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2015 Draft Preview – Pittsburgh Penguins need wings to fly

Ryan Kennedy
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Kasperi Kapanen. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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2015 Draft Preview – Pittsburgh Penguins need wings to fly

Ryan Kennedy
By:

Based on the past two drafts, the Penguins are firm believers in education. Perhaps it’s because the 2013 Frozen Four was at their rink, but the Pens have drafted almost exclusively NCAA-bound players lately.

Based on the past two drafts, the Penguins are firm believers in education. Perhaps it’s because the 2013 Frozen Four was at their rink, but the Pens have drafted almost exclusively NCAA-bound players lately. Only one 2013 draftee was from major junior (goalie Tristan Jarry of Edmonton). University of Nebraska-Omaha freshman center Jake Guentzel already looks like a steal.

PICKS:
Round 2, pick 46
Round 5, pick 137
Round 6, pick 167
Round 7, pick 197

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
Wingers, sweet lord, wingers! The Penguins still head into nearly every off-season wondering how to find complements for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and the draft has not been kind in that regard. Beau Bennett is waiting to bust out, and he’s the closest candidate.

LONG-TERM NEEDS:
Stocked on ‘D’ and still set down the middle, the only thing (other than wingers) Pittsburgh should consider long-term is a succession plan in net. Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t old, but he does have a lot of miles on the odometer. He has played more than 60 games in seven of the past 10 seasons, and that means little work for backups. Jarry and Matt Murray both look like gamers, but how long will they have to wait for a crack?

CAP SITUATION:
The Pens are sitting at a little less than $62 million for next season, but the team’s bottom-six forward corps is almost entirely unsigned. That gives Pittsburgh great flexibility. On the back end, veterans Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff need new pacts, and they’ll need a decent amount of coin to come back.

IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16:
Kasperi Kapanen is an enigma. He was great for the Penguins in camp but horrible for Finland at the world juniors. He seems to thrive when he’s playing amongst men, as he did with KalPa back in Finland the past two seasons. If that trend continues, perhaps the skilled youngster will be the answer on the wing Pittsburgh needs. He’s ready for a shot.

DID YOU KNOW:
Murray, a rookie pro, set an AHL record with a shutout streak of more than 304 minutes with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.

THN will be releasing its Team Reports from Draft Preview for each of the 30 NHL franchises in the week leading up to the NHL Draft. Read them in our “Draft” channel.

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2015 Draft Preview – Pittsburgh Penguins need wings to fly