The Pittsburgh Penguins have made the playoffs for 13 straight seasons and will have a first round pick for the first time since 2014.
In order to keep making the roster better and stay in contention for a Stanley Cup, the Penguins have traded first-round picks with regularity. Their highest picks in the last four drafts have been:
- — 2015: No.46 (Daniel Sprong)
- — 2016: No.55 (Filip Gustavsson)
- — 2017: No.51 (Zachary Lauzon)
- — 2018: No.53 (Calen Addison)
As a result, the Penguins have one of the worst farm systems in the NHL and will likely take the best player available, just to re-stock the shelves.
Heading into the draft some of their top prospects include:
- — Kasper Bjorkqvist (No.61 Pick in 2016): Bjorkqvist ranked fourth in Providence College scoring with 30 points (17G / 13A) in 42 games this season. The 21-year-old right winger has played for Finland in the U20 World Juniors in 2016 and 2017, combining for just two goals and two assists in 13 games.
- — Addison: For the second straight season, the 19-year-old defenseman finished with exactly 11 goals and 54 assists. The 65 points was good for sixth among WHL defensemen.
- — Nikita Pavlychev (No.197 Pick in 2015): Pavlychev is an absolute monster, standing at 6-foot-7 and 211 lbs. and is coming off of a strong Junior season with Penn St. University. The centre scored 14 goals and 15 assists (29 points) in 39 games and leaped up the Penguins prospect rankings as a result.
With the No.21 Overall Pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins select…
Thomas Harley — D — Canada 🇨🇦
Kris Letang continues to miss chunks of games every season, Justin Schultz will be a UFA at the end of next season and Erik Gudbranson has just two years left on his deal. The Penguins are going to need defensemen to step into the lineup soon and Harley gives them a big (6-foot-3, 192 lbs.) two-way defenseman.
Harley shot up the prospect rankings this season while scoring 11 goals with 47 assists (58 points) in 68 games with Mississauga (OHL). The 58 points was good for ninth among OHL defensemen. Harley skates exceptionally well for a defenseman with his size and isn’t afraid to join the rush. When you watch his highlight tape you will see him picking corners with a hard wrist shot.
By the time Harley is ready to make the jump into the NHL, Letang will be around 34-years-old and Harley and Addison will likely be the power-play quarterbacks of the future.
An efficient and play-driving defender with good size and speed. He not only accepted a larger role with Mississauga this year, but he’s also thrived with it. Improved lateral quickness and overall speed from last season make him more of a threat off the rush. Just a few weeks shy of being eligible for the 2020 class. High upside. — Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects)
- #19 — HockeyProspect.com
- #18 — Future Considerations
- #20 — ISS Hockey
- #11 — NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)