Skip to content

Get To Know Penguins’ Six Picks From 2024 NHL Draft Class

Pittsburgh selected four defensemen and two forwards

The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have a first-round pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, but the franchise made strides to replenish its prospect pool by selecting six players on June 29.

The Penguins added four defensemen and two forwards with picks in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds of the draft.

Here are the six newest members of the franchise in the order of selection:

D Harrison Brunicke
Selected 44th overall in the second round, Brunicke is a right-handed defenseman who played for the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL for the last two seasons. The 18-year-old Calgary, Alberta native amassed 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 108 games. The 6-foot-3, 187-pound Brunicke is known as a smart two-way defenseman with solid mobility, polished habits and flashes of a growing offensive game, according to Dobber Prospects.

“In the offensive zone, Brunicke scans well and makes quick decisions while also showing a willingness to get off the boards and evade pressure through creativity and confident puck-handling. While Brunicke has the skill and inclination to activate as the weakside defenseman, Brunicke’s transition abilities are more frequently demonstrated through his zone exits. Brunicke is poised in his own end and makes a lot of smart reads to use his mobility and passing to create clean breakouts,” a profile on Dobber Prospects read.

Story continues below advertisement

LW Tanner Howe
Selected 46th overall in the second round, Howe is a left-shooting wing who played for the Regina Pats in the WHL for the last four seasons. The 18-year-old Saskatchewan native scored 92 goals and added 141 helpers in 207 games for the Pats. The 5-foot-10, 181-pound wing is considered an undersized yet feisty forward with great hands and defensive ability, per Dobber Prospects.

“Howe’s best — and most projectable — qualities are his abilities to play through contact as a smaller player, create offensive zone entries, play a possession game along the boards, and funnel to the net to bang in greasy goals,” a profile on Dobber Prospects read.

D Chase Pietila
The Penguins used their only fourth-round pick to select Pietila from the Michigan Tech Huskies. In 40 games for the Huskies, Pietila notched 22 points. Before beginning his collegiate career, the 6-foot-3, 186-pound right defenseman tallied eight goals and 39 assists in 116 games with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. Pietila is known as a two-way defenseman who can dominate both ends of the ice, according to Dobber Prospects.

“He has a strong shot and can get pucks on the net quickly. One thing he is noted for is being able to quarterback the power-play at a high level,” a profile on Dobber Prospects read.

Story continues below advertisement

D Joona Vaisanen
Vaisanen was selected in the sixth round from the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL. The 19-year-old Finland native tallied nine goals and 31 assists in 52 games for the Fighting Saints in the 2023-24 season. Vaisanen has nearly every modern defenseman skill set, according to Elite Prospects.

“He activates, shifts the defense towards him before passing, sets up chances, uses space before shooting, and closes space off the rush early. With the puck, he’s a manipulator; he fakes one way to get the opponent to chase, then accelerates in the opposite direction,” a profile on Elite Prospects read.

C Mac Swanson
With their first selection in the seventh round, the Penguins picked Swanson 207th overall from the Fargo Force of the USHL. The 18-year-old Anchorage, Alaska native tallied 38 goals and 94 assists in 112 games for the Force. Swanson is a high-end playmaker who has every passing skill in the book, according to Elite Prospects.

“Swanson’s feel for openings extends to the rest of his game. It’s as if he knows every play in advance, moving into the right place at precisely the right time. He makes the extra pass to turn a good chance into a goal, but he also has a threatening shot and a knack for getting chances inside the hash marks,” a profile on Elite Prospects read.

Story continues below advertisement

D Finn Harding
Harding was the final Penguins pick in the draft. He played the last two seasons with the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound right defenseman tallied 12 goals and 32 assists in 131 games for the Steelheads. Harding mirrors footwork and forces players to the boards while being difficult to beat down the wall and inside, according to Elite Prospects.

“He let his opponents skate into his range before poking away possession, establishes the false gap before pivoting and closing for the steal. Gets inside the hands and wins positioning, then has the skill to evade pressure,” a profile on Elite Prospects read.

Featured image via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images