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Insider Only Day 1 Development Camp Scouting Reports, Observations & Buzz


Day 1 of Penguins prospect camp was split into two groups due to the larger amount of skaters than in years past. One notable player who did not skate is Tom Kuhnhackl due to an illness. The two groups went through two 45 minute on-ice sessions going through various skill and flow drills. There were no system drills or hitting going on.
Here’s a rundown of today’s developments and some observations:
— The Penguins are leaning on Simon Despres to be a leader out of this years group. “We had Simon talk to the group about his experiences, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said. The biggest development with Despres today was Bylsma strongly hinting of Despres getting a look with Kris Letang in a No. 1 pairing role. Bylsma is certainly intrigued about the possibility. “Simon is interesting in that aspect as a junior player, he has the ability to do everything on the ice, ” Bylsma said. “We saw him in the World Junior Championships two years ago in more of a defensive shutdown role and he really showed he could do well in that role. Then as he turns pro, juggling where he fits in terms of adding offense, jumping in play, takes risks and being real solid defensively. When he came up he showed he could do well defensively.
“I can see him being a big body guy, being able to defend, putting him next to Kris {Letang} being a formidable pair there where you have big body guys who can defend but also have ability to make a pass, make a play, and add in every category of the game. So, It’s an intriguing matchup, but you also see a young guy, also paired with a guy who use to be a young guy, had some maturity at a different point in his game. They’ve had some similar paths and Simon’s a couple years behind Kris and can rely on Kris as a pairing.”
— There’s a lot to like about 2011 first round pick Joe Morrow, the top prospect in the Penguins organization. Morrow has about every offensive tool you would want out of a defenseman as he can skate, move the puck, has great poise with the puck, and has a booming shot. His skill set was on display during the various skilled drills and what’s noticeable with Morrow is that his body has filled out and he has a swagger about him. It’s not going to be long before he’s in the NHL and the Penguins are believed to feel the same way.
AUDIO: Joe Morrow
The skill set of 2010 first round pick Beau Bennett (6-2, 205) was on display today as he showed great hands, finesse and a hard accurate shot. His skill set has top-6 winger written all over him but what’s become noticeable with Bennett is that he doesn’t have top-end speed by any means and has a slow first couple steps. That’s an area he has to improve entering his first professional season, in addition to his ability to be a factor in tight physical situations, which has long been a knock on him.
Bylsma feels this is a different camp for him in years past now that he’s turned pro.
“He’s a high end talented guy, ” Bylsma said of Bennett. “This development camp is a different look for him as he comes in as a pro player and comes into camp {in the fall}.
Bylsma said he’s only seen Bennett on tape and is looking forward to seeing what he can do in camp and in the exhibition. “Only on tape I’ve seen Beau Bennett, ” Bylsma said. “The one thing that Beau has is ability to make plays, finish plays offensively in traffic. Not a guy who’s necessarily going to race up and down the ice with speed, but has ability to create space, ability to get shot off, very evident in drills, practices and on tape. He’s a guy you see in a top-6 role with that type of skill and ability and where that is as a professional we’ll see this year in terms of him turning pro.”
The one player who probably shined the most today was Matia Marcantuoni, the team’s 2012 4th round pick who played for Kitchener of the OHL, collecting 9 goals and 14 points in 24 games. Marcantuoni along with Josh Archibald is the best and purest skater among the prospects participating in the camp and Marcantuoni’s speed and offensive instincts really stood out. Marcantuoni has a high skill set and has been regarded by many as a possible sleeper in the 4th round as injuries hurt his stock. He’s a player to keep an eye on this week.
Scouts have raved about 20 year old defenseman Brian Dumuolin who was acquired in the Jordan Staal trade and while today wasn’t a great session to evaluate Dumuolin as the players only went through skilled drills, Dumuolin has great size at 6-4 | 215, and he moves well for a big guy and has a lot of poise with the puck. The Penguins are very high on him. “I’m sure he does but he shouldn’t, ” Tom Fitzgerald the assistant to GM Ray Shero said, when asked if Dumuolin should feel pressure about being traded for Jordan Staal. “Being traded is something that’s not in your power as a player. He’s really excited. Got opportunity to sit down and have lunch with him {after the draft}. He’ll be a big part of our future, ” Fitzgerald said. Dumuolin could be NHL ready within a year and a benefit for him is that Boston College plays a Penguins type of defensive system as Dumulion said today that the BC coaching staff had them “watch tape” of how the Penguins play defense and indicate that’s how they want them to play.
There wasn’t anything about 1st round pick Derrick Pouliot that really stuck out today, despite the session being a skilled one, which I was kind of surprised about after hearing about him. Regarded as a dynamic offensive defenseman, his skill set from speed, to his shot or hands just doesn’t jump out like it does for a Joe Morrow. Pouliot has a smallish build and being listed at 5-11 might be a bit generous.
— Defenseman Scott Harrington has made quite an impression on head coach Dan Bylsma in just one year. Bylsma at the draft mentioned Harrington as part of forming one of the best defensive cores in the NHL down the road and had good things to say about Harrington again today. “Scott Harrington as a one-year Pittsburgh Penguins draftee, has had a remarkable hockey season for himself, ” Bylsma said. “Now he’s in development camp and coming into camp into fall and could possibly see him take another step in his career.”
— Fast rising prospect Dominic Uher showed some goal scoring ability today
— 2012 2nd round pick Teddy Blueger fits the scouting report of him around the draft. He’s a skilled forward with quick, soft hands and see’s the ice well. Blueger had 64 assists and 88 points in 51 games last season for Shattuck St. Mary’s. In small sampling today, he has the look of a playmaker and it looks like his shot and skating could use some developing.
— Defenseman Philip Samuelsson, the team’s 2nd round pick in 2009 appears to be making some strides in improving his skating. He looks more fluid out there than he has in the past and that’s an area he has to improve down the road.
— Goaltender Matt Murray, the team’s 3rd round pick in the 2012 draft, really struggled today. He had a lot of pucks coming at him but from the start of the session until the end, he struggled tracking the puck and wasn’t sound positionally.
— Camp invitee Antonie Laganiere of Yale caught my eye today. Has a good skill set and skates well for a player his size at 6-4. Langaniere had 19 goals and 33 points in 35 games for Yale in 2011-2012.

NOTES: Carl Sneep the Penguins 2006 2nd round pick has agreed to a one year deal with the team today, according to his agent Dean Grillo. Sneep who was a restricted free agent, received a one year qualifying offer in June along with Robert Bortuzzo, Eric Tangradi, Brian Strait, Keven Veilleux, and Alex Grant. Most out of that group will be signing one year deals this week, while the Penguins have discussed a two year deal with Brian Strait I’m told.

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William DePaoli

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William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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