Are the Penguins and Senators a match to address organizational needs for both teams?


“If you have a pulse and you’re a defenseman, teams are interested in you,” an NHL scout joked to me this week. Several teams are keeping an eye on the market for depth defensemen, among them include Islanders, Oilers, Red Wings, Senators, Bruins, Canadiens, Panthers, Maple Leafs, Wild and Kings. With NHL rosters needing to be finalized by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the Penguins intend to hold organizational meetings on Thursday morning following tonight’s Black and Gold scrimmage with the team expecting to have a final decision on the direction they will take on the blueline. With nine waiver eligible defensemen, the key decision is coming down to Simon Despres. Team sources say the coaching staff strongly wants Despres to start the year in Pittsburgh and view him as one of the Penguins top-6 defensemen, but going into training camp, management had been a bit lukewarm on Despres prospects of startingRead More »

Morning Pens Buzz on Scouting Meetings, Open competition in goal, Bortuzzo/Strait & Knuble interest?


MORNING PENS BUZZ The Penguins pro scouting meetings are underway this week beginning yesterday and here’s some rumblings coming out of Penguin circles: — As the dust has settled a bit since the signing of Tomas Vokoun on Monday to a two year, $4 million deal, strong indications now out of the organization is that this signing was made with implications of their being an open competition next season at the goaltender position. Marc Andre Fleury has responded well in the past when challenged by a backup playing well with prime examples being Ty Conklin in 2007-2008 and Brent Johnson in the first month of the 2010-2011 season. What’s different here is the type of goaltender Vokoun is, compared to Conklin and Johnson who were true backups and not number 1 types, and Fleury regardless of how things played out in 2008 and 2010, was not going to lose his jobRead More »

Rookie Tournament Buzz: Jeffrey getting rave reviews


Rookie Tournament Buzz Word out of Penguins circles is that Dustin Jeffrey and Geoff Walker have been the two best players on the ice in the Penguins 2010 Rookie tournament. Zach Sill has also been a standout.  Jeffrey who has three goals in the tournament, is doing what he has to do as some of the Penguins top personnel members have been in attendance. This is the year the Penguins are expecting Jeffrey to make his mark in training camp. Questions though are still unanswered regarding how Jeffrey’s game will translate at the NHL level. Walker, 22, is a big winger with good size (6-3, 225) has some intrigue about him. He’s putting himself in position to get an early opportunity in Wilkes Barre to earn a spot on one of the top three lines.. Defensively top prospect Simon Despres has been characterized as being “dominant at times” in the defensive zone butRead More »

Farm Report: Penguins interested in grooming Dustin Jeffrey into a left winger


Johnson back at full health Right winger Nick Johnson (6ft2, 200lbs), is regarded by many NHL scouts as the Penguins most under-rated prospect. Johnson plays a strong two-way game and caught the eye of many members in the organization this past September, when Johnson pushed for a roster spot out of camp. Johnson likely would have been one of the Penguins call-ups during the Penguins rash of injuries in October and November but Johnson suffered a high ankle sprain just 7 games into the season, which sidelined him for 7 weeks. Johnson returned to the lineup Wednesday night, scoring 2 goals in Wilkes Barre’s 6-0 rout of Syracuse. This is a big year for Johnson to prove that he is an NHL player. Johnson will turn 24 this month. Stat Line: 8 GP – 3 goals – 1 assist – 4 pts Penguins grooming Dustin Jeffrey to be a leftRead More »

Day 5: Tryout invite Konstantin Pushkarev has good first day


Forward Konstantin Pushkarev, 24, arrived to Penguins camp on Wednesday via tryout invite. The 24 year old winger was a former second round pick of the LA Kings in 2003. He has failed to reach his potential and spent last season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. At 6-0, 182 lbs, Pushkarev possess good speed and when drafted was regarded as having excellent “puck skills”. In his first practice with the Penguins on Wednesday, he had a good first day. Has a lot of velocity on his shot. That’s what caught my eye early with him. Above average speed and in a few drills accelerated out of the corner with the puck. Appears to be an aggressive player and I’m told he’s not a perimeter player. Skated very hard for the most part and was among the hardest working players on the ice. The issue with him that team insidersRead More »

Scouting Reports Day 1: Defensemen


Brian Strait, Age 21 Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 lbs 2006, 3rd round pick *Notes from today’s Skate – Among the most disappointing players on day 1 – Has below average speed – Struggled during the 1-on-1 drills; Was beat by Eric Tangradi and Nick Petersen consecutively – Relied too much on his upper body strength instead of moving his feet – In talking to David Quinn (few months ago) who was Boston University’s assistant coach last season, Strait is not a practice player by any means but David did mention to me that Brian must become more consistent in the defensive zone. Alex Grant, Age 20 Height: 6-2 Weight: 185lbs 2007, 4th round pick *Notes from Today’s Skate – Wasn’t very noticable this afternoon – Had choppy strides, especially when it came to moving side to side – Smooth on the few occassions during partial breakout drills – Relies onRead More »

NCAA: Prospect Brian Strait leaning towards returning for his senior season?


Strait expected to make a decision soon The Pittsburgh Penguins have made a strong pitch to prospect Brian Strait (2006 3rd round pick) in the hopes of luring Strait to forgo his senior season at Boston University but indications are Strait is leaning towards returning to school for his senior season. Strait who is regarded as the Penguins top defensive defenseman in their system, has been voted captain by his teammates for the 2009-2010 season and I’ve been told from a member with the Boston University Terriers Hockey club that the BU coaching staff believes returning to school is in the best of interest Strait. ” You only have your senior season once in your life”, a source with the BU hockey club told me this afternoon and that is playing into Strait’s decision making as he weighs the pros and cons of turning pro. The Penguins have been aggressiveRead More »

The Latest Penguins Buzz


Updated: 12:00 p.m. – Miroslav Satan was not claimed on re-entry waivers and has joined the team. Satan is traveling with the team to Montreal. Organization eyes Kennedy as a top 6 forward in 09? The Penguins are encouraged by the how right winger Tyler Kennedy has progressed from year 1 to year 2. Kennedy notched his 15th goal of the season Thursday night and has elevated his play over the past 5 weeks. Kennedy will be under consideration of making the jump as a top 6 forward prior to training camp. There are mixed opinions in the organization about whether Kennedy can be a consistent top 6 forward in this league but he is only 22 years old and as a third option on a 2nd line, some see him flourishing. Kennedy has a cap hit under $850,000 for the next two seasons. Future Plans for top prospect EricRead More »

Prospect Report: Penguins sign goaltender Brad Thiessen


Photo courtesy of Northeastern University The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed goaltender Brad Thiessen to a two-year entry-level contract. Thiessen, 23, appeared in 41 games with the Northeastern Huskies this season, finishing with a record of 25-12-4. He recorded a 2.12 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage Thiessen will report to