Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
Camp 2013, Day 5 (Wrap-up)
January 18, 2013
The Pittsburgh Penguins concluded their 2013 training camp today at Consol Energy Center. It was kind of a microcosm (look it up) of the entire camp as it ran shorter than earlier sessions. The practice itself was about an hour, though several players stay on for a while afterwards. Kris Letang was the last one off the ice roughly 90 minutes after practice began at 11:00 am.
There wasn't much of note to talk about from this session. There were just some short drills and then some special teams work. The top two power play units were unchanged from earlier in the week. At the end of practice, the team held another shootout competition, presumably for mustache boy. It came down to Tanner Glass, Deryk Engelland, and Matt Niskanen. You might have thought Niskanen, being a fairly skilled offensive guy, would have an edge. You would have been wrong. Glass and Engelland scored, meaning Niskanen had to score on Marc Andre Fleury to stay alive. As he picked up a puck at center ice, teammates began yelling at him and smacking their sticks on the ice. The encouragement did not help; he could not get it past Fleury.
The biggest news in Penguinland was the departure of Brian Strait. He was claimed on waivers by the New York Islanders. Assuming there were no changes to the waiver rules, Strait must remain on the Isles' roster for the remainder of the year. If they attempt to send him to the minors, then Pens would be able to re-claim him.
Seeing Strait claimed is not a big surprise. He is a solid defensive player and he is ready for NHL duty on a bottom pairing. It was a bit surprising to see him waived though. Given that Ray Shero was able to turn Mark Letestu into a 4th round pick, you'd have thought he might be able to get something similar for Strait. Then again, other teams knew the situation the Pens were in and may have been content to wait for waivers. For the second year in a row, they lose a serviceable depth playing for nothing.
The good news here is two-fold. First, it there's one position the Pens can afford to have this happen, its defense. Second, is that unlike last year with Nick Johnson, everyone kept ahead of Strait is actually capable of playing. Robert Bortuzzo is still up, perhaps partially because he would have to be waived to be demoted, but largely due to a strong camp and not having much left to prove at that level. Simon Despres, despite having an inconsistent year in Wilkes-Barre and not having to clear waivers, is also still with the big club. There has been talk all week that he might be paired with Letang, but he was paired with Engelland today as well as all of the last practice. Keeping Despres up at the expense of waiving Strait tells me he's very likely to be in the lineup tomorrow. I would guess he stays with Engelland. Despres did well last year in a lesser role where the coaches' could be careful with his minutes. They can't do that if he's with Letang. I look for Niskanen, a right-handed shot that prefers the left side, to pair up with Letang and give the Pens a very mobile, offensive pairing.
It's hard to believe I've been writing these for as long as I have. Thanks to RJ for giving them a special spot here at LGP, and thanks to all of you who read them. I'm still surprised they get the number of clicks they do. It's appreciated; you guys keep me going. Follow me on Twitter (@LGP_netwolf) if you aren't sick of me yet. Who knows? Maybe I'll even post some additional articles throughout the season, or at least start posting again. =)
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