Penguins 2012 Development Camp Taking Place in Pittsburgh This Week
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin is attending his first Penguins development camp after being acquired by Pittsburgh, along with center Brandon Sutter and the eighth-overall pick (Derrick Pouliot), for Jordan Staal.
And the first thing you notice about the reigning two-time Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman is his size. Towering (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) over the media assembled at his locker, Dumoulin discussed his decision to turn pro after three collegiate seasons with Boston College – two of which ended with an NCAA national title.
“To play in the NHL,” said Dumoulin, whose defensive play has been compared to former Stanley Cup-winning Penguin and BC alum Rob Scuderi. “Obviously that’s my goal. If I work as hard as I can, hopefully good things will happen for me. I just have to put myself in good positions. When the opportunity strikes, I have to take full advantage of it.”
One aspect that could help in Dumoulin’s conversion from the college level to the professional level is that BC and the Penguins play a similar defensive style.
Two seasons ago, Eagles head coach Jerry York implemented the Penguins’ method of defensive execution. York even showed BC players tape of Pittsburgh’s defensive zone puck retrievals, breakouts and neutral zone transition.
“I remember sitting in the BC locker room and watching tape of the Pittsburgh Penguins,” Dumoulin said. “Coach Jerry York said this is how we want to play. He knows Pittsburgh has had success and won a Stanley Cup. That’s translated into college and us winning national championships. Coach York has made the style of play like Pittsburgh’s. Hopefully, it will help my transition into the organization.”
Since Dumoulin joined Pittsburgh via the trade of Jordan Staal, a fan favorite, there is a natural belief that the blueliner may feel some added pressure to perform well, but the Penguins hope that is not the case.
“I’m sure he does, but he shouldn’t,” Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald. “Being traded is something that isn’t in your power as a player.
“He’s real excited. I had an opportunity to sit down and have lunch with him after the draft. He’s extremely excited to join our organization as we are for him to join. He’ll be a big part of our future.”
One Penguins defenseman that really made a strong impression at last season’s development camp and September’s training camp was 2011 first-round pick Joe Morrow.
In last season’s NHL camp, the 18-year-old youngster didn’t look out of place playing against veteran players. In fact, his solid performances were rewarded with more ice time and opportunities. Morrow was one of the final roster cuts heading into the 2011-12 regular season.
Morrow took that experience with him when he returned to Portland of the Western Hockey League, resulting in his best career junior season. The smooth-skating blueliner set career highs in goals (17), assists (47) and points (64).
“Going through the whole situation that I went through last year was a lot of fun,” Morrow said. “ Going back to the (Portland) was fun and we had a really good team this year. To be in back-to-back (WHL) Finals was something special. We had a lot of good players get drafted this year.
“I can’t lie to you and say that I didn’t wish I would have stayed (in Pittsburgh). It was probably for the best. I got to develop with really good coaches and had another good year in the league.”
Morrow’s play wasn’t the only thing that grew over the past year. He arrived at development camp with chin-length blonde hair.
“I was close last year so I had to change it up with something,” he joked.
Morrow added: “My mom and my sister bet me that I couldn’t grow my hair out all year. They thought I was a pretty boy and concerned about my appearance. I kind of let it grow out. I don’t know what to do with it anymore.”
With the departure of winger Steve Sullivan via free agency, the Penguins have a hole to fill among their top-6 forwards. One player that will be given an opportunity in training camp to play in that spot is 2010 first-round pick Beau Bennett.
“His hands and ability to create space, get a shot off is fairly evident,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “You envision that as a pro player and you see him as a guy in a top-6 role with that skill ability.”
Bennett signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Penguins in April, turning pro after two collegiate seasons with Denver. However, based on his develop, Bennett felt the time had come take his game to the pro level.
“I felt I was moving in the right direction,” he said. “I gained some weight. I felt it was time. That was the consensus around everyone that I was talking to. It was a decision my family and I made. I think it was the right one.”
Fitzgerald said the decision to leave college was Bennett’s to make, but the organization supported him either way.
“We are a college organization from top to bottom. We believe in the NCAA route as equally as the junior route,” Fitzgerald said. “With Beau it was about what do you want to do? Where do you see your career? What is the next step? When his decision was to leave the University of Denver, we said that’s great. We are open to that.”
Bennett played in only 10 games in 2011-12 with the Pioneers – collecting four goals and 13 points. A wrist injury sidelined him for the remainder of the campaign.
In anticipation for his transition to the pro game, Bennett has been working with professional sports trainer TR Goodman to add muscle and better prepare his body’s conditioning.
He’s hoping all his hard work over the summer will pay off with a leap into the National Hockey League.
“I’m going to ramp up,” he said. “(Goodman’s) training is really high intensity. It’s different than what I’m used to in the past. I’m following his lead.
“Going forward, I want to put myself in the best spot to have an opportunity and maybe take that big step.”
The Penguins made a run during free agency to acquire forward Zach Parise to play as one of the club’s top-6 forwards. Even though Parise opted to sign with Minnesota, the Penguins have plenty of options in filling the hole left by Sullivan’s departure.
“We like the players on our team. We like where our forward group is at,” Bylsma said. “If we have the opportunity to add a top-6 forward, we’ll look into doing that. We also know we have good players and like where we’re at in that forward group.”
Two players that the team could consider adding from outside the organization are Phoenix’s Shane Doan or Washington’s Alexander Semin.
“If you’re talking about adding a player, Shane Doan has attributes in a top-6 role, a big-bodied guy, strong power winger,” Bylsma said. “Alexander Semin has scored 40 goals in this league. He is a dangerous player. You know when he’s on the ice. He’s been dangerous on the Capitals’ power play. Where they fit and the possibilities are things Ray Shero is looking at, we’re looking at as a staff.”
But Bylsma said the team is comfortable with the group of players already in the organization that could fill that spot:
“You see the possibility of seeing younger players in the organization get a chance to play there as well, whether it’s Eric Tangradi in a top-6 role or Beau Bennett getting a chance to play there in exhibition and training camp or Tyler Kennedy. We feel good about the possibilities of guys like Kennedy supplementing that top-6 role.”
The progression and maturation of defenseman Simon Despres is similar to that of another Quebec-native blueliner drafted by the Penguins: Kris Letang.
In fact, coach Bylsma envisioned a scenario where the two players work alongside each other in the future.
“I can see (Despres) as a big-bodied guy that can defend. Putting him next to Kris, you see a formidable pair,” Bylsma said. “Both can defend, but also have the ability to make a pass and make a play. It’s an intriguing matchup. You see a young guy paired with a guy who was a young guy, who is now mature and at a different point in his game. They’ve had similar paths. Simon is a couple years behind Kris and can lean on that. You see that in the pairing.”
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach John Hynes said that defensive prospects Robert Bortuzzo, Brian Strait and Despres are NHL ready in their development.
“As far as Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Strait, they’ve proven themselves at the American Hockey League level. They’ve been dominant in Wilkes-Barre. They’ve led our team and played against top players. They’ve played huge minutes. They’ve had good opportunities to get called up and play in Pittsburgh. They had good experiences last year and showed that they can play. Those guys are NHL ready. It depends on what they do with their opportunity and what the openings will be.
“Simon is a highly talented player. He got great experience last year, coming into rookie camp, in Wilkes-Barre and got to play in the playoffs at the National Hockey League level. Those guys are knocking right on the door. They’ve proven themselves through their experiences that they’re ready to take that next step.”
KUHNHACKL MISSES CAMP
Penguins forward Tom Kuhnhackl was unable to attend development camp. Pittsburgh’s fourth-round pick (110th overall) in 2010 is being held out due to an illness.
“Tom wasn’t feeling well over the last week or so,” Hynes said. “We didn’t think it made a lot of sense to have him come over if he couldn’t participate in the activities. It was better for him to stay home, train and get himself ready to go for the fall.”
A Loss for Words
Tuesday, 07.10.2012 / 6:47 PM
Features By Greg Fernandez
Stepping into the Penguins locker room for the first time, many of Pittsburgh’s 2012 NHL draft picks were struck with awe as this week marks the beginning of their journey towards making it to the NHL.
“I was kind of at a loss for words once I walked in,” said goalie Sean Maguire, drafted in the fourth round (113th overall). “It’s the only thing I really dreamed of.”
2012 second-round draftee Teddy Blueger is one of the first-time attendees at this year's development camp.
Tuesday marks the first official day of the Penguins’ annual prospect development camp, and for the players who have been in the system for some time, it’s a chance to step into leadership and mentoring roles with the younger guys. But for the newly drafted players, it’s where they learn what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin in every sense of the word and develop the habits and mindset of a pro athlete.
“It’s really a surreal moment,” said Matt Murray, Pittsburgh’s third round (83rd overall) pick. “To be drafted a couple weeks ago was life changing and it’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid. It’s really hard to explain right now. This is not something that everybody gets to experience. I ‘m very privileged and I’m really honored to be apart of it. “
This camp is just the first stepping-stone for many of these prospects’ careers. While it’s primarily about education – learning the Penguins’ systems and sitting through seminars on nutrition, sports pychology and NHL security – there’s also going to be a healthy dose of competition between the athletes.
“I think it’s going to be tough,” Maguire said. “It’s not going to be easy but also at the same time it’s going to be fun and competitive. That’s exactly why I’m here and what I like.“
Many of the players realize this is their chance to leave a good first impression on the coaching staff. It’s also a superb opportunity for players to showcase some of their strengths during drills, like fourth-round selection Matia Marcantuoni with his blazing speed, and see what they need to improve on in order to make it in the pros.
“I’m just going go out there and definitely show them what I can do,” said Marcantunoni, the 92nd-overall pick in June. “It’s fun since I can compare myself against the top players here that belong to the organization.”
Some of the prospects from this year’s draft class will be coming back to Pittsburgh in September for training camp. For others, they plan on just soaking it all in and learning as much as they can before they begin the year back with their respective college and junior teams.
“It’s just a really fun experience and I’m glad to be apart of it,” said Theodor Blueger, the Penguins’ second-round (52nd overall) pick. “I’m expecting a week of hard work and just a good opportunity to be here and get better and hopefully make the team some day.”
Development Camp Preview: "Best Collection of Prospects We've Had"
Monday, 07.09.2012 / 11:59 PM
Features By Michelle Crechiolo
The Penguins have accumulated a wealth of exciting young talent in the developmental pipeline, especially recently. Let's take a quick look.
Entering the 2012 NHL Draft, they already had previous first-round picks Simon Despres, Beau Bennett and Joe Morrow – along with 2011 second-round pick Scott Harrington, who had an absolutely fantastic 2011-12 season – in the system.
The Penguins then came away from the draft with nine total selections – including two first-round picks in Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta – and two acquisitions via trade in Brian Dumoulin (from Carolina as part of the Jordan Staal trade) and Harrison Ruopp (from Phoenix as part of the Zbynek Michalek trade).
And what's completely awesome is that this week, those players headline the group of 34 prospects – a mixture of college, junior and professional athletes – that will be in Pittsburgh for the organization’s yearly development camp (click here for the full roster).
“This is the best collection of prospects at camp we’ve had,” said assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald. “Without a doubt.”
For Fitzgerald and the rest of the Penguins staff that will be running the camp, it all begins with those all-important first impressions. And those begin at the crack of dawn (OK, maybe that’s exaggerating a little bit) on Tuesday morning, when the players gather at CONSOL Energy Center for medical and fitness testing at 7:30 a.m. sharp.
“Expectation-wise, you want them all to come in good shape,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s the most important thing, seeing who’s working. It’s a barometer of where they’re at with their conditioning – who might need a kick in the behind and who you pat on the back. It’s an opportunity for all these kids to set a first impression. You only get one chance at that, and this is it for all these kids.”
From there, it’s all about fulfilling certain roles as the players are schooled in what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin.
The camp, which runs through Saturday, will be run by Fitzgerald, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach John Hynes, WBS assistant coach Alain Nasreddine, Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche, Penguins player development coach Bill Guerin, Penguins strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar and WBS strength and conditioning coach Joe Lorincz.
The next few days will be crammed with on-ice practices, off-ice workouts, a Saturday scrimmage and team-bonding experiences like bowling, paintball and group dinners. In addition, they’ll be receiving education in NHL security, sports psychology and will even be getting a nutritional tour at Giant Eagle to give them options outside of going to the nearest fast food restaurant when they no longer live with mom and dad or their billet families.
For the first-time attendees, the Penguins just want to give them an understanding of what it’s like to be a part of the organization. Think of it as a week of hockey school.
“On the ice, it’s not about execution and scoring goals,” Fitzgerald explained. “It’s about us educating them and giving them an understanding of what it’s like to be a Pittsburgh Penguin. This is how we get prepared for practice. This is the system we’re going to use, this is how we’re going to incorporate it into practice. Then we go out and execute.
“It’s not like this is how you should play when you go back system-wise. It’s all about the educating part. This is what you’re taking home and learning. You can apply it to wherever you go back to.”
For those players who have been to camp before – especially the ones who have spent time in WBS or have played NHL games, like Despres – the expectation is that they step into leadership roles. They don’t necessarily have to be vocal, but they must lead by example.
“That’s a big reason why we bring the pros, to help mentor the new prospects that come through here.” Fitzgerald said. “That’s the next step for them. The thing you watch for them is are they stepping up to the front of the line? Are they leaping? Because that’s what you want from them.”
Overall, it’s a lot of information to take in. But as Fitzgerald said, it’s manageable information. And it’s truly all for these players’ benefits, to help them understand how to conduct themselves as professionals in every sense of the word.
“We try to create an understanding of what it’s like to be a Pittsburgh Penguin, not only on the ice, but off the ice,” Fitzgerald said. “Because the reality is that they now represent the city of Pittsburgh. They’re going to be judged on their actions. We just try to create that environment.”
Defenseman Morrow ready to 'shoot for the stars'
July 10, 2012 11:56 am
By Shelly Anderson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Joe Morrow won't be a newbie at the Penguins' development camp that starts Wednesday. The 2011 first-round draft pick was here a year ago and will share a locker room with nine players selected a month ago.
Neither will Morrow be the oldest or most experienced of the prospects -- wingers Zach Sill and Paul Thompson are 24 and 23, respectively, and fellow defenseman Simon Despres played 18 games with the Penguins in 2011-12.
Morrow, 19, is hardly middle of the pack, though. He had a strong enough training camp in '11 that the club gave some thought to keeping him, and he easily could be labeled the top prospect in the organization who hasn't cracked the NHL.
"I'm going to come in with the same expectations, the same determination I had last year," Morrow said recently. "I was on top of the world, getting treated well, and everything fell into place. I'm going to come in with the same kind of confidence I had. Being my second year rather than something brand new, I can play with a chip on my shoulder.
"I'm going to shoot for the stars, listen to everybody's advice, see how far I can take this. Do everything I can to stay as long as I can."
The Penguins are stacked at defense to the point where they are expected to make a trade because there are eight defensemen who require waivers if shipped to the American Hockey League. Still, Morrow, a first-year pro, could push his way into a slot on the NHL roster.
Because the preseason rookie tournament in which the Penguins usually participate has been canceled this year because of uncertainty surrounding the NHL's collective bargaining agreement with its players association, this week's development camp -- which concludes Saturday with a 3 p.m. scrimmage at Consol Energy Center that is open to the public -- is Morrow's only chance to impress team brass before the main training camp.
"I still remember all their systems, their little plays for defensemen," Morrow said. "It was such a drastic change from what I was used to, especially defensively. Now it's still stuck in my head."
Morrow, a 6-foot, 197-pounder who shoots left-handed, had 17 goals, 47 points for Portland last season, and followed that with four goals, 17 points in 22 games as the Winterhawks reached the final of the Western Hockey League playoffs.
He had to nearly suspend working on the Penguins system in his final junior season.
"It was a little more difficult to work on things that they wanted because it was shaped around their system and ours [in Portland] was quite different," Morrow said. "But I tried to do that as much as I could, especially defensively.
"Hopefully, once I get back in the Penguins' system, I can pick up where I was."
NOTE -- The Penguins are part of an apparently long list of teams that have a mutual interest with winger Shane Doan, an unrestricted free agent. His agent, Terry Bross, said of the Penguins by email, "They have been in contact, and Shane is interested." Doan, 35, has spent all of his career with the Coyotes/Jets, and has been the team captain, but the ownership situation in Phoenix is unstable. He has 318 goals, 788 points in 1,198 NHL games and could add size, skill and grit to one of the Penguins' top two lines.
New defenseman already schooled in Penguins' way
July 11, 2012 12:20 pm
By Shelly Anderson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Brian Dumoulin grew up a Bruins fan in Maine and played three seasons at Boston College before turning pro this year. He was drafted by Carolina in the second round in 2009 and had been making plans to dovetail with the Hurricanes this season.
Still, when he joined the Penguins last month as part of the Jordan Staal trade, Dumoulin had a lot of reasons to feel an instant familiarity with the team and Pittsburgh.
Among his Boston College teammates were Penguins prospects Carl Sneep, Philip Samuelsson and Brian Gibbons. The latter two and Dumoulin are in development camp, which opened Tuesday at Consol Energy Center.
Two of Dumoulin's college roommates, also teammates, were defenseman Patrick Wey and goaltender Parker Milner, both of Mt. Lebanon.
Not only did Dumoulin hear a lot about the Penguins and Pittsburgh, but he also thrived in a Boston College system that is patterned to a large extent after the Penguins' preferred way of playing.
"I remember sitting in the BC locker room watching a tape on the Pittsburgh Penguins, and coach Jerry York saying that this is how we want to play. ... He's made the style of play just like Pittsburgh," Dumoulin said a few hours before his first time on the ice in a Penguins practice jersey.
In that video, Dumoulin watched current and recent Penguins defensemen, including Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi. He got a good feel for how he wants and needs to play.
"I want to be good in the defensive zone, like with puck retrieval," Dumoulin said. "It's important, especially in their system, for me to get back and be the first guy to touch the puck and have my [defensive] partner communicate on where he wants it to go. So I want to get in on the puck first and be physical.
"And [the Penguins] have very mobile defensemen, so I want to be able to jump up into the play and support the forwards."
Dumoulin, 20, has an impressive resume, even beyond the two national titles.
He led Boston College defensemen last season with 28 points, including seven goals, in 44 games and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award that goes to the top college hockey player.
In international play, he helped the United States earn the bronze medal at the 2011 world championships.
Dumoulin also has imposing size, at 6 feet 4, 210 pounds.
Still, he's no shoo-in to make the opening-night roster, thanks to a deep and talented pool of defensemen in the organization beyond the remaining six who spent all of last season in the NHL. Four are first-round draft picks, including Simon Despres, who played 18 games in the NHL last season. Two others, Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo, have advanced beyond development camp and seem to be NHL ready, according to coach Dan Bylsma. And Dumoulin's former Boston College teammates Samuelsson and Sneep are in the mix, among others.
"It's going to be really interesting because with the players that we have, the first-rounders, a trade to bring in Brian Dumoulin -- there's lots of scenarios that are going to be created with the opportunity at training camp," Bylsma said.
Dumoulin, who considered turning pro a year ago but instead turned in a strong junior season and came away with his second NCAA title, isn't daunted.
"We're all going to be pushing each other -- here in development camp, at main camp later on," Dumoulin said. "We're all going to get better. I want to be better than each and every one of those defensemen. That's my goal. Hopefully, we can learn things from each other and we can keep pushing each other so that the whole organization grows."
NOTES -- Winger Tom Kuhnhackl, a fourth-round draft pick in 2010 and considered a strong prospect, was a late scratch for development camp because of illness, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes said. ... Sneep, who was a restricted free agent, announced via Twitter that he signed a one-year contract extension. ... Winger Matt Cooke has been working out at the arena the past couple of weeks and spent a little time speaking with some of the prospects. ... With a larger than usual group, the prospects are practicing in two sessions, some days a mix of forwards and defensemen and other times split into a session for forwards and a session for defensemen.
Ex-Hurricanes defenseman not feeling pressure
By Meredith Qualls
Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 7:54 p.m.
Updated 3 hours ago
When Jordan Staal was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on June 22, he was swapped for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the eighth selection in the first-round. But for Dumoulin, 20, a defenseman out of Boston College, stepping into Consol Energy Center isn’t stepping into any sort of shadow.
“He’s my way in as a defenseman, and it’s my first year pro,” he said. “I’m looking to gain all the knowledge I can right now, and hopefully there’s no pressure on me trying to live up to Jordan Staal, and just me being the player I am, the player they traded for.”
But Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald said feeling that pressure isn’t out of the question.
“I’m sure he does, but he shouldn’t,” Fitzgerald said. “Being traded is something that isn’t in your power as a player. I got the opportunity to sit down and have lunch with him just after the draft, and he’s extremely excited to join our organization. He’ll be a big part of our future.”
• Fitzgerald said that Boston College is a place that matches up with the Pens. “For the most part, we’re a college organization from top to bottom. We believe in the NCAA,” Fitzgerald said Tuesday. “When you look at a school like Boston College, when you step foot on that university, their expectations are to win an NCAA national championship.” Of the 34 prospects invited to development camp, 11 are college hockey players.
• Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta, Penguins’ 2012 first-round draft picks, filled the shoes that prospects Joe Morrow and Beau Bennett wore in previous years, managing the expectations of being a top selection. Simon Despres has stepped in to help. “I’m just trying to do like the other guys did to me when they came here,” Despres said, “just trying to make them feel more comfortable in the room and have fun.”
• As Alexander Semin remains an unsigned free agent, the rivalry with the Capitals doesn’t mean he’s out of the question. “You always have strong feelings about the opponents you play against and you battle against,” Bylsma said. “Those are always there, and they have very little to do with whether they are good players or whether they can be on your team.”
• If Matt Cooke is spotted around development camp this week, it is only the fault of summer workouts. “He is working out, which is helping out,” Bylsma said.
— Meredith Qualls
Penguins’ Despres prepared to make leap
By Meredith Qualls
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated 3 hours ago
Simon Despres is no longer a rookie.
Entering his fourth consecutive developmental camp, the 30th overall selection in the 2009 NHL Draft arrives with NHL experience in tow.
“I want to give myself the best chance to make the team,” Despres said, “so I’m going to work here really hard this summer and make a lot of sacrifices to be here at the camp.”
Last season, Despres played in 18 games with the Penguins from December to March, averaging more than 14 minutes of ice time per game during that span. He also appeared in three playoff games against the Flyers.
“Simon is interesting in the aspect that as a junior player, (he) has the ability to really do everything on the ice,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “As he turns pro, he’s juggling where he fits in terms of being able to add offense, jumping to the play, take risk if that’s what his offensive game might be.”
As Despres continues to develop, emerging as a complete player, or one who is at least NHL ready, the more interesting parallel for the Penguins is the potential for the defensive duo of Despres and Kris Letang.
“It’s an intriguing matchup,” said Bylsma of the pair, “but you kind of see a young guy kind of paired with a guy who was a young guy, who has some maturity at a different point in his game. They’ve had some similar paths, and Simon’s a couple years behind Kris and can lean on that, and you see that in the pairing.”
Despres scored one goal with the Penguins on Dec. 17 against Buffalo. He also recorded three assists in addition to 15 points in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season.
“I think when you saw him come up and play, he showed he could play defensively against good people, good lines, in tough places,” Byslma said. “We saw him match up at times against (Alex) Ovechkin, and other team’s top lines in some of the injury situations we had last year with Kris Letang.”
As for NHL readiness, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes said Tuesday that Despres is in the same category as AHL defensemen Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo
“I think those guys are right there ready,” he said. “Those guys are knocking right on the door, and they’re ready to prove themselves through their experiences that they’re ready to take the next step.”
Penguins Report: 2012 Development Camp (Day 2)
Wednesday, 07.11.2012 / 5:50 PM
Penguins Report By Sam Kasan
The Penguins prospects had another busy day at the office for Day 2 of Development Camp. The players had an early practice/workout session at 9 a.m. Half of the group hit the ice for drills and scrimmages while the other half hit the gym. Then the groups switched.
After lunch, the players headed to Children’s Hospital to do some community work. It was an element that Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald wanted to incorporate for this year’s camp to show the prospects the way the professionals act.
“One thing we try to instill in these kids is what it’s like to be a Penguin in all aspects,” Fitzgerald said. “One thing we added this year was the community work. You give back to your community. They’ll go around and play games with the kids to give back in that way.”
Below is the rundown on Day 2 of camp…
It was only about two weeks ago that defenseman Derrick Pouliot visited CONSOL Energy Center for the 2012 NHL Draft. On that day, host city Pittsburgh traded for the eighth-overall selection from Carolina, which the team used to pick Pouliot.
The 5-foot-11, 186-pound blueliner is back in the Penguins’ beautiful new building, but this time he’s lacing up the skates and hitting the ice with fellow prospects for development camp.
“It’s a new experience and a lot to take in at first,” Pouliot said. “It’s exciting, too. I’m having fun and learning a lot. It’s overall a good thing.”
Pouliot finished a stellar season with Portland of the Western Hockey League in 2011-12. He posted 59 points (11G-48A) in 72 games for the Winterhawks.
Pouliot also saw a lot of time on Portland’s top power-play unit, alongside teammate and fellow Penguins prospect Joe Morrow. The Penguins envision Pouliot as a future power-play quarterback in the NHL.
But Pouliot’s concentration for the summer and development camp is to get himself ready for Pittsburgh’s training camp in September.
“It’s starting all over. I’ve got to make a new team,” he said. “It’s back to square one for me. I’m looking forward to that moving ahead. That’s what I’m focused on.”
Pouliot, who said he is trying to add muscle and strength this summer, isn’t concerned about earning a roster spot in Pittsburgh in camp. Instead, he’s concentrating on putting together his best effort and letting everything work itself out.
“That’s up for the coaches and scouting staff to decide if I’m ready or not to play (in the NHL),” he said. “I’m going to come in with the mindset that I want to make the team. If not, I’ll be happy to go back to Portland for another year, develop and be ready as soon as I can.”
Penguins defenseman Scott Harrington has had quite a year. It began last summer in Minnesota when Pittsburgh drafted him in the second round (54th overall) at the 2011 NHL Draft.
Harrington went on to produce one of his best junior seasons with London of the Ontario Hockey League, leading the Knights to the league championship and finishing runner-up in the Memorial Cup. Harrington also played for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship, earning a bronze medal, and will participate in the upcoming Canada-Russia Challenge in August.
“It’s been a whirlwind, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Harrington told the media Wednesday. “Starting last year at the draft, coming to development camp and training camp. Back in London we had a successful season, winning the OHL and then falling short in the Memorial Cup Final.
“I’m back in Pittsburgh this summer and heading over the Russia in a couple weeks. It’s been busy, but I’ve enjoyed it. As a hockey player, that’s what you want to do, be successful and be on the ice as much as possible. I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer.”
Harrington’s remarkable season all started with the time he spent in Pittsburgh last year for development camp and training camp. The things he learned during that time helped him elevate his game over the course of the year.
“It’s helped my confidence,” Harrington said. “Everything I learned in Pittsburgh and gaining confidence playing with such good players, I took that back with me to London. I thought I made a pretty smooth transition. I used the techniques and skills they taught me in London. I feel like I’m playing with a lot more confidence. I think it shows in my game.”
It’s hard to argue with the results.
Harrington was named an OHL First-Team All-Star after posting 26 points (3G-23A) and a plus-26 in just 44 games. He chipped in seven points and a plus-11 in 19 playoff games as London won the OHL championship.
Harrington added four points and a plus-7 rating for Canada to claim bronze in the World Junior Championships. And his crazy year concludes in the Canada-Russia challenge, which will be used to determine Team Canada’s roster for the 2013 WJC to be held Dec. 26, 2012 to Jan. 5, 2013 in Ufa, Russia.
But Harrington doesn’t mind the workload.
“The more hockey you play, the more your skills develop and the better you become,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to play a lot of hockey this year and I think it’s helped a lot.”
I had a conversation with defensive prospect Philip Samuelsson, 20, and he brought up an interesting point about his 2011-12 season.
To briefly recap, Samuelsson started the year by deciding to leave Boston College after two seasons and one NCAA national championship. But his transition to the pro game wasn’t always smooth.
Samuelsson, Pittsburgh’s second-round pick (61st overall) at the 2009 NHL Draft, split the season between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League and Wheeling of the ECHL.
Samuelsson, who is the son of former Penguin and two-time Stanley Cup champion Ulf, had to overcome adversity that he hadn’t yet experienced in his young hockey career.
“I’ve never really been forced to fight to get into the lineup,” he said. “I’ve taken that for granted almost. This put that into perspective. You have to go out and earn your ice time everyday. That’s something I improved on a lot the entire year.”
It was a valuable lesson that should only help Samuelsson as he moves forward in his career. After all, mental toughness is just as important as having the physical tools to play the game – and possibly even more important.
“I went through a lot of ups and downs during the season. You’ll have those in pro hockey,” he said. “I think I did a good job of handling that and kept working hard trying to get better.”
That mental toughness will be a key asset as he battles with other highly-regarded defensive prospects in the Penguins organization. But as Samuelsson pointed out…
“Competition is good. It makes you want to be better. This is a great place for defensemen. There are a lot of good D-men. It makes you work that much harder just so you can advance in the ranks.”
GUERIN REMAINS RETIRED
The media surrounded Penguins development coach Bill Guerin in the locker room. A reporter started asking a question by bringing up the fact that the Penguins were looking to fill a hole among their top-6 forwards.
Guerin quickly responded, “I’m retired.”
The reporter finished his question, asking Guerin if he believed a player of Shane Doan’s age, 35, had the speed necessary to keep up with a player like Sidney Crosby.
“Absolutely. If I could, he can,” Guerin joked. Adding, “I don’t know if Sid would agree that I kept up with him. I was last in line, I just didn’t want anybody to be left behind.”
Guerin did give Doan some accolades.
“I don’t know what’s happening, but any team with Shane Doan is a better team,” he said. “The guy’s a proven leader. He’s a warrior. He’d be a nice fit for us.”
The Penguins brass certainly holds defenseman Olli Maatta in high regard. The club was elated when the London Knight’s top-scoring blueliner fell to them with the No. 22 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft in June.
In fact, Maatta’s London teammate and fellow Pittsburgh prospect Scott Harrington gave him a ringing endorsement.
“The Penguins definitely got a steal where they got him,” Harrington said. “I definitely thought he’d go top 10 for sure. He’s just an all-around two-way defenseman. He does everything really well. He plays with a lot of poise and confidence.”
Dumoulin Making Seamless Transition
Thursday, 07.12.2012 / 9:00 AM
Features By Michelle Crechiolo
It’s too bad that the Penguins aren’t doing a cooking class for the prospects at this year’s development camp, because Brian Dumoulin probably could have instructed his fellow prospects on the art of preparing food.
Unlike a lot of young men his age living on their own, the 20-year-old defenseman – acquired from Carolina as part of the Jordan Staal trade – is quite the chef and enjoys whipping up meals for his teammates, roommates and friends.
“The best thing I can make is mushrooms and asparagus with a little teriyaki sauce,” Dumoulin grinned, who occasionally tweets photos of his culinary masterpieces from his Twitter account (@Du24theboyz). “It’s a household favorite. … Cooking is just something I have a passion for.”
Dumoulin’s not just a good cook – we’d venture to say he’s a pretty talented hockey player, too.
In three seasons at Boston College before turning pro at the conclusion of his junior year, Dumoulin racketed up the accolades and honors – starting with his two NCAA national titles.
He absolutely stood out on the college hockey powerhouse’s roster, winning back-to-back Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman awards, earning First-Team All-American honors two seasons in a row and being named one of the top-10 Hobey Baker Award (best college player) finalists his junior season.
Oh, and he won a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2011 World Junior Championship. So needless to say, the Penguins are thrilled to have a player of Dumoulin’s caliber in the organization...and he's happy to be here.
“He’s extremely excited to join our organization as we are for him to join,” said Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald. “He’ll be a big part of our future.”
"Carolina was awesome to me," Dumoulin said. "They selected me in the draft, my time being there was awesome. They developed me pretty well. But now that I’m moving on to Pittsburgh, I’m really excited. A lot of familiar faces in the Pittsburgh organization and the success that they’ve had over the past years gets me even more excited."
So yes, Dumoulin comes to Pittsburgh having produced an incredible college career. But, as he alluded to in his last quote, he also comes to his new organization with a certain sense of familiarity. Here’s why.
Legendary Eagles coach Jerry York implemented the Penguins’ method of defensive execution, even showing his players tape of Pittsburgh’s defensive zone puck retrievals, breakouts and neutral zone transition.
“That’s one thing that’s awesome, is that Boston College kind of emulated the Pittsburgh Penguins,” Dumoulin said. “One of the main things as a defenseman is puck retrievals and going back for the puck and communicating with your partner. That’s something that we had to do at Boston College, which was almost the exact same system that Pittsburgh runs with their defenseman. It was kind of good and familiar to me when we went through that today.”
While Dumoulin warned that we shouldn’t be looking for him to post gaudy numbers points-wise, he said he enjoys playing in an aggressive, offensive-minded system.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a flashy offensive defenseman, but I like to play solid in my defensive zone,” he said. “Puck retrievals are key for me, as is getting that first pass and getting the puck out of the zone. Also jumping up and being that fourth guy in the play. Not leading the rush, but jumping up and being able to get up there and create offense as well.”
And not only is Dumoulin comfortable with what’s happening on the ice, he also has former Boston College teammates Brian Gibbons and Philip Samuelsson here at camp this week to help ease the transition.
But while Dumoulin said it certainly helps to have familiar faces, he’s not using that as an excuse to stay wrapped up in a BC bubble. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
“They allow me to meet more people,” he said. “Brian and Philip Samuelsson have already played a year pro and know a lot of the guys and the faces around here. If I kind of just follow them around and meet some other people, that can only benefit me.”
Dumoulin’s already got impressive size at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. While he wants to continue to get stronger this summer, he’s also got specific areas of his game he’s honed in on and plans to improve to make it at the NHL level.
“I think gap control is huge, because if you can limit the other team’s time and space, that comes with quicker footwork and just being more agile,” he said. “I think that’s always something you can improve upon, especially when you’re making the jump to the NHL. Hopefully I can limit my time in the AHL and make the jump to the NHL.”
Penguins Report: 2012 Development Camp (Day 3)
Thursday, 07.12.2012 / 9:05 PM
Penguins Report By Sam Kasan
The prospects had yet another full day of activities at development camp. It started in the morning with meetings, followed with some power skating drills and 3-on-3 scrimmages.
The players spent the afternoon with two squads going head-to-head in some paintball action.
We here at the Pens website, the No. 1 U.S.-based NHL site, have a passion for reporting the news. We dig deep to find the facts and truth and bring them to you. We brave any danger in the name of journalism.
I was given a very risky assignment by the assignment desk (a.k.a. Michelle Crechiolo). I was embedded in the paintball fields with General Zach Sill and the Resistance Army in a vicious battle against the Rebel forces (and I’m aware that Resistance and Rebels are kind of the same thing, but I’ve rationed this with the idea that there is no established power or rule of law. Only chaos exists in the Urban Assault paintball fields).
There lived a collection of brave men in Sill’s Army. They were the defenders of justice and freedom (and an orange flag on a pole). They heroically risked getting pelted with small balls of paint for the salvation of mankind and, more importantly, bragging rights.
I was armed only with a flip cam, cleverness and a thirst for the truth. Thankfully, I survived the many assaults – my JV track experience came in handy, as well as screaming “Don’t shoot, I’m a journalist!” I was however wounded, getting struck twice in the shoulder and once in the head. M*A*S*H unit doctor/Penguins athletic trainer Scott Adams pieced me back together.
This band of brothers in Sill’s Army faced heavy opposition. But with the forces of good and righteousness on their side, they triumphed in all four battles. Liberty once again ruled the day. Years from now the locals will speak of that day with awe and admiration.
The world is safe for Democracy once again, and I lived to tell the tale of their bravery.
Click here for numerous pic of paintball as well as on-ice practice: