It seems that since Shero took over, the Pens have enjoyed a luxury of patience with their prospects that I'm not sure any team before them has ever really had dating back to the Oilers of the early 1980s. This is attributable to a few things:
1. The team graduated a ton of Craig Patrick's picks to the NHL during the 2005-06 & 2006-07 seasons on a full-time basis. Orpik, Fleury & Malone arrived in 2003-04. 2005-06 saw the permanent callups of Whitney, Armstrong, Talbot, Scuderi, & Ouellet. It also, of course, brought the arrival of Crosby. 2006-07 saw the arrival of Malkin and the unexpected arrival of Staal, which meant within two season, the Pens locked in long-term solutions for their top three centers. Erik Christensen also arrived in 2006-07. Those are twelve players who contributed significantly to this lineup through the first two years of Shero's tenure, when "rebuilding" was still the main focus. At least until...
2. The unexpected 47-point leap in the standings between 05-06 & 06-07 forced Shero to accelerate his initial rebuilding plan almost overnight, relatively speaking. The turnaround cost the team what was management probably planned on being at best to be a top 10-15 pick in the 2007 Draft heading into that 2006-07 season. As Davemess noted above, this fortuitously turned into Angelo Esposito, but that pick only served to strengthen an already-loaded position. Shero may never admit this on record, but it's pretty easy to see that Esposito's greatest value to the team was as trade bait. This was further accelerated in 2007 when the Gill and Laraque deals cost them 2nd and 3rd round picks in 2008.
3. The trades at the 2008 deadline, particularly the Hossa trade. In "Breakaway" Andy Conte revealed the discussions that occurred between Shero and ownership in the lead-up to the Hossa deal. It became apparent that this was the point in Shero's tenure when the rebuilding plan was officially abandoned by the front office. They knew making the Hossa deal would effecitvely cost them two first-round picks (Esposito plus the 2008 first rounder). With the 2nd and 3rd round picks already gone from the Gill and Laraque deals, the 2008 draft officially became a wash.
I'm not totally absolving Shero of everything here. I just think there are some unique circumstances that came to light with this team, and the emphasis on developing prospects changed incredibly quickly. He had just taken over a month before the 2006 draft and for what it's worth, both Strait and Sneep appear to be following the same developmental track as Scuderi (taken in '98, spent three full years in college after being drafted, then effectively four full years in WBS).
From a long-term contribution standpoint, the 2007 draft has not been good. The Esposito trade was a means to an end that brought the NHL core invaluable Cup Finals experience in 2008. And perhaps Bortuzzo, Jeffrey and Veilleux can still salvage that a little, too. The 2008 Draft was depleted at the cost of a Cup; I'll take that trade-off any day.
That leaves us with 2009, a draft from which the Pens picked last & may still see that first-round pick on the NHL roster this coming year. That's not bad at all for a team that hasn't really HAD to rush prospects to the NHL level since 2006-07.