Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
2013 Development Camp, Day 5 - Scrimmage
July 21, 2013
The 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins Development Camp came to a close today with the team opening up Consol Energy Center for a free scrimmage between the two groups. Despite the teams being largely comprised of players who won't be playing pro hockey this year, fans flocked to the building, filling up more than half of the lower bowl. I know the Pens pretty profitable nowadays, but I still think you need to give them credit for opening up the building (and arena surface lots) at no cost to the fans. I'm pretty sure the profit margins on nachos didn't quite cover the operating costs for today's festivities.
The game wasn't quite regulation format. It was two 25-minute halves and there was no special teams play. When a penalty occurred, it resulted in a penalty shot with the guilty party chasing. After each half, there was also a 3 person shootout, which I believe was part of an overall team competition for the week.
The game started off with standout defensive prospect Olli Maatta finding Tom Kuhnhackl sneaking behind the defense. Kuhnhackl wasn't able to reel the pass in clean though. He stayed with it though, skating the puck into the corner and centering it as a teammate crashed the net. Kuhnhackl didn't get the bounce he was hoping for and the game remained tied. It was a pretty strong game for Kuhnhackl overall. I don't think he would up with any points, but seemed to be creating offense most times he hit the ice. It must have felt good for him to finally get back on the ice under pseudo-game conditions after missing most of last year to a shoulder injury.
He played a lot with Jayson Megna, who also had a strong game. He had two goals, and used his speed to create havoc. The first goal was a little bit skill and a little bit luck. He carried the puck from down low out into the slot, appearing to fan on the initial shot. He gathered it back in, waited for Matt Murray to go down, and flipped the puck over him. He finished things off with an unassisted goal that may or may not have gone in off of a defender. He just made the smart play to use his speed and pressure the puck and he got rewarded for it.
Let's go back to Maatta for a minute. The poise this kid has at 18 is unbelievable. No matter how much pressure he was under, he seemed to make the right play whether it was a chip off the wall, a pass, or simply skating out of trouble. As I mentioned earlier in the week, he isn't a speedster, but has decent wheels. Other facets of his skating are exemplary; quick feet, very agile, looks almost effortless. He probably could handle limited NHL minutes, but given the Penguins' depth chart and how they have a history of not rushing guys, he's almost assuredly heading back to London this fall. The parent club's blueline already has 8 guys once Robert Bortuzzo re-signs.
Speaking of defensemen, Derrick Pouliot was making things happen offensively most of the game as well, primarily with his skating. The first goal of the game is a great example of what he can do for a team. He rushed the puck through center ice and beat a guy to create a 2-on-1 with Matia Marcantuoni on the right side. Pouliot fed him the puck (which Marcantuoni had to take across his body being right handed), and Marcantuoni teed up a slapshot that beat Eric Hartzell over the glove. It was a well-placed shot to be sure, but he doesn't get the chance without Pouliot's play.
Marcantuoni already has NHL speed, and he was using it to create chances most of the game. He might have been the most dangerous forward out there. In the second, he got his stick up on Garnet Hathaway (a college player attending on an amateur tryout) and actually caught him on the penalty shot, which I think is only the 2nd or 3rd time I've seen that happen in all the time I've been watching theses. Hathaway still managed to get a shot off and it dribbled through Murray. With the speed he has, he'll be able to have a good pro career as long as he can play smart. If he can develop the rest of his game in addition, the Pens could have a bit of a steal on their hands.
Scott Wilson would tie the game up at 1 on a penalty shot. Nothing spectacular; just skated in, dusted the puck off a few times and flipped it upstairs over Sean Maguire's blocker.
Maguire had a good period. They don't keep stats in these things that I'm aware of, but he seemed to face better chances and more of them than Hartzell, and both only gave up a single goal. I'm far from a goalie expert, but based solely on today, I'd have him first, then Hartzell, Tristan Jarry, then Matt Murray.
Brian Dumoulin had a strong game, but I'm not sure today was indicative of what he normally does. I saw him take off into the offensive zone more than I expected, and I didn't think he was much of a puck rusher. He's decent with the puck, but his game is more about solid, positional defense and making the smart play. He uses his size well, but isn't what you'd consider to be a banger. I imagine he'll be on the short list of candidates this year should the parent club have a run of injuries.
Adam Payerl got talked up quite a bit this week, so of course, he had a bit of a quiet game. He still skated well and was physical though. He drew a penalty shot and went after Jarry's glove, but the goalie was up to the task and shut him down.
Dominik Uher is another sandpaper guy, but does have some skill to him. He had one goal in regulation, beating Jarry blocker side. It may have been the only shot he took all week that wasn't directed high glove. Maybe that surprise is why it went in. He added a shootout goal, which was the same high glove, under-the-bar shot he seems to like so much. He could be another bottom 6 candidate a year down the line.
What could be considered the nicest goal of the day came from two of the most skilled forwards in camp: 2012 2nd round pick Teddy Blueger and undrafted amateur tryout Jean-Sebastien Dea. Blueger got a puck on the right wall. While facing the boards, Blueger delivered a backhand pass right into Dea's wheelhouse. Dea showed off the same quick release he's showed all week and beat Jarry five-hole. Whether Blueger hear Dea calling for it, saw him in the glass, or simply knew where he was, he was an incredible pass.
Bryan Rust's goal, which ended up being the winner, was at the other end of the spectrum. Murray wasn't able to corral a loose puck and Rust got enough of it to get it between the post and his extended pad. Rust was a 3rd rounder in 2010 and has played 3 years at Notre Dame after coming up through the US National Development program. I think he's headed back for his senior season.
The scrimmage also gave an opportunity for the more physical guys to showcase their talents. Guys like Harrison Ruopp, Reid McNeill, and especially 2013 4th rounder Ryan Segalla. Rarely did an opposing player get within arm's reach without Segalla making some kind of forceful contact.
So that's another camp in the books. Thanks to Jason Seidling and the Penguins for allowing be to be here all week and thanks to all of you for reading. See you in September when the real fun begins!
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