The 2011 NEFHL entry draft started off poorly for the Pittsburgh Penguins having had their lottery pick drop to 5th overall once the lottery results were made public. The San Jose Sharks had a 3.6% chance of winning the lottery prior to their ball being selected by the NEFHL commissioner. Despite losing out on what would have been Gabriel Landeskog, the Penguins walked away with some stellar prospects and now have one of the deepest prospect pools in the NEFHL. We took the chance to sit down with the Penguins GM to discuss the picks made this past weekend.

Sean Couturier - 5th overall
“We went into the draft with the mindset that we would pick Sean in the event we fell to 5th. How can you be disappointed drafting a guy who has all the intangibles - size (6’4 - 200 lbs), character, skill, compete level, and hockey IQ? Many forget that he had mono at the beginning of the year and that it takes up to a year to fully recover. Despite this he still managed to put up 96 points (tying his 2010 campaign) in only 58 games played this year. We see him developing into a Jeff Carter type player - a solid core piece that can be used in every situation.”

Mark McNeill - 11th overall
“We had to trade up to get this guy knowing that he wouldn’t fall to us at 17. Mark reminds us a lot of Ryan Getzlaf - perhaps more defense and less offense. He is a very coachable player with top 6 potential that brings many intangibles to the table. He is a workhorse on and off the ice and is extremely difficult to contain in the all three zones. Mark really impressed us at the combine with his sheer strength and physical stature. We believe he could top out at 6’2-6’3, 225-230 pounds.”

Jonas Brodin - 19th overall
“Jonas is extremely well known for his poise and vision on the ice. He rarely makes a bad play and has an excellent first pass. He is a solid two-way defender who we feel is a very safe pick. While we don’t believe he will become a power-play quarterback or a shutdown defender we do feel that he could be our number three guy for the future. We were very happy to see him on board and will give him a year or two to fill out his 6’1 frame in the SEL before bringing him over to North America.”

Nicklas Jensen - 24th overall
“This kid is a horse who has the ability to break a game wide open. He possesses elite skill level and can score highlight reel goals when he is on his game. Perhaps what is most scary about him is the fact that he should top out at 6’3, 215 pounds. While he probably won’t make the team out of a camp he will have the opportunity to work on his consistency and add size while back in Oshawa for another year in the OHL. I’d look for him to have a great year along side Jenner (San Jose) and Lessio (Colorado).”

Stefan Noesen - 34th overall
“Our staff have liked Stefan for months and secretly wanted him bad. He was ranked 26th on our master draft list and we were extremely happy to have the chance to pick him at 34. He is a journeymen from Plano, Texas and can be utilized in all three zones. He broke out offensively this year having been in the shadows of Tyler Seguin last season. One of the better penalty killers in the OHL, Noesen has the size, skill, character, and drive to be an excellent hockey player. Some have compared him to that of Buffalo star, Corey Perry. We will take that comparison any day. He is a safe pick that we feel will be the steal of the draft.”

The Penguins also added a solid goalie prospect in Christopher Gibson, a character forward in Phillippe Hudon, a PPQB in Brendan Kichton, and a two-way forward in Seth Griffith.