5 Draft Eligible Prospects Penguins Fans Should Keep an Eye on

Brandon Wheat Kings Center Nate Danielson Skating Prior to Face-off
Brandon Wheat Kings Center Nate Danielson Skating Prior to Face-off Photo credit: Jeremy Champagne / Brandon Wheat Kings

The Pittsburgh Penguins currently hold the fourteenth overall selection at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft later this month. After a disappointing season for the Penguins in 2022-23, the black and gold are currently in possession of the team’s highest pick since 2012. Obviously, with the team having such a strong competitive window, first-round picks haven’t meant much in Pittsburgh, but times have changed. 

With the Penguins core starting to get older and the team finally missing the postseason. The future of the franchise has never been talked about more since the prime Crosby era. After making drastic changes to the Penguins front office, bringing in Kyle Dubas and Jason Spezza, a younger vision of the franchise surely is to come. Although there are good odds the Penguins eventually move this pick, given Kyle Dubas’ history, let’s take a look at five realistic names to keep an eye on at this year’s draft. 

1. Brayden Yager / C / Moose Jaw Warriors

Let’s start off with one of my favourite prospects in this year’s draft, Brayden Yager of the Moose Jaw Warriors. After a season that had some ups and downs, the 18-year-old center showed a lot of potential in his 2022-23 season with the Warriors. After getting a chance to watch Brayden Yager play a lot last season, a few traits of his that really stood out to me were his puck-handling skills and his quick release. Although some question his consistency, Brayden’s got some real talent to his game that I think will only improve as he matures. With this year’s draft class being so strong, there’s a really good chance Brayden Yager would be a top-ten selection in a different draft class. 

2. Andrew Cristall / C / Kelowna Rockets

The second name on my list to keep an eye on is also from the Western Hockey League, and that’s Andrew Cristall. I could talk forever about the raw skill in Andrew Cristall’s game, but the skating worries some. Now I understand why scouts are concerned with Cristall, but he’s not a poor skater. After watching him play a ton in 2022-23, he’s actually got solid edge work but could improve upon a few areas. Regardless though, as he gets stronger, those flaws shouldn’t be as big of a factor as most say. Given his elite stickhandling and passing ability, as we saw with Kelowna, I think there’s a world where Andrew Cristall becomes the steal of the draft just judging off his offensive instincts and how dangerous he can be. 

3. Mikhail Gulyayev / D / Avangard Omsk

Want management to shoot for the upside? Well, then, that’s got to be defenseman Mikhail Gulyayev. After watching Mikhail Gulyayev play, it didn’t take long to realize how good of a skater he already is, but also that his speed blends perfectly with his offensive ability. Whether it’s leading the rush or maneuvering out of danger, Mikhail Gulyayev could quickly become the best defenseman from this draft class. Although his floor isn’t as high as a guy like David Reinbacher, Gulyayev’s offensive upside is so intriguing to me, given the modern-day NHL. 

4. Jayden Perron / RW / Chicago Steel

From what I’ve seen, Jayden Perron’s ranking has quite the range as we get closer to the draft. Some scouts have him listed as a late first-round pick, but I’m thinking higher. The Chicago Steel forward is someone who really grew on me as the season went along, and I really liked what he was able to do after evaluating his entire season. In sixty-one games with the Steel last year, Jayden had twenty-four goals and forty-eight assists for seventy-two points. The 18-year-old forward is a bit undersized but plays with really a unique blend of skill and high hockey awareness. I think taking the upside on Jayden Perron would be a solid move by Penguins management. 

5. Nate Danielson / C / Brandon Wheat Kings

Who’s my favourite prospect in the class? Well, that’s a hard question to answer, but right there in contention is Brandon Wheat Kings center Nate Danielson. If you want a quick and mobile center with size, Nate Danielson is your guy. From personal viewings of the player, I absolutely love his game and think he’s way too undervalued in most rankings. The 18-year-old center has all the qualities I look for in a prospect leading to his high ranking on my “Top 100 Prospects” list for Inside The Rink. Nate skates well, is extremely quick, and has good puck control while possessing a real strong release for a prospect more known for his playmaking ability.

Well, if Penguins management decides to keep the team’s first-round draft choice, these are the names I would keep an eye on. Judging off Kyle Dubas’s history at the draft, I would assume the team makes at least some sort of deal to get more picks, but if pick fourteen remains with Pittsburgh, these are surely some of the names to watch for. 

Thanks for reading; for more hockey content, follow me on Twitter at ITD_Anselmo!

Joshua Anselmo

A hockey mind that's always looking at new and insightful ways to bring different perspectives of the game we all love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Pittsburgh Penguins Re-Sign Alex Nedeljkovic

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced they have reached a two-year contract agreement with Alex Nedeljkovic that runs through the 2025-26 season at $2.5 million AAV. The 28-year-old finished his first season with the Penguins where he regained the confidence he lost during a rough 2022-23 season with the Detroit Red Wings. Ned went 18-7-7 in 38 […]

Read More

ECHL: Keaton Jameson Heading Overseas

The Norfolk Admirals are losing their second player in six days as Keaton Jameson is on his way to Glasgow, Scotland to play for the Glasgow Clan in the Elite Ice Hockey League. “I’m really happy to announce my commitment to the team for next season, and I’ve heard a number of good things about […]

Read More

Latest Update on Boston Bruins’ Goaltender Linus Ullmark Trade Talks

Trade talks have begun to heat up Thursday afternoon, with several sources reporting that Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark could be traded by the end of the week. The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reports that the Ottawa Senators are ramping up preparations to acquire a goaltender. The Senators have been connected to Ullmark and have […]

Read More