From penguins.nhl.com comes a telling quote from Penguins General Manager Ray Shero that may indicate what direction the Penguins will go when they pick a player tonight:
"You are usually getting top skill in the first round," Shero said. "It is getting harder and harder to draft offensive guys late like Detroit did with Henrik Zetterberg. The top-end guys are going in the first round."
Shero selected defenseman Simon Despres in the first round last season, but his other first round picks (Jordan Staal and Angelo Esposito) have been forwards.
And there was also an interesting anecdote:
"History will show that when you draft goaltenders in the top-20, you never know how they are going to work out," Shero said. "Sometimes you'll have better luck in the third-through-fifth rounds developing goaltenders. It takes them a while."
Nobody knows this more so than Shero, who was with the Ottawa Senators in 1998 when they chose goaltender Mathieu Chouinard with the 15th-overall selection. At the time, the Ottawa brass was split between taking Chouinard and a skilled forward.
Chouinard ended up playing just one NHL game for the Los Angeles Kings while the forward went on to become a 40-goal scorer in the NHL.
"That is where you can run into problems when you try to draft for needs," Shero said. "We needed a goaltender in the organization."
In 1998 Simon Gagne (drafted by Philadelphia with the 22nd pick) was selected after Choinard and became a 40 goal scorer in the NHL. Later in the draft Jonathan Cheechoo was also a 40 goal scorer, but it's unlikely he was being considered with the 15th pick.
Hopefully this year there's better luck than Shero had in '98. Obviously there won't be a goalie in play for the first round pick, but it's likely the scouting staff may be debating drafting a stud or a bust.