By Zackery Robert

Staying in the state of Pennsylvania we now move to the steel city, Pittsburgh, the far more successful team in this state in the past fifteen years, Pittsburgh has been one of the luckiest teams in the draft in the past twenty years in terms of talent and it has translated into three Stanley Cups since 2009.

We will first go to the 1984 draft where Pittsburgh drafted one of the greatest players ever. Mario Lemieux was an icon, second to only Gretzky. Lemieux played for the Penguins from 1984 all the way up until 2006, he did Miss time in the late 90s when he was fighting cancer. Mario Lemieux had an illustrious career And only 915 games Mario Lemieux scored over 1700 points His numbers that he put up in his career are unfathomable in today’s age his top three season point totals in his career were 199 points in 1989, 168 points in 1988, and 160 points in 1993. Mario was the captain during the franchises first two Stanley Cup victories and he also captured both of the Conn Smythe trophies, his list of accolades are long, Mario Lemieux has totaled an immense number of 17 individual trophies. Mario Lemieux has six Art Ross trophies for League leader in points during the regular season, he has three Hartt trophies for League MVP, Lemieux also has four Lester B Pearson trophies which are voted on by the NHLPA as best player in the league during the regular season and he has also won the Calder trophy as rookie of the year. This list is unbelievable that it is true and not a made up wikipedia page.

Moving on to another Sensational number one overall pick, we have Sidney Crosby who was taken first overall in 2005 by the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is widely known that Sidney Crosby was a generational player when he came into the league, he scored 102 points in his rookie season and he still did not win the Calder Trophy that year, we will get to the player who did win The Calder Trophy that year a little later down the road in this series. However Crosby is not without accolades both individual and team. Crosby was the captain of three Stanley Cup winning runs with the penguins in which he took two of the Conn Smythe trophies for playoff MVP, Crosby also has two Art Ross trophies, two Hart trophies and three Ted Lindsay trophies to go along with two Rocket Richard two trophies for most goals in the regular season. Crosby has been playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005 and they’re still going strong to this day. He finished this season, his 18th season, with 93 points in 82 games. Crosby is an icon and we’ll go down as one of the greatest players of all time.

Moving on to the third and final player of this part of the article where we discuss some of the franchise’s best ever picks, We now have quite an issue here there are three players in particular who can all end up on this list, those being Jagr, Malkin, and Fleury, they all have tremendous resumes with the Pittsburgh Penguins and all three of these players will go down as one of the best players in league history respectively. one can make a case, a great case, for any of these three players to be on this list, without any one of these three players the Pittsburgh Penguins would not have been as successful franchise as they are today all of these three players will have their jersey numbers retired with the Pittsburgh Penguins once their careers are all set and done and they have retired and all three of these players have left their Mark with the club that will never be forgotten. So who to choose, it really is a tough ordeal when deciding who to select, however for arguments sake i will choose Marc Andre Fleury. Chosen first overall in 2003 Marc Andre Fleury was just what the Penguins needed during that time. Fleury ended up turning out to be a franchise goaltender that was able to help backstop the Pittsburgh Penguins to Stanley Cup victories, during his tenure with the Penguins, Fleury also won 40-plus games in two separate seasons and he also had another six seasons where he won over 30 games. He was as dependable and net as you could ask for during his time with the Penguins, In hockey the toughest position to play is goalie and Marc Andre Fleury made it look easy, almost effortless at times, he was the perfect compliment to the one-two punch of Crosby and Malkin and it showed. Marc Andre Fleury will go down as the greatest Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender of all time and also one of the league’s greatest goalies of all time.

Now moving away from the good we now go to some of the picks that can be categorised as not so good, first off we will start at the 2012 draft where the Penguins held the eighth pick in the draft. With that 8th pick the Penguins chose Portland Winterhawks defenseman Derrick Pouliot. Pouliot would struggle to gain ice time and NHL, during his time with the penguins organisation between 2012 to 2017 Derrick Pouliot played 67 games, And in those 67 games he amassed 14 points. He was subsequently traded away in October of 2017 to the Vancouver Canucks for a very little return. for an eighth overall pick Pouliot did not live up to his potential, since leaving Pittsburgh he has still struggled to maintain season in and season out ice time in the NHL and since leaving Pittsburgh he has played on five different NHL teams most recently with the San Jose Sharks where he slit time in the NHL and AHL.

We will now take a look at when a second overall pick did not go to Pittsburgh Penguins way, in their first ever draft in 1967 the Pittsburgh Penguins held the second overall pick and chose goalie Steve Rexe. Rexe would go on to play no games for the Pittsburgh Penguins and no games in the NHL. After being selected in 1967 Rexe would go on to play in an Ontario Hockey League as well as in the EHL, AHL, and NAHL, before retiring at the end of the 1977 season.

Now coming back into the 21st century we will fast forward all the way back to the 2007 draft where the Pittsburgh Penguins held the 20th overall pick and use that pick to choose Angelo Esposito. Esposito would go on to have a very short tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins only staying one year in their franchise before being traded away to the Atlanta Thrashers franchise however his career never flourished in North America never getting above the AHL level and after 5 years in North America he took his talents over to Scandinavia and Europe playing in the Finnish Elite League, as well as the Austrian League and the Italian A league.

Moving on to the 2023 Pittsburgh Penguins we see them not making the playoffs for the first time in over 15 years and with that they hold the 14th overall pick in this upcoming NHL entry draft. The Penguins hold a total of six picks in this draft 1st, 3rd (NJ), 5th, 6th, 7th (FLA), 7th (TOR) and this is actually quite good news for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they have one of the worst prospect pipelines out of all the NHL, one of the only downsides to being a Powerhouse for over 15 years, nevertheless the future looks quite bleak for the Pittsburgh Penguins once their big three have all hung up their skates. So the obvious choice for the Penguins when it comes to their 14th overall selection in the NHL entry draft is to choose the best available player, for the Penguins this could mean any of these three potential players, Matthew Wood, Nate Danielson, or Otto Stenberg. All good quality forwards who can amount to being a very good top six player.

For more information on the 2023 NHL Draft class be sure to pick up your copy of the comprehensive DraftPro 2023 NHL Draft Guide.