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Welcome to The Real DFG's Pittsburgh Penguin Autograph Project. My goal is to eventually try and get at least one autograph of every player to lace up the skates in an NHL game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. It could have been for one game or 700 games, I will add them. Occasionally I may post cards of former players in their new team uniforms. While the goal is to get autos in Pens uni's, it isn't always possible. Since the team has been in existence since 1967, the list is pretty large. Last I checked, it was somewhere in the range of 624 different players. Currently, I sit at about 100 autographs (with some duplication). Enjoy the posts.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Milan Kraft

Another in a long line of high draft picks that didn't live up to expectation, Milan Kraft was taken 23rd overall by the Penguins in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.  I remember all the comparisons, physically, of him to Mario.  He was 6'4", 200lbs and fans went on and on about how he was the next compliment to their other Czech miracle, Jagr.

After his 12 points in 7 games of the World Junior Championship in 1999 and the huge year he had in the WHL, the hype machine took off.  Jagr was soon traded to the Capitals and the "Milan" chants began.  When he finally got his opportunity to show Pittsburgh they hadn't made a mistake...he showed them the exact opposite.

Beginning in the 2000-01 season, Milan split time between Pittsburgh and WBS for the next four seasons, putting up 19 goals and 21 assists in 2003-04 for his best campaign.  But other than that "fluke", he hadn't scored more than 16 points.

Where was the Mario-esque scoring ability?  Where was the Jaromir-esque skating and stick handling? It wasn't.  He skated too slow to keep up with the play and spent too much time hanging outside, waiting for something to come to him rather than making something happen.  He had no hustle, no drive, no desire to get "dirty" out there.  The team, now in dire need of someone to lead the team and be a play maker, didn't need another lazy forward unwilling to try.

After the lockout in 2004, Kraft went to the Czech Extraliga for a few years, and tried out the KHL, but now plays for another team in the Czech league.

This card comes from the 2000-01 Be A Player Signature Series.  I picked this one up at a card show in one of those discounted autograph boxes.

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