Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Curse of Greg Malone

Greg Malone was a serviceable NHL player. Pittsburgh drafted him in the 2nd round (19th overall) in 1976. Greg would go on to score 143 goals in 495 games for the Penguins from 1976-77 to 1982-83 before moving on to Hartford. Nice to be sure. When Malone's playing days were done in 1987 he settled in Pittsburgh were soon a young son of his, Ryan, was playing hockey and doing well.

In 1988, former Pens GM Tony Esposito (no relation to Angelo) hired the elder Malone as a scout. Malone worked his way up the ranks and eventually was made into a head scout. He was let go when Ray Shero came in to town and Malone now is working for the Phoenix organization in a scouting capacity.

The Penguins haven't had a meaningful 2nd round pick pan out yet. Breaking it down year by year, here's the kiss of death that is becoming a Penguins 2nd round pick:

Total Busts
1978 - Mike Meeker (25th overall) 4 games, 0 points, 5 PIMs
1985 - Lee Giffin RW (23rd overall), 27 games, 4 points (1g + 3a), 9 PIMs
1988 - Mark Major LW (25th overall) 2 games, 0 points, 5 PIMs
1991 - Rusty Fitzgerald C (38th overall) 25 games, 4 points (2g + 2a) 12 PIMs
1992 - Marc Hussey D (43rd overall) 0 games
1996 - Pavel Skrbek D (28th overall) 12 games, 0 points, 8 PIMs
1997 - Brian Gaffaney C (44th overall) 0 games
1998 - Alexander Zevakhin LW (54th overall) 0 games
1999 - Jeremy Van Hoof D (57th overall) 0 games
2000 - Shane Endicott C (52nd overall) 45 games, 3 points (1g + 2a) 47 PIMs
2002 - Ondrej Nemec D (32nd overall), 0 games

At least they kinda made it
1977 - Jim Hamilton LW (30th overall) 94 games, 32 points (14 g + 18 a), 28 PIMs
1979 - Paul Marshall (31st overall), 95 games, 33 points (15g + 18a), 17 PIMs
1981 - Steve Gatzos F (28th overall), 89 games, 35 points (15g + 20a) 83 PIMs
1982 -Tim Hrynewich LW (38th overall), 55 games, 14 points (6g +8a) 82 PIMs
1983 - Todd Charlesworth D (22th overall), 93 games, 12 points (3g + 9a) 47 PIMs
1986 - Dave Capuano LW (25th overall) 104 games, 56 points (17g + 38a) 56 PIMs [only played 6 games with Pittsburgh for 0 points]
1987 - Rick Tabaracci G (26th overall), 1 game played with Pittsburgh
1993 - Dominic Pittis (52nd overall), 86 games, 16 points (5g + 11a) 71 PIMs [1 game with Pittsburgh]
1999- Matt Murley LW (51st overall) 59 games, 8 points (2g, 6a) 38 PIMs

These guys are a heartbeat away from getting relegated to the bust club
2001 - Noah Welch D (54th overall) 33 games and counting, 7 points (3g + 4a) 33 PIMs...Florida has only used him for 4 games this season
2003 - Ryan Stone LW (32nd overall) 0 games and it's not looking good
2004 - Johannes Salmonsson LW (31st overall) 0 games and probably won't be in the organization much longer

Too early to tell
2004 - Alex Goligoski D (61st overall) 1st professional season
2005 - Michael Gergen RW (61st overall), still Minnesota-Duluth, will he get a contract?
2006 - Carl Sneep D (32nd overall), sophomore season at BC
2007 - Keven Veilleux C, (51st overall) 10 points in 14 games in the Q so far

Possibly the exceptions to the rule
1989 Paul Laus D (35th overall) 530 games, 72 points (14g + 58a), 1702 PIMs [All games played with Florida Panthers]
1994 Richard Park LW (50th overall), 459 games and counting, 134 points (61g + 73a) 172 PIMs [58 games with Pittsburgh for 11 points]

Since Greg Malone there hasn't been one NHL'er the Penguins have drafted in the NHL that's made an impact for them. The only ones with somewhat decent careers (Laus and Park) found them in other cities and aren't exactly household names themselves.

So will the drought end soon?

  • There were high hopes for Ryan Stone, but he hasn't been able to crack the lineup and is now going on his 3rd full season in the AHL. Not many NHL contributors often spend that much time in the minors.
  • Salmonsson might never be back in North America and it doesn't seem like anyone in the organization is that concerned about whether or not Gergen will join the lineup.
  • Sneep looks promising, but he's light-years away from the NHL, probably at least 3 to 4 more years of college or the minors before pencilling him into the lineup.
  • Veilleux has the size but it truly is to early to tell how he could handle the professional game.
  • So there's one choice left: Alex Goligoski. He's looked, well, like a 21 year old rookie playing in the AHL for the first time. There have been some praise for him, like how he's manned the point on the powerplay but also some shaky reports about his work in his own zone. It'll take a little while to get acclimated to the speed of the game. But you'd think in a year or so we're about to find out if he can hack it (like Ryan Whitney) or if he'll flounder and join the likes of Noah Welch.