Penguins Should Look At Defense From Draft

We’ve been talking about the Draft quite a bit recently so now let’s turn to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens don’t have a very high pick, 21st overall. As for their season, the team finished with a record of 44-26-12 and 100 points in the standings. The Pens finished 3rd in the Metro Division. Their playoff run was short lived as they were swept in the 1st round by the New York Islanders.

As for on ice production this season, the Penguins had 273 goals for (6th in the NHL) and 241 goals against (14th in the NHL). Their puck control was just under average with a team Corsi For percentage of 49.7%. Through all of it, the Penguins were dealing with a lot of injuries. Core players like Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, and Olli Matta, were out for a bulk of the season and it messed with Pittsburgh’s rhythm.

Now the team has to worry about free agency. Going up is 42-year-old forward Matt Cullen (UFA), Garrett Wilson (UFA), Zach Aston-Reese (RFA), Zach Trotman (UFA) just to name a few.

The real problem lies within the minor free agencies. The team will only have 4 defensemen that are non roster signed past this summer. They’ll end up resign a few but they need to fill in the ones who sign elsewhere. So grabbing a fresh defensemen would be extremely helpful. 

There are 3 defensemen that the Pens should look at. The only problem is that these defensemen are all sign to another year in leagues elsewhere. But the Pens can use that time to their advantage to collect some younger players to match. So let’s jump in.

First is Ville Heinola from Finland. Heinola comes in at 5’11” and 181 lbs. Started the season with Finland’s Liiga league on the U20 Lukko team before being called upto the men’s team. On the men’s Lukko team this season, Heinola played in 34 games and pulled in 14 points, 26 PIMs and a +7 rating.

Heinola was playing up to 21 minutes a game and was useful on the PK and PP. Heinola is still signed to one more season on Lukko. Heinola was also at the Worlds for both Juniors and the men’s championship. While playing for Team Finland internationally, Heinola had 9 points in 13 games.

Next up is right handed defensemen Moritz Seider. This German is 6’4″ and 207 lbs. Seider has been playing in Germany’s DEL for 2 seasons now. This year he played in 29 games with 6 points, 8 PIMs, and a +2 rating. Seider was also at World Juniors and the World Championships. At World Juniors he wore the “C” and led his team through 5 games with 13 points.

While playing in other international games, Seider had 13 points in 12 games at the Junior level. Seider is described as a solid two-way defensemen. He’s got great speed as well, can get the jump on guys before they even know what’s happening, and he’s got that alongside a great shot and pass.

Last but not least we’ve got left handed defensemen Tobias Bjornfot. Bjornfot is a 6’0″ and 203lbs defensemen from Sweden. Him and Seider were actually born on the same day, April 6th, 2001. Bjornfot played the bulk of his season on Sweden’s Djurgården J20 SuperElit team, playing in 39 games with 22 points, 14 PIMs, and a +15.  Bjornfot wore the A while playing with them.

Bjornfot did make an appearance as Captain of Team Sweden at the World Juniors and played 7 games with 1 assist, 6 PIMs, and a -1 rating but the team won Gold following their leader. Bjornfot is an elite skater and he’s got an amazing hockey IQ that makes him a leader on the ice. He’s got a certain presence on the ice that gives him authority and his puck carrying gives him even more respect.

Now the Penguins would be wise to draft any of these 3 defensemen for future investment. Although they won’t join the Penguins organization right away, they’ll  still be building on the talent they already have. They’ve got potential to become leaders for this organization and to win them more Stanley Cups in years to come.

Featured Image: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

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