Day 1 Report
Day 1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins development camp is in the books. The players went through medical and fitness testing this morning followed by a two hour on-ice practice session this afternoon.
Practiced kicked off with 10 skaters and 2 goaltenders spending about 20 minutes with a power skating instructor. Among the top prospects who participated in the power skating portion of the practice included Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres.
Following the short power skating session, a 90 minute practice ran by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Todd Reirden, WBS assistant coach John Hynes and Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald was conducted with all 29 invited skaters participating in the skate.
The players went through about 30 minutes of skilled drills, followed by breakout/regroups and fore-checking drills. Other drills consisted of 1-on-1’s and 2-on-1’s. The practice ended with a shootout.
It was a very strong day for Eric Tangradi. Other notable prospects who stood out on day 1 were Keven Veilleux and Nick Petersen.
The offensive skills of 2010 first round pick Beau Bennett were also on display today. Bennett took line rushes with Casey Pierre-Zabotel and Dustin Jeffrey.
It wasn’t a great day to gather many player evaluations based on the drills but here are 6-to-8 player evaluations from today’s practice.
Day 1 Player Evaluations
Eric Tangradi | Age 21 | 2007 second Rd Pick (Anaheim)
Pos: Left Wing | Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 221
Analysis: Tangradi admitted today he is healthy this summer for the first time in years. The Penguins top power forward prospect has his sights set on playing in the NHL this season and has a very strong chance of accomplishing that goal before the calendar hits 2011.
Tangradi had a good first day and was clearly among the top players on the ice. Skated very well and his shot most notably his snap shot had a lot of velocity coming off it.
Strength wise, he struggled with his shot last summer and into last season after having wrist surgery in spring 2009. That is no longer an issue for Tangradi.
During breakout drills, Tangradi was aggressive on the fore-check, using his size and strength to win battles in the corner and create open lanes out of the corners for his linemates
Tangradi skated on a line with 2007 second round pick Keven Veilleux and the two were effective together down low. Tangradi and Veilleux each have great puck possession abilities down low.
Also used his size well in one-on-one drills and showed softs hands in around the net. His potential was on display today.
Alex Grant | Age 21 | 2007 4th round pick |
Pos: Defense | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 190
Analysis: The stock of defenseman Alex Grant has dropped signifacantly in the past year. Still only 21, the Penguins are not ready to write Grant off by any means but if he’s to have a future with the Penguins he needs to make tremendous strides this coming season.
Day 1 Practice Notes: Grant is an offensive defenseman who stands out in skilled drills and that was the case today. A smooth player on the breakout but questions remain regarding his play defensively.
Based on a few evaluations today, Grant really struggles with his first couple steps backwards. That was evident at last years camp and again today during one-on-one drills. He has a choppy first couple strides and it leads to him relying on his poke check too much as incoming forwards today got a first step on him.
Grant had 7 goals and 20 assists last season with the Wheeling Nailers.

Robert Bortuzzo | Age 21 | 2007 3rd round pick |
Pos: Defense | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 207 |
Analysis: Regarded as the Penguins No. 2 rated defenseman in their system, surprisingly Bortuzzo did not have a good day on the ice. In the one-on-one drill portion (a drill that favors defensemen) Bortuzzo was beaten wide on two occassions and his long reach bailed him out on a few other instances.
Keven Veilleux | Age 21 | 2007 2nd round pick |
Pos: Center/RW | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 218 |
Analysis: One of the few players who stood out day. Based on his skill set which is evident in watching him practice, it’s understandable why Veilleux has been a frustrating player in eyes of some scouts.
Coming off shoulder surgery, Veilleux shot the puck very well, especially coming down the right and left side on the rush.
Has an extremely accurate hard shot and can pick corners with the best of them.
His skating ability is a concern to some. When he gets going, has NHL type speed but his acceleration is an issue. He struggled mightily in one-on-one drills today.
A drill where forwards started at the goal line and the defensemen were at the hash marks.
Veilleux had two goals and 1 assist in 9 games with Wilkes Barre last season.
Simon Despres | Age 18 | 2009 1st round pick |
Pos: Defense | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 218 |
Analysis: Today was the first time i’ve seen Despres in person since last summer and he appears to have bulked up in the past year. However, he still has a ways to go in improving his strength.
Day 1 Practice Notes: Very composed today on the ice and was excellent on the breakout with incoming fore-checkers in the offensive zone. Uses a spin move to avoid pressure to perfection
Overall though it wasn’t a great day for Despres. He had some ups and downs in the one-on-one drills. Played the body well but was out muscled to the outside on a few occasions.
One notable sequence was Dustin Jeffrey beating Despres wide with a skilled move and driving to the net for a goal.
Quick Hits
*2010 1st round pick Beau Bennett

more to come