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Development Camp Wrap up

Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports
The Pittsburgh Penguins 2010 development camp in the books. A group of 25+ prospects went through five days of off-ice workouts, meetings, team building exercises and four on-ice sessions.
Members of the Penguins hockey operations staff called the camp a success.
Day 5 of the camp concluded with a three period scrimmage.
Among the standouts in the camp were top prospects Eric Tangradi and Simon Despres along with Dustin Jeffrey, Keven Veilleux, Alex Smigelski, Zack Sill and Brian Strait.

Scrimmage Recap

Black Team: Top two lines and D-Pairs
1st Line | Tangradi – Veilleux – Smigelski
2nd Line | Hanowski – Sill – Thompson
Strait – Grant
Velischek – Rogalski/Lamb
Gray Team: Top two lines and D-Pairs
1st Line | Jeffrey – Pierro Zabotel – Bennett/Petersen
2nd line | Hadadd – Gibbons – Kuehnhackl
D-Pairs: Despres – Bortuzzo
McNeil – Sneep
Scoring Summary
1. Zack Sill – Black Team
1. Joey Hadadd – Gray Team
2. Nick Petersen – Gray Team (game winner in third period)

Player evaluations and observations

*Center Zack Sill (6-0, 200) was among the standouts in the scrimmage. Drove to the net hard and created a number of excellent scoring chances throughout the game. Score the lone goal for the black team off the rush and used his speed very well to the outside.
Sill, 22, appeared in 54 games last season with Wilkes Barre.
*The offensive skills of 2010 1st round pick Beau Bennett were on display earlier in the week but the talented winger struggled in Saturday’s scrimmage. He made a nice set up on a 2-on-1 opportunity in the second period but was very quiet for the most part.
His lack of strength and ability to get knocked off the puck was highly noticeable. He struggled winning puck battles in the corners and got caught with his head down a few times in the neutral zone.
Tremendous offensive skill but he’s at least three years away which has been the consensus among scouts since the Penguins drafted the 6-foot-1, 173 pound forward.
*Undrafted free agent Alex Smigelski (6-2, 195) had an excellent camp and didn’t hurt himself one bit in Saturday’s scrimmage on trying to earn a contract. Smigelski has excellent speed to the outside and had a very strong first period, creating a lot of early chances with Eric Tangradi and Keven Veilleux.
 Based on a few conversations with Pens’ officials this week, it would be surprising if Smigelski doesn’t earn a contract. Pens’ scouts liked him coming into the camp.
*2006 third round pick Brian Strait is a player I believe that will play 8-to-10 years in the NHL. Carl Sneep, the team’s 2nd round pick in 2006, might be the more talented player but Strait has all the qualities of a defensive defenseman who will have a regular role in the NHL.
*Top defenseman prospect Robert Bortuzzo did not have a good camp in the eyes of team evaluators I spoke with Saturday afternoon. However, the Penguins love where his development is at this point.
*2010 fourth round pick Tom Kuehnhackl got better as the camp went on. He’s not a player whose going to stand out in skilled drills but he did some good things in Saturday’s scrimmage.
He’s a smart two way player with good instincts in the defensive zone.  Kuehnhackl was excellent off the boards on the breakout chipping the puck out of the zone or finding a streaking centerman for an outlet pass.

2009 1st round pick Simon Despres will be an impact player in the NHL by the 2011-2012 season. It’s hard to find a major flaw in his game.
Defensively he’s close to being NHL ready, a team scout told me. The team wants to see him continue to get stronger and he’s done everything they asked him.
He showed up at this years camp much more thicker and has added a lot of muscle mass. At 6-4, 218, his body is starting to fill out.
One area of his game that’s improving leaps and bounds is his offensive game. Pens’ officials have been raving about his decision making with the puck this week.
The talented defenseman has improved tremendously on his ability to breakout the puck in the transition game.
*Like Despres, it was a positive camp in just about every area for top forward prospect Eric Tangradi also.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

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

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