It seems like each year Penguins fans have a new, exciting prospect to look forward to in training camp. Last year it was Kris Letang. This year it is Alex Goligoski.

But, while many have suggested Goligoski is a near-lock to make the team with offensive-minded defenseman Ryan Whitney out for several months, general manager Ray Shero indicated in an interview with the Tribune-Review that it’s very possible he will start in the AHL.

“Kris Letang, a rookie last year, was the right decision. He played almost two months in the AHL before coming up, and he played well for us in his first NHL season. We’ll see with (top prospect) Alex Goligoski. Maybe it goes the same way. We have depth in the organization, even with Whitney hurt – seven guys with good NHL experience, and Goligoski. Our depth is a luxury.”

He added:

“We’ll see how Alex does in camp. I want to see it play out, just like with Letang last year. That was the best thing for us and him. He was a better player when he camp up (in November) than when we sent him down after camp.”

Shero said no decision has been made about Goligoski, and that earning a roster spot out of training camp is possible, but his words also strongly allude to Letang’s situation one year ago.

For those who may not recall, Letang was penciled into the lineup by many who follow the organization, but after a lackluster camp, he was returned to the team’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Letang had a rough start, being a healthy scratch on more than one occasion, but two months into the season, he finally earned an NHL promotion and never looked back.

Shero also alludes to the team’s defensive depth, something he calls a “luxury.” Talk has circulated throughout the summer that veteran defenseman Darryl Sydor might be traded to clear some salary and to create a roster spot for Goligoski.

With Shero’s talk of experienced depth, though, it seems unlikely Sydor will be traded, unless another more affordable experienced defenseman is brought in either via trade, free agency, or waivers.

But, training camp is for more than just conditioning, and Shero outwardly talked about several roster spots open for competition and the need for players to earn their way onto the team. Much can happen between now and the start of the season, meaning we’re in for an exciting few weeks of training camp and preseason hockey.