NHL Draft: Penguins'2nd-round pick is Philip Samuelsson
Philip Samuelsson, right, has his picture taken by a familiar face to Pittsburgh fans, his father, Ulf. Philip was taken in the second round by the Penguins, his dad's former team, yesterday in Montreal.
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MONTREAL -- Philip Samuelsson is not, by any measure, a clone of his father.
That's OK, because no one is.
Or probably ever could be.
But the Penguins saw enough of Ulf Samuelsson, one of the most fierce hitters and competitors in team history, in his son to invest a second-round draft choice in him yesterday during the NHL draft at the Bell Centre.
"Every discussion we had, there was that comparison," said Jay Heinbuck, their director of amateur scouting. "Because Philip is a very smart player who plays with some tenacity, which sounds familiar."
That's definitely genetic, given that his father was as relentless as a sled dog.
And while Philip Samuelsson didn't inherit a mean streak quite the size of Ulf's, Heinbuck was quick to note that, "he has some nastiness to him."
Just not the most in his immediate family.
"He's a modernized version," Ulf Samuelsson said, smiling. "He can play without getting tossed [out of games] too much."
Samuelsson wasn't the Penguins' only legacy selection during the final day of the NHL entry draft.
They took Belleville center Andy Bathgate, grandson of the Hall of Famer with the same name, with the final choice in the fifth round.
Bathgate, 6 feet 1, 175 pounds, had four goals and 12 assists in 44 games with the Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. His grandfather was the Penguins' leading scoring in 1967-68, their first season.
Their other choices:
Round 3 -- Right winger Ben Hanowski (6-2, 198), the top point-producer in Minnesota high school hockey history. He had 57 goals and 53 assists in 25 games with Little Falls H.S. this season. He will attend St. Cloud State.
Round 4 -- Right winger Nick Petersen (6-3, 183) of Shawinigan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He had 37 goals and 53 assists in 68 games.
Round 5 -- Defenseman Alex Velischek (6-0, 200), son of former NHL defenseman Randy Velischek. He had 16 goals and 35 assists in 30 games for Dalbarton (N.J.) High School.
Round 6 -- Defenseman Viktor Ekbom (6-2, 194), who had two goals and four assists with Oskarshamn in Sweden.
Samuelsson, who will be 18 July 26, is 6-2 1/2, 198 pounds. He had no goals and 22 assists in 54 games with Chicago of the United States Hockey League.
And while he doesn't possess the attack-dog mentality that was an integral part of Ulf's game, he's not shy about venturing into challenging situations.
If he were, he wouldn't be planning to attend a school, Boston College, in a city where his dad still ranks among the most reviled sports figures, mostly because of some epic run-ins with Bruins winger Cam Neely.
"If I get some comments every now and then, that's going to happen and I'll learn to deal with it," Samuelsson said.
Fact is, he seems to have no more misgivings about how his father went about his work than Ulf does.
"He played the game how he played it," Philip Samuelsson said. "You can't take anything away from him.
"You get some enemies every now and then in hockey. ... I'm extremely proud of him and his career."
Samuelsson, like his father, isn't a particularly fluid skater -- "He realizes that's an issue," Heinbuck said -- but is quite responsible in his own end.
He described himself and his father as "shutdown defensemen who can really eat some big minutes on the ice."
Ulf Samuelsson, now an assistant coach in Phoenix, considers that to be one of his son's most impressive traits.
"He's a player who, as a coach, you keep putting out," he said. "That's really the best way I can describe it.
"As a coach, that's extremely valuable, if you have someone you trust and keep putting out."
Playing for the Penguins someday won't be easy for him, because his father remains one of the most celebrated defensemen the team has had, but that isn't likely to be a major issue.
"He's going to Boston to play college," Ulf Samuelsson said. "If he can handle that, he can certainly handle going to Pittsburgh."
First Published June 28, 2009 12:00 am