Big Lead Sports Bar

6/23/2007

A Team That Knows How to Draft

ANGELO ESPOSITO
6'1", 180 LBS CENTER
Unlike a certain "professional" baseball team in town, the Pittsburgh Penguins have proven time and time again that they know how to draft. Mario Lemieux. Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. Marc-Andre Fleury. Jaromir Jagr. Jordan Staal. All homegrown talent. Yes, they had to have a few lean years in the standings in order to draft these guys, but it was never 15 consecutive years. And before you correct me and say that no team could screw up a #1 overall pick, don't forget: Bryan Bullington and Kris Benson both went #1 overall, and I'm pretty sure they won't turn out to be Lemieux or Crosby.
That brings us to Friday night's NHL draft, where the Penguins took high-risk, high-reward center Angelo Esposito of the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts. As recently as six months ago, Esposito was regarded as the #1 overall pick.
"We had him very high on our list," general manager Ray Shero said. "So much so that we didn't have a name tag for him"
Esposito's stock supposedly fell because of questionable desire and a disappointing 2006-7 campaign, but I'm of the belief that a stable of young superstars' influence will lift him out of his doldrums.
So instead of drafting a player because of signability, the Penguins gave their fans an intriguing prospect with a high ceiling to chew on in the offseason. They also gave their fans another season of Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi. Unfortunately, they have no plans for a Sopranos parody video starring Iceburgh. Guess you'll just have to pay attention to a Stanley Cup run.

More on Angelo Esposito:
-He is not related to Phil or Tony Esposito.
-Wears #7, his "lucky number".
-As a member of the Quebec Remparts, played under head coach Patrick Roy, a former NHL player of some repute.
-Captain of Team Canada's gold-medal winning Under-18 Junior World Cup team in the Czech Republic in 2006.
-His favorite player is Vincent Lecavalier, who he will work out with in the offseason.
-His favorite musicians are Toby Keith and Keith Urban.
-His favorite TV shows are Seinfeld and 24.
-On joining the Pens: "I've never been happier in my life, other than winning the Memorial Cup. Landing with a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins, I couldn't be any happier."

6 comments:

Christina said...

I couldn't be happier with Shero's move to draft this kid. He's an absolute steal at #20, and I see him fitting in great with the Pens, either this year (reach?) or next (more likely). He doesn't have to be the star of the team, and when he was in a support role in Juniors was when he was so dangerous. Nice work, Pens!

Brian said...

Long time reader, first time writer . . .

Anyway, it's a good pick up. It looks like the Pens' drafting skills have turned around in the past few years. I wouldn't, however, be so quick to call them a team that knows how to draft, and contrast them with the Pirates. There was nearly a decade of scouting incompetence and draftday busts.

Just to remind everyone of some past draft history, here are there top 3 picks from 1993-2000, plus what I'd consider the "best" player they took:

1993:
1. Stefan Bergkvist
2. Domenic Pittis
3. Dave Roche
Best player: Patrick Lalime

1994:
1. Chris Wells
2. Richard Park
3. Sven Butenschon
Best player: Park

1995:
1. Alexei Morozov
2. J.S. Aubin
3. Oleg Belov
Best player: Jan Hrdina

1996:
1. Craig Hillier
2. Pavel Skrbek
3. Boyd Kane
Best player: Michal Rozsival

1997:
1. Robert Dome
2. Brian Gaffaney
3. Josef Melichar
Best player: Andrew Ference

1998:
1. Milan Kraft
2. Alexander Zevakhin
3. David Cameron
Best player: Rob Scuderi

1999:
1. Konstantin Koltsov
2. Matt Murley
3. Jeremy Van Hoof
Best player: Sebastian Caron

2000:
1. Brooks Orpik
2. Shane Endicott
3. Peter Hamerlik
Best player: Orpik

John said...

So how much does he have to pay Michel Ouellet to wear that lucky number 7?

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Yeah, Brian's right.

Up until Patrick drafted Fleury in 03, his drafts from the mid-90s until that time were putrid.

Dirty Sanchez said...

Littlefield would draft Esposito and turn him into a middle reliever. Then he would blow out his arm.

Sam said...

I'd also point out that only half of the group mentioned took any thought whatsoever (Lemieux, Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Jagr, Staal)

Honestly, 10 out of 10 seven-year-old kids in Pittsburgh would have known Lemieux, Crosby, and Malkin were no-brainers at the time of their drafts. And I think of the other three, the only one I would give serious props for would be the Jagr pick in 1990.