I'll Meet You in the Kitchen-er: Pittsburgh Penguins' Prospect Camp in Ontario
The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that their prospects camp will be held from September 9 to 15 in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
The camp will begin with several days of practice, followed by the Penguins' prospect team competing against prospects from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Florida Panthers organizations.
Dan Bylsma—the head coach of Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate, Wilkes-Barre Scranton—will direct the action on the ice, but the entire Penguins' hockey staff will be in attendance. For these youngsters trying to deem themselves worthy of NHL ice-time, there could be no better opportunity to impress the "big boys" of the organization.
The Penguins' entire prospect camp roster can be viewed here, but here are the players who should make a splash at this year's camp:
This 23-year-old defenseman is coming off of a season in which he set an AHL record for most points in a playoff season by a defenseman—four goals and 24 assists in 23 games with Wilkes-Barre Scranton. Goligoski is the most talked about of all Penguins' prospects, probably because he is the most familiar.
Goligoski made his NHL debut last season with the Penguins in February, recording two assists in three games. From what I can remember of Goligoski's performance with the Penguins, he still seemed a bit shaky—something that is to be expected of most any rookie whose name isn't Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Kane, or Toews.
What some people failed to realize is that the transition from the minors to the NHL is much, much harder for defensemen than it is for forwards. While Golo didn't look entirely out of place in an NHL lineup, it was fairly evident that he needed another year of development before he was ready to play alongside Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik.
He got that year of development last season in Wilkes-Barre, and with the most recent injury to Ryan Whitney, there is a roster spot open in the defense. If Goligoski has a good camp—which I'm sure he will—expect to see him playing in more than three games this season for the Pens.
A product of the OHL's Niagara IceDogs, Caputi lit the lamp 51 times in 66 games this past season. Caputi, a 19-year-old left wing, set franchise records in both goals (51) and points (111) for the IceDogs last year.
Caputi made his professional debut with Wilkes-Barre Scranton during the playoffs, scoring eight points (four goals, four assists) in 19 playoff games.
Caputi was a fourth-round draft pick for the Penguins in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Luca is known for his tremendous off-ice work ethic. When Caputi first joined the IceDogs he was overweight (220 pounds) and not in hockey-playing condition. After scoring just eight goals in his first two seasons of junior hockey, Caputi decided it was time for a change. He began training and was able to drop to a much more fit 184 pounds.
With the drop in weight came a jump in production. Caputi netted 27 goals and 65 points in 2006-07, before improving to the record-setting numbers he posted in 07-08.
Despite the well-known offensive firepower that already fills the Penguins' roster, the departure of Ryan Malone and Marian Hossa has created a "who is going to make up for the goals they scored" attitude surrounding the Penguins' offense. Caputi may very well earn himself a roster spot if he has a good camp.
An 18-year-old center who scored 64 points (17 goals, 47 assists) in 61 games in the QMJHL last season, Veilleux will be a star in the NHL—but maybe not just yet.
At 6'5" and 202 pounds, Veilleux is a big body on the ice—something that the Penguins need with the departure of Ryan Malone. However, Veilleux seems to be headed toward a stint in the minors with Wilkes-Barre Scranton this season.
Much like Goligoski heading into last year's prospects camp, Veilleux still needs to mature to the level of an NHLer. He has the size and raw talent, and possesses soft hands that make him great in the face-off circle, so experience will only make him better.
Among other names set to be in attendance for the prospect camp are 2008 fourth-round draft pick Nathan Moon; 2008 sixth-round draft pick, goaltender Patrick Kileen; former Notre Dame goaltender and 2004 draft pick, David Brown; and last season's starting goaltender in Wilkes-Barre Scranton, John Curry—who posted a record of 24-12-3 in 40 games with the Baby Pens.
Penguins' veterans are set to report to training camp in Pittsburgh on September 16, before opening the regular season against the Tampa Bay Penguin Stealers on September 20.
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