Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
2014 Development Camp, Day 1
July 15, 2014
The Pens opened up another development camp earlier today, offering me a first look at some new prospects (and coaches) and a refresher on other guys. Before I get into what I saw, I want to take a step back and put things in the proper context.
This is a summer development camp. The basic goal is to get these guys into town and give them a feel for what it is like to be an NHL player. It is important and none of the guys there should think they can take anything lightly, and I doubt any do. That said, no one is making the team in the fall based on what happens this week. Conversely, nothing that happens this week will get someone drummed out of the organization either. Perhaps more so than any other setting, you need to take what happens at a camp like this at face value.
Now, on to what happened on the ice... it looked very much like the first day of a summer development camp, especially one under a brand new coaching staff. There was a lot of rust. Miscommunication led to guys running into each other on a few occasions. Missed passes weren't uncommon and I saw a few guys just inexplicably lose pucks. Maybe the ice wasn't up to par.
Many of the drills done today were mostly the kind done just to get guys moving around; lots of skating and passing. However, a couple might have given a little insight as to how new head coach Mike Johnston will want the Pens to play this year.
One of them was a full-ice, five-on-none breakout drill. Two forwards always came down low to the side where the defenseman with the puck was. The defenseman moved the puck to one of the forwards and they headed up ice. The third forward started high on the other side of the ice and diagonally cut over to the same side the puck was coming up to serve as another passing outlet. The longest first pass a defenseman had to make couldn't have been more than 10-15'.
The second drill was a two-on-two, half-ice game of sorts. Johnston would dump a puck in and two forwards would attack against two defensemen. I couldn't hear everything that was said, but it seemed like the defensemen got a point it they were able to skate the puck out of the zone. The forwards got one if they were able to generate quality shots on goal. It's only two drills, but they at least hint at the end of the stretch pass and putting an emphasis on controlling the puck.
There wasn't much to be gleaned on an individual basis today, but here are some random observations...
Scott Harrington was the first guy out, and he was pretty impressive defensively in his group. He rarely got caught out of position and was pretty good at knocking the puck away with his stick.
Johnston seemed to be at the forefront of every drill. I don't know if that will continue, or if this was just a case of the new head coach wanting to make sure he got to know everyone as much as he could. Dan Bylsma was on the ice for these in the past, but I don't recall him running them from start to finish much.
Between Josh Archibald, JS Dea, Matia Marcantuoni, and Bryan Rust, Wilkes-Barre figures to get a pretty big infusion of speed, energy, and compete level this season.
Dea's skill was pretty evident, as it was last year. The release on his wrist shot is tremendous and he made a very impressive play to take a pass that was behind him and in his skates, and get it up to his stick without breaking stride. By then, he was in too tight on net and had nowhere to shoot, but still an impressive pick up.
Dominik Uher, as he did often in last summer's camp, went bar down two times in a row, with tryout Jake Hildebrand being his latest victim. He also got into a pretty good battle with Ryan Segalla during a two-on-two drill.
No surprise that Brian Dumoulin was the standout defender of the second group. I didn't see him get beat once and he also ripped a bullet of a wrister over Tristan Jarry's glove.
This year's first round pick, Kasperi Kapanen, took to Consol ice for the first time today. It wasn't a jaw-dropping display, but you could see flashes of what made him the Pens' top pick. His speed isn't top end, but he looked pretty agile. He gets where he needs to be and wasn't afraid to go into traffic. At one point in the two-on-twos, he drove the net and went down hard, possibly after losing an edge. He was slow to get up, but seemed to be okay. He looked like he saw the ice well, his passes were sharp, and he handled the puck really well too.
Back to Netwolf's Camp Report List