Training camp is just four weeks away as the Penguins are expected to report to camp on the weekend of September 18 -19.
For the players, workouts begin to intensify at this time of the year and a number of players hit the ice with other NHLer’s.
The Octagon Sports Agency training camp is under way in Montreal and current and former Penguins are well represented.
Monday kicked off the first skating session and goaltender Marc Andre Fleury and defenseman Zbynek Michalek were participants along with former Penguin Ruslan Fedotenko.
According to agent Ben Hankinson, clients Alex Goligoski and Paul Martin also started skating today at the camp and both are looking very good.
Martin who is coming off the an injury plagued 2009-2010 season was the Penguins marquee signing this off-season, agreeing to a five year deal worth $25 million on July 1.
Goligoski meanwhile has put extensive hours into the weight room with a focus on his core areas and improving his upper body strength. Goligoski projects to play a prominent role for the Penguins in 2010-2011 and will get the first shot at replacing Sergei Gonchar at the point on the No. 1 power play.
The Octagon training camp includes a number of NHL’ers including the likes of Martin Havlat and Milan Michalek, the brother of Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek. The NHL’ers go through skating sessions and daily workouts in the gym.
Penguins forwards and Octagon clients Mike Rupp, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis are not expected to participate in the camp. Dupuis is still in Pittsburgh, while Rupp is vacationing with his family.
Over the next couple weeks, Kunitz will be working out and skating in Chicago with other NHL’ers, agent Ben Hankinson tells me
Kunitz who has been rehabbing this summer from a torn groin is at full health and ready to go for training camp, according to his agent.
Kunitz appeared in 50 games last season, playing with an abdominal problem that required surgery and later a torn groin muscle that he played with in the playoffs.
The Penguins are expecting big things from Kunitz who will be counted on for a 20+ goal – 50+ point season.
Meanwhile, some key young players including the likes of top prospect Eric Tangradi have been training in Pittsburgh for the past week.
Tangradi is coming off a strong rookie camp and will push for a roster out of training camp. The Penguins are leaning in the direction of seeing how their young players perform in camp instead of bringing in another forward on a one-way contract before camp opens next month.
Tangradi, Mark Letestu, Nick Johnson and Dustin Jeffrey are the four prominent young players who project to push for two forward roster spots, assuming the Penguins stand pat.
Others including the likes of Chris Conner will also be in the mix for a final roster spot going into camp. There’s an opportunity once everything settles that 7-to-8 players will begin camp with an outside chance of earning the 12th and 13th forward spot.
*Defenseman Brooks Orpik is on track to be participate fully when camp opens. Orpik is coming off hernia surgery and everything is on schedule for now. There has been no set back.
*The same can’t be said for Jordan Staal who has had a slow rehab process after having a second foot surgery following the Penguins being eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens.
Staal was in Pittsburgh seeing team doctors two weeks ago. There hasn’t been any kind of serious setback but he still hasn’t been able to workout or skate at 100%.
Word out of Staal’s camp is that he “should” be good to go in the next month. The first surgery Staal had immediately after game 1 of the Canadiens series was a short-term repair and the second surgery is the kind of surgery that can keep a player sidelined for 3-to-4 months.