After seven rounds and 211 picks, the 2012 NHL draft is in the books. The Pittsburgh Penguins, playing host, entertained their guests with a blockbuster trade involving Jordan Staal. One of the returns was the 8th overall pick in the 2012 draft which was used to select Derrick Pouliot.
The Penguins made eight additional picks in this year’s draft, including the 22nd overall pick which was used to select Olli Maatta. Here is a breakdown:
For the second straight year, the Penguins spent their first pick on a playmaking defenseman from the Portland Winterhawks. At 5’11, 190 pounds, Pouliot uses his skating ability and vision to make plays on the blue line. He is comparable to Michael Del Zotto from the New York Rangers and Kris Letang, although he lacks the physical style of play. NHL.com ranked Pouliot as the 12th best player on the board before the draft.
In 72 games with Portland this season, Pouliot recorded 59 points (11 g, 48 a). He finished fourth among defensemen in the WHL in scoring while his teammate -and 2011 first round pick for the Penguins- Joe Morrow finished second.
With their second first round pick, the Penguins selected another defenseman. Maatta won’t turn 18 for another two months, yet he already has experience at a professional level. Before joining the London Knights this past season, Maatta played professionally in Finland. At 16, he was the youngest player selected to represent Finland in the 2011 World Junior Championship.
Oddly enough, Maatta was ranked as the 8th best prospect on NHL.com, ahead of Pouliot. Many saw the defenseman going much earlier, but he was able to slip to the 22nd overall pick.
In 58 games with London, Matta registered 32 points (5 g, 27 a).
In the 2nd round, the Penguins selected Theodor Blueger, a center from Shattuck-Saint Mary’s. Blueger is a pure offensively skilled center who has excellent vision with the puck. In 105 games with Shattuck, Blueger tallied 106 assists. At 6’0 170 pounds, the Latvian will need to work on filling out his frame.
Pittsburgh then selected Oskar Sundqvist in the third round, a 6’3 170 pound center with the tools to become a two-way player.
Goaltender Matthew Murray also went in the third round. At 6’4 175 pounds, Murray will become a project for the Penguins, who are hoping he can provide organizational depth.
Matia Marcantuoni was selected with the first pick in the fourth round. Marcantuoni tallied 14 points as a forward in 24 games with the Kitchener Rangers.
Goaltender Sean Maguire, defenseman Clark Seymour, and right winger Anton Zlobin rounded out the final three picks for the Penguins.
Most likely, all nine players will return to their respective teams next season. The closest to making the NHL club is Olli Maatta, however, given the extreme amount of depth the Penguins have on defense, Maatta will definitely see time in London next season.
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