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Insider Only TIOPS Players to Watch: Penguins Development Camp Preview

Prospect Camp Preview

The Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 prospect development camp will begin with on-ice practices at CONSOL Energy Center this Tuesday, July 12 and will run through Saturday, July 16.
This year’s camp, which is the first to be held at CONSOL Energy Center, will feature a free scrimmage open to the public on Saturday, July 16 beginning at 3 p.m.
The on-ice sessions Tuesday through Friday are not open to the public.
We will have full scouting reports from each session, so make sure to check in for daily updates from the two-hour on-ice sessions.
Tuesday’s on-ice begins at 2:00 p.m.
In addition to the on-ice portion of camp, the group of rookies and prospects participating in development camp will take part in medical and fitness testing, workouts, meetings and seminars at CONSOL Energy Center.
Serving as instructors this year are Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach John Hynes, WBS assistant coach Alain Nasreddine, Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald, Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche, Penguins player development coach Bill Guerin, Penguins strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar and WBS strength and conditioning coach Joe Lorincz.
Prospects such as Robert Bortuzzo, Brian Strait and Joe Vitale can be regarded as “graduating” from having to attend the annual prospect camp.
Also of note, 2009 3rd round Ben Hanowski who has attended the past two camps, won’t be attending as he is recovering from shoulder surgery.
Hanowski who was a 70+ goal scorer in high school, has 22 goals in 80 career collegiate games at St. Cloud State.

Players to Watch

Simon Despres, D (2009 1st pick): Despres, the Penguins No. 1 prospect will appear in his 3rd development camp and should be among the more dominant players in the camp.
Despres is coming off an excellent 2010-2011 season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL and continues to evolve as a “do it all defenseman” who was a man among boys on most nights for the Sea Dogs, with his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame.
“After the World Championships (Team Canada in December/Jan), he really picked up his game and that carried over into the playoffs, ” Saint John assistant coach Marc Hussey told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
“In the playoffs, he was argubably our best player. He was pretty close with Jonathan Huberdeau (2011 3rd overall pick) and to me he was our best player.”
“He was so dominant {in playoffs} and they don’t call him the “Big Horse” up here for no reason. At his size, he was a man among boys, ” Hussey said.
Despres enters his first season with the Penguins organization and figures to battle for a roster spot out of camp but is expected to begin the season in Wilkes Barre/Scranton where he could get top pairing minutes and get some seasoning learning the Penguins system.
His arrival to the NHL though is very close.
Eric Tangradi, LW: Tangradi is becoming a veteran of the Penguins annual prospect camp. Like Despres, expectations are for him to be one of the best players on the ice.
Tangradi is not a player whose going to stand out in skilled drills but he’s a player you want to see dominating others in drills and situations that suit his game.
Beau Bennett, RW (2010 1st round pick): Bennett will be appearing in his second development camp. Indications are we will be seeing a different kind of player from a physical standpoint as Bennett has bulked up and added some neccessary strength, which will be a key for him going into his sophomore season at Denver University.
He battled a knee injury for part of his freshman season and scored 9 goals and 25 points in 37 games.
Bennett is the only Penguins forward in the system with a dynamic skill set and his playmaking ability really stands out.
A few things I’ll be looking for: Bennett’s ability in physical situations (struggled in last years camp) and whether he’s gone away from trying to make that extra fancy move (toe-drag) in one-on-one situations.
Joe Morrow, D (2011 1st round pick): A lot of eyes will surely be on the Penguins first round pick.
A prospects’ first development camp is sometimes a struggle in the first couple sessions but I’m told that Morrow should be a player who really stands out in skilled drills, due to his skating ability and a booming shot.
Philip Samuelsson, D (2009 2nd round pick): Samuelsson will appear in his first development camp and he’s a player who developed tremendously in two years at Boston College.
He’s not a physical presence like his father but has great potential as a “positional type defenseman” in his own end. Samuelsson will join the organization this fall.
Tom Kuhnhackl, RW (2010 4th round pick): Kuhnhackl will be appearing in his second development camp and is coming off a 39 goal season for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.
Kuhnhackl will play next season with Windsor again and he’s a prospect that the Penguins are very excited about and some scouts have told me they regard him as the Penguins No. 2 forward prospect in the Penguins system, ahead of Eric Tangradi.
Kuhnhackl’s all around game is already there and he’s a player who does the little things extremely well. It’s his offensive potential and goal scoring ability that has the Penguins intrigued.
He will get another season in the OHL to learn the North American game and join the Penguins organization in 2011-2012.
Zack Sill, C: Developed extremely well in Wilkes Barre last season (80 GP – 11G – 19A – 30 pts) earning a two year deal this summer.
Has excellent speed to the outside and has role player potential at the NHL level.
Was a standout in last years camp and should be among the better players this summer again.
Paul Thompson, RW (signed as free agent): Thompson is a late bloomer who was signed by the Penguins this past spring, following a strong collegiate career at New Hampshire where he scored 28 goals and 52 points in 2010-2011.
Thompson appeared in 6 games with Wilkes Barre, collecting 1 goal and 2 assists.
He has good size at 6-foot-1, 205-pounds and is a player I’m told Tom Fitzgerald and Bill Guerin are very high on.
Thompson who will be among the older players in camp, should be one of the top performers this week.
Other Notables
Keven Veilleux, 2007 2nd round pick
Scott Harrington, 2011 2nd round pick
Nicholas D’Agostino, 2008 7th round pick
Bryan Rust, 2010 3rd round pick
Nick Petersen, 2010 4th round pick

Two Pittsburgh area players to attend camp

Two Pittsburgh area players will be on the ice at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ annual Development Camp starting Tuesday at CONSOL Energy Center.
Rob Madore, a goaltender from Peters Township who plays at the University of Vermont, and Andrew Blazek, a defenseman from Upper St. Clair who plays at Robert Morris University, are among 28 young players scheduled to attend the camp.
NHL teams are allowed to invite undrafted college players to these camps, providing the college players pay their own expenses.
Both Madore and Blazek played high school hockey in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL) and skated for the Pittsburgh Hornets amateur program
Madore, who is entering his senior season at Vermont, won two Penguins Cup high school championships at Mellon Arena while playing for Peters Township. He has a career goals-against average of 2.68 at Vermont.
Blazek, a junior at Robert Morris, started his career as a winger before switching to defense. He played two years of high school hockey at Upper St. Clair and two years of U.S. junior hockey before enrolling at RMU.

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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