Pittsburgh Penguins: Ray Shero’s Drafts Could Benefit the Pens Future Plans


Ray Shero, former Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager that was recently hired in New Jersey, has been heavily scrutinized over his draft selections during his Pens tenure. Shero was known for drafting an abundance of defensemen while the team’s offensive prospect pool dwindled.

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Aside from Beau Bennett, who has spent more time in the press box than on the ice, Sidney Crosby is the most recent active forward on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster that was drafted within. Considering that Beau Bennett is still unproven to an extent, that basically means that the Pens have one proven forward to show for the last ten years of drafting.

When you consider a telling piece of information like that, it’s tough to imagine that there’s a positive spin to it. But, surprisingly, there is.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a lot of work to do in order to build forward depth. The great thing about their current situation is that they have a few solid prospects that may be able to contribute in the NHL next season, and on defense they’re in a situation that allows them to take on salary to fill holes on offense.

If the Pens do indeed go with a youth movement on defense, things will likely shake out as follows (salary information via nhlnumbers.com).

Kris Letang – $7.250 million
Olli Maatta – $.894 million
Derrick Pouliot – $1.288 million
Ian Cole – $2 million (RFA, estimated cap hit)
Ben Lovejoy – $1.1 million
Brian Dumoulin – $1.2 million (RFA, estimated cap hit)

In this scenario, you’re looking at a cap hit of $13.372 million for your top-six. Of course, this requires that you buyout or trade Rob Scuderi.

Maatta, Pouliot, and Dumoulin are all products of fairly recent Shero drafts. Also, the Pittsburgh Penguins have Scott Harrington waiting for his chance to join the big club. He’ll be another name to watch in camp as he’ll battle for one of the top-six spots as well. Overall, he really put together an impressive crop of young, talented defensemen for this team to build around.

Of course, Shero also caused a lot of problems for the future of this team. Overpaid veterans on long-term deals and a multitude of forfeited draft picks for rentals are great examples of why the Pens have such a touchy situation at the moment. However, if Jim Rutherford plays his cards correctly, it’s isn’t far-fetched to think that this team can benefit from a defensive corps that was primarily built by Shero.

Only time will tell. Shero’s obsession with drafting defensemen and the lack of offensive depth can be detrimental if the situation isn’t handled correctly. For example, the Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired two additional third-round picks for 2016 that came as compensation for Dan Bylsma and John Hynes being hired elsewhere. Keep them. The next two or three years will be crucial when it comes to drafting and developing.

I’m not defending Ray Shero’s way of doing business, as it clearly put the Pittsburgh Penguins in a tough situation. It doesn’t seem right that we’ll be watching Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane battle for their third Stanley Cup in five years while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin haven’t seen the finals since 2009. The supporting cast is the problem, and that’s on Shero.

I’ll say this though; Shero provided some value on the blue line and Rutherford could take advantage of that. He has to, or the Pens are doomed for the foreseeable future.

Next: Blackhawks Proving the Importance of Depth

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