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Put Me in, Coach!

At the Consol Energy Center, it’s business as usual. A fresh sheet of ice, proudly stamped with the Pittsburgh Penguins logo, awaits a group of prospects and rookies eager to seize an opportunity in the Steel City.  For four days (July 16 through 20), the Penguins will evaluate top end draft picks through a series of on-ice practices, scrimmage sessions, fitness and medical testing, and team building activities at the team’s development camp. The objective is clear: assess key pieces within the Penguins’ system and determine which players are NHL ready.

The hockey club invited 37 prospects, consisting of 21 forwards, 12 defensemen, and four goaltenders. Of the 37 attendees, 23 are Penguins’ draft picks—including all six players selected at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Among the attendees to this year’s prospect development camp, three players stand out and will surely lead the charge at the scrimmage on Saturday July 20:

Put Me in, Coach!
Pittsburgh Penguins’ prospects and rookies take a break from on-ice practice during day one of development camp at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(Pittsburgh Penguins/NHL)

Tristan Jarry, selected 44th overall by the Penguins at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, caught the attention of the organization following a strong season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. A native of British Columbia, Jarry posted a 0.936 save percentage, 1.61 goals against average, and stopped 585 shots in 27 games played with the Oil Kings. The eighteen year-old shows promise but lacks playoff experience—having played only one game during his three seasons with the WHL. It is likely that the organization will give Jarry time to mature, develop, and adapt to the pressure, speed, and expectations associated with Penguins’ unique brand of hockey. It is imperative that the club is patient with Jarry—goaltending is a key part of any roster. A poor performance between the pipes—as evidenced by Penguins’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury—brings disappointment and unmet expectations.

Derrick Pouliot is another darling of the WHL. Selected 8th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the skilled blueliner was an invaluable asset for the Portland Winterhawks in the 2013 postseason—registering 20 points (4G, 16A) in 27 contests and earning a plus-9 rating. In the 2012-13 regular season, Pouliot posted an impressive 45 points (9G, 36A) in 44 games played—averaging almost a point per game. Pouliot’s speed through the neutral zone, ability to set up teammates, and puck control make him a perfect addition to the Penguins’ back end. The only ingredient missing from Pouliot’s recipe for success is physical strength. As with many prospects and rookies, Pouliot needs to improve his overall physical strength in order to keep up with the demands and intensity of Penguins’ hockey.

Another notable defenceman is Scott Harrington. The twenty-year old is a stay-at-home defenseman and former captain of the OHL’s London Knights. In 216 regular season career games with the Knights, Harrington posted 81 points (13G, 68A) and earned a plus-58 rating. In the 2013 AHL postseason, Harrington made his debut with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and netted a goal in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Penguins selected Harrington 54th overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Sofia Rizzo

Sofia Rizzo

Proud fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins and everything hockey. Hockey is my first love and never fails to inspire, motivate, and uplift me.
Sofia Rizzo

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