The Penguins didn’t wait for the 2017 entry draft to start remaking the organization’s personnel.
When the Vegas Golden Knights claimed Marc-Andre Fleury, it was the end of an era in Pittsburgh in which Flower (as he was affectionately known to teammates) helped the Pens to three Stanley Cups. The first-overall selection in the 2003 draft and winningest netminder in team history played 13 seasons in Steeltown, second only to Mario Lemieux among NHLers.
The day before the main draft, Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford inked unexpectedly useful (plus-9 in a career-high 34 league games) depth defender Chad Ruhwedel to a two-year extension at an average annual value of $650,000. Rutherford also signed potential bottom-six checking center and PK specialist Frederik Tiffels to a two-year, entry-level deal.
That means Pittsburgh has signed three of its four selections from the 2015 draft, including RW Daniel Sprong (46th overall) and C Dominik Simon (137th overall). Seventh-round pick Nikita Pavlychev will be a sophomore at Penn State.
Pittsburgh also signed G Filip Gustavsson to a three-year, entry-level contract, which begins in the 2018-19 campaign after the 55th overall pick in 2016 plays another season in his native Sweden.
2017 NHL entry draft
Then came June 23 and Round One. Surprisingly, Pittsburgh swapped its 31st-overall pick and improving Swedish center Oskar Sundqvist to the Blues for their second-round pick and RW Ryan Reaves, a 30-year-old vet who is best known for using his 6-1, 225-pound frame to punish opponents. The only logical deduction is that the Penguins do not plan to let Sidney Crosby keep enduring the abuse he took in the playoffs.
So, who did Pittsburgh draft to augment its prospect pool?
Zachary Lauzon highlights:
D Zachary Lauzon, 2nd round, 51st overall: After St. Louis used the final pick of the first round that it got from the Penguins to take Russian winger Klim Kostin, Pittsburgh selected the 6-0, 187-pound blueliner near the end of the second round. In his first full QMJHL campaign, Lauzon pl