PITTSBURGH PENGUINS DEVELOPMENT CAMP 2014
DAY 2 ANALYSIS
By Dave Fryer, Contributor to InsidePittsburghSports.com
Groups were divided out by forwards and defensemen today. The drills in each session were specific to those positions.
The four goalies were all on the ice for both sessions, as well as some extra work with coaches Mike Bales and Mike Buckley before the first session started. The goalies also found time to do some dedicated work during the session for defensemen.
Head Coach Mike Johnston sat in the stands with GM Jim Rutherford for a portion of the morning. Johnston did not take to the ice at all today and was not seen in the locker room after the session.
Without Johnston present to lead the drills, as he did yesterday, the reigns were handed over to the Wilkes-Barre coaching staff. John Hynes did most of the instruction during the forwards session, and Alain Nasreddine took charge with the group of defensemen.
After the prospects returned to the locker room following the on-ice sessions, Pascal Dupuis was found among them. Dupuis, sporting a large brace on his right knee, laced up the skates and took to the ice in a warm-up suit, working on a few drills with strength coach Mike Kadar and athletic trainer Chris Stewart. He is not yet cleared for contact, but it was his first time being allowed on the ice since knee surgery on February 12.
Adam Payerl looked much stronger today, particularly in a drill involving working the puck out of the corner for a shot on goal. A coach with a blocking pad tried to impede that progress, and Payerl thrived in those situations. He has a knack for getting out of the corner and transitioning rapidly into a good shooting position, often surprising goaltenders with a quick, low shot.
Troy Josephs shows a lot of athleticism in drills involving agility movements. He does not yet have the high-end speed or refined skills with the puck to complement that ability, which will need to be his area of focus as he develops towards pro hockey.
Tom Kuhnhackl showed more of what is expected from him in several drills today. He has one of the best shots among the forwards and put that on display a few times.
Assistant Coach Rick Tocchet took some extra time to add specific instructions on working the puck out of the corner, an area he excelled in as a player. Tocchet was one of the coaches using the blocking pads in the corner during the drill.
Blaine Byron does not possess many flashy skills or eye-opening speed, but his simple execution is effective in creating scoring opportunities. He rarely over-handles the puck, he consistently puts his shots on net, and he makes the smart pass to the open man.
Nick Lappin made things happen in the small-area game at the end of the session. He puts himself in a good position to receive passes and battles hard for loose pucks.
The pure skill of Kasperi Kapanen was evident throughout the session. He clearly has the tools necessary to evolve into a good NHL player, and the Penguins are surely hoping that development is accelerated over the next 1-2 seasons.
Scott Wilson scored the first goal in the game at the end of the session, firing a hard one-timer past Matt Murray. Wilson is a player the Penguins are hoping can become an option as a two-way forward on a 3rd or 4th line in the NHL.
Anton Zlobin is a bit hesitant in his decision-making, but he still controls the puck well and makes the smart play with it. He showed a strong tendency to be on the defensive side of the puck during the small scrimmage, an attribute that should play well into the new system.
Jean-Sebastien Dea continues to impress. There does not seem to be much buzz about him, but he has consistently performed at a high level this summer and last. He has done a good job at removing many doubts about his size. His next challenge will be to show that he can parlay his offensive production from junior hockey into the pro level. All indications from this week suggest he can do that right away.
Ryan Segalla has the potential to move himself near the top of the prospect list with some improvements to his skating. His feet get too wide apart too produce enough power as he tries to accelerate to the puck, and his stride shortens even more when he tries to get going with the puck on his stick. But he is adept at getting north quickly and moves the puck well.
Brian Dumoulin was again the best player on the ice today. The only possible drawback in his game is a lack of burst in his initial stride. But he is certainly poised to make a run at a roster spot with the NHL club in September.
Scott Harrington was the only real challenger to Dumoulin’s dominance. Harrington’s biggest weakness is his shooting, which is not really a requirement in his game as a defensive defenseman. He does handle the puck exceptionally well across the top of the offensive zone, so he has shown he is capable of making contributions with the puck.
Jeff Taylor was impressive again today. He is tremendous with the puck on his stick, catching passing and making passes with a calm, smooth motion. His shot is not very powerful, but he consistently gets it to the net.
Nick D’Agostino has not progressed as much as the organization would have hoped. He still has respectable two-way skills, but he needed a bigger boost in those skills over the past year to carve out his spot among the talented group of defensemen.
Reid McNeill’s best offensive attribute is his booming shot. He is able to keep it low and accurate from any spot along the blue line. He gets the shot away quickly, as well.
Harrison Ruopp literally “wowed” some of his teammates with some slick offensive plays during a small game at the end of the session. He first beat Tristan Jarry high to the short side, then set up Dumoulin for an open net with a nice cross-crease pass. Offense is rarely something expected from Ruopp, but it was nice to see him flash some of those talents.
Tristan Jarry was at the bottom of the list among 4 very good goaltenders at this camp last summer. One year later, he has been the best netminder on the ice over the first two days. He is working hard and looks to be absorbing as much coaching as possible.
Matt Murray had another solid day between the pipes. Murray’s improved footwork jumped out during some of the side work done by the goaltenders. He’s able to get back to his feet and in position again much more quickly and efficiently than he was a season ago.
Jake Hildebrand has been rather unassuming so far, which is not a bad thing. A local product, he likely feels a little added pressure wearing the uniform of his hometown team. But he has looked steady and comfortable both days.