The Penguins are stuck in a transition year, relatively speaking. Throw in the unforeseen drop in the salary-cap ceiling and injuries to first-liner Pascal Dupuis, first-round draft pick Beau Bennett, coupled with the scary Kris Letang situation, and the Pens have been faced with a couple serious problems this season:
2. They had to waste three draft picks last week to rebuild their bottom two lines. There’s a difference between using draft picks to get a top-6 rent-a-player and using those picks for grinder rent-a-players.
We’ve been trying to figure out why the Pens’ bottom two lines are so horrible, something that’s been documented numerous times in recent weeks by mc79hockey.com
among others. When faced with that information, people will be quick to point out that the Pens have a top-heavy salary-cap structure: Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Fleury, Orpik, Letang, Martin, Scuderi, Kunitz, and Dupuis are the Pens’ biggest earners, which leaves little money for decent depth players.
What we did
Over last two weeks or so, we've examined every draft pick made in the NHL during the Ray Shero era, so that means 2006 to the present. We looked at number of draft picks, drafting tendencies, and the NHL production of those picks. The deeper we delved into the numbers, we began realizing what is going on. Ray Shero and his staff have not been able to draft and develop homegrown talent, especially at the forward position.
Drafting is just one part of being a GM; we know that. Shero has excelled at finding missing pieces in trades, and he hasn't been too bad at drafting defensemen. But forwards are a different story entirely.
What this post is about
This isn't about Shero passing on Brandon Saad or debating whether or not Shero should've drafted Toews over Staal. Making picks and having them turn into an NHL player is anything but an exact science. But when you have no one in your organization that can fill a void on any line, you have a major problem.
As we were researching, this quote from the MC79hockey article above, was a foundation:
If the Pens lose in the playoffs, as they probably will, it will probably involve Crosby/Malkin having a few cold games (or Marc-Andre Fleury blowing up). When that happens, people will say “Gee, Malkin/Crosby/Fleury were terrible.” Perhaps they should point out that Pittsburgh is trying to win with an abysmal bottom half of their team, which piles an awful lot of pressure on the other guys.
The Penguins' inability to fill the bottom half of the lineup is a direct result of their swings and misses at the draft. The evidence does not lie...