The Pittsburgh Penguins reported to training camp today as the players will conduct their first on ice session on Sunday. The players underwent physicals and fitness testing today at the UPMC facility on the South Side. Players reported at 8 a.m..
The Stanley Cup Champions have very few position battles. Replacing Max Talbot on Evgeni Malkin’s line will be the most intriguing battle to watch. The Penguins will give Pascal Dupuis every opportunity to win the job. Tyler Kennedy will also get a look.
On defense one concern in the organization is the lack of depth behind their top 6. Penguins General Manager Ray Shero has always tried to bring in 8 to 9 NHL ready defensemen in camp. The Penguins may have 7 entering camp and that maybe a stretch.
With the Penguins coming up empty on camp invites for a few potential D-man targets, up to four
defensemen will have a chance to win the No. 7 spot.
Ben Lovejoy, Nate Guenin, rookie Brian Strait and Chris Lee will be in the mix.
The most NHL ready is Ben Lovejoy but sources tell me he’s not a lock. Some in the organization are not as high on him, like former assistant GM Chuck Fletcher was.
When Brian Strait signed this summer, the Penguins management told him he would have a shot at earning a roster spot.
He needs some time in Wilkes Barre and his former assistant coach David Quinn at Boston University has made the statement to me on a number of occasions when we spoke in the spring. Quinn infact felt Strait should have returned to school.
He will benefit from playing top minutes in Wilkes Barre.
Two players the organization believes could fill the role of a 7th defenseman is Nate Guenin and Chris Lee.
Guenin, a native of Pittsburgh, is a stay at home defenseman with good size (6-2, 210 lbs) and Lee is an under-the radar player that some scouts I’ve talked too tell me he could be a surprise in camp.
*Former Carolina Hurricanes forward Ryan Bayda officially accepted a training camp invite. Bayda passed his physical this morning. He will battle for a final roster spot at forward.
The Players will be split in three groups tomorrow morning. (Groups A, B, C).
There will not be a scrimmage session on Sunday. The groups will go through an entire practice session.
The team will scrimmage on Monday and Tuesday. Under Michael Therrien the Penguins would scrimmage during the first ice session.
The Penguins first preseason game is Tuesday September 15th at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets.