Taking The Next Step 9/18

Thursday, September 18, 2014
After a relatively strong presence at this year's rookie tournament, Brian Dumoulin looks to have a strong training camp. Photo credit: @ItsJacki.
It's a glorious time of year, isn't it? As summer winds down and the fall season approaches, hockey players from around the world are returning to 30 cities across North America to report for training camp.

For some, it's their first chance to show their respective coaching staff/management what they're capable of. For younger guys like Brian Dumoulin or Adam Payerl, it's time to prove that they can excel against stiffer competition and they're ready to take that next step.

The Pittsburgh Penguins start a new era of hockey as training camp gets underway. It'll certainly be interesting to see how the new management, coaching staff (in the NHL) and players on the ice play out this season.

The camp roster is down from 57 to 55 as both of the tryout players invited to the Pens' rookie tournament - Wheeling's Patrick McGrath and San Jose Sharks former draft pick Christophe Lalancette - were released from their respective tryouts.

You will probably see McGrath attend the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins training camp, as he is under contract with Wheeling - the Pens' ECHL affiliate. You will see, according to Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, forward Tyler Murovich invited to the AHL Pens' training camp on a tryout in about a week and a half.

There are spots in the lineup open and position battles at both the NHL and AHL levels for those spots that are up for grabs. After the jump, a look at the training camp roster and an NHL/AHL look at who is locked in and who is on the bubble to make the rosters.
The Roster

* = Needs to clear waivers upon being re-assigned to AHL
** = injured, off-season shoulder surgery 
*** Not invited to camp, but on AHL/ECHL deal
Goaltenders (6) 

NHL (1) - Marc-Andre Fleury

On The Bubble (2) - Thomas Greiss* and Jeff Zatkoff*

Ticketed for the Minors (2) - Matt Murray and Eric Hartzell

Returning to Juniors (1) - Tristan Jarry

Observations Heading Into Camp
  • Fleury is still the Penguins number one goaltender heading into the season, despite not having his contract extended past this season. 
  • Jarry looked sharp in relief of Murray in the last game of the rookie tournament but at 19 years old, Jarry is heading back to his WHL team - the Edmonton Oil Kings.
  • What it looks like on the surface is a battle between Zatkoff and Greiss for the number two (NHL backup) position, with the loser of that battle being placed on waivers and assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL).  If Zatkoff/Greiss clears waivers, then there's also a battle between Murray and Hartzell for the backup position on the AHL roster.
  • If the goalie placed on waivers is claimed, then you might see another free agent goalie added to the AHL Penguins training camp. 

NHL (6) - Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, Olli Maatta**, Simon Despres, Robert Bortuzzo

On The Bubble (3) - Robert Scuderi*, Philip Samuelsson* and Brian Dumoulin

Ticketed for the Minors (9) - Scott Harrington, Derrick Pouliot**, Taylor Chorney*, Reid McNeill, Harrison Ruopp, Nick D'Agostino, Alex Boak (AHL), Clark Seymour (AHL) and Barry Goers*** (AHL).

Observations Heading Into Camp 
  • This is where things start to get interesting. Several options here.
  • Does the new management/coaches give Scuderi a chance or is he waived and/or bought out? 
  • If not, does the recovering Maatta start the season in the AHL to give the Pens more time to make a decision on Scuderi and the thought of exposing Samuelsson to waivers for the first time?
  • There could be as many as four guys from this list starting the season in the ECHL if both Maatta and Pouliot are ready to play by the start of the season. 

NHL (11) - Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Beau Bennett, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Brandon Sutter, Steve Downie, Marcel Goc and Blake Comeau.

On The Bubble (5) - Daniel Carcillo* (PTO), Craig Adams*, Zach Sill*, Jayson Megna and Adam Payerl,

Ticketed for the Minors (15) - Andrew Ebbett*, Nick Drazenovic*, Tom Kostopoulos (AHL), Anton Zlobin, Conor Sheary (AHL), Dominik Uher, Tom Kuhnhackl, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Josh Archibald, Matia Marcantuoni, Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson, Bobby Farnham, Pierre-Luc Leblond*, Carter Rowney*** (AHL).

Eligible to Return Overseas (2): Kasperi Kapanen and Oskar Sundqvist

Observations Heading Into Camp
  • Contrary to the past couple of seasons, the forwards are arguably what most are looking at heading into this year's camp with the new bodies on NHL contracts and the incoming rookies as well.
  • Of the bubble players, the three biggest decisions come with whether:
    • Carcillo has a place on this team and proves he's the best option of those on the bubble.
    • Adams can keep his job. Assistant GM Tom Fitgerald put his name out publicly in a radio interview leading up to camp that his spot could be up for grabs.
    • Sill is deemed NHL-ready and can fit into a 4th line role full-time.
  • I would put Megna and Payerl in that "darkhorse" category, mainly because they are waiver-exempt and are simply playing a numbers game. Can one of these guys really make it hard for the coaches/management to send them to the AHL?
  • From an AHL perspective, there will be a lot of position battles amongst the incoming rookie forwards to stay in the AHL. There will be a few guys starting the season in the ECHL barring any injuries/trades/etc.


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