Penguins add 4 productive prospects at NHL Draft
Having made 29 trades on or around draft day in his 24-year career as an NHL general manager, Jim Rutherford walked into Dallas this weekend with a reputation to uphold.
He kept up his average, just in the quietest way possible.
The two trades Rutherford made — one to move up six spots in the draft order and another to add a seventh-round pick next year — hardly were headline-grabbers.
Since the Penguins' season ended short of a three-peat last month, Rutherford has said it's his intention to make changes to his roster, with added balance and depth as his goal.
Now that the draft has passed without fireworks, if he still hopes to achieve those aims, he'll have to do so around the opening of the free-agent signing period next Sunday or in the three months of offseason that follow.
The Penguins held on to four draft picks Saturday, and they used them on players with one thing in common: Production.
These weren't workout warriors drafted for their upside. They're prospects who already have impressive entries on their resumes.
With their first pick of the draft, the Penguins chose Calen Addison in the second round, 53rd overall.
Addison fits the profile of a classic offensive defenseman. He's 5-foot-10, so he's not going to push anyone around. In fact, scouts are not impressed with his defensive game at all.
With the puck on his stick, though, it's a different story. A gifted skater with offensive instincts and puck-moving skill, Addison had 65 points in 68 junior games as a 17-year-old last season, finishing second on his team in scoring, behind only high-scoring Penguins prospect Jordy Bellerive.
“I like to bring the puck from the back, make a good first pass and join into the rush,” Addison said. “Just be creative in all three zones on the ice and make things happen out there. That's just the type of player I am. I like to have fun out there.”
One of Rutherford's trades allowed the Penguins to add another second-round pick to their arsenal. They sent an early third-round pick, 64th overall, and one of their two fifth-round picks, 146th overall, to Colorado to move up six spots to choose Swedish forward Filip Hallander at No. 58.
Hallander is a 6-2, 188-pound two-way performer who can play center and left wing. Penguins head scout Patrik Allvin said a knee injury last season may have scared some teams away from picking Hallander in the first round.
He played in one of Sweden's top pro leagues as a 17-year-old, recording nine goals and 20 points in 40 games. It was the sixth-highest point total for an under-18 player in the history of the league.
He likened his style of play to an NHL player Penguins fans might be familiar with.
“I'm very intense in my play,” Hallander said. “I like to be in the offensive zone and create scoring chances. It's like Patric Hornqvist in the Penguins. Maybe we can play on the same line one day.”
In the fifth round, 129th overall, the Penguins took a gamble on a tiny player with immense offensive abilities, center Justin Almeida.
Almeida had a spectacular 18-year-old season in juniors, scoring 43 goals and finishing 10th in the league with 98 points. The only knock against him? He checked in at 5-foot-9, 158 pounds at the NHL Draft combine.
In the sixth round, the Penguins took a long-term project in center Liam Gorman, a 6-3 center who was a point-per-game player last season at St. Sebastian's School in Massachusetts.
The Penguins closed the day by trading their seventh-round pick to Vegas for a seventh-round selection next year.