By Kenny Lindberg
Long after the likes of Nail Yakupov and Ryan Murray are gone and likely en route to their NHL destinations, there will be another six rounds that many hockey fans should keep their eyes open for.
For as good as Kris Letang and James Neal are for the Penguins, neither of them were first round selections. The Penguins selected Letang in the third round of the 2005 NHL Draft, which makes that draft look even more like a steal considering Sidney Crosby was selected with the 1st pick. The likes of fan favorite Joe Vitale [picked in the 7th rd] has since become a solid 4th line player this past season. Also in 2005 James Neal was selected in the second round by the Dallas Stars. Another Penguin selected in the later rounds of that draft is Cal O’Reilly, who was selected in the 5th round to Nashville. That being said, here is a look at some of this year’s potential second day selections who could potentially end up with the Penguins.
Fox is a very interesting prospect that includes some local flavor with playing up in Erie. He comes somewhat from the Sidney Crosby mold of smaller playmaking forwards being 'listed' at 6 foot even. In 62 OHL games last season split between the eventual OHL champion London Knights and the Erie Otters, Fox recorded 23 goals and 31 assists with his numbers as an Otter at 10 goals and 12 assists in 28 games.
While the 54 points will not likely blow anyone away, a quick look at his progression through the Ontario Hockey League would show a nice increase in each of his three seasons. And with being the likely go-to-guy in Erie this upcoming season, his numbers should increase even more. One thing to keep in mind with Erie is that former NHL head coach Robbie Ftorek is the Otters current head coach, which should help as well. With the versatility and potential that Dane Fox brings to the table, I could see him being selected in the late 2nd-4th rounds.
McGinn might be a little more projectable wing prospect then most others because his brothers are both currently in the NHL or AHL. Jamie McGinn is his oldest brother who is presently with the Colorado Avalanche is a very physical player who is a serviceable spark plug type 3rd or 4th line player. Second oldest brother Tye is also a physical player who profiles more as a 3rd line energy guy who can also contribute on the scoring end. Tye was recently signed to an entry level deal by the Flyers.
Brock too has also been a very physical player who had injuries sideline him for most of the 2011-2012 season. He only appeared in 33 games scoring 12 goals and 7 assists while recording 25 penalty minutes. With McGinn status as the 49th best North American skater and his family’s history of solid gritty players, I see him being selected in the 3rd-5th rounds; his recent injury problem being the only thing holding him back. If a team does not foresee any impending issues, he could sneak into the 2nd round.
Pelech is another Erie product and a very capable defenseman who has the capability to become another Kris Letang. By this I mean his ratings is lower than his potential. He, like the aforementioned McGinn, has two brothers playing the game professionally. Much like Letang, Pelech likes to play a two-way defensive game. He contributed 2 goals and 18 assists for the Otters in 44 games this past season.
With as much as the Erie Otters struggled this past year, Pelech was one of the bright spots on the team (even though a -20 +/- rating might say otherwise). He displayed that he was one of the better up and coming defensive prospects going into the 2012 NHL Draft. Pelech was on Team Canada for the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in which Canada earned the gold, and was also selected to participate in the 2012 CHL Home Hardware Top Prospects Game.
I see Pelech becoming a victim of a bad CSS ranking and potentially being drafted anywhere from the 5th-7th rounds. He even has a decent possibility of going undrafted.
Other notable players to watch include: Ben Johnson (Windsor), Artur Gavrus (Owen Sound), Nick Ebert (Windsor), and Connor Brown (Erie).
CSS Ratings NHL.com, Dane Fox and Adam Pelech information: Ottershockey.com, Brock McGinn information: Guelphstorm.com, NHL.com 2005 Draft information: hockeydb.com.