Earlier this week, our friends at The Pensblog asked us to pen up a our yearly draft preview for their guest post Wednesday segment.

In that article, we made our endorsement for the Penguins to draft Beau Bennett of the Penticton Vees. Last night, Ray Shero made our hope come true when he selected Bennett at #20 overall.

So who is Beau Bennett and why did we give him such a ringing endorsement?

Let’s start with the following disclaimer: if you were hoping for a prospect that was going to step in and make an impact at #20 within the next two years, you did not get that wish with this pick.

That said, our superstar centers are locked up long term, and we need to begin the process of re-tooling the shed so that we can have cheap and talented wing options from within the system. Bennett is the first step in that direction.

There was not a signle player in the BCHL within the last 7 years that scored more points as a rookie than Beau Bennett. He lead the BCHL in scoring as a rookie and made a huge impact immediately. He registered 41 golas and 79 assists in 56 games last year.

The knock is that the BCHL is a complete write off to some people. I even read one comment that accused Bennett of “poaching points.” The BCHL is not the CHL, we get that, but the fact that Bennett stepped in to a very competitive league and made such a vast and immediate impact is what we’re focusing on. It’s not about the points that he scored, it’s about how he scored those points.

Bennett himself has a plethora of offensive abilities that should have Penguins fans drooling over this pick. Bennett survey’s the ice extremely well, has a fantastic shot, whether that be his wrister or one-timer, and has the abilities to get passes through tight areas to guys sneaking in the play.

You’ve heard us tell this story before on other sites, Bennett spent the year playing with BCHL superstar Denver Manderson. Manderson, a scoring threat in his own right at the center position, made a killing playing alongside Bennett. Bennett, at the BCHL level, proved that putting him with a playmaking center would reap fruit for whatever team had him. These two were a work of art together. The true test came when Manderson got hurt and Bennett had to shoulder the load himself. When the focus was on him, Bennett never quit, and carried the team on his shoulders. He was producing without his star center.

25 of Bennett’s goals in 2009/10 came on the power-play. He was mainly working the near wall down low for the Vees. He possess an accurate shot that he used to torture goaltenders at tough angles, and he was putting great passes cross-ice and into the slot all year long. Beau Bennett’s vision might be his most valuable asset. It’s that vision that will give him an advantage as a freshman at Denver next year.

The main things that Bennett needs to work on are investing himself in a physical manner and getting more involved in the defensive zone. I don’t want you to mistake the defensive zone comment as an indictment that Bennett doesn’t even try to play defense. He absolutely does. He will insert himself into the defensive zone and work hard to get back, but once he gets there the chore is figuring out assignments and not getting caught watching the play.

As for the phyiscal aspect of it, this can be taught, and Bennett should become better at it as he continues to fill out his frame and get stronger. He has the height, but the mass isn’t quite there yet, and I think that puts a handicap on his ability to fully invest himself in a physical fashion.

Overall, this selection is a positive for the Penguins. You simply weren’t going to get someone at #20 in this draft that can step in and make an immediate impact. Several of the other players we mentioned on The Pensblog were also taking the collegiate route. However, that said, the Penguins made an investment in a gifted player that has great offensive abilities and has proven that he can light the lamp with regularity when he plays with a playmaking center, and it just so happens that we have two of the best playmaking centers in the world .