Prospect Camp Day 2 Report
Day 2 was very interesting because Eric and I were able to go down to Mellon Arena and meet with the players and coaches and get some great interviews with several players like Big Dog Tangradi, Joey Haddad, Andy Bathgate, Carl Sneep, Robert Bortuzzo, and Casey Pierro-Zabotel.
Video is being processed and will be posted later this evening.
Now onto today’s recap:
- Today’s on-ice workout was what Dustin Jeffrey called a “hard practice similar to what an NHL practice would be like” on Mark Madden’s radio show after the workout. Tons of hard skating, end to end rushes, lateral movement, and general skills at high speed. Not much to write home about but it was much more a development day than entertainment.
- An interesting quote from Tom Fitzgerald this morning about the undrafted guys attending camp: “This is not a tryout for these kids. They are here because they have earned it through their play. This is more our organization trying out for them. A guy like Gibbons is going to go back to college and finish his senior year after which he will become a free agent. Our hope is that he remembers our organization and how we treat our players when it comes time for him to make his decision.”
- Keven Veilleux had a very good day today. He did very well during the odd man rushes while lined up at center. This is a change from the past in which he was always lined up on the right wing or left (usually the right if I recall). He could have just been playing center because of the overload of wings or maybe they are grooming him to move into that 3rd line C role in a few years? I don’t know just talking out loud. More than likely it was the overload thing but either way it is just prospect camp so it probably doesn’t mean much.
- Veilleux’s move against McNeill is well worth a separate bullet point. Veilleux comes down, flips the puck into the air over McNeill, catches the puck out of the air, tosses it onto his tape and rips a shot on goal – all in one smooth motion.
- Speaking of Veilleux – how great would it be to have a 6’5” (at least) winger with good speed, nice hands, creativity and a right handed shot? If he can put it all together he could seriously help the Penguins in a big way.
- Tangradi looked very quick today during the skating drills. He was very impressive during a breakaway chase drill. Tangradi chased down nearly every forward he was against and picked their pocket or harassed them enough to upset their shot. Very impressive.
- During that same drill, Ben Hanowski caught several players from behind as well. The biggest knocks against him was his skating and defensive play so that was good to see. Hanowski was quite good today and looks bigger and quicker.
- Robert Bortuzzo looks simply dominant on the ice. He and Simon Despres have been definitely the best defensemen at camp. Brian Strait, Carl Sneep, and Alex Grant have been solid as well.
- I always thought Sneep’s supposed two way play was more smoke and mirrors rather than actual potential. But after speaking to him and seeing him – he has potential as a 2nd PP type guy. Think a Jordan Leopold type guy with more toughness (no Andy Sutton jokes here unless you’re an expert…oops).
- Brad Thiessen is probably hoping that the team building activity tomorrow is paintball so he can get back at Haddad for all the abuse he has taken from the power forward. Yesterday, Haddad caught him under the mask and shook him up. Today, Haddad fires a shot off his helmet once again. A few drills later, Haddad clubs Thiessen in the head with his stick accidentally and sends the goaltender flying. An easy goal is scored while Thiessen is recovering and Haddad says something along the lines of “where the hell were you?!” Thiessen barks something at him and picks up the puck with his bare hand and throws it at Haddad as he skates away. That got a chorus of laughter.
- Camp invitee Alex Smigelski has been pretty impressive. According to Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters, Smigelski turned down a development camp offer from the Capitals to attend the Pittsburgh camp because he knew he had a chance to earn a contract due to the dire winger situation. He has a heavy shot and good speed and offensive creativity. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him.
- Paul Thompson won the shootout competition yesterday (and tricked me into thinking he was Hanowski or one of the drafted guys) and was very solid today as well. He has a heavy accurate shot – a trend among draft picks and camp invites alike. Think Shero knows there is a weakness on the wing?
- Nick Petersen and Ben Hanowski were both tasked with getting bigger and quicker. In my opinion, Hanowski did, Petersen didn’t.
- Tom Kuehnhackl looks to be a legit player. He looks very very solid on the ice – especially considering this is his first hockey experience in North America. Several scouts said he would have been a late 1st round pick if he had been in Canadian Juniors this past year. Well that’s where he is headed so look out for this guy. Excellent draft pick.
- Kenneth Agostino looks like a player as well. Shero and Co. saw this kid while scouting last year’s 5th round pick Alex Velischek. They both went to the same high school and will hopefully someday be passing to each other. Both players have some potential.
- Haddad had the best shot of the day in which he burnt Killeen with a laser beam wrist shot over his glove. I almost thought it was Gaborik for a second. Unreal shot.
- Bennett was just as good as yesterday but there is less to talk about due to the skating intensive practice. Look for some fireworks from the guy Friday and Saturday which should be more entertaining practices.
Nothing tomorrow but I will have a few videos to post once they are edited. Check back Friday for another update and continue to follow my coverage on Twitter.
Feel free to ask me questions on there – I will answer to the best of my ability and knowledge.