NHL Draft: Penguins shoot for the Moon with 120th pick
Nathan Moon poses for his first NHL portrait after being the Penguins' first pick -- No. 120 overall -- in Ottawa.
Scotiabank Place played host to two shows in one this weekend. Inside the arena, the NHL conducted its entry draft. In the concourses, a card and memorabilia show was in full swing. Its star attraction: The Stanley Cup.
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OTTAWA -- It's hard to say if Nathan Moon will be worth the wait for the Penguins.
After all, 119 prospects had been selected by the time they chose Moon with the next-to-last pick in the fourth round of the NHL entry draft yesterday.
Get that deep into the proceedings, and there's a danger of ending up with a teenager whose equipment should include a set of training wheels.
The Penguins, though, believe that someday -- maybe -- Moon will be able to develop into a top-six forward in the NHL.
"We're hoping he's going to be a top-two line player for us," Penguins scout David McNamara said.
Moon, a 5-foot-11, 179-pound right-handed center, had 35 goals and 42 assists in 68 games with Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League last season. NHL Central Scouting ranked him 74th among North American forwards and defensemen, up from 118th in its midseason ratings.
Moon's offensive skills are his greatest asset -- "We really like his skill set," McNamara said. "He can score" -- but his speed and defensive-zone play must be upgraded before he can hope to contend for a job in the NHL.The picksThe Penguins' draft picks on Day 2:No.NamePos.Team120Nathan MoonCKingston (OHL)150Alexander PechurskiGMagnitogorsk180Patrick KilleenGBrampton (OHL)210Nicholas D'AgostinoDSt. Michael's (OPJHL)
"Nathan has excellent hands and is a good playmaker," said Chris Edwards of Central Scouting. "While his skating has improved this season, he still needs to keep improving in all areas. Not an overly physical player, he is very strong in the faceoff circle and can play in a variety of situations."
Odds are Moon won't be doing that at the NHL level for at least a few years, and the same is true of the players the Penguins claimed in Rounds 5-7, respectively. They are:
• Alexander Pechurski, a goalie from the Magnitogorsk organization, the same Russian Super League system that groomed Evgeni Malkin. NHL Central Scouting ranked him 10th among European goaltenders.
• Goalie Patrick Killeen of Brampton in the OHL. He is 6 feet 4, 194 pounds and was rated 15th among North American goaltenders, down from No. 10 in the midseason rankings.
• Nicholas D'Agostino, a 6-foot-1, 177-pound defenseman from St. Michael's in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League. He had five goals and 18 assists in 46 games and was not ranked by Central Scouting.
The Penguins were one of seven teams to meet with Moon at the NHL's combine in Toronto earlier this month -- "I had a pretty long interview," he said -- and it's clearly his offensive game they found most intriguing.
"We like the way he plays below the hash marks," McNamara said. "He can come off the [boards] and snap the puck. He's going to get better."
He declined to project when Moon might compete seriously for a spot on the NHL roster -- "It's up to Nathan," he said. "I couldn't even guess" -- and Moon said he hasn't set a timetable for doing so.
He does, however, see himself competing at that level eventually, even if he's compelled to break in in a reduced role.
"They're still a young team," he said. "So if I can jump in ... and help them out on the third or fourth line, prove myself and be a scorer in the league, I'll do that."
First Published June 22, 2008 12:00 am