Bennett, Despres, Tangradi and Megna brought for NHL Training Camp

Bruce Bennett

A handful of players from the Penguins minor league team in Wilkes-Barre have unofficially been beckoned up to join the NHL level players before the expected start of training camp.

Ahead of the expected start to training camp, the Pittsburgh Penguins have unofficially called up some players from the AHL. Forwards Eric Tangradi, Jayson Megna and Beau Bennett and defenseman Simon Despres have popped up on the western side of the state, joining their NHL level player teammates for still informal workouts today at Southpoine.

Tangradi should be the player most secure in making the opening night NHL roster given role, waiver status and expectations. It's a little interesting to see Megna, an undrafted signee in his first pro year, but the Pens likely need another camp body to round out their lines and Megna is a guy the organization reportedly is high on.

Despres only has three assists all season long in Wilkes-Barre, but at 21 years old has some NHL experience and should be able to get as long a look as someone can in a training camp that will last about a week.

Bennett, 21, is in his first year as a pro and has been the top forward for Wilkes-Barre so far this season. He's thought to either be a top-two line forward in the NHL or be sent back to the minors. Most don't expect Bennett to be strong and consistent enough yet for full-time NHL action, but given his strong play so far this season he's definitely deserving of the chance to show what he can do.

Interesting that more veteran of the prospect defensemen in Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo weren't in this batch of players moving up. Look for them soon to be in Pittsburgh's camp.

The players have ratified the CBA by a vote of 98% - 2% but both sides still have to draft up something called a "memo of understanding". Neither side can afford to enter this agreement lightly, and the NHL was burned in 1994-95 by not dotting all the i's and crossing the t's of the legalese, so expect them both to be very careful in the exact wording of all the agreements before the lockout can be officially ended.

When that happens, however, the league will announce the full details of the 48 game schedule, to begin a week from today, Saturday the 19th. We know the Pens will be in Phildadelphia, but from there we'll have to wait and see. Supposedly we thought we'd know by now, but until they agree on this "MOU", fans will have a little longer yet to go.

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