The Pittsburgh Penguins open on-ice training camp on the ice Saturday, with players reporting on Friday.
The team announced this morning that they sent five players (all rookie free agents) back to their respective junior teams. The first cuts were Jessey Astles, Stefan Fournier, Daniil Tarasov, Ian Watters and Maxime Lagace. This could be the end of the road for some, but they could still be in the mix in the future depending on how their seasons and development go.
Players that will be around are as follows:
1 Sidney Crosby: Sidney Crosby
1 enforcer: Steve MacIntyre
2 non-professional prospects happy to be there: Tom Kuhnhackl, Dominik Uher
2 prospects happy to be there: Joe Morrow, Scott Harrington
Soon, the puck drops and the battles to win those precious few spots will be won. There's many great storylines, namely:
- What, if anything, will be Crosby's participation level
- How can Malkin come back from a major injury and potentially have to shoulder a lot of the burden
- There will likely be 3 new top-six wingers (Neal, Sullivan, Kennedy). How will they do playing with the top two centers
- The roster battle for the last two forward slots, will wily vets carry the day (Park, Craig, Williams) or will any youngsters stick (Tangradi, Johnson, Vitale, Jeffrey)
- The defensive depth- a bunch of players won't make the team out of camp, but likely will wear an NHL jersey at some point this season
- Continued development and early looks at prospects like Despres, Thompson and Morrow
And that's just the headlines. All 55 players have a story, even if it's Carl Sneep, Dom Uher or Matt Cooke. It's sure to be a busy and entertaining camp before the Pens travel to Vancouver to
riot break in a brand new NHL season on October 6th.