers selected or centers drafted who were developed into wingers by the Penguins.
18th overall D Brooks Orpik
52nd overall C Shane Endicott
84th overall G Peter Hamerlik
124th overall Michel Ouellet
146th overall D David Koci
185th overall F Patrick Foley
216th overall F Jim Abbott
248th overall RW Steven Crampton
273rd overall C Roman Simicek
280th overall G Nick Boucher
Analysis: The best goal scoring winger the Penguins developed out of this group was Michel Ouellet, the team’s 4th round pick.
In the minors Ouellet was a suburb goal scorer, tallying 30 goals in 2003-2004 and 31 goals in 04-05 for the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins.
In 2005-2006, Ouellet was called up for the first game Michel Therrien coached behind the bench and Ouellet went on to fill a regular role through the 2006-2007 season.
Ouellet collected 16 goals and 32 points in just 50 games for the Penguins in 05-06.
Ouellet followed up his rookie season wit 19 goals and 48 points in 73 games, during the 06-07 season.
An impact player on the power play, Ouellet scored 11 power play goals in back-to-back seasons (2005-2006, 2006-2007).
Despite collecting 19 goals and 48 points in 06-07, while also playing a top-9 role, GM Ray Shero decided not to make Ouellet a qualifying offer. He signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and scored 17 goals and 36 points for the Lightning in 07-08.
A lack of skating ability ended up being Ouellet’s downfall in the new NHL as he appeared in just 3 NHL games during the 2008-2009 season and has not played in the league since.
21st overall: RW Colby Armstrong
54th overall D Noah Welch
86th overall D Drew Fata
96th overall D Alexandre Rouleau
120th overall LW Tomas Surovy
131st overall C Ben Eaves
156th overall D Andy Schneider
217th overall G Tomas Duba
250th overall G Brandon Crawford-West
Analysis: Colby Armstrong is the big name out this group and came onto scene with the look of a 20+ goal scorer, a feat he eventually reached but not in a Penguins uniform.
Armstrong showed excellent chemistry with Sidney Crosby during his rookie season, scoring 16 goals and 40 points in just 47 games. Armstrong also had a +15 rating, which was a tremendous feat on that team, based on these numbers:
(Sidney Crosby -1, Sergei Gonchar -13, Mark Recchi -28, John LeClair -24, Michel Ouellet -13, Rick Jackman -20, Mario Lemieux -16)
Armstrong though never went on to develop into a 20 goal scorer with the Penguins. He scored 12 goals in 80 games during the 2006-2007 season and collected 9 goals in 54 games in 2007-2008. He was dealt at the 2008 deadline apart of a blockbuster deal that brought Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh.
The other intriguing winger out of this draft class was Tomas Surovy who flashed 20 goal potential but never panned out. Surovy scored 27 goals in 126 career NHL games with the Penguins. His game never translated to the new NHL and has been out of the league since the 2006-2007 season.
5th overall D Ryan Whitney
35th overall D Ondrej Nemec
69th overall C Erik Christensen
101 overall RW Daniel Fernholm
136th overall D Andy Sertich
137th overall C Cam Paddock
171st overall G Bobby Goepfert
202nd overall RW Patrik Bartschi
234th overall C Maxime Talbot
239th overall D Ryan Lannon
265th overall G Dwight LaBrosse
Analysis: 4th round pick Daniel Fernholm (6-1, 225) and Patrik Bartschi were the only true winger drafted in this class.
Fernholm spent three years in the Swedish Elite League before joining the Penguins organization in 2005-2006. Ferholm never progressed past the ECHL. He first appeared in the AHL with the Baby Pens and scored 1 goal in 27 games. He would spend the rest of his short-time in the organization with the Wheeling Nailers.
Fernholm scored just 2 goals in 42 career games with Wheeling. He left the organization during the middle of the 2006-2007 season to return to the Swedish Elite League.
Bartschi, the team’s 7th round pick never joined the organization.
Eric Christensen, the team’s 3rd round pick was drafted as a center but the Penguins did work on developing him as a winger at times during his career with the Penguins. He had 18 goals in 61 games during the 2006-2007 season but Christensen wasn’t a full-time winger.
1st overall G Marc-Andre Fleury
32nd overall C Ryan Stone
70th overall RW Jonathan Filewich
73rd overall LW Daniel Carcillo
121st overall D Paul Bissonnette
161st overall LW Evgeny Isakov
169th overall D Lukas Bolf
199th overall G Andy Chiodo
229th overall C Stephen Dixon
232nd overall C Joe Jensen
263rd overall Matt Moulson
Analysis: The Penguins drafted several wingers out of the 2003 class and Jonathan Filewich, the team’s 3rd round pick had the highest ceiling to develop into a goal scoring winger.
In the end, Filewich never translated his goal scoring ability from juniors/minors to the NHL. He scored 22 goals for Wilkes Barre/Scranton in 2005-2006 and followed that up with a 30 goal season in 2006-2007. Filewich had promise at the NHL level but went on to only appear in 5 career games with the Penguins. He was traded to St. Louis in 2008-2009 and is now playing in the KHL.
Daneil Carcillo who was selected three picks after Filewich has made himself a career as a pest with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was traded from Pittsburgh to Phoenix, inexchange for Georges Laraque at the 2007 NHL Trade Deadline.
Carcillo had 21 goals for Wilkes Barre/Scranton at the time of the trade. He has scored 36 career NHL goals.
Russian winger Evgeni Isakov, drafted in the 5th round never joined the organization.
The missing gem out of this draft class has ended up being Matt Moulson, the team’s 9th round pick. After graduating from Cornell University in 2006, the Penguins didn’t sign Moulson who went on to sign an entry level deal with the Los Angeles Kings.
Moulson claims the Penguins never made an offer to him.
Moulson scored 30 goals for the New York Islanders in 2009-2010 and 31 goals in 2010-2011.
2nd overall C Evgeni Malkin
31st overall RW Johannes Salmonsson
61st overall D Alex Goligoski
67th overall RW Nick Johnson
85th overall C Brian Gifford
99th overall RW Tyler Kennedy
130th overall D Michal Sersen
164th overall RW Moises Gutierrez
194th overall D Chris Peluso
222nd overall C Jordan Morrison
228th overall G David Brown
259th overall C Brian Ihnacak
Analysis: Drafted as a center out of the OHL, Tyler Kennedy has evolved into one of the few goal scoring wingers the Penguins have developed since the 1995 Draft.
Kennedy scored a career high 21 goals in 2010-2011 and has collected 10 or more goals in all four NHL seasons, despite playing less than 67 games in 3 of his 4 seasons.
The verdict still isn’t out on Nick Johnson, the team’s 3rd round pick. Johnson has the look of a complete player at the NHL level but has yet to be given much of an opportunity.
He scored a career high 20 goals for Wilkes Barre in 2010-2011. Johnson has 2 goals in 10 career NHL games.
Aside from Evgeni Malkin the most intrigue out of this draft had been 2nd round pick Johannes Salmonsson, a winger from Uppsala, Sweden.
The Penguins have failed after multiple attempts to bring Salmonsson into the organization. Salmonsson has spent most of his professional career in the Swedish Elite League. He is still just 24 years old and doesn’t turn 25 until February.
Last season, Salmonsson had 9 goals and 20 points in 52 games for AIK of the Swedish Elite League.
1st overall C Sidney Crosby
61st overall D Michael Gergen
62nd overall D Kristopher Letang
125th overall D Tommi Leinonen
126th overall RW Tim Crowder
194th overall D Jean-Philipp Paquet
195th overall C Joe Vitale
Analysis: Tim Crowder, the team’s 5th round pick spent 4 years at Michigan State and has never progressed past the ECHL. Crowder had 1 goal in 16 games with the Wheeling Nailers in 2010-2011.
2nd overall C Jordan Staal
32nd overall D Carl Sneep
65th overall D Brian Strait
125th overall G Chad Johnson
185th overall D Timo Seppanen
Analysis: The 2006 draft class featured no wingers with the team taking centerman Jordan Staal 2nd overall, three defensemen and one goaltender in Ray Shero’s first draft as Penguins GM.
Jordan Staal scored 29 goals during his rookie season while seeing significant time on wing with Evgeni Malkin, however, Staal isnt or wasn’t a full time winger.
20th overall C Angelo Esposito
51st overall C/RW Keven Veilleux
78th overall D Robert Bortuzzo
80th overall C Casey Pierro-Zabotel
111th overall L Luca Caputi
118th overall D Alex Grant
141st overall D Jake Muzzin
171st overall C Dustin Jeffrey
Analysis: This was a center driven draft with the likes of Angelo Esposito, Keven Veilleux, Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Dustin Jeffrey but every forward at one time is or was a candidate to be developed as a winger.
Esposito has been a flop during his professional career and wasn’t in the organization long, traded to the Atlanta Thrashers at the 2008 Trade Deadline.
2nd round pick Keven Veilleux remains an intriguing prospect that the Penguins are hoping to develop as a winger. He has excellent size at 6-5, 220 and a nice skill set but projects as more of an all-around player than a goal scorer at the next level. Veilleux had 12 goals in 66 games for Wilkes Barre/Scranton in 2010-2011.
3rd round pick Casey Pierro-Zabotel had been seen as a developmental prospect but his skill set has not translated to success in the minors. Since joining the organization in 2009, Zabotel has spent most of his career in the ECHL. He had 18 goals last season in 67 games (combined) with the Wheeling Nailers/Cincinnati Cyclones.
4th round pick Luca Caputi was once viewed by some in the Penguins organization as a top-9 power forward with possible 20 goal potential.
He scored 51 goals for the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League in 2007-2008 and showed goal scoring ability in the minors, scoring 18 goals for Wilkes Barre in 2008-2009 and 23 goals in just 54 games the following season.
Caputi though was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2010 Trade Deadline and he’s failed to develop into a regular at the NHL level. He has 3 goals in 35 career NHL games and has 1 goal in 26 games with the Maple Leafs.
Out of this draft class it’s Dustin Jeffrey, the team’s 6th round pick who has the highest ceiling when it comes to goal scoring ability at the NHL level. The Penguins have developed Jeffrey as a winger in the minors but kind of scratched that idea during the early parts of the 2010-2011 season. A natural centerman, Jeffrey’s best position is center and he had 7 goals in 25 games with the Penguins before blowing out his knee in March.
120th overall C Nathan Moon
150th overall G Alexander Pechurskiy
180th overall G Patrick Killeen
210th overall D Nick D’Agostino
Analysis: The 2008 draft was a dud due to the Penguins moving draft picks for a Stanley Cup run in 2008. The only forward drafted, Nathan Moon, is no longer with the organization.
30th overall D Simon Despres
61st overall D Philip Samuelsson
63rd overall LW Ben Hanowski
121st overall RW Nick Petersen
123rd overall D Alex Velischek
151st overall C Andy Bathgate
181st overall D Viktor Ekbom
Analysis: 3rd round pick Ben Hanowski was a tremendous goal scorer in high school, but has just 20 goals in 80 collegiate games. There’s not a lot of scouts who see him developing into an impact winger at the NHL level but way too early to write him off.
4th round pick Nick Petersen (6-3, 191) has good size and an intriguing skill set but he’s a tough player to project. Playing against younger players, he put up 37 and 39 goals in back-to-back seasons with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.
The 2010-2011 season was his first with the Penguins organization. He scored 24 goals in 40 games for the Wheeling Nailers and had 5 goals in 23 games with the Baby Pens.
20th overall RW Beau Bennett
80th overall RW Bryan Rust
110th overall RW Tom Kuhnhackl
140th overall LW Kenneth Agostino
152nd overall D Joe Rogalski
170th overall D Reid McNeill
Analysis: 1st round pick Beau Bennett is the Penguins No. 2 rated prospect and one of their few “true” top-6 wingers in their system. Bennett is the only forward in the Penguins system with a dynamic skill set, however, scouts view him as more of a playmaking type than a true goal scorer.
Bennett scored 41 goals and 120 points for Penticton Vees of the BCHL in 2009-2010. During his freshman year at Denver University, he battled a knee injury and scored 9 goals in 37 games.
3rd round pick Bryan Rust has role player type abilities and does not project as being much of a point producer. In two seasons with the U.S. Under Development Team, Rust scored 16 goals in 69 games. In his freshman season at Notre Dame, Rust collected 6 goals in 40 games.
4th round pick Tom Kuehnhackl scored 39 goals in the OHL last season.