Deadline approaching for Penguins to sign two draft picks
May 29, 2014 9:24 PM
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The search for a general manager continues.
So does the business of running an NHL team, regardless of when the Penguins settle on a replacement for Ray Shero.
Team officials have to sign two prospects chosen in the 2012 draft, forward Oskar Sundqvist and defenseman Clark Seymour, by 5 p.m. Sunday or relinquish their rights.
The Penguins appear to be moving aggressively to reach an agreement with Sundqvist, but Seymour likely will be allowed to re-enter the talent pool for the 2014 draft June 27-28 in Philadelphia.
Jason Botterill, serving as interim general manager, could not be reached for comment. Penguins officials have, as a matter of course, declined interview requests since Shero was fired May 16.
The Penguins had nine choices in the Class of 2012, and seven are under contract or in college.
The draft class was headed by defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta.
Had Sundqvist been drafted under the current collective bargaining agreement, the Penguins would have been able to retain his rights for another two years because he is playing in Europe.
The CBA in place in 2012, however, allowed teams to keep the rights of drafted players, other than those attending college, for only two years.
Sundqvist, the second of their two third-round selections, had six goals and 10 assists in 51 games with Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Hockey League (formerly known as Elitserien).
He is 6 feet 2, 196 pounds and is regarded as a reliable, responsible two-way player.
Sundqvist is considered one of the top forwards in the developmental pipeline, although that is the most poorly stocked area of the organizational depth chart. While discussing the franchise’s most promising prospects last winter, Botterill offered this assessment of Sundqvist:
“We really like his versatility. He’s a player who plays wing most of the time, but, on the junior national team, usually he’s a centerman. He a player who can play both power play and penalty-killing.
“Great size. He has to continue to work on his strength, and understands that. We really like the size, the reach, the willingness to go to the front of the net and have success there.
“We view him as [developing into] a very good two-way forward for us. He’s still a ways away from the National Hockey League — it’s still a projection — but we certainly like the steps he has taken.”
Even if the Penguins work out a contract with him, it’s possible Sundqvist will continue to play in Sweden next season, should it be determined that would be best for his long-term development.
Seymour, a fifth-round choice, is a physical defensive defenseman.
He had seven goals, 16 assists and 85 penalty minutes in 61 games with Peterborough in the Ontario Hockey League in 2013-14.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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