BUFFALO, N.Y. (TNS) – The Penguins made a surprise trade at the NHL draft Saturday, sending oft-injured right winger Beau Bennett to New Jersey for a third-round choice.
They used that selection to claim Connor Hall, a rugged defenseman from Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League.
“With the number of young guys we have, we felt it was time to give (Bennett) a change,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “It gets a little bit frustrating – the injury part – and I certainly recognize he is a good player and I think a change is going to be good for him and he’ll probably do well there.”
Bennett, through the Penguins, declined to discuss the trade.
Earlier in the day, the Penguins took Swedish goalie Filip Gustavsson with their first pick.
Six choices later, they grabbed Finnish right winger Kasper Bjorkqvist with the final selection in Round 2.
Rutherford said Friday night that the Penguins would invest at least one of their second-round choices in a defenseman, but that plan changed because their scouts liked Gustavsson and Bjorkqvist so much so that the Penguins did not add anyone to their blue line until Hall.
Gustavsson, NHL Central Scouting’s highest-rated European goaltender, was claimed with the 55th overall selection.
He is 6 feet 2, 184 pounds and won four of six appearances with Lulea in Sweden’s top pro league.
Gustavsson, who spent most of the season with Lulea’s junior team, had a 2.17 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in his games with the big club.
Bjorkqvist is 6 feet 1, 198 pounds and had 28 goals and 38 assists in 45 games with the Espoo Blues junior team.
Hall is 6 feet 2, 192 pounds and had two goals and seven assists in 39 games with Kitchener. He served a 10-game suspension for a hit to the head during an exhibition game and missed time with a broken jaw sustained in a fight.
In the fourth round, the Penguins picked defenseman Ryan Jones of Lincoln in the United States Hockey League.
He is 5 feet 11, 186 pounds and had three goals, 27 assists and 112 penalty minutes in 60 games.
The Penguins used their final two choices on Finnish defenseman Niclas Almari (6 feet 1, 167 pounds) and defenseman Joe Masonius from the University of Connecticut (6 feet, 181 pounds).