Editor's note: This would have been posted sooner if it wasn't for a late night trip to the ER.
On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins held their annual scrimmage to mark the end of the Development Camp. I decided to make the 565 mile round trip out to the Consol Energy Center, my first visit, to watch the event. I left Pittsburgh very optimistic about the future of the organization heading into the 2012-13 season and beyond.
The event featured the Penguins recent draft choices from the 2012 NHL Draft as well as former 1st round guys including Joe Morrow (2011), Beau Bennett (2010) and Simon Despres (2009).
The scrimmage included a 25 minute 5-on-5 session with an NHL style shootout (3 shooters per team), a quick intermission to clean the ice followed by a second 25 minute 5-on-5 session and an AHL style shootout (5 shooters per team). Since the game was tied after the second session, they decided to add a 3-on-3 sudden death overtime before concluding with the AHL shootout.
All in all, a lot of the guys stood out to me in various ways. After the jump, my insights on the goalies and defensemen from the Development Camp. The forwards will post tomorrow.
In the coming days/weeks, I will go into more detail about the prospects who are likely penciled in for AHL duty with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2012-13.
The three goalies:
The first session started with unsigned free agent Ryan Faragher (Team Black) and the Penguins 2012 3rd round pick Matt Murray (Team White) in net. I thought both netminders played pretty well, but Faragher stole the show, making dazzling glove saves on some great chances from Simon Despres, Matia Marcantuoni and Beau Bennett.
Sean Maguire, the Penguins 4th round choice in 2012, was between the pipes for Team White in the second session, while Faragher stayed as goalie for Team Black.
Of the three goalies, Faragher is a free agent and was invited to the camp. Murray (3rd round) and Maguire (4th round) were 2012 Draft Picks of the Penguins. Murray, 18, will return to Sault Ste. Marie (OHL). Maguire, 19, will head back to Powell River (BCHL).
Notes on the defensive prospects:
#2 Reid McNeill - The Penguins 6th round draft pick from 2010 looks like a much more polished prospect than when I saw him two years ago at the Coal Street Rink as a part of the WBS black aces squad for the playoffs. He was also in town last season for the AHL Penguins playoff run. He should be in Wilkes-Barre in 2012-13.
#3 Andrej Sustr - The big 6-7 defenseman definitely stood out on the ice. Good in his own zone and obviously needs to continue to use his big frame. Not signed by the Penguins so unless he signs soon he won't be in the organization in the fall.
#4 Simon Despres - One of the main attractions for fans to watch. He looked very comfortable out there. Probably helps that this wasnt his first prospect camp with the Pens. I think he's NHL ready but the amount of defensemen on one-way contracts in Pittsburgh will probably force Despres to at least start the 2012-13 season in the AHL.
#5 Philip Samuelsson - After an up and down rookie season in the AHL, Samuelsson needs to come back strong and prove he was worth the 2nd round selection in 2009. He looked better in camp, but will still be fighting for a spot on the third pairing in Wilkes-Barre in 2012-13 as the organization is currently still stacked on the blue line.
#6 Nick D'Agostino - Was paired with Harrison Ruopp during the scrimmage on Saturday. The Penguins unsigned draft pick from the 7th round of the 2008 draft recorded 20 points (8G-12A) in 34 games with Cornell (ECAC) last year. Looked alright in the scrimmage but I think there are too many defensemen in the organization right now for him to come in and make an immediate impact at either level.
#7 Joe Morrow - There's no doubting Morrow's pro potential and his abilities on the ice. Don't call me a critic, but I wasn't overly impressed with him during Saturday's scrimmage. It could have been the hype surrounding last year's 1st round pick, but he's young and certainly needs a year of AHL hockey before I'd consider him NHL-ready.
#8 Scott Harrington - Morrow's defensive partner in the scrimmage showed good skating ability and a heck of a shot from the point. He'll be heading back to Canada for another year of junior hockey with London (OHL) but could end up with the WBS Penguins for 2013-14.
#10 Olli Maata - Paired with Samuelsson for the scrimmage. One of two Penguins 1st round draft picks from the 2012 Draft, Maata played well in Saturday's event. His breakout passes were crisp and he could develop into a good blue liner in the future. Maata turns 18 in August and will not be making the NHL club, so he'll join Scott Harrington in London (OHL) for the 2012-13 season.
#20 Derrick Pouliot - The 8th overall pick in the 2012 Draft, the pick acquired by the Penguins in the Jordan Staal trade, looked a little raw and certainly needs some more time in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks. He's only 18 and with the depth on the blue line Pouliot needed to do more in my opinion to make the Pens make moves to clear space to give him an NHL spot.
#22 Brian Dumoulin - Also acquired by the Penguins in the trade that sent Jordan Staal to Carolina. Was paired with Pouliot in the scrimmage. Dumoulin was one of the most impressive guys at the scrimmage in my opinion. He's a big guy who can be physical and his reliable in his own zone and can put the puck in the net at the other end as well. He scored the overtime goal in the scrimmage Saturday and did a great job against opposing forwards, taking away time and space. WBS Penguins fans should be excited to see him play in the AHL in 2012-13.
#27 Alex Velischek - Actually played at forward during Saturday's scrimmage. Seems like a versatile player. Made some nice puck handling moves on his shootout attempt. The Penguins 5th round draft pick from 2009 should be heading back to Providence (HE) for the 2012-13 season.
#33 Clark Seymour - The Penguins 5th round pick from 2012 was paired with Reid McNeill and appears to be a physical stay at home defenseman. He used his 6-4 200 plus pound frame well on Saturday. He should be heading back to Peterborough (OHL) to play in 2012-13.
#34 Harrison Ruopp - Acquired in the trade that sent Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix. Received a high hit in the scrimmage but was able to play the rest of the way. He was very physical and should continue to develop more next season with Prince Albert (WHL)