The 2023 NHL Draft is days away, with day one taking place on Wednesday, and the Pittsburgh Penguins will be picking at 14th overall in the first round. With a boring free agency upon a stacked draft class and us, all signs might point to the Pens using their 14th overall pick versus trading it away, but that’s not a guarantee.
In some ways, it makes sense for the Pens to make some trades, and their 14th overall pick could be a valuable asset. But I’m sure most of us have grown concerned about the Pens’ lack of future stars in their development system with the aging big three, Crosby, Malkin, and Letang.
It will come down to the offers from other teams in the coming days, or maybe the Pens have some players in mind that will bring some much-needed youth to this veteran roster. In light of these considerations, let’s explore three potential prospects the Penguins might target with their 14th overall pick on the draft’s first day.
1. Zach Benson, LW (Winnipeg, WHL)
Zach Benson, a left winger from the Winnipeg Ice, is another prospect to watch. Benson had a phenomenal 2022-23 season, with 36 goals and 62 assists in 60 games. He has proven himself a great goal-scorer, a skill that would benefit the Pens left wing.
Benson’s ability to consistently find the back of the net and his knack for setting up his teammates make him an exciting prospect for the Pens. Adding Benson to the lineup could enhance the team’s offensive capabilities and provide the spark they need.
2. Matthew Wood, RW (UConn, NCAA)
Matthew Wood, a right winger from UConn, is the first name on the list. Wood’s performance in the 2022-23 season was impressive, with 11 goals and 23 assists in 35 games. His ability to create opportunities for his teammates is exceptional, a characteristic that would align well with the Pens collaborative style of play.
However, it should be noted that Wood is committed to playing the 2023 season with UConn. This means his impact on the Pens will take time. Still, the extra year in college hockey will provide him with an opportunity for further development and growth before he transitions to the NHL.
3. Colby Barlow, LW (Owen Sound, OHL)
Colby Barlow is a left winger from the Owen Sound Attack. Barlow’s leadership skills are evident, as he served as the captain of his team during the 2022-23 season. His stat line was equally impressive, with 46 goals and 33 assists in 59 games.
Barlow’s leadership and scoring abilities make him an appealing prospect for the Pens. His addition to the team could bolster the Pens left wing and provide a potential leadership figure for the future.
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Building for the future is long overdue for the Pittsburgh Penguins
These are three possible picks for the Pens in the first round, each of which would significantly contribute to the team’s future roster. Considering the onset of the Kyle Dubas era, Pittsburgh’s decision-making this week will ultimately determine their direction. However, this choice will come with its challenges.
The big three are running out of time as their careers are winding down. This week will provide valuable insights into the Pens’ future roster and promises to be an intriguing turning point. Let us know your thoughts below; who would you like to see the Pens draft in round one? Would you trade for impact players instead?