If the Pens had their high picks in a different era* they could have ended up David Legwand [draft 2nd overall in 1998 entry draft], Patrik Stefan [1st overall in 1999] and Dany Heatley in 2000 [2nd overall in 2000]. So certainly timing, as usual, is everything.
*in terms of hockey prospects
But don't discount the other players under about the age of 21 that the Penguins have already developed into NHL players without the high picks.
- Tyler Kennedy [99th overall in the 4th round of 2004]
- Kris Letang [62nd overall in the 3rd round of 2005]
A lot of teams don't even have A player in their NHL lineup under the age of 22. We spot-checked three teams at random on hockeydb.com and it seems Carolina and Detroit (shocker!) didn't have any, while Vancouver has two (defensemen Alex Edler and Luc Bourdon). So that the Pens have more than just the obvious young players has to be a testament to their scouting and development right off the bat.
And with Alex Goligoski [61st overall in the 2nd round of 2004] seeming very close to being a fixture in the NHL and prospects ripping up the juniors like Luca Caputi [111st overall in the 4th round 2007] and Dustin Jeffrey [172nd in the 6th round] it's easy to see something we've been saying here for a while at TST....The young talent pool for the Penguins is significantly deeper than the casual observer might be lead to believe by just seeing the Staal's and Malkin's of the organ-eye-zation.