Rookie Tournament: Leafs beat Penguins 3-1


*Based in Southern Ontario, Junior “A” talent evaluator Brian Kelly is a special contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the 2009 Rookie Tournament. Kitchener, Ontario – The Pittsburgh Penguins top prospects got their first look at Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson Sunday night in the Penguins opening game in the 2009 Rookie Tournament. Gustavsson was strong in net making 36 saves and leading the Maple Leafs to a 3-1 win. The Maple Leafs got goals from Alex Berry, Viktor Stalberg and Greg Scott. For Pittsburgh it was a game they would like to move on from. They were outworked and out chanced as the Leafs were the faster and more physical team. Brian Burke is quickly building the Leafs system into one of the NHL’s best. Pittsburgh saw that first hand tonight. Evaluations on Tangradi, Veilleux, Grant & more A few bright spots for Pittsburgh on the night was goaltender PatrickRead More »

Day 5 Practice Notes


The players went through about 30 minutes of practice drills before Saturday’s drills. One intriguing drill was a 1-on-1 drill where a defenseman would go up against three forwards in the course of one sequence. Drill Description: One forward would start in the right face-off circle with the puck and go 1-on-1 against a defender. Once the play was broken up or a goal was scored, a forward in the left face-off circle would go against the same defender. Once the play was broken up or a goal was scored, the defenseman would skate up to the closest blueline, pivot and a forward placed at the red line would go in 1-on-1 against the defender. 1-on-1 Notes *2009 1st round pick Simon Despres was exceptional in this drill – good positioning, took the body well. – Bumped Kevin Veilleux (6-5, 200lbs) off the puck in one situation. – Uses hisRead More »

Sneep, Despres excel on most important testing drill for defensemen


At age 17, it should be expected for a young player to be over-whelmed at times in his first NHL conditioning camp. That has been the case with 2009 1st round pick Simon Depres. He shown some glimpses of why the Penguins drafted him with the 30th overall pick and other times has shown that he has a ways to go in his development. In the most important testing drill today for defensemen, Despres was the top performer. The drill was clearly for defensemen as the players would skate full speed (forwards) up to a cone and pivot backwards around the cone. They were timed until they reached their starting point, after they went around the cone. The top three performers in this drill were Simon Despres (5.222), Carl Sneep (5.265) and Alex Grant (5.348) Despres had times of 5.222 and 5.244. On drills that matter for defenseman he performedRead 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 »