Tuesdays With Stoosh: 6.22

Commentor Stoosh has been around quite a while.
He even has a shirt in Storeblog.
He's banged out beastly Homer-esque comments with a high level of consistency.
Only fitting to give him the reins.

The first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft kicks off on Friday night, 7:00 PM on both Versus and NHL Network, if you get either or both. Rounds Two through Seven take place on Saturday.

The Pens are picking 20th in the first round. They’ve got no second-round pick, the cost of allowing Jordan Leopold to grace Mellon Arena ice for a couple of months (and maybe more). They’ve got their regular picks in the third through seventh, plus Toronto’s sixth-round pick.

For shits and giggles, the Pens pick just ahead of Detroit in each round. It’s probably the result of some Gary Bettman-engineered grand scheme to prop up his Penguins at the expense of those damned Red Wings.

Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires is almost certain to go first to Edmonton. Hall and Plymouth’s Tyler Seguin are by some accounts as close as Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin were in the 2004 Entry Draft, but Hall has been hyped for this spot for three years now. As good as Seguin is, It would be awfully difficult for Oilers management to explain to their fans how they could pass on a dynamic gamebreaker with a flair for big goals in big moments like Hall.

Plus, on junior hockey’s biggest stage – the Memorial Cup – Hall more or less walked away from this…

…to go on and do this.

Not that any of us probably care much what Edmonton and Boston do. Just wanted an excuse to post that clip of the hit on Hall, because it’s nothing short of a miracle that he was able to skate away from that.

So what can Pens fans expect?

Well, picking 20th overall, chances are the Pens won’t be drafting for immediate need at the NHL level. Don’t be upset if they don’t take a winger with some scoring pedigree or a prototypical stay-at-home defenseman. MOST players that get drafted this weekend will not be expected to set skate to NHL ice for three seasons and it’s impossible to know what the big club’s needs are going to be at that time.

Nevertheless, here are some names to keep an eye on:

RW Austin Watson – Peterborough (OHL) – 6’3”, 185 lbs. – A big kid who projects as a potential power forward in the NHL, his game is reminiscent of Chris Kunitz, but with more pedigree. He’s the type of player Shero and Bylsma would love. A good skater and a physical presence who loves to forecheck, he excels in all three zones, thanks in part to spending most of his first couple of seasons getting third-line minutes on some very loaded Windsor teams. He waived his no-trade clause at the OHL deadline, passing up a shot at a second Memorial Cup so he could be traded to Peterborough and get first-line ice time. He didn’t disappoint at all, scoring 20 points (9G, 11A) in just 10 reg. season games with the Petes. He may never be much more than a 20-goal scorer in the NHL, but put him alongside a center like Crosby or Malkin and that could go up.

RW Vladimir Tarasenko – Novosibirsk (KHL) – 5’11”, 200 lbs. – One of the best pure talents in this draft crop, Tarasenko could very well fall out of the top fifteen because Russian players have become such a risk to sign to rookie NHL deals. If he was of North American descent, he never gets past the Rangers at tenth overall and maybe even goes in the top five. He put up great numbers in the KHL with Novosibirsk (13-11-24 in 42 games) and could potentially play in the NHL next year if he lands in the right situation. He may be worth the risk at 20th overall for the Pens, as the opportunity to play alongside Malkin may be enough to get him to North America. If so, there’s your top-line winger for the foreseeable future.

LW/C Quinton Howden – Moose Jaw (WHL) – 6’2”, 183 lbs. – Another King Shero-type versatile player who projects as a two-way forward in the NHL. 65 points in 65 games (28G, 37A) isn’t bad at all for the WHL. He’s considered one of the fastest skaters in this draft and also one of the strongest on his skates.

D Dylan McIlrath – Moose Jaw (WHL) – 6’4”, 215 lbs. – The Western Hockey League is the most physical of the three Canadian major junior leagues, so it says something when a player is almost unanimously considered the toughest player in the WHL. That would be McIlrath, who treated WHL opponents this season like Gary Roberts treated the Ottawa Senators in the playoffs – that is, with seething hate and simmering rage. Want your stay-at-home ass-kicker on defense? Draft McIlrath. Want to knock a few more teeth out of Dan Carcillo’s face, assuming Dan Carcillo is still pulling an NHL paycheck in three years? Draft McIlrath. Want someone to take an opposing player who decides to crash the crease on the Pens and wrap a composite stick around his back? Draft McIlrath. This just in: 7 goals and 24 points in 65 games last year. Kid can shoot, too.

D Jarred Tinordi – USA Nat’l Developmental Team – 6’6”, 205 lbs. – Yes, THAT Tinordi. You should want Shero to draft him just because Pops Tinordi spent his career losing to the Pens in Minnesota and Washington, and now he’d be forced to cheer for them. You should also want Shero to draft Tinordi because while Pops was a 6’4” pylon, Junior is a much better skater and is still growing. He’s slated to attend Notre Dame, although he may pass on school to play for the London Knights of the OHL. He’s drawn some criticism for not exhibiting quite the nasty edge that his dad did, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing because Pops often took some dumbass penalties.

Third-round shenanigans:

RW/LW Petr Straka – Rimouski (QMJHL) – 6’1”, 184 – Awesome name. Played for Sid’s Quebec League alma mater in Rimouski. Put up good numbers for a Quebec League rookie with 28 goals and 36 assists in 62 games. But in all seriousness, he’s too much of a reach for the Pens to take at #20, and he likely won’t be there when the Pens pick again in the third round (80th overall). Damn you, Jordan Leopold. Damn you!

LW Kirill Kabanov – Moncton (QMJHL), sort of – 6’2”. 176 – I bring him up only because about a year ago, he was expected to challenge Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin for first-overall supremacy. Less than a year later, he bailed on his junior team in Moncton and then managed to get himself kicked off of the Russian Under-18 team. In other words, he’s the NHL’s version of Randy Moss. Not only does he come complete with potential attitude issues, but he also brings the KHL contract baggage. Because of this, he’s likely cost himself a first-round selection and may fall all the way to the third round. I mention him only because if he happens to fall to the 80th spot, given that they’ve got so much of a core already in place, it MIGHT be worth the risk for the Pens to take a flier on him in the hopes that the environment here could straighten him out. From a talent standpoint alone, he’s 1B to Hall and Seguin’s 1 and 1A.

C – Greg McKegg – Erie (OHL) – 6’0”, 191 lbs. – Erie Otter. 35 goals and 87 points in 67 games. Erie Otter. Excellent, precise shooter and a decent skater, not that skating issues have ever stopped the Pens before (see Tangradi, Eric and Hanowski, Ben). Learning to add a more physical dimension to his game. Looks eerily like Matthew Barnaby. Erie Otter.

Beauty! Do it, Shero! You’re gonna need a center to replace Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey.