NHL Draft: Penguins select another defenseman in second round
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Some people might have been surprised when the Penguins claimed a defenseman in the first and second rounds of the NHL draft this weekend.
Especially people who are not aware that general manager Ray Shero is a fierce believer in taking the highest-rated player available, regardless of position.
Especially in the early rounds.
Imagine, then, the reaction if Shero and his scouts had not stopped when they did.
"We came close to taking three, probably," he said.
As it was, they settled for taking Scott Harrington, a two-way defenseman from London in the Ontario Hockey League, with their second-round choice at Xcel Energy Center Saturday.
That came less than a day after they invested their No. 1 choice in defenseman Joe Morrow from Portland in the Western Hockey League.
"We went with our [ratings] list, which makes sense," said Randy Sexton, their assistant director of amateur scouting. "Particularly in the second round."
There was a lively exchange at their draft table before the choice of Harrington was finalized, however, because they had another prospect rated almost as high.
"It was Harrington and one other boy, a defenseman," Sexton said.
"It was a good, healthy discussion. We had Scott one slot ahead of the other boy."
Harrington, 6 feet, 200 pounds, had six goals and 16 assists in 67 games with the Knights in 2010-11, when his defense partner was Reid McNeill, whom the Penguins drafted in 2010.
"They complement each other well," Sexton said.
The Penguins' other choices on the second day of the draft were:
• Center Dominik Huer, taken in Round 5. He is a 6 feet, 195-pound center who had 21 goals and 39 assists in 65 games with Spokane of the Western Hockey League in 2010-11.
• Center Josh Archibald, a smallish but skilled forward from Brainerd (Minn.) High School. He was claimed in the sixth round after putting up 30 goals and 48 assists in 27 games. He is 5 feet 10, 165 pounds and will attend Nebraska-Omaha.
• Scott Wilson, a 5 feet 11, 166-pound right winger who had 20 goals and 41 assists in 42 games with Georgetown of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. He is headed for the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
While the Penguins professed to be pleased to get the rights to those three, Harrington obviously was the marquee pickup of the day.
Although he does not possess Morrow's offensive talents, scouts say Harrington can be effective all over the ice.
"He's a very good skater, has good mobility," Sexton said. "He sees the ice well, moves the puck. Big, strong frame.
"We'd like to see him play with more of an edge. He can play with an edge. He needs to do it more consistently."
Harrington offered this scouting report on himself: "I consider myself a very reliable defensive defenseman. Someone who's tough to play against and who you can put out in all situations.
"I consider myself a good puck-mover, also."
Harrington said he tries to pattern his game after that of New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, a London alum.
Girardi has developed into a top-four defenseman in New York, where his regular partner is Marc Staal, largely because of his willingness to hit and block shots.
In London, Harrington has played for Dale and Mark Hunter, so the Penguins will not be the first team to expect him to have a rugged dimension to his game.
"[The Hunters] don't look for all their players to be goons on the ice," Harrington said. "But they definitely taught us how to play the game right."
The Penguins put a strong emphasis on having players who compete and seem satisfied that their final three selections embody that concept.
Sexton said Uher "plays hard and is strong" and has good speed, that Archibald "has very good speed" and is physical and aggressive and described Wilson as "tenacious" and a "good all-around player."
"We got players," he said, "who play the Penguin way."
First Published June 26, 2011 12:00 am