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Derrick Pouliot’s subpar camp has been the worst possible scenario for the player and team.

From the players standpoint, Pouliot at 22 years old needs to be playing every game for him to have a chance to potentially take a next step in his development.

From the teams standpoint, Pouliot has given the coaching staff zero confidence he is one of the Penguins top-6 defenseman and it’s going to put the team in a bind.

What is more beneficial for Pouliot?

Sticking around as the No. 7 defenseman in the NHL or playing top-pairing minutes in Wilkes Barre?

There’s a good argument that Pouliot needs more fine tuning in the minors, his lack of awareness in the d-zone has been highlighted in the preseason and his decision making with the puck is still not at the level it should be, which has frustrated coaches.

What the team also has to weigh is what sending Pouliot down mentally would do to the player.

The best case scenario of Pouliot having a great camp and showing signs of being someone who could push an Ian Cole, Justin Schultz or even Olli Maatta for playing time early in the season just hasn’t panned out.

And from a cap standpoint, the best case scenario would Pouliot be giving the Penguins enough confidence this season that he could move into a Trevor Daley top-2 pairing role next season, if Daley becomes too pricey to return.

None of that is playing out and now it’s back to the drawing table for the Penguins’ brass on what’s best for Pouliot’s development in the short-term.

The thing Mike Sullivan continues to draw on for Pouliot is that he showed up to camp in excellent shape and that’s something to build on despite his shaky camp.

“He really took control of his career this summer by making a real concerted effort to come into camp in great shape,” Sullivan said of Pouliot following Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Red Wings. “He’s shown signs of real solid play and he’s shown other examples where he’s struggled at times. As most young players do, it’s a bit of a process to get these guys to where our expectation is, as far as consistent performance, shift after shift.”

— Scouts have been flocking to Penguins games this preseason and a team with a particular interest in the Penguins is [hide] Las Vegas.

Las Vegas GM George McPhee wants to mirror his club next season and long-term in the mold of how the Penguins play under Mike Sullivan.

Las Vegas officials have been studying tape of the Penguins style and plan to scout the organization heavily this season and already are.

For all of the talk of Matt Murray and the expansion draft, young forwards like Conor Sheary, Scott Wilson and Bryan Rust will be eligible to be exposed and they’re the type of players (speed/skill) Las Vegas plans to build their team around.

Scott Wilson’s strong camp to go with Bryan Rust injury (won’t be ready for start of season) has given Wilson a prime audition to play with Evgeni Malkin to start the season.

However, the pressure will be on Wilson to produce early to sustain a regular spot.

He’s still not at the point yet where he has the resume built up that makes him a surefire top-9 player right now.

Mike Sullivan has talked this week of Wilson having the “potential” to be a top-6, top-9 player.

NHL sources say the Minnesota Wild remain in hot pursuit of Eric Fehr as a trade target.

Jake Guentzel was everything as advertised in camp/preseason. Great hockey sense and what many in the organization have raved about is the patience Guentzel showed with the puck. Many young players try to rush things and how Guentzel allows plays/scoring chances develop is a great barometer the Penguins’ look for in projecting top-9 NHL players.

The player who surprised just above everyone is Carter Rowney. He’s made a huge jump up the organizational depth chart.

“Those guys [Jake Guentzel, Carter Rowney], for me, are part of the big picture,” Sullivan said Friday.

Guentzel is certainly a big part of the Penguins’ future, widely regarded as the Penguins top forward prospect.

Rowney, though, at age 27 is still a wait and see situation.[/hide]