With the 21st pick of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins have selected Owen Pickering from the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League (WHL)
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Tracker
About Owen Pickering
The consensus opinion on Owen Pickering is that he’s a raw defensive prospect who has all the tools to become a legitimate top-four defender in the NHL. While there are areas that he could improve, all of these areas are ones that will come with time, effort and solid coaching throughout his development.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
A solid two-way defender with good offensive instincts, skating, size, shooting, puck-retrieval skills and zone entry/exit skills, Pickering needs to work on honing his skills and instincts to really make it at the next level. It will also be vital for him to add to his 6-foot-4 frame, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue in an NHL program.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Owen Pickering wasn’t considered a top-two-round pick by many before the season and has since flown up draft boards to be ranked a first-round pick by many. A late-first, early second-round pick on most draft rankings, Pickering will likely climb closer to the late-middle first-round before draft day.
“A towering defenseman at 6-foot-4, Pickering has excellent feet for a player his size and noticeable offensive upside. He effectively carries the puck out of his own zone, acting as a one-man breakout at times, and is very good at carrying it through the neutral zone. Still a raw talent, there are consistency issues in his game, but his talent is undeniable.
“A defenseman with Pickering’s blend of size, skating ability, and skill is impressive. He hasn’t put up massive numbers in the Western Hockey League (WHL) this season, but his puck carrying and high-end playmaking skills leave me confident that the numbers will come.
“He can make crisp breakout passes and often opts for the safer option with the puck but has shown the ability to pass through seams and make home-run style stretch passes. Unfortunately, he’s prone to turnovers, as his inconsistent passing can get him in trouble. On one shift, he’ll throw a saucer pass across two zones tape-to-tape before messing up a 10-foot breakout pass on the next shift. These inconsistencies concern some scouts, but I think he will overcome them with time as the talent is there. He also possesses a big shot from the point, making him a good option on the power play.”
How This Affects the Penguins’ Plans
A very high-upside pick, Pickering will bring size and skill to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blue line. There’s plenty of work to be done in his game, but at 6-foot-4 with very good feet, there’s a potential top-four defenseman, if not higher. There will eventually be life after Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin for the Penguins and Pickering can be a big part of that future. A raw prospect who’s still quite a few seasons away from making an NHL impact, Pickering will be worth the wait.