As everyone is aware, the Penguins are set to kick off their annual prospect Development Camp tomorrow at Southpointe, with mostly every one of the big names on the roster - Tangradi, Simon Despres and 2010 1st round pick Beau Bennett.
But who are the ones to keep an eye on? Here's my ridiculously unofficial rankings of prospects heading into the 2010 season.
1. D Simon Despres, played 2009-10 season with the St. John Seadogs (QMJHL), 6'4" 205,19 years old
63 GP, 9 G, 38 A, +26, 87 PIM; 19 points in 21 playoff games
Has an outside chance of making the Penguins roster as a 7th defenseman, but it's most likely that he'll play 2010 in the Q once again. Showed some great offensive poise with St. John, although his NHL future probably projects more to be a versatile defender. I'd like to think he makes his debut at some point in 2011, either on the opening day roster or as an injury call-up.
2. LW Eric Tangradi, played 2009-10 season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 6'4" 221, 21 years old
65 GP, 17 G, 22 A, -1, 31 PIM; 8 power play goals
A popular favorite to break camp with the Penguins, he has the frame and skill set of a prototype NHL power forward. Played one game with the Penguins, recording 3 shots against the Islanders. There is no doubt he's a very talented hockey player (you don't draw Kevin Stevens comparisons for nothing), but is he ready enough to take a role on a line with Crosby or Malkin?
3. C Dustin Jeffrey, played 2009-10 season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 6'2" 205, 22 years old
77 GP, 24 G, 47 A, +16, 16 PIM; 236 shots on net
Another possibility to make the Penguins roster out of training camp, he too played in one NHL game last season. He will be appearing in his 4th Developmental camp. He plays with grit, energy and has no problem battling along the boards although he's not a natural scorer. A primary candidate for the 3rd center job, assuming Staal makes the jump to center Malkin's line.
4. D Carl Sneep, played 2009-10 season with Boston College (NCAA), 6'4" 212, 22 years old
42 GP, 11 G, 17 A, 26 PIM
A big-body defenseman that can move well, he's also added some bulk in his time at BC. Not really a ton of offensive prowess but does have a nice shot and will most likely play in Wilkes-Barre this coming season. It's probably not entirely out of the question that he could be called up at some point in 2010.
5. D Brian Strait, played 2009-10 season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 6'1" 200, 22 years old
77 GP, 2 G, 12 A, +22, 73 PIM
A jack of all trades on the blue line but a master of none, Strait is another fundamentally sound college defender does all the little things right. May not have any one outstanding talent but could make for a good option as the 7th defenseman.
6. D Robert Bortuzzo, played 2009-10 season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 6'3" 212, 21 years old
75 GP, 2 G, 10 A, +13, 109 PIM
A tall defender who was one of three WBS defensemen who put up 100+ PIM in the 09-10 season, he's not an offensive minded guy at all. Plays a shut down game with some physical authority at times as he's added close to 20 pounds since being drafted in 2007. An intriguing player because he's yet another young Penguin defenseman who shoots right-handed, he should push for a starting job alongside Goligoski, as he is bigger and more defensively inclined than Lovejoy, but less refined.
7. RW Beau Bennett, played 2009-10 season with Penticton (BCHL), 6'1" 175, 18 years old
56 GP, 41 G, 79 A, 120 PTS, 20 PIM; 25 power play goals
No doubt has excellent scoring pedigree, but remains very inexperienced and probably won't get a taste of professional hockey for another 3 years. Committed to the University of Denver, the 18 year old may just learn more in a week of prospect camp than he does in the entire year in college.
8. LW Ben Hanowski, played 2009-10 season with St. Cloud State (NCAA), 6'2" 200, 19 years old
43 GP, 9 G, 10 A, 19 PIM
Has drawn comparisons with Sabres winger Thomas Vanek since his high school days. A natural scorer who can shoot the puck from anywhere and is more than willing to go to any high scoring area. Also has an underrated passing ability. Although he won't be in the Penguins organization this coming season, he should continue his development in college and take another step forward as a scorer.
9. GK Alexander Pechurskiy, played 2009-10 season with Tri-City (WHL), 6'0" 190, 20 years old
13-10, 2.61 GAA, 0.912 SV%; 4 shutouts
Although he became the first Russian to play in net for the Penguins, he certainly isn't the first Penguin from Magnitogorsk. Nobody will forget the debut he made against the Canucks on an amateur tryout, and was named 3rd star of the game. One of the few goaltenders in hockey that may be able to match MAF's athleticism, he plays more a hybrid style than butterfly. Is still very much a work in progress and was not invited to the prospect camp.
10. D Philip Samuelsson, played 2009-10 season with Boston College (NCAA), 6'3" 200, 19 years old
42 GP, 1 G, 13 A, 36 PIM
Already a household name in Pittsburgh thanks to Ulf, he played alongside Sneep at BC. Still a very raw defender, he's good in the defensive zone with his stick and also possesses a powerful shot from the point.
Can't wait for hockey season to begin! Let's Go Pens