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Meet the pick: Penguins draft Brayden Yager 14th overall

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NASHVILLE (KDKA) - For the second year in a row, the Penguins have made a pick in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. 

On Wednesday night, President of Hockey Operations Kyle Dubas made his first pick since taking over the Penguins' front office and selected 18-year-old Brayden Yager from the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League in the Canadian Hockey League. 

Yager is a center that has a dynamic shot that helped him score 69 goals over 154 games in Moose Jaw. 

While the potential is there, Yager himself admitted he's still a couple of years away from being an NHL contributor. 

"Whenever Pittsburgh thinks I'm ready, I guess," he said when asked what his timetable is now that he's been drafted. "Maybe a couple of years, two-three years, give myself a chance to gain some strength and be NHL ready." 

He began his time in the WHL as a 15-year-old, playing 24 games for the Warriors and recording 18 points, including 7 goals. 

That was followed up by his first full season with the Warriors, where he won CHL Rookie of the Year in a season where he scored 34 goals, 25 assists, for 59 points. 

One of his biggest achievements was helping Hockey Canada win gold at the 2022 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, an under-18 international tournament, he ranked second in the tournament in points with nine and second in the tournament in goals with five. 

"He was in a mix of players that we were really hoping would drop down to 14," Dubas said. "The scouting staff was very excited about him, and we're thrilled to be able to get him at our pick."

Despite still being a couple of years away from being an NHL contributor, scouting reports on Yager are positive, saying he has the footspeed and shot to be an NHL contributor in the not-so-distant future. 

The NHL Draft continues today at 11 a.m. when round two gets started. As of now, the Penguins do not have a pick in the second round and do not pick again until round three, when they will pick 90th overall. The team still holds picks in the fifth, sixth, and two picks in the seventh round. 

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