Harrison Ruopp Fighting for an AHL Role

Saturday, August 2, 2014
Ruopp looks to earn a full-time AHL position in 2014-15.
Harrison Ruopp possesses an attribute on the blue line that you don't get from most of the Penguins top prospects on defense including Derrick Pouliot, Olli Maatta, Simon Despres, Brian Dumoulin, Philip Samuelsson or Scott Harrington.

A right-handed shooting, physical, in your face type of stay at home defenseman.

Although Ruopp won't surprise fans with tons of offensive firepower, he's looking to turn heads in 2014-15 with the ability to shut down the opposition's skill guys and deliver punishing body checks.

Ruopp, much like teammate Reid McNeill (another lefty), is a physical presence on the back end that plays a defense-first kind of game and likes to be frustrating to play against.

"I have always enjoyed the physical side of the game and getting into battles," Ruopp said. "From that, fights come sometimes but I'm definitely not one to shy away from it and I like the physical side of the game for sure." 

Ruopp spent most of his first season of professional hockey bouncing back and forth between the AHL and ECHL - from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to Wheeling - before sticking with the AHL Penguins for the stretch run and appearing in one game during the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.
11/14 - Ruopp re-assigned from WBS to WHL
12/2 - Ruopp re-assigned from WHL to WBS
1/28 - Ruopp re-assigned from WBS to WHL
2/3 - Ruopp re-assigned from WHL to WBS
3/7 - Ruopp re-assigned from WBS to WHL
3/10 - Ruopp re-assigned from WHL to WBS
3/12 - Ruopp re-assigned from WBS to WHL
3/27 - Ruopp re-assigned from WHL to WBS
Wheeling Nailers beat writer and Sports Editor at The Intelligencer, Shawn Rine, got the first glimpse of Ruopp at the ECHL level and was very impressed.

"He's [AHL] ready, just needs ice time," Rine said adding, "what impressed me most is his smarts. Never makes same mistake twice."

Rine's quick scouting report on the type of player Ruopp was with the Nailers in 2013-14 is spot on to how he has played seemingly for every team he's put on a uniform of.

"Physical, does not back down. Takes hit to exit zone, but delivers more than he absorbs. Still young, but seems extremely comfortable."

2013-14 Player Profile: Defenseman Harrison Ruopp
Photo credit: @ItsJacki.

ECHL Stats: 19GP, 0G-3A, +3, 42 PIM
AHL Stats: 21GP, 0G-0A, -5, 34 PIM

An injury to start the season delayed his pro debut until November 14th in the ECHL with the Wheeling Nailers, but Ruopp didn't look out of place in 22 AHL games last season after making his WBS Penguins debut against St. John's on December 7th.

"It was definitely a different year for me," Ruopp said. "Playing pro hockey and moving up to this level was definitely a change. Going up and down, in the end it was great for me and great for my development. I learned a lot last year."

At development camp this summer- Ruopp's third with the organization - he is looking to turn the corner and become a full-time shutdown defender at the AHL level in 2014-15. In an organization with depth on the blue line like the Penguins, it's certainly not a given for Ruopp but he possesses the right attitude and has that work-hard mentality that you can't teach.

"It's always great to come here at this point in the summer," Ruopp said. "Sometimes it's pretty eye-opening to see exactly where you are at and your conditioning and your skills and stuff like that."

"This year I'm looking to work hard and take it all in."

Blue Line Depth

At the NHL level, the Penguins are pretty set with who they have re-signed, though off-season shoulder surgeries to Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot will hamper the start of their respective seasons.
Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, Robert Scuderi, Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Philip Samuelsson, Olli Maatta.
Injuries will always arise, but when Maatta and Pouliot are fully healthy, the AHL Penguins blue line will be deep and talented with a good mix:
Brian Dumoulin, Scott Harrington, Taylor Chorney, Derrick Pouliot, Reid McNeill, Harrison Ruopp, Barry Goers (AHL) and Nick D'Agostino.


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