Draft Recap, Shero Reshaping the Pens
Shero let the suspense build all the way up until the last minute, would the team make the much talked about trade with Carolina, and get defensive stud Jack Johnson. Would they stand pat and take their man with number 2. Well, when the dust cleared, they kept their pick and went with the pick I thought they would: 6' 4", 212 lb Peterborough Center Jordan Staal.
Here is a recap of the Penguins picks on Saturday, as well as a brief scouting report.
1st Round Selection: Jordan Staal - 6' 4" 212 lb Center
Staal has it all, size, strength and plenty of hockey sense and skill. Most think that his defensive game is ready for the NHL already, but he could brush up on his raw offensive talent a bit. He is a good face-off man. Jordan has good touch around the net, is strong on the puck and uses his large frame to protect it. He is not easily moved by defenders. He should develop into a premier power forward. If there is on knock on this young man, it is that he could improve upon his skating a bit. Jordan is expected to move to the wing. GM Ray Shero has said that he will not rule out Staal making the team this season, but he could stand to have another year with Peterborough.
2nd Round Selection: Carl Sneep - 6' 4" 210 lb Defenseman
Sneep is a giant on the blue line, but can use a bit of seasoning. He has great tools and should get better year to year. Some may have called this pick a reach in the second round, but the Penguins were thrilled to get this kid here. He has been a regular at Penguins scout Chuck Grillo's conditioning camp for the past 8 years and the Pens had their eye on him. He has an all around that could benefit from a little bit more of a mean streak. Could be a steal.
3rd Round Selection: Brian Strait - 6' 0" 200 lb Defenseman
Strait was the captain of the U-18 US National team and is a natural leader. He is a great character and locker room guy. Can be counted on to play a consistent game. Is very well rounded and has a very nice first pass out of the zone. Strait can also play a strong physical game and is known to throw out some strong body checks.
4th Round Selection: Traded to Florida for a 4th rounder in 2007
5th Round Selection: Chad Johnson - 6' 2" 175 lb Goaltender
Johnson was the 21st ranked goaltender in North America. This freshman from Alaska Fairbanks played in 18 games this past season, posting a record of: 6-7-4 with a GAA of 2.56 and a S% of .917. He catches left and will most likely stay with his college team for more seasoning. It was necessary to add some goaltending depth, especially in light of some of Shero's most recent moves.
6th Round Selection: No Pick
7th Round Selection: Timo Seppanen - 6' 1" 209 lb Defenseman
(from Hockeysfuture.com) Deep down SeppÃ¤nen is a simple defenseman by nature, whereas on the surface, as evidenced by the things he at times does on the ice, he isn't. Although he may not have the most imposing frame or the flashiest puck skills, he is still often seen generating a surprising scoring opportunity or mucking near the own crease. However, SeppÃ¤nen is fairly mistake-prone and not far long along in development in decision-making. That is why he isn't very solid a prospect, but relative to quality that means good potential.
As evidenced by the above picks, the team added to it's pool of not yet ready for prime time players on the blue line. All indications are that Sneep and Strait will go on to become strong draft picks, and Staal should be a stud! The rest of the 2006 draft was used to add organizational depth. All in all this seems to have been a successful draft, especially with having just hired a new General Manager less than a month before the event.
Ray Shero has been busy since draft day. He started Saturday by buying out the contracts of two players. Sebastien Caron and Shane Endicott will receive 1/3 of their contract's worth for 2006-2007.
Caron, who started out hot during his rookie season, never really lived up to expectations and may revitalize his career in some new surroundings. He was part of a goaltending logjam at the NHL level with Jocelyn Thibault and heiapparentnt Marc Andre Fleury. It would not have been a fiscally sound decision to buy out Thibault who did not come close to playing up to expectations and spent most last season on the DL after having hip surgery.
Endicott was all but assured the 3rd line center position last season, until he was derailed by a severe high anklstrainng early in training camp. He never fully recovered, his conditioning was atrocious and he pretty much played himself out of favor with past and current management. It will probably serve Endicott best to make a fresh start some where else.
Restricted Free Agency
Shero started to make some bipersonnelll decisions as he began shaping his minor and major league rosters. Some of the players that Shero tendered were just asurprisingng as the ones he let walk.
Players receiving offers by the 5:00pm deadline yesterday:
Marc Andre Fleury
Rita and Nordgren are thsurpriseses. Both have signed contracts to play in Europe next season and didn't figure to play heavily into the future of the team.
The shocking names that the team let go are as follows:
Hilbert was a staple on Sidney Crosby's wing late last season, posting 18 points in 19 games. Shero obviously thought that was more a product of Crosby than anything that Hilbert did. Koltsov and Surovy were former high draft picks who never quite lived up to their hype. Koltsov always had speed to burn and could draw penalties, but could not get it right in the scoring department. Surovy was often compared to a young Pete Bondra, a young Peter Bondra who was more streaky that a greasy window in the sunlight. It will be ashame to see these players go, but it is a sign that Shero wanted some flexibility in building this team. He didn't want to be saddled with one way contract for players that didn't quite make the cut in his view of the new NHL.
The remaining players let go yesterday are as follows:
These moves make the trade that won Mark Recchi another Stanley Cup with Carolina a one for one swap: Nordgren for Recchi. Not sure if I agree with all the moves, especially letting go goaltender Andy Chiodo, who had some very memorable moments for the parent squad, but was a playoff hero with Wilkes Barrie-Scranton several times. The fact that these players were not tendered does not officially mean they will not be back, as the team can still negotiate contracts with them, however it does say that Shero didn't feel it was worth taking them to arbitration and risking 1 way contracts for them all.