For our full list, visit today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

3. Brendan Lemieux – LW – Barrie (OHL) – 6’0 – 186lbs – Shoots R – 3/15/1996

Some pundits might say that taking Brendan Lemieux with the 22nd overall pick would be a stretch. I would retort that by saying there is no such thing as a stretch when a skilled, gritty player falls in line what what you need as a franchise.

With the characteristics thrown about by general manager Jim Rutherford in terms of what he’s looking for in a team, look no further than Brendan Lemieux.

Son of former NHL pest Claude Lemieux, Brendan is a chip off the old block. That being said, there is a strong undercurrent of skill to his game, and he’s capable of pulling off moves as he drives to the net that will make you wonder if he’s the same player dropping his gloves and chirping the opposition all night long.

Ryan Noble, a good friend of the site and the owner of Very Barrie Colts quipped the following summation about Lemieux’s game.

Lemieux can do just about anything. He has an ability to frustrate opposing players and score important goals but he also can be used in most situations. He proved playing with Andreas Athanasiou (Draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings) a very skilled player that he could be a huge threat on the power play with their creative plays together. Also, he is very solid on the penalty kill.

As I mentioned, this is a very no BS type of player. His skating is adequate and his defensive game needs to be refined, but the Penguins would do very well to take a gritty, tough nosed player that can play in all situations, stir the pot, and score major goals.

One element to Lemieux’s game that hasn’t been talked about enough is his penchant for the spotlight. Lemieux was almost a different player in the post-season. His antics increased as did his goal scoring. In 11 playoff games for the Colts, Lemieux registered seven goals and was a presence on the ice by definition of the word.

The one thing people seem to refuse to admit is the elements of a true goal scorer within Lemieux’s game, especially in front of the net. Patience, accurate shooting, body adjustments, and a good drive to the goal make this player extremely fun to watch. His 2.3 points per 60 minutes of even-strength time on ice was good for 5th on the Colts and he was averaging roughly 18 minutes of even-strength time per game.

Lemieux faced tough competition all year long and beat them on the scoresheet and with his fists. That’s a rare combination of success.

2013/14 OHL Statistics: 65GP – 27G – 26A – 57PTS – 145PIM – -7

2. Josh Ho-Sang – RW – Windsor (OHL) – 5’11 – 160lbs – Shoots R – 1/22/1996

Josh Ho-Sang might not even get drafted on Friday night, and there’s some real shame to that. I think general consensus is that Ho-Sang will either go off the board prior to the Penguins selection at 22 overall, or he’ll fall out of the first round completely.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Josh Ho-Sang, generally speaking, is not very good at defense at present time. However, the young, brash winger isn’t afraid to address that, or much else, publicly as evidenced by this article .

That being said, Ho-Sang also has the benefit of being an absolute locomotive on the ice. In the video I’ll post below, pay close attention to how he drives the net. It’s straightforward. It’s almost as if the puck is taped to his stick.

Size is another concern, but bulking up can happen, and Ho-Sang plays the game like he doesn’t care whether or not he’s 5’6 or 6’5. The bottom line here, for me, is that you cannot teach the things Ho-Sang can do with the puck. It’s almost ridiculous to have to put it into words.

Ho-Sang’s goals-for percentage relative to the rest of the Spitfires was +10.3% and his quality of competition was fourth on the team, behind stud players like Brady Vail and Slater Koekkoek.

Is Ho-Sang a head case? Safe to assume that only he knows the answer to that question. The one thing we do know is that he’s insanely talented and very capable of owning a game. On top of that, he’s repeatedly and publicly committed to working on the finer points of his game that need to be improved on to move forward to the next level.

2013/14 OHL Statistics: 67GP – 32G – 53A – 85PTS – 44PIM – +26

And our official endorsement selection:

1. Nikita Scherbak – RW – Saksatoon (WHL) – 6’2 – 174lbs – Shoots L – 12/30/1996

Nikita Scherbak is the type of player I could watch dangle in the offensive zone all day long. If there’s one point I can drive home about Scherbak, is that his hands are absolutely phenomenal and he’s capable of breaking a game open at a moments notice.

He’s the type of talent that inherently forces goaltenders into their crease and defensemen on their heels with his speed and drive to the net. His shot is also elite, he has the patience of a non-smoker, and he’s capable of picking apart defenders and goaltenders in a surgical fashion.

There’s a large amount of burst to Scherbak’s game. I simply cannot help but think of him playing on the wing with Evgeni Malkin as his center. Remember when Geno was young and a talented, older Sergei Gonchar mentored him as he entered the NHL? I can’t help but think a situation like that here would benefit both Malkin and Scherbak. This could be an elite NHL duo for many years to come.

That being said, Scherbak isn’t flawless. His defensive game needs vast improvement. He can get caught basket hanging up ice and seems to get lost in his own zone. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here. Saskatoon wasn’t exactly the best hockey team in the world this season and I think Scherbak knew he had to score for them to win.

And score he did. Scherbak was on the ice for 18 more goals at even-strength than the next closest player on the Blades’ roster. He put up 78 points in his first season on North American ice playing against the toughest competition the WHL had to offer. He beat on opposing defenders with a relentless approach to offense and even developed a bit of a pesky element to his game at the end of the season.

What’s more, Scherbak had a 54% goals-for percentage for the Blades this season. That’s on a team with an average of about a 40% goals-for percentage. He averaged pro minutes every single night. He ended the season clicking at 2.8 goals per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time.

Size is a concern here too, but bulking up is already happening for Scherbak and will continue to. I just have a real respect for the lethality of Scherbak’s hands, and I think it’s time to give Geno another young Russian to mentor. This is a relatively low-risk, high-reward pick that the Penguins could really use in their arsenal.

2013/14 WHL Statistics: 61GP – 29G – 35A – 64PTS – 70PIM – +18