THE NEW PENGUINS – 2018 NHL DRAFT RECAP


The 2018 NHL Entry Draft took place this weekend in Dallas, Texas. The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the draft without a first round pick, but based on the talent in this year’s prospect pool, team scouts and pundits agreed there would be plenty of promising young players available for the Penguins.

Below are Pittsburgh’s 2018 selections listed in sequential order. Every player has a quick profile and scouting report included in this draft recap so that you can get to know a little more about the newest members of the organization before they likely end up taking the ice for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the future!

 

53rd – CALEN ADDISON: Defenseman, Lethbridge Hurricanes…

With Pittsburgh’s first selection in this year’s draft, they get an elite skater that fell right into its lap in Calen Addison. He has the ability to change directions on a dime, and he covers so much ground in any direction in an instant. Owns some offensive upside too thanks to his shooting ability. Addison has a quick wrister from the blue line that always gets past the first level. Always. This young man is an ace on the power play, as well. He’s a little undersized, but he competes enough to make up several inches in wall battles. However, doesn’t expect him to throw his weight around. Like a lot of young defensemen, his awareness on the defensive side of the game wanes, but he has time to remedy that before he’ll be called upon in Pittsburgh. They likely fell in love with him while keeping tabs on Jordy Bellerive, a Hurricanes teammate that the Penguins added to their prospect pool last year.

 

58th – FILIP HÅLLANDER: Right Wing, Timrå IK…

Pittsburgh traded up to take this player, and you could hear a tinge of excitement in director of scouting Patrik Allvin’s voice when he announced the selection of his fellow Swede. This is an energetic forward who can play wing or center. Filip Hållander relishes the forecheck and crashes the net. Acts as a fearless net-front presence. The Penguins have grown rather fond of Swedish players that play that style over the past few years, haven’t they? (Think Hörnqvist, Hagelin.) He’s a shifty skater skating and owns the puck abilities to possibly become more than a grind-it-out type player. His stride could use some refinement, it can look clunky at times, but he gets long extension from his powerful legs to generate deceptive speed. He shines in the east-west game, too, because of his skills and great edgework. Hållander shouldn’t be relied on to be a particularly creative playmaker, but he won’t make brainless mistakes either. No players were exchanged in the trade with Colorado to move up and take Hållander, by the way. It was only a pick swap.

 

129th – JUSTIN ALMEIDA: Centerman, Moose Jaw Warriors…

Quite some time passed between Pittsburgh’s second and third selections here, but the Penguins hope it was worth the wait as they grab the speedy and skilled Justin Almeida. Pittsburgh continues its trend of drafting over-age players, as Almeida was passed over in last year’s draft. A big reason why he wasn’t selected was his size. He’s thin as a rail and measures five-foot-nine, but his offensive output this season was too tantalizing to pass up. A great way for smaller players to make up for their diminutive size is by being a good skater, and Almeida can skate like the wind. He’s capable of making plays while operating at top speed, and his head can keep up with his feet. The 1999-born centerman possesses good puckhandling ability, but will grab your attention with a devastating shot. That pro-level release is a big reason why he jumped from 11 goals last season to 43 this year.

 

177th – LIAM GORMAN: Centerman, St. Sebastian’s School…

This is a strong young man that plays a gritty game. Every time you watch Liam Gorman, you’re going to see him driving to the front of the net. He scores a lot of his goals in that area around the crease, too. He has explosiveness to his stride, but needs to work on his overall speed. When he’s on top of his game, he excels at digging in the corners, gaining body leverage on opponents and winning possession for his team in the trenches. Gorman will go the collegiate route and is committed to attend Boston University, which surely will endear him to former Terriers Mike Sullivan and Clark Donatelli.

BELLERIVE MAKING WAVES AS PENGUINS NAB FIRST WIN OF 2017 PROSPECTS SHOWCASE

Pick after pick went by at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago back in June, 86, 87, 89… it kept going. 154, 155, 156… and so on and so on until 215, 216, 217. The draft was over.

Jordy Bellerive never heard his name.

After an impressive year with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, not one of the 31 NHL clubs felt that Bellerive could help their team advance in the future. Even though he was at first understandably rocked by going undrafted, he’s looking on the brighter side.

“It’s something you look forward to your whole life,” Bellerive said. “You try and battle throughout the whole year trying to get that opportunity for a team to take you, then to not get drafted, obviously that was disappointing. But some things happens for a reason. I really think it turned out well for me. It really motivated me for the summer. I put a lot of hard work in, which I think is paying off. So I’m okay with it now.”

bellerive tweet

With the chip still freshly engraved on his shoulder, Bellerive is using it to leave a big time impression as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2017 Prospects Showcase. The 18-year-old forward now leads the tournament with four goals on the heels of tallying a hat trick in the Penguins first win of the weekend, a 6-2 triumph over the New Jersey Devils.

Just over one minutes into the contest, Bellerive notched slid a rebound across the goal line. As the Devils caught fire early in the third period and started forging a comeback, Bellerive poured cold water on them with yet another tally, and later added a third score to complete the hat trick.

Bellerive gave partial credit to his offensive outburst to the confidence he gained by scrounging up a goal in the Pittsburgh prospects’ first game on Friday.

“To get that first one out of the way quick, it showed, hey, I can play. I belong here. I got some confidence and tried to do it again today. It worked out for me again, I guess.”

Bellerive isn’t the only one believing in himself at this point either. His performance has coach Clark Donatelli singing his praises, as well.

“I don’t know his whole body of work and what he’s done before this, but so far so good,” Donatelli said. “If you’re going off this, then yes he definitely should have been drafted.”

What’s particularly impressed Donatelli and other Penguins brass has been Bellerive’s ability to contribute in this fashion offensively despite limited ice time. Most of the minutes through two games have been dedicated to Penguins prospects already under contract, like Zach Aston-Reese, Daniel Sprong, Teddy Blueger, Thomas Di Pauli, etc. But every time Bellerive has stepped onto the ice, one can’t help but notice.

“Coming in being a fourth line guy, I expected to not get the most ice time. So I told myself whatever ice time I got, that was an opportunity to do something special.”

He’s been exactly that so far. Special. Now there’s more than enough reason for him to hope this weekend is just the start to a lengthy pro career.

“Hockey’s a long run. I’m not too worried about [going undrafted] anymore.”

 

OTHER NOTES:

In addition to Bellerive’s hat trick, the Penguins got their fair share of puck luck in their victory over the Devils prospects, too. First period goals by Teddy Blueger and Thomas Di Pauli both redirecting off of Devils defensemen and in.

Much like Friday, Sprong continued to be snakebitten despite a bevy of scoring chances. When the puck finally fell right for him, it was on a one-timer that left his stick with such velocity, it went rocketing right through the equipment of Devils goalie Ken Appleby and across the goal line. It was quite a shot, but the kind of delivery we’ve come to expect from Sprong.

The Devils’ two goals that beat Penguins goalie Alex D’Orio both went bar-down. Otherwise, it was an impressive showing from the 18-year-old tender when New Jersey had its chances.

Zach Aston-Reese dropped the gloves and fought Devils D-man Steve Santini late in the third period. Aston-Reese got into a scuffle by the Devs’ bench and Santini stepped in with less than diplomatic intentions to solve the conflict. Both players got good punches in, but Aston-Reese ended up with the takedown.

The Penguins have a practice scheduled for Sunday afternoon, then they face the host Buffalo Sabres in the final game of the tourney at 7:35 p.m. on Monday.