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Insider Only Pens’ Development Camp: What to watch for

The Pittsburgh Penguins 2010 prospect development camp kicks off Tuesday, July 13th and runs through Saturday, July 17th.
The group of rookies and prospects will take part in the development camp, which consists of on-ice practice and scrimmage sessions at Southpointe, medical and fitness testing at the UPMC Sports Medicine Complex on the South Side and workouts, meetings and seminars at Mellon Arena.
The group 25 plus prospects headlined by top prospects Simon Despres, Robert Bortuzzo, Eric Tangradi and Beau Bennett arrived in Pittsburgh today for a team meeting.
The players will go through medical testing tomorrow morning at the UPMC complex, followed by the first practice session Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.
The on-ice sessions will be conducted on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. All on-ice sessions at Southpointe will be open to the public and start at 3:00 p.m.
The instructors will be Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Todd Reirden, WBS assistant coach John Hynes, Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald, Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche and Penguins strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.
What to Watch For
As expected the top players at these camps are usually the older/more established players. Last year, Nick Johnson and Carl Sneep were the top performers on the ice consistently during the camp and a step above the rest for the most part.
However, a few handful of young players have been known to make their mark.
Other standouts at last years camp were defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres. Despres struggled during the first couple days but came on strong near the end and established himself as one of the top defensemen in the camp.
This year all eyes will be on Despres, the Penguins No. 1 prospect once again. He’s coming off a dominating season in juniors and has made great strides in his development.
A major weakness last summer was clearly Despres’ shot which lacked velocity and quickness. Saint John assistant coach Marc Hussey told me in a May interview that Despres worked relentlessly after practices on improving his shot this season.
Entering his second development camp with the Penguins, look for Despres to establish himself as one of the top players on the ice.
*Eric Tangradi’s audition for the big club begins tomorrow. He will be going up against inferior players but his commitment to becoming NHL ready starts this summer. The Penguins would like to see him dominate at the camp
*Fans and even some of the Penguins coaching staff will get to see 2010 1st round pick Beau Bennett on the ice in person for the first time. Bennett is a gifted offensive player and will be attending the University of Denver this fall.
*Plenty of other intriguing prospects in the Penguins system will also be participating in the camp.

2007 second round Keven Veilleux will be back on the ice this week after having his 2009-2010 season cut short due to shoulder surgery. Veilleux is regarded inside the organization as one of the most intriguing prospects in the Penguins system.
His development took a hit last season due to his shoulder injury.
2009 3rd round pick Ben Hanowski will be entering his second development camp with the team. Hanowski, a gifted goal scorer in high school, went through some ups and downs during his freshman season at St. Cloud State.
Hanowski had 9 goals and 10 assists in 43 games played. I’m intrigued to see if Hanowski has made any improvement in the skating department. It was a weakness last summer and an area Hanowski admitted he needs to make major improvement in.
A few other notable names who will participate in the camp include Dustin Jeffrey, Brian Strait, Alex Velischek, Tom Kuehnhackl and Nick Petersen.
Development Camp Roster
Defensemen
Robert Bortuzzo
Nicholas D’Agostino
Simon Despres
Viktor Ekbom
Alex Grant
Reid McNeill
Brady Lamb
Joe Rogalski
Carl Sneep
Brian Strait
Alex Velischek
Forwards
Kenneth Agostino
Andy Bathgate
Beau Bennett
Brian Gibbons
Joey Haddad
Ben Hanowski
Dustin Jeffrey
Tom Kuehnhackl
Nick Petersen
Casey Pierro-Zabotel
Zack Sill
Alex Smigelski
Eric Tangradi
Paul Thompson
Keven Veilleux
Goaltenders
Patrick Killeen
Mattias Modig
Brad Thiessen

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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