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July 21, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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With Adams, Spaling and Winnik gone, who kills penalties?

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The Penguins addressed their need for a top-six winger in a big way by acquiring Phil Kessel.

Now, defensemen Kris Letang, Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta could quarterback power plays, with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kessel, Patric Hornqvist and others split between two dynamic units.

But what happens when the other team is on the power play? Who’s going to kill penalties?

Nick Spaling, Daniel Winnik, Craig Adams and Maxim Lapierre (at least for now) are gone. Pascal Dupuis and Brandon Sutter combined to average 4:28 of shorthanded ice time per game, and I’m not sure anyone would say Dupuis playing even 75 percent of the Penguins’ games is a sure thing.

The other possible forwards the Penguins could deploy on the penalty kill combined to average a total of 38 seconds in 2014-15.

David Perron, Kessel and Beau Bennett didn’t record a second of shorthanded time. Hornqvist averaged three seconds, Malkin five and Chris Kunitz eight.

There has been the argument that Crosby and Malkin should kill penalties more. Maybe even Kunitz, who could potentially be transitioning into a third-line role.

That scenario lumps an extraordinary amount of responsibility on guys who will log premium power-play minutes, along with as many five-on-five shifts as they can reasonably handle.

What happens, too, if Dupuis or Sutter take the minor? Dupuis/Sutter and Crosby for the first 60 seconds, Malkin and Kunitz for the second 60? Do you want those guys doing that?

This question, to me, should serve as a road map to what general manager Jim Rutherford could do to tweak the fourth line. No, there won’t be drastic changes. But whatever ingredient Rutherford adds, there must be some element of PK experience.

It would also help to get someone who can win a key faceoff or two. That element of the Penguins’ game lagged in 2014-15. And Oskar Sundqvist (hurt for 2014-15 AHL playoffs, hurt for development camp) remains somewhat of an unknown.

The Penguins won just 49.1 percent of their faceoffs in 2014-15, 19th in the league. In the three seasons prior, they finished above 50 percent each time, placing 12th, seventh and 13th.

OK, so who are some guys the Penguins could potentially target? Here are a few:

Jay McClement, 32 Manny Malhotra, 35
7-14–21 in 82 GP with CAR 1-3–4 in 58 with MTL
55.4% FO on 990 draws 59.4% on 904 draws
$1.2 million through 2016-17 UFA ($850,000 for MTL in 2014-15)
178:58 total, 2:10/GP 138:46 total, 2:23/GP
Maxim Lapierre, 30 Jim Slater, 32
2-9–11 in 80 GP with STL/PIT 5-8–13 in 82 GP with WPG
52.9% on 580 draws 59.6% FO on 751 draws
UFA ($1.1 M for STL/PIT in 2014-15) UFA ($1.6 M for WPG in 2014-15)
PIT: 78:04 total, 2:13/GP 185:44 total, 2:15/GP
STL: 79:07 total, 1:45/GP

The Penguins would want Maxim Lapierre to treat the regular season like, you know, something resembling the playoffs, and they wouldn’t want to pay him $1.1 million like he earned in 2014-15. But he does provide a reliable fourth-line option, a guy who could win defensive-zone draws and kill penalties.

Also keep an eye on Jay McClement. He’s under contract with Carolina through 2016-17, but I don’t think a 32-year-old, defensive-minded center is the difference between the Hurricanes competing for the Metropolitan Division title and not. There’s obvious history here with Rutherford, too.

McClement produced seven goals and 21 points in 2014-15. He won 55.4 percent of his 990 faceoffs and logged 178:58 of shorthanded time, an average of 2:10 per game.

Trading a prospect — Carolina would surely want one — or a draft pick could do wonders for the stability of the Penguins’ fourth line and PK unit. The Hurricanes might even handle some of the money.

Another intriguing possibility would be Jim Slater, who’s a UFA and made $1.6 million with Winnipeg in 2014-15. Went 59.6 percent on 751 draws. Ridiculous faceoff guy. Logged similar shorthanded numbers to McClement.

One question would be whether Slater — who has never left the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise — could seek more elsewhere. That may also be the case with Lapierre.

A third option, although it doesn’t fit their go-young assertions, would be Manny Malhotra, formerly of the Canadiens. He’d come cheap. He played on a $850,000 contract this past season. The UFA went 59.4 percent on 904 draws and averaged 2:23 of shorthanded time per game.

The timing of this could be tricky. On one hand, I could see one other ball dropping around the league, and the Penguins pouncing — if the money works. Or I could see Rutherford again slow-playing this like he did the Kessel trade, confident he’ll eventually get what he needs.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the Penguins address this. And rest assured: It will be addressed.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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July 20, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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A linked look back at development camp

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Twenty-two stories. Twelve by me. Nine, including a lengthy look-ahead at the Penguins’ ownership situation by my trivia-loving colleague, Jonathan Bombulie. And one by our summer intern, Wynston Wilcox. Plus another from Bombulie coming Tuesday.

All, told, it was a good week of development camp for Penguins coaches, players and team personnel. It’s also one I was extremely proud to be a part of.

In case you missed anything, here’s a list of links from our coverage over the past seven days.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

TUESDAY
Jobs opening on fourth line as Penguins kick off development camp
Busy week ahead for Penguins’ prospects
Winger Farnham signs deal with Penguins

WEDNESDAY
Penguins’ Pouliot heard trade whispers, but now hopes to make noise
Penguins’ prospect Sprong wants to show he belongs
Penguins make 2 hires aimed at addressing recent injury woes

THURSDAY
Penguins goalie prospect Murray longs for his shot at NHL
Penguins goalie prospect Jarry dealing with redefined expectations
Pair of Penguins fans make memories at prospect camp
Penguins’ Rutherford talks Maatta, Kessel and pricey third line

FRIDAY
Financial experts suggest sale of Penguins could drag into fall
Like countryman Jagr, Penguins’ Simon looking to make quick impact
Sheary tough not to notice at Pens’ development camp
RMU player getting on-ice internship with Penguins
Maatta says return by Penguins training camp is ‘absolutely a possibility’

SATURDAY
Pens prospect Zlobin happy being back on ice
Penguins’ 6th-round pick Tiffels learning to fire away
Development camp for new coach Sullivan, too
Details for Penguins’ open-to-the-public scrimmage

SUNDAY
Second-generation Loney sparkles in Penguins’ development camp scrimmage
Penguins notebook: Defenseman Pouliot sets tone in scrimmage

MONDAY
Penguins notebook: Team to have plenty of forward options in camp

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July 18, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Development camp scrimmage

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(mauryshow.com)

(mauryshow.com)

It started as an intrasquad scrimmage to end the Penguins’ annual development camp. It ended as an episode of the Maury Povich Show.

As in, with all due respect to Troy Loney, “This kid who had a hat trick in the scrimmage and then won the shootout with a filthy Patrick Kane-style dangle, he’s related to Troy Loney? With those hands? Shouldn’t someone do a paternity test?”

I’m just kidding, of course. I’m sure Troy was very proud of his son Ty after he was the star of the show today, scoring three goals to lead his team to a 6-0 victory. It’s important to note that Ty had four points in five games in a late-season AHL stint with Norfolk last year. He’s on an AHL contract with the Penguins, but he might be closer to the NHL than we realize.

Anyway, maybe I’m weird, and maybe this is looking way too deep into an intrasquad scrimmage, but here’s my No. 1 takeaway from today. The White team won 6-0 because its defensemen — Derrick Pouliot, Jeff Taylor, Matt Murphy, Patrick Sexton and Clark Seymour — moved the puck really well and really quickly out of the D zone and through the neutral zone.

That’s significant because that’s Mike Johnston hockey. That’s how he wants the Penguins to play, and, to an extent, how they did play at times last season before injuries messed up the blue line. This insignificant little scrimmage might be a blueprint for how the Penguins want to play.

Some other notes:

Dominik Simon scored two goals, not on highlight-reel plays, but by making good decisions with the puck and going to the right areas to score goals. I feel comfortable saying this kid has thrust himself into the competition for a fourth-line job in the fall.

— Sexton had the hit of the scrimmage, drilling Daniel Sprong with an open-ice shot to the midsection. As mentioned earlier, he also moved the puck well. Of all the prospects who were essentially unknown at the start of this camp, Sexton probably had the best week.

— Tom Fitzgerald mentioned Anthony Angello and Jake Guentzel as under-the-radar guys who had good camps.

— Fitzgerald said it was good to see Anton Zlobin back on the ice (and scoring a goal) after shoulder surgery last season. He said he’d like to have a word with him about carrying the puck up the left wing and then cutting across the middle with his head down, though.

— One play that paints a picture of where Jaden Lindo is as a prospect right now. He blew past Troy Josephs with a burst of speed to pick up a loose puck in the neutral zone, started skating with purpose up the left wing … then lost the puck to a trailing Josephs on a little reaching poke-check. Lindo is close to being a player. He’s just missing a little something.

— An interesting moment of physicality from the scrimmage: Robert Morris’ 6-4 winger Brandon Denham collides with 6-7 Russian forward Nikita Pavlychev in the neutral zone … and Pavlychev is the one who goes down.

Tristan Jarry got touched up for four goals in the first half of the scrimmage. I wouldn’t bury him too much, since the White team had almost all the possession, but he’s a kid who could probably use a dose of confidence right about now.

I’ll have some follow-up stuff in the next few days that I’ll make sure to mention here or on Twitter, especially a piece on Bryan Rust and the way he shows character every time he conducts an interview. In the meantime …

Bye for now,

jb

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July 17, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Development camp – day three

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The third day of on-ice activity at development camp saw players broken up into position-specific groups for drills. One of the forward drills saw two players skating into the zone two-on-none. The player with the puck on the wing was supposed to take a shot to the far pad to create a rebound for the other player, who was center-driving to the net.

Daniel Sprong kept screwing the drill up. But not in a bad way. See, at least three of the times he took a shot toward the far pad, the puck went inside the far post for a goal. Moral of the story: The kid’s got a shot.

He scored one other goal on a play where he batted a bouncing rebound in out of midair with a half baseball swing. If circumstances were different and the Penguins weren’t putting together a roster designed to win right now, we might be talking about Sprong as a candidate to stick in the NHL as an 18-year-old.

Some other notes from today:

Anton Zlobin is a right-handed shot who is comfortable playing on the left wing. He handles the puck well on his backhand. That’s a good skill for a prospect to have. I’m writing about him today, so keep an eye out for that. I’ve called him the top darkhorse prospect in camp, with darkhorse defined as a guy who isn’t very well known who will get some NHL games by the end of the year.

— A funny scene from a drill with goalie Sean Maguire. He was taking alternating shots — by goalie coach Mike Buckley from the slot and player development coach Mark Recchi from the right dot. With all due respect to Buckley, it looked like Maguire was alternating taking pitches from the 45 mph machine and the 90 mph machine at the batting cages. Recchi could still probably score 20 goals in the NHL.

Bryan Rust has a low turning radius and sense of urgency about getting shots off that make him dangerous around the net.

— The guys who stood out most in a one-timer drill were Frederik Tiffels and Jean-Sebastien Dea. It’s not a surprise that Dea stood out. That’s a huge part of his game. I don’t know if I was expecting it from Tiffels. He’s a neat under-the-radar prospect, and if I’m not mistaken, Jason Mackey is planning on writing a bit about him soon. He’s got an interesting back story as well as a good shot and good wheels.

— I don’t know if this fits in with his scouting report and I haven’t seen him much with my own eyes, but Dominik Simon looked really good when put in defensive situations in drills, like defending a two-on-one. If that really is a part of his game and it wasn’t just a good couple of drills against teenagers, that could go a long way toward getting Simon to the NHL as a fourth-liner.

— If you really think about it, is there really that much of a difference in resume between Sergei Plotnikov, who has been penciled in among the top nine forwards, and Simon, who hasn’t got that kind of hype yet? Different styles of play, obviously, since Plotnikov is a bruiser and Simon is smallish, but Simon scored 18 goals in the Czech league last season as a 20-year-old. Plotnikov has never scored more than 15 in a season in the KHL. (Though he has scored in the teens four times.)

— Noticed Jaden Lindo getting one-on-one instruction with Recchi and WBS coach Mike Sullivan. I think the Penguins are going to take interest in him as a project. He’s big and skates well but is very raw.

— A lesser-known guy who looked good at times today was Mike Floodstrand. He’s an undrafted development camp invite from the US National Team Development Program who’s headed to Harvard in the fall. Has put up good numbers in international competition. His skill stood out to me. Plays the puck well on his backhand, good patience with the puck, a nice shot. (If it’s OK with everybody, I’m going to call him Hawk because the real name of the wrestler Hawk from the Road Warriors is Mike Hegstrand, and that sounds similar to Mike Floodstrand.)

Teddy Blueger was really competitive in defensive situations. Another reason he’s a coach’s favorite, I’m sure.

Anthony Angello had his best day. The previous two days this week, I thought he just looked like a big guy (and at 6-4, he is that). But today, he showed a drive to get to the net.

— Out of the defensemen, the one guy I noticed was Clark Seymour. I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that he’s looked more impressive than some guys his age who have NHL contracts (he doesn’t; he’s on an AHL deal). Big, right-handed, gets shots through. Maybe this is the year he takes a step forward.

Stay tuned for another one of these prospect posts after the camp-ending scrimmage tomorrow.

Bye for now,

jb

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July 17, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Salary cap update 7/17

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With Dominik Uher signed, the Penguins have taken care of all their restricted free agents. Thought that would be a good time to update the salary cap chart.

cap0718

As you can see, the Penguins can field a 22-man roster and still have $1 million or so left under the cap, so there is some flexibility — not much, but some — to add to the fourth line if the youngsters don’t work out. In that sense, Scott Wilson, Bobby Farnham, Oskar Sundqvist and Bryan Rust, et al, are competing for a roster spot with someone who isn’t even on the team yet and might never be, so that’s an interesting situation.

Much more later,

jb

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July 16, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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Catching up with Ty Loney, podcast link

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Ty Loney thought about the question for a second, then gazed up at the pictures of Penguins greats that appear above the locker stalls inside the team’s dressing room.

“I remember watching all of these guys play,” Loney said. “I was a little too young to remember exactly when my dad played, but all of the VHS tapes we had of these guys … just the memories you have as a kid watching all these guys play is pretty fun.”

Loney has arguably the most recognizable last name at Penguins development camp – Lafferty, Samuel and Sean “Jerry” Maguire would be my runners-up – and that has everything to do with his father, Troy, who won a pair of Stanley Cups here.

But this isn’t a courtesy invite for Ty Loney. It sure wasn’t a courtesy contract the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins offered the forward in June.

Ty Loney produced 39 goals and 89 points in 152 games at the University of Denver, then notched another two goals and four points in a five-game appearance for Norfolk in the AHL at the end of last season.

While the Penguins stocked up on skill and speed at the NHL Draft by adding Daniel Sprong, Dominik Simon and Frederik Tiffels, into the mix, Loney is the antithesis: a net-front player and big-body type.

“Ty knows exactly what kind of player he is,” assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “He’s a north-south player. He gets to the net. He’s got good hands for a big guy. He’s got to work on his skating.

“That’s what is exciting about working with a prospect like this. He has some things he has to work on and we get a chance to help him with that. Whether he’s Troy’s son or not, we like him as a prospect.”

The development thing is exciting for Loney, who would rival Ian Cole for the Best Talker on the Team award if he was going to be on the NHL roster.

“I think (the Penguins are) known for developing players in Wilkes-Barre,” Loney said. “They want guys to move on. They want to pull guys from there minor league team. Hopefully it can be another step. After another couple years of working hard and developing, maybe I’ll get a chance.”

=Earlier Thursday I joined Ken Laird and Guy Junker on TribLive Radio. You can listen to the podcast here.

=Three skills practices Friday at development camp, starting at 9 a.m., then media availability. Talk to yinz from there.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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July 16, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Development camp – day two

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Most of today’s session was a three-on-three tournament played on short ice. There were some physical situations along the boards and in front of the net, as you might expect, which got me thinking. Twenty years ago, there probably would have been four or five fights in the first 10-minute period.

In those days, players were expected to show their toughness by fighting in scrimmage situations. These days, if a player fought one of his teammates in a development camp, he would probably be labeled a sociopath or a lunatic. I’m not a big fan of the war on fighting that is taking place in hockey today, but in this case, it’s a change for the better. There’s no point in two 19-year-old kids, both Penguins prospects, punching each other in the face to prove a point.

Regardless, that didn’t stop colleague Jason Mackey and myself from wondering, if a fight tournament did break out at the scrimmage, who would win.

Anthony Angello is a 6-4 kid with some bite to his game. Nikita Pavlychev has the reach advantage on almost anyone at 6-7. Tyler Biggs would be a candidate, but he’s not skating due to an Achilles injury. Jaden Lindo and Brandon Denham are big, solidly built kids.

To me, though, there are three real contenders. There’s Harrison Ruopp, who is 6-3, plays with an edge and comes from the mean streets of Zehner, Saskatchewan. Maybe I should have said “mean street” rather than “streets” because I’m not sure there is more than one street in Zehner, Saskatchewan. But I digress.

The second favorite would be Ty Loney. It’s more based on his size (6-4, 208) and straight-ahead style of play more than his bloodline, but that helps too.

The favorite would be Clark Seymour. He’s physically imposing at 6-4, 220 pounds, and facially, he looks like he could be Steve MacIntyre‘s little brother. And Steve MacIntyre’s little brother could probably beat up most humans.

seymour2        macintyre2

OK, enough with these shenanigans. Some impressions of prospects from today’s action:

LW Conor Sheary: The best player on the ice today. In addition to the skill and quickness, which are always there, I liked his tenacity today. He’s small, so he gets knocked down sometimes, but he gets back up. He was a bulldog on loose pucks around the net too. Keep an eye out for a story on him tomorrow.

C Jake Guentzel: He’s a good passer and he seemed to be looking for Derrick Pouliot whenever they were on the ice together. That strikes me as smart.

C Troy Josephs: A seventh-round pick in 2013, I’m not sure of his offensive skill level, but he uses his frame very well to protect the puck. That will serve him well down the road.

RW Daniel Sprong: I think I figured out why he slipped to 46th in the draft. He’s like a quarterback who throws an interception because he has so much confidence in his arm that he tries to throw a ball into a tiny window. He’s prone to turnovers not because he lacks skill or is careless. It’s because he truly believes he can make the play he is attempting.

LW Fredrik Tiffels: Very good skater and he knows how to use his skating ability to create space for himself offensively.

D Matt Murphy: I was expecting him to be a breakout candidate on defense, and he still might be. He has a big, solid frame and a simple game. But he seems to use his stick a lot when defending. Pro refs will eat him up if he does that. (EDIT: In the original version of this post, I called him Mark Murphy. Twitter user @nat_travis pointed out the mistake. Mark Murphy is a kid out of RPI who played for the Baby Pens 15 years ago.)

C Nikita Pavlychev: Looked a lot better three-on-three than in full-ice drills. Perhaps that’s because he can go boards to boards in three strides.

D Patrick Sexton: He’s got a solid build, so he looks, to the eye, like a stay-at-home defender. But he makes a sneaky good first pass.

D Jeff Taylor: Noticed today that he has a good shot to go with his riverboat gambler mentality. I can see where he’d drive coaches crazy, but I’m not a coach and I like watching him play.

RW Bryan Rust: If, for some crazy reason, they had to name a captain of the development camp roster, I’d pick Rust. He’s been to four of these camps, he’s 23 years old and he played four years of college hockey, one year in Wilkes-Barre and 14 games in the NHL. He’s not trying to impress anyone. He’s just playing his fast, simple game.

D Clark Seymour: Aside from the resemblance to MacIntyre, he probably initiated more contact today than any other prospect. The game is changing. Knocking prospects around in a three-on-three scrimmage probably isn’t as valuable a skill as it once was. But this group is not long on aggressiveness or physical confrontation, and he brings that.

There are no on-ice activity scheduled for Thursday, so check back for the next edition of prospect notes here on the blog Friday. It’s a skills day, so that should paint some of these guys in a different light.

Bye for now,

jb

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July 16, 2015
by Jason Mackey


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Talking Beau Bennett’s development

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The comment has been scrutinized since it left Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford’s mouth at his season-ending press conference.

“We made a mistake on Beau Bennett as far as development-wise,” Rutherford said. “I’ll take the responsibility for that. When it was getting closer for him to become a waivered player, I felt that we should’ve sent him to Wilkes-Barre and let him play a lot. He’s a guy that hasn’t played enough over the years.”

With the Penguins announcing Wednesday that Bennett had signed a one-year, $800,000, one-way contract, I asked Bennett about Rutherford’s comment and whether he could pinpoint any part of his development that might have been skipped over.

“Anything with my development goes back to injuries,” Bennett explained. “I hate to keep bringing them up, but when you’re playing healthy and not hindered by wearing braces on your knees, wrist or thumb, it helps to play even at 90 percent. You’re not going to feel 100 percent every game, but you want to feel close to 100 percent.

“As far as my development, I don’t know in terms of how they messed it up. I feel pretty good about myself. I didn’t hear about that just until now. I’m off social media, so I don’t read up on anything. That is kind of unique to hear.”

Full disclosure: I cut Bennett off at the beginning of his answer, saying essentially that if anyone is allowed to bring up injuries, I think he would be allowed. Bennett laughed.

ptr-pens-jets16-012815

Photo by Chaz Palla/Trib Total Media

Having Bennett healthy and productive has always intrigued me. It’s sort of like seeing a full moon or something. Doesn’t happen as often as you might think.

Think about the Penguins’ top-nine wingers: David Perron, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Sergei Plotnikov, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz.

In that mix we have someone whose performance took a serious nosedive in Perron. Hornqvist was hurt twice in 2014-15. Significant ones, too. Plotnikov has never played an NHL game. Dupuis has his blood clot situation. Kunitz is coming off his worst pro year, a bum foot and the iron deficiency.

Not trying to be a cynic here but predicting perfect outcomes for all six of those guys is a little nuts, no? Something will happen. It’s the Penguins, new player-performance hires or not. Better yet, it’s the NHL. Injuries occur.

Will Bennett do enough to get an opportunity and slide up the depth chart?

Bennett and I talked a lot about his weight gain — he’d like to pack on about 10 pounds before the start of training camp — and how nice it is for him to finally be healthy. Don’t know whether his fingers were crossed or not on that last one.

“I’ve gained weight since the offseason, for sure,” Bennett said. “I want to play around 200 (pounds). That’s the goal. The thing with gaining weight, you want to make sure it’s functional strength, and you don’t want to feel like a blob out there on the ice. You want to make sure you’re moving at the same rate. I think that was a big thing, adding strength and refining my upper-body strength.

“I’ve worked really hard this summer. I’m in the right frame of mind to come in, make an impact and hopefully win a championship next year.”

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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July 15, 2015
by Jonathan Bombulie


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Development camp – day one

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First and foremost, make sure to scroll down and read Jason Mackey’s look at Sean Maguire, the Boston University goalie coming back from a severe concussion.

Now, some observations from the first day of Penguins development camp. Two players stood out to me – Jean-Sebastien Dea and Blaine Byron.

Dea is an undersized, undrafted center one year into his pro career. I think he might be on the verge of breaking into the top end of the prospect pool for a couple of reasons.

First, with Andrew Ebbett and Nick Drazenovic moving on in free agency and Oskar Sundqvist and Kevin Porter, as of now, the top candidates for fourth-line center duty in the NHL, there is going to be ice time available in the middle in Wilkes-Barre. Dea could easily fill it.

Second, Dea showed an ability to finish on the power play with the Baby Pens last season. That takes talent. Five-on-five, on the other hand, he was lost at times. That’s something that can be learned. Give him time to improve how he plays within a team concept and he might be on to something.

With the exception of Derrick Pouliot, who is at another level than these guys, I thought Dea was the best player on the ice today. He’s a quick skater and he has a patience with the puck that players in his peer group don’t. If the Penguins end up making the fourth line a secondary scoring line, Dea could fit in with it.

Byron, meanwhile, is a sixth-round pick from the 2013 draft who has put up really good numbers in two years at Maine – 8-8—16 in 32 games as a freshman and 12-15—27 in 39 games as a sophomore. Keep up that pace and he could be good to go as soon as a year from now.

He looks bigger than the 6-0, 172 he’s listed at. He’s a clever stick-handler and he protects the puck well in traffic.

Some other notes on prospects from today:

RW Daniel Sprong: I go into more detail in the story I wrote today, but he’s got a funky way about him, a wide stance and lots of head and shoulder fakes. He carries himself like a star, for what it’s worth.

LW Anton Zlobin: He looked rusty and a bit unsure of himself coming off shoulder surgery, but there’s something there, a maturity and confidence about his game. He’s been hurt a lot, but I don’t think he should be written off just yet.

C Dominik Simon: Impressive. Looks smaller than the 5-11, 176 he’s listed at, but explosive. Good first step.

D Jeff Taylor: Also looks smaller than the 5-11, 181 he’s listed at, but there’s an urgency to his skating like he’s always trying to make something happen.

RW Jaden Lindo: A powerful skater with good size. Not sure he knows what to do around the net, but that could come with experience.

RW Ty Loney: Good size with a right-handed shot. He’s not a great skater, but he has learned how to get around that with his smarts. A lot of the bigger kids who aren’t great skaters at this camp haven’t figured that out yet.

C Teddy Blueger: Nothing stands out in terms of speed or skill, but you can see why coaches like him. He’s precise. If he were a wide receiver, they’d say he runs good routes.

C Jake Guentzel: It’s easy to see how he puts up numbers at Nebraska-Omaha. Vision and accurate passing. How that will translate to the pros, it’s hard to say.

C Matia Marcantuoni: He looks bigger than the 6-0, 200 he’s listed at. He’s starting to look to me like that modern fourth-line forward – energy, hits a bit, wins faceoffs and kills penalties. In the Marcel Goc mold. It might take him a couple years to smooth the rough edges, but he has a chance to get there.

Coach Mike Sullivan: In an empty arena, it’s easy to hear a coach run a practice. He seemed clear, confident and authoritative. This guy is a minor-league coach in title only.

I’ll try to hit on some different prospects here on the blog tomorrow.

Also, don’t forget to check out Jason Mackey’s stories on Derrick Pouliot and the new strength and conditioning philosophy in the Penguins organization.

Bye for now,

jb

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