First one comment before I begin – I printed out a roster, stats, height & weight for each player attending camp. I was all prepared ready to go.

Then Robert Bortuzzo steps onto the ice wearing #17 and no nameplate.

I then realized it was now time to play real life “Guess Who?” with Penguin prospects I am supposed to be reporting on. The numbers below are accurate but I can only guess at the others. Sorry I will ask around tomorrow for a roster sheet WITH numbers or hopefully the players will have nameplates tomorrow.

These are the players I am sure of:

F Eric Tangradi – #25
F Beau Bennett – #9
F Keven Veilleux – #28
F Dustin Jeffrey – #15
F Joey Haddad – #16
F Zach Sill – #34
F Brian Gibbons – #36

D Simon Despres – #18
D Robert Bortuzzo – #17
D Alex Grant – #20
D Brian Strait – #10

G Brad Thiessen – #31 (White Pads)
G Patrick Killeen – #30 (Black Pads)

Full camp roster with numbers

Now onto the show.

  • Bortuzzo was the first player on the ice as the defensemen participated in some skating drills – mainly backwards and lateral skating with a power skating coach. Several players fell during the VERY intense skating session. Despres and Grant were quite impressive – standing out in the skating drills.
  • As the defensemen were working on skating, Goaltending Coach Gilles Meloche (0:40 mark) was working with Patrick Killeen and Brad Thiessen on getting out of their crease to play the puck, lateral movement, moving while in the butterfly, and general skating drills. Thiessen was much quicker than Killeen (he’s older and more experienced) and was much much better at getting out behind the net and playing the puck (1:00 mark).
  • Once all the players hit the ice, it was a mad scramble to attempt to figure out which players were which. They began with a warm up skating drill and then did a weaving drill in the center of the ice with lots of bodies and lots of cutting (2:00 mark camera focused on Big Dog Tangradi).
  • A loosely organized breakaway shooting drill was next (2:22) in which Veilleux, Haddad, Bennett, Tangradi, and #s 12 (Kuehnhackl?), 24 (Petersen? Rogalski? – doubtful it was him haha), and 22 (?) had good showings.
  • Brad Thiessen got a shot up high under his mask from Joey Haddad during a 2 on 0 drill the Pens were running. He shook it off. A few shots later, #22 hits him in the same exact spot and Thiessen goes down in a heap holding his neck. The drill is halted and the trainers rush over to check on him. After 2 minutes or so, Thiessen gets up and resumes the drill. First 4 shooters shoot five hole on Thiessen. Despres comes down with a big smile on and shoots it right over Thiessen’s head and gets a jab from Thiessen as he passes by (Aftermath @ 2:26).
  • Dump and chase drill after that with some physical contact. Tangradi dominated all of the physical drills today as would be expected – although Bortuzzo (#17) gave him a good match when faced against each other (3:14).
  • The biggest surprise to me was #9 Beau Bennett. If you were following former FF writer Eric Politowski (Twitter: EricP55) or me (zboslett) you saw us going on and on about how great #9 was. His hands were by far the best in camp and he had a very heavy, accurate shot. His skating was quick, agile, and smooth. He was outplaying many of the older guys with a year or two at the AHL level and frankly was just as impressive as Tangradi. He is VERY confident with the puck on his stick. He was even throwing his (low) weight around and crushed #23 in the corner (4:10 Bennett shot at one end and cute set up at the other end).
  • Didn’t even notice Casey Pierro-Zabotel on the ice. Not exactly sure which # he was. Not a good sign.
  • #24 won the shootout competition going 3 for 3 in the elimination rounds, cleanly beating Killeen and Thiessen on his way to doing so. Bar down on Killeen, deked around Thiessen and then high glove for the winner on Thiessen.
  • It was a skating and offensive day so the D-men didn’t get a chance to show their stuff but Despres, Bortuzzo, and Grant were quite good while Strait was solid. #27 got bullied by both Tangradi and Veilleux a few times and looked very easy to knock over.
  • Byslma and Shero were both there overseeing the practice from that stands. Bylsma had several pages of notes taken even before the forwards took the ice.
  • Here is the raw video from Day 1. There will be more specific videos put together after camp but the raw video will do for now. Iso-cam on Tangradi/Bennett tomorrow as well as another camera or two recording the practice as a whole like today.