#Pens Draft Day Report: Six New Prospects, Kennedy Traded, Letang Re-Signed?

Sunday, June 30, 2013
It was an interesting start to the day for the Pittsburgh Penguins to say the least.

Before the Colorado Avalanche started the afternoon off, reports began to materialize that defenseman Kris Letang is close to signing an eight year, $58 million contract extension that will pay him $7.25 million per season starting in 2014-15. Still nothing official on Letang, who can't sign am extension until July 5th per the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). 

Heading into today's draft, the Penguins weren't scheduled to draft their first player until the third round (77th overall). That quickly changed when the Pens sent forward Tyler Kennedy, a restricted free agent, to the San Jose Sharks for their 2nd round pick (50th overall). The move gives the Pens some more cap space to work with as Kennedy made $2 million last season. 

The Penguins didn't hold onto the 50th overall pick for long, however. They traded the pick, along with their 3rd round selection (89th overall), to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 44th pick. 

With the 44th pick, the Penguins selected goaltender Tristan Jarry of the Western Hockey League's (WHL) Edmonton Oil Kings. Jarry went 18-7 with a 1.61 GAA and .936 SV% this past season, including six shutouts this past season with the Oil Kings. At 18 years old, Jarry will most likely stay with the Oil Kings next season. He can't play in the AHL until the 2014-15 season.

It's clear Jarry was on the Pens' radar, as they traded up twice to get him. The move to draft a goalie gives the organization some options in the pipeline as Jarry joins Matt Murray and Sean Maguire as Pens unsigned draftees in net. The Penguins also have Eric Hartzell, who they signed late this past season. 

In the third round, the Pens selected center Jake Guentzel, reigning United States Hockey League's (USHL) "Rookie of the Year" from Sioux City. In 60 games, Guentzel tallied 29 goals and 44 assists - good for 6th in the USHL in scoring. Guentzel is headed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha next season, where current AHL Penguins forward Jayson Megna played in 2011-12.

With the 119th pick, the Penguins went for a defenseman in Ryan Segalla from Salisbury Prep in Connecticut. Segalla, who turns 19 in December, recorded 18 points (10G-8A) in 28 games last season. The high school hockey player is headed to the University of Connecticut in the fall.

The Pens had two picks in the 6th round, taking defenseman Dane Birks from Merritt of the BCHL (164th overall) and center Blaine Byron from Smiths Falls (179th overall). Birks had 20 points (5G-15A) in 52 games for Merritt and committed to Michigan Tech for next year. Byron is headed to the University of Maine in the fall and projects to be a two-way forward. He'll certainly develop at UMaine.

The Pens finished their 2013 draft class with the 209th overall selection, picking left winger Troy Josephs from the Ontario Junior Hockey League's (OJHL) St. Michael's Buzzers. Josephs recorded 37 points (17G-20A) in 42 games in the OJHL last season and is expected to play at Clarkson University next season.

The Penguins collected six prospects altogether today, spread evenly with one goaltender, two defenseman and three forwards taken.

While I don't see any of today's picks making an immediate impact at the NHL level in the 2013-14 season, the Pens added a talented goaltender that could turn heads in a few years in Tristan Jarry. They also added a young forward in Jake Guentzel who performed well at the USHL level and will take his talents to the WCHA next season. 

The big Letang trade didn't happen today. None of the players the Penguins drafted today are eligible for AHL duty in Wilkes-Barre next season, but forwards Guentzel and Josephs would be eligible for the AHL in 2014-15 if signed to a contract between now and then.


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