Complete 2023 NHL Draft selections of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins, 2023 NHL Draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, 2023 NHL Draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

On day two of the 2023 NHL Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins concluded their picks by making five more selections following their initial choice of center Brayden Yager in the first round on Wednesday evening.

Despite the hopes of some fans who may have expected the Pens to trade their picks away due to the big three players approaching the later stages of their careers, the team prioritized expanding their prospect pool by focusing on adding depth during the draft.

In contrast to previous off-seasons, I genuinely appreciate this much-needed change. Although some players may never reach the NHL level, the hopes are others will make valuable contributions in a few years.

Having said that, let’s get into each draft selection, and I will share my thoughts on each pick, drawing from game film and highlights.

92. Pick Analysis. C. Moose Jaw Warriors. 14. player. Scouting Report. Brayden Yager

Brayden Yager is an 18-year-old center for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, Yager has shown impressive goal-scoring abilities in his career.

Yager shines in his offensive abilities and has a powerful, accurate shot. His weight transfer and stick blade positioning contribute to his shooting prowess. While he doesn’t have the best edge work, his mechanics are strong, and his speed can be a real asset when he builds up momentum.

Despite some struggles with physicality and hockey sense, Yager could prove to be a steal for the Penguins, landing right into their hands.

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. LHD. Oulun Kärpät. Emil Pieniniemi . 91. player. 92

Emil Pieniniemi possesses the size of a modern NHL defenseman and showcases several strengths. His solid skating and effective two-way play allow him to turn defensive responsibility into offensive potential.

Pieniniemi stood out as a critical player for Team Finland at the 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championship, earning accolades as the team’s best player during a quarterfinal matchup.

However, Pieniniemi’s game remains raw, with room for growth in areas like on-ice awareness and decision-making speed. Some general managers might be wary of his developing toolkit, but Pieniniemi could rise in the draft with the right development plan.

He was projected as a late sixth-round pick, but the Pens drafted him in the third round. If nurtured properly, Pieniniemi has the potential to become a top American Hockey League defenseman, playing with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

142. Scouting Report. Severstal Cherepovets. Mikhail Ilyin. player. 92. Pick Analysis. F

Mikhail Ilyin is a 6-foot, 181-pound forward known for his solid, two-way game and ability to improve those around him. Ilyin has a pass-first mindset, showing persistence with and without the puck.

Despite these strengths, Ilyin’s game is marked by occasional inconsistency, reflecting his developmental stage.

His NHL potential is considered solid but not necessarily spectacular, with the understanding that his game could develop significantly over time. He will need to work on his consistency and continue growing his overall game, which will likely determine his NHL-level success.​

C. 92. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Ottawa 67's / OHL. Cooper Foster. 174. player

Cooper Foster, a center for the Ottawa 67’s, is highly regarded for his off-puck intelligence and defensive reliability. He’s lauded for his positional understanding and willingness to go the extra mile to prevent opponents from scoring.

His skating ability has also been singled out, especially his speed in open spaces. However, his ability to be explosive on the ice needs improvement, particularly to enhance his defensive game by returning to his zone quicker.

His NHL potential lies in his hardworking nature and defensive solidity. If Foster can enhance his skating and infuse more creativity into his game, he could potentially make a mark as a bottom-six winger who excels at penalty killing.

However, he still has a significant journey ahead to get there, and his performance over the next couple of seasons will be crucial in determining his ability to succeed at the pro level. Despite not being the most skilled player, Foster’s commitment and work ethic may take him far if he builds upon his other areas that need improvement.

F. SaiPa / Liiga. player. 92. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Emil Järventie. 217

Emil Järventie’s playstyle is a joy to watch, standing out with a wicked backhand goal and superb cross-ice assists showcasing his impressive vision. Known for his quick and electric playstyle, Järventie is an undersized winger with fast feet and a great motor.

His shooting ability is another advantage, especially from high-danger areas, making him a potential scoring threat at the NHL level. His shot is a weapon, evident from his performance at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

However, Järventie has areas he needs to improve on. His skating, for instance, needs refinement for a player of his size; he needs to add more explosiveness to succeed in the NHL. His reliance on skill is another concern, as he often needs to simplify his game, especially regarding his cross-ice passes, which could be an issue at professional levels.

Kalle Kangas. player. LHD. Jokerit / Mestis. 223. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 92

Kalle Kangas, a left-handed defenseman, showcased his skills for Jokerit at the junior level in Finland during the 2022-23 season. Standing tall at 6-foot-4 and weighing 205 pounds, Kangas made his presence known on the ice. Throughout the season, he contributed, scoring one goal and dishing out eight assists in 42 games.

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While he occasionally demonstrates good vision and puck distribution capabilities, his offensive skillset is limited, and his creativity with the puck tends to be inconsistent.