Fresh off the NHL draft, the Pens will hit the ice later this week in Cranberry with their new prospects, some older prospects and a whole host of undrafted free agents to fill space and try and make a name for themselves.
From the team:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have invited 41 players to their annual prospect development camp, which will be held this Wednesday-Friday, June 26-28, at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.
This year’s roster includes all five players selected at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver last weekend - forwards Samuel Poulin (1st round, 21st overall), Nathan Legare (3rdround, 74th overall), Judd Caulfield (5th round, 145th overall) and Valtteri Puustinen (7th round, 203rd overall) and defenseman Santeri Airola (7th round, 211th overall).
Pittsburgh’s top selection last weekend, Poulin, is coming off a career year as the captain of the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 18-year old set career highs across the board with 29 goals, 47 assists and 76 points. He led his team in all categories during the 2018-19 season, while also leading the Phoenix in goals (8) and points (14) through 10 playoff games.
Of the 41 players invited (22 forwards, 14 defensemen, 5 goaltenders), 15 players were originally drafted by the Penguins, including Pittsburgh’s top selection in the 2018 NHL draft, defenseman Calen Addison. Two undrafted free agents who were recently signed to deals, Jake Lucchini and Emil Larmi, are also on the roster.
It’s kind of sad when there’s only 15 draft picks participating, but a sign of an organization that doesn’t end up making a lot of draft picks because of trades.
It was also noted that a few higher profile types won’t be on the ice this week:
Justin Almeida, Kasper Bjorkqvist and Nikita Pavlychev will miss development camp due to summer rehabilitation.
That’s a shame since Almeida and Bjorkqvist are turning pro this season and should have been some of the older and better players out there on the ice. Pavlychev at 6’7 is notable for his size and for his local ties as he looks towards his senior season at Penn State next fall.
All three days (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) are open to the public. The best event to attend for the average fan — in terms of convenience and excitement — is definitely the climax of the camp for Friday night at 7 PM’s 3-on-3 tournament that culminates in awarding the Michel Briere trophy to the camp champion.
Wednesday and Thursday are practice days, which I guess is interesting if you like that with skating being done in two groups; Wednesday mid-afternoon (starting with goalies on the ice at 1:00pm) and Thursday mid-morning starting at 9:30am).
Here’s the announced roster from the team:
Calen Addison leads the charge as the most interesting player here, and the one with the highest ceiling. This will also be interesting to see looks at collegiate players like Clayton Phillips (who is transferring out of the University of Minnesota) and Ryan Jones that often aren’t talked or thought too much about.
One other interesting item is unsigned 2017 second round pick Zach Lauzon (who technically the Pens’ don’t own the rights of anymore) WILL be at this camp, as mentioned on here a couple times. Lauzon is making his way back from various injuries and this week might go to show if he is capable and able to resume pursuing a professional career. If so, it looks like he and the Pens still are interesting in one another. Clearly though at this point he is a longest of long shot.
The debuts of 2019 draft picks Samuel Poulin and Nathan Legare loom large in this group.
One player as a free agent invite that stands out to me is diminutive Bobby Trivigno, who scored 28 points at UMass-Amherst as a freshman last season. Trivigno is only listed at 5’8, 146 pounds here, which is preposterously small, yet at just 20 years old he may still have time to pack on strength and weight.
Trivigno’s boxcars as a freshman are a bit better than another former UMass-Amherst player that would come to and dominated Pens’ development camps in days of yore. That player being one Conor Sheary who eventually signed an AHL deal with Pittsburgh, then an NHL deal then won Stanley Cups on Sidney Crosby’s line. Gotta start somewhere.
So, we’ll see how it goes but a player like Trivigno might be worth keeping an eye on to see if he stands out here, especially since there’s not an overload of offensive skill out there.
Josh Williams is another interesting case- only 2019 draftee Judd Caulfield is young than the recently 18-year old Williams. Williams was a former high pick to go into the WHL and was even ranked 67th among North American skaters mid-season by Central Scouting, meaning he could have been in position to be drafted. He ended up 145th among NA skaters though in the final rankings, falling after a poor season. However he did get traded in-season, could he be better next year? He’s a player to potentially track to be draft as an over-ager next season if he improves next season.
Is Emil Larmi the #3 goalie in the system if/when Tristan Jarry gets moved? Seems like it could be so pending any further free agent moves, so this will be an important first look at the Finnish netminder. Larmi figures to get lots of work here and in September’s prospect/rookie camp and tournament to see what they have with him.
It’s also kind of funny there will be a Matt Murray in this camp, but it’s not THAT Matt Murray (the two-time Stanley Cup winner).