(Relax! That's not a Blackhawk. Just a Winterhawk. Read and all will be explained.)
About ten years ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins had nothing to offer defensively. Guys like Rick Jackman and Marc Bergevin (remember them?) did nothing to help goalies Sebastien Caron, J.S. Aubin, and rookie Marc-Andre Fleury. Sure, Dick Tarnstrom lead the team with 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists), but he also sported a -37. Heck, no one starting over fifteen games for the Pens that year had a plus/minus in the plus. The Penguins were horrible and defense was a big part of that.
There was a silver lining, though. The 2003-2004 season happened to be the first full season for Brooks Orpik and the start of Rob Scuderi's career. Five years later, the duo would anchor a Stanley Cup winning Pens team with stout defensive play. As mentioned before on this site, grand defensive play is the first ingredient in the championship-winning recipe. That Cup-lifting team had draftees Orpik, Scuderi, and 2005 Draft selection Kris Letang. Plus Hal Gil (via trade) and Mark Eaton (via free agency). Building up the blue-line is vital. Judging by the defensemen in the minors, the Penguins are well aware of that.
Simon Despres - Drafted 30th overall in the 2009 Draft, Despres isn't really a secret anymore. He's played fifty-one games in two years and has looked like good. Not great, but good enough not to be in Wilkes-Barre next year. Despres has the size (6'4" 220) and the vision to be effective in both zones. Consistent ice-time will only help the young French-Canadian.
Derrick Pouliot - Pens fans may know him better by his other name, "The-guy-they-traded-Jordan-Staal-for". The Penguins shipped J-Staal to Carolina for Brandon Sutter, a prospect (keep reading), and the 8th overall pick in the 2012 draft, which they used on the 19-year old Canadian. He possesses a similar skill-set to Kris Letang, averaging a point a game for the AHL's Portland Winterhawks the last two years. He's a tad mentally soft (too many penalties and plays off), but he's got a few more years in the minors to fix that.
Olli Maatta - The other first rounder from the 2012 Draft. Maatta is Finnish with a good frame and very good defensive presence. He's not afraid to play the body, but goes for the puck and not the hit. There is also a scoring touch here, but he is very streaking. In the 2012 OHL Playoffs, he had 23 points (six goals, seventeen assists) in 19 games for the London Knights. The beginning of the next regular season, his first six game yielded only three points. He turned it around to finish the year with 38 points in 57 games.
Scott Harrington - When the first couple of preseason games are over, everyone's going to want this kid on the main roster. The 20-year old Canadian was selected 54th overall in the 2011 Draft many scouts say he is pro-ready. He clears the puck quickly and usually wins the battles along the boards. He's considered a great two-way player and can score just as well as he can defend. His last two years with the OHL's London Knights, he's been a combined plus 47.
Brian Dumoulin - The towering (6'4" 220) American was the prospect that came along in the Jordan Staal deal. He's about a year or two away from being a NHLer, but his size and puck moving will be assets when he gets called up. Plus, the guy knows success. He's won two Hockey East Conference Championships and last year's Frozen Four with Boston College and has a bronze medal from the 2011 World Juniors U-20 Championship.
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