#Pens Prospects Ready To Make First Impression At Rookie Camp

Thursday, September 5, 2013
The Penguins organization, along with Ottawa, Toronto and Chicago, will take part in an annual Rookie Tournament in London, Ontario this weekend. Three games are on the schedule as each team plays each other once in a round-robin style tournament.

Yesterday, I caught up with Penguins forward Jayson Megna while he was on the bus to London to talk about this weekend's rookie camp.

"It's a chance for guys to make first impressions for the year before main camp starts," Megna said of this weekend's tournament. "It's an opportunity to get your legs under you. Also exciting to be able to play some games."

First impressions are definitely important, and with a lot of talk coming into camp about all the defensive prospects the Penguins organization has stockpiled of late, now is as good a time as any for a returning forward to stand out and make that good impression early.

"I think if I show a great work ethic and win my battles throughout the tournament that will make for a good first impression," Megna said adding,  "I also want to play fast and hard on offense to create plays as well as on defense to help disrupt them."

The Penguins prospects will hit the ice later this afternoon and take on the Ottawa Senators' team at 2 p.m EDT. Here's the Penguins schedule for the Rookie Tournament this week:
Thursday, September 5, 2013
2:00 p.m. - Penguins vs. Ottawa

Friday, September 6, 2013
9:30 a.m. - Practice at Budweiser Gardens

Saturday, September 7, 2013
7:00 p.m. - Penguins vs. Toronto

Sunday, September 8, 2013
2:00 p.m. - Penguins vs. Chicago
After the jump, a closer look at the 26 guys representing the Penguins in London, Ontario this weekend. My focus is on the guys destined for AHL duty this season, as well as some guys on amateur tryouts to keep an eye out for.

For all the latest on the Penguins and this weekend's Rookie Tournament, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @H_P_Hockey.

Of the 14 forwards on the rookie camp roster this year, all but six are in London representing the Penguins on an amateur tryout. More eyes will be on guys like Megna, Tom Kuhnhackl, Adam Payerl and Dominik Uher to lead the way up front.

Matia Marcantuoni has one year of juniors left before he can join the AHL Penguins, but he is certainly a guy you will want to keep tabs on.

Other tryouts worth noting are Carter Rowney, Richard Nejezchleb and Jean-Sebastien Dea. I saw all three at Penguins Development Camp in Pittsburgh back in July. The fact they've been invited to London for Rookie Camp means the Penguins liked what they saw. I liked what I saw from Rowney in the Development Camp scrimmage.

Rowney appeared in four AHL games with Abbotsford at the end of last season after a four-year collegiate career at the University of North Dakota. He's one of the bigger guys up front on the Penguins roster that can play a power forward style role similar to that of a guy like Payerl.

All three goaltenders on the Penguins roster - that being Eric Hartzell, Tristan Jarry and Matt Murray - have been signed to NHL contracts. This is as deep a roster between the pipes that I have seen from the Penguins at rookie camp, who possess three guys poised at breaking into professional hockey. Hartzell could see time with the AHL Penguins as early as this season.

All the talk when it comes to the Penguins is their high-end defensive prospects. With Olli Maatta, Derek Pouliot, Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin and Philip Samuelsson leading the way, I'll be taking a closer look at the four other guys on this weekend's roster.

Reid McNeill came into development camp this year looking much bigger and appeared stronger and more physical on the ice. He trained in the off season with one of the best in former Penguins forward Gary Roberts. McNeill needs a good rookie camp to prove he's ready for a full-time gig in the AHL this season and avoid being a forgotten blue line commodity. His NHL path has not been well traveled just yet.

Nick D'Agostino finished a collegiate career at Cornell and now looks to turn pro in the fall. I'm interested to see his offensive game against more of his peers in this rookie tournament. D'Agotino looks to project to be a 6th-7th defenseman in Wilkes-Barre this season if all goes well this weekend and in main training camp in the coming weeks.

Harrison Ruopp joined the AHL Penguins for their postseason run last year after his junior season with Prince Albert ended, so he's seen the system a little more than the other defensemen not named Dumoulin or Samuelsson. He's another guy ooking to crack the WBS lineup in the fall with a strong showing this weekend.

Clark Seymour is an unsigned draft pick from the OHL's Peterborough Pete's looking to make a good impression with the coaching staff this weekend. Like Ruopp, Seymour is also a more physical, stay at home type defenseman.

This weekend's Rookie Tournament is a great chance for guys to leave lasting impressions before Pittsburgh's main training camp starts up later this month. It marks another step in the off season and brings hockey fans just that much closer to the 2013-14 regular season.

The AHL Penguins are now exactly one month away from their season opener in Bridgeport. All in all, it's nice to see the prospects skating and competing in an event like this in the beginning of September. Fall is right around the corner.


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