LONDON, Ontario — Matia Marcantuoni is fast.
Almost Brian Gibbons or Luis Mendoza fast.
Marcantuoni insists he never raced the former Penguins speedster, but it’d certainly be interesting to see who would win in a race.
As for the race to a prominent role with the big club, with Gibbons now in Columbus, it’s Marcantuoni who hopes to have a greater impact long term.
“Growing up I was more of a playmaker, a skill guy,” Marcantuoni said after scoring a goal off a rebound in the Penguins’ 5-4 shootout win Sunday at Budweiser Gardens. “But at the pro level, I feel like I’ll best fit in as a role player, penalty killer and speed guy.”
Has penalty killing always been part of his game?
“I think it’s something they expect from me,” Marcantuoni said. “(Killing penalties) is a big thing for me because I have speed, and I’m willing to block shots and get the puck down the ice. I definitely think it’s one of my biggest attributes.”
Marcantuoni was drafted by the Penguins in the fourth round in 2012, 92nd overall.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder has played for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League for the past four years, tallying 42 goals and 98 points in 184 games.
If he’s to stick with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or, eventually, the big club, Marcantuoni is going to have to do it with his speed, skating and abilities on the penalty kill — much like Gibbons.
“Not only is he quick, but he’s really strong on his skates,” Penguins prospects coach John Hynes said. “When he gets into puck battles, when the defensive players lean on him, he’s really strong on his skates.”
So penalty killing is sort of his calling card?
“Yep. For sure,” Hynes added. “Penalty kill and a high-end energy role, that he can use his skating, speed and strength. On special teams, (his role) would be penalty kill and faceoffs.”
>> The prospects are off today. A few guys are skating at 12:30 p.m. I’m heading to the rink and will have something off of that. The third and final game is at 2 p.m. Tuesday against the Maple Leafs.
>> Jaden Lindo is here. Remember, Lindo is the Penguins’ sixth-round pick (173rd overall) who’s missing this tournament — along with first-round pick Kasperi Kapanen (hand) — because he’s still recovering from a knee injury.
Lindo had 18 points and nine goals with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack in 2013-14, and I asked Hynes about Lindo on Sunday.
“He’s injured. He’s just skating,” Hynes said. “He won’t be ready for main camp. He’s just working with our trainers and getting back. He’s a little ways away before he can get in full equipment and get on the ice with the team. He’s just skating on his own right now.”
>> The Penguins have four college guys here in forwards Josh Archibald (Nebraska-Omaha), Bryan Rust (Notre Dame), Conor Sheary (UMass-Amherst) and Scott Wilson (UMass Lowell).
The group has made an impact — with Archibald scoring twice, Sheary adding an assist and Wilson and Sheary getting opportunities in Sunday’s shootout — and Hynes has been impressed.
“Sometimes you’re not sure what to expect because they’ve never been here,” Hynes said. “They’ve never been to main camp. They come to development camp, but then they don’t have a chance to be in this environment. You see they feel comfortable.
“You can for sure see what they bring. Is it as consistent we like? That can always get better. But, yeah, we’ve been real happy with how they’ve been able to play and produce. Most importantly, the comfort level they have. They’ve looked good so far.”
Be GRATEFUL to each other,