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Penguins focus on development on the eve of training camp

The big guns are about to start formally training later this week, but it’s all about the prospects for now

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The past few years in the days immediately before training camp, the Penguins have sent a team of prospects to Buffalo to take part in a short exhibition tournament against Sabres, Bruins and Devils’ rookies. This year the other three teams went, but Pittsburgh stayed behind to focus more on in-house instruction and training.

For the Pens, it makes sense. They can probably get a better sense of what they have in their young players and have more time to actually teach and train them in Cranberry then by going out for quick scrimmages. After all, no less then Mike Sullivan was running the prospect’s skate yesterday, and others like assistant coach Todd Reirden and player development’s Trevor Daley have been on the ice to coach up the youngsters.

Given that the Pens have not been able to hold any camps or in-person on-ice work in over two years for their prospects, they seem to have a good direction of how to best maximize the limited amount of time.

Because, as they say, business is about to pick up. Almost every healthy NHL player took the ice prior to the prospects on Monday, today is the off-ice checks and typical “day 1” ramping up and then, boom, training camp kicks off fully on Wednesday with 58 players and all the big guns.

The suddenness of the NHL preseason is always something that will catch you off guard — the Pens’ first preseason game is six days away next Monday against Columbus. It will be the first of six low intensity games as camp goes on and it will be here before you know it.

For now, this is a moment in the Pens’ cycle where they can use the development. Fresh faces are turning pro like 2019 draftees Sam Poulin and Nathan Legare. There’s European imports in Filip Hallander and Valtteri Puustinen, and college FA signing goalie Filip Lindberg.

There’s a lot of new in the organization now and a lot to get up to speed on how the NHL coaches want to see them play, what areas they might need to work on and also an opportunity for the young players to show their skills and perhaps open the eyes of the decision makers as camp opens. The Pens would love nothing better than a pleasant training camp surprise if a player really blows away expectation and comes out showing they belong at the game’s highest level.