Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
2012 Development Camp, Day 4
July 13, 2012
Today was the last day of on-ice practice for the 2012 Prospect Development Camp. Camp concludes with a scrimmage tomorrow at Consol Energy Center which is open to the public, free of charge. Doors open at 2:30pm for the 3pm scrimmage and free parking is available in the East and Melody Tent lots. Concessions will be available and PensGear will be open. If you cannot make it, the game will be carried live on Penguins Radio with Steve Mears and Bob Grove calling the action and I will be in attendance to follow me on Twitter at @LGP_netwolf for live coverage.
Today's practice had a slightly different format. The prospects were still split into two groups, but today all of the forwards were in one group and all of the defensemen were in another. Consequently, it wasn't the best day for gauging compete level or defending. It was more of an individual skills kind of day, especially for the forwards. In addition to the normal skating and shooting drills, the coaches also brought out some blocks used as pylons for some stickhandling drills during the forwards session.
Josh Archibald, Beau Bennett, and Matia Marcantuoni all handled the stickhandling drills well and with speed, but Teddy Blueger was the best at it from where I was sitting. He navigated the pylons as quickly as anyone, but just had that extra fluidity in his movements; very smooth set of hands on this kid. Blueger has mentioned Pavel Datsyuk as a player he tries to pattern his game after and it shows.
After practice, Bennett was asked to expand on yesterday's statement about being at 80% right now. He explained that his arm strength isn't all there, so he switched from a 100 flex stick down to 85. He wants to eventually get back to 100. For those of you who aren't heavily into hockey gear, flex just refers to how stiff the stick is. The higher the number, the stiffer the stick is.
Marcantuoni's wrister was on display again. He put two more laser beams under the bar in drills. I also think he's the fastest guy here, though Archibald is real close. This kid is at least year or two away from turning pro, but definitely worth watching. Odds are he will do something to grab your attention tomorrow, even if you aren't making it a point to watch him.
Kenny Agostino made a few more nice plays today. In one drill, he came down the left side, pulled the puck into his body and wired a shot to the far post, upstairs. In a later drill, he was given a bit of a bad pass, but managed to tip it around one of the coaches to himself. The coach was stationary and not actively defending, but it was still a nice skill play. Another thing worth noting with him: he's now listed at 6'1", 200lbs. He's not big by NHL standards, but that's pretty decent size and is up from the 5'11", 190lbs he was at when the Pens took him in the 5th round of the 2010 draft.
The final drill during the forward session gave you a little taste of battle level. A coach would fire a puck up the wall. One guy tried to chip it out and the other tried to keep it in. Oskar Sundqvist got into a lengthy battle at one point, but kept at it and eventually cleared the puck. His hard work was rewarded with a chorus of cheers from his teammates.
Most of the drills the defensemen were put through were geared towards puck retrieval and outlet passing, which are key components to Penguin hockey. The downside, if you can call it that, it these kinds of drills don't lend themselves to showcasing things that really jump out at you. The guys that looked the most fluid through these drills (to me at least) were Joe Morrow, Simon Despres, Scott Harrington, Alex Velischek, and Andrej Sustr.
If you can make it out to Consol tomorrow, I'd definitely recommend doing so. There's no substitute for watching these guys play and coming to your own conclusions. I'm sure people will be playing a lot of attention to the bigger names like Bennett, Despres, Morrow and Harrington, but there are plenty of other names you'll want to pay attention to. I'm looking forward to seeing how the skills of Marcantuoni, Agostino, Blueger, Velischek and Sustr translate over to game action, as well as seeing what some of the defensively oriented guys can do.
Check back tomorrow for a full recap of the scrimmage.
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