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Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com

Camp 2002, Day 8 - Camp Wrap-Up

September 19, 2002

Watching the tournament games the past four days has me spoiled. Only having drills to watch stinks. Sometimes you get to see some interesting stuff go on at the end of a practice, but today the zambonis were fired up and ready to go as soon as the group started stretching.

As was the case, I don't have a whole heck of a lot to say.

I can tell you the three groups were basically broken down in to the same three groups as were used during the tournament. Lemieux and Kovalev skated with White, Jan Hrdina skated with Black, and Jamie Pushor and Aleksey Morozov skated with Gold. If Vladimir Vujtek and Andrew Ference skated, I missed them.

Michal Rozsival did not skate at all, but I heard he's just fine and walking with no problems. I'm guessing he was held out for precautionary measures.

Josef Melichar was solid as a rock again. On one particular set of drills, I did not see him get beat. One particularly interesting rush pitted him against Kovalev. He tried all kinds of stops, starts, twists, and turns (all while controlling the puck), but Melichar hung right with him, staying right on him. The moves Kovalev was making were impressive enough, but Melichar was right there.

Before being chased away by the rink crew, Kovalev appeared to be giving tips on one-timers and/or slapshots to Dan Lacouture. It looked like Kovalev was telling him something about how far he was rotating his upper body on the shot.

Sebastien Caron should have been allowed to sleep in today. I don't think he was awake during the 8:00am session. Everything was getting by him this morning. At the end of one particularly bad run, Gilles Meloche went over to him and the two spoke for a few minutes while the next drill was diagrammed.

Camp Review
I know this will be a little repetitive in the wake of Dejan Kovacevic's wrap-up piece at Faceoff.com, but nevertheless, here are some of the impressions I took away from camp, in no particular order.

Veterans
Most of the big names were held out, but Josef Melichar and Johan Hedberg had terrific camps, as you would expect. Melichar is beginning to evolve into a legitimate shutdown guy. I imagine he will see a lot of big minutes against the other team's star players this year. Hedberg looks as quick and agile as ever, and looks to have significantly upgrading his puck handling as well.

Young Guns

Brooks Orpik: Josef Melichar may have been the steadiest (a tournament-best +4), but Orpik was certainly the most visible. Sure, he had a bunch of big hits, which left opposing players trying to get back on their feet, but it doesn't end there. Any time an opponent got near him, he did his best to irritate the hell out of them. He's also very good at pinning guys to the boards. If he gets someone there, they usually don't move until he lets them go. He won't remind anyone of Brian Leetch, but he passes fairly well too. Barring a huge drop off in play, he should be playing opening night.

Eric Meloche: All he did was constantly hustle, hit, and put up the 2nd highest point total in the tournament. He showed the first two qualities last year, but if he can keep up the third through the preseason games, he could unseat a veteran for a roster spot.

Alexander Daigle: His play slipped a little yesterday, but overall, the guy had an excellent camp. His play is even more incredible when you factor he was away from the game for 3 years. His speed is the same as it was when he left, his passing is very good, and he can really fire the puck as well. He tied for the tournament lead in goals with 3 and led in shots with 14. Particularly interesting was the he did not stay on the perimeter. I saw him skating through the high traffic areas and was around the net frequently.

Kris Beech: Despite only recording 1 assist in the tournament, I still think he played well. He made several outstanding passes, some of which most players wouldn't have seen. With the kind of vision he has, I am very confused as to why I saw him hold on to the puck a little too long a couple of times. He's bigger, stronger, and looks to be a step or two quicker. He's very responsible defensively, both as far as his own assignment and recognizing when a defenseman in jumping into the play and hanging back to cover for him. The latter may be the key to him making the team out of camp.

Dwight LaBrosse: Only a few weeks removed from his 20th birthday and a couple of months from being drafted in the 9th round, this kid came in turned a lot of fans' heads. He was very good in the first game against White, but there have been a lot of guys that have 1 really good day in camp. I was very interested to see what would happen during the rematch, after the shooters had seen him once. While he wasn't tested as much that day, he still played great. If he continues to develop, the Penguins will have a pretty good goalie down the road.

Conversely, there are several players that I can't honestly recall seeing do anything that warranted me to look up their number and say, "Who was that?" That list includes (but is not necessarily limited to) Hans Jonsson, Dick Tarnstrom, and Alexander Selivanov. That means I didn't see them do anything of note, which could be good or bad. Kraft had one pretty good game, but aside from that, he didn't do much. For him, that's not a good thing. I don't remember seeing Rick Berry's number much either, but that means he was doing his job and did not make any huge mistakes either.

Craig Patrick wanted to have a competitive camp and I think he succeeded in doing so. As a result, the staff will have some tough choices to make in the coming weeks, especially when the waiver draft gets here. It should be another interesting season of Penguins hockey.

That wraps up another training camp. Thanks to everyone who has read my reports, especially those of you who have taken time to complement me on them. I appreciate it a lot. I would likely be at camp every year anyhow, but I continue to do these reports since they are so well received. I still shake my head when I see how many people have read them; I had no idea one guy's opinion was of so much interest. =) I look forward to doing it again next year.

Back to Netwolf's Camp Report List

 
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