It’s been a long time since my last article here at Faceoff Factor but I am back with a vengeance.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Penguins Development Camp this week and I certainly came away impressed with the talented group of players the Penguins have assembled over the past two years.

First things first. If you haven’t read Eric Majeski’s camp reports then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Head on over there and check them out.

I attended Wednesday’s practice and the practice held this morning and I am going to list some general observations before getting into some specifics.

  • The Penguin’s stock of defenseman is just sick. From the top (Joe Morrow) to the bottom (Clarke Seymour) they are all just extremely talented young guys. And that is without Robert Bortuzzo, Brian Strait, Alex Grant and Carl Sneep – all of whom are still prospects as well.
  • At forward, the Penguins are much more talented than in years past as well. Highlighting the forward group is the highly touted Beau Bennett who pretty much dominated every drill he took part in despite a wrist that is still not fully healed. He was sniping regularly and smashing the glass on shots with a wrist at “ about 80%.” Bennett was asked today about his wrist and he had to bump the flex on his stick down to 85 due to his wrist but once he gets his strength back he will be back up to 100 flex.

Check out this video of Bennett in the stickhandling drill today:

  • In addition to Bennett, another forward that has stood out at camp is the relatively unknown Theodor Blueger. Drafted in the 2nd round out of Shattuck St. Mary’s, Blueger has the natural ability to slow the play on the ice down to his speed. When I saw him out there, his passing and ability to slow things down reminded me of Joe Thornton but Ian Altenbaugh of Hockey’s Future commented that he reminds him of Pavel Datsyuk. High praise for the kid heading to Minnesota State next season.

Here is his silky smooth performance in the drill as well:

  • Another forward that has jumped off this ice to me so far is Josh Archibald. The kid can flat out fly. He has excellent hands and decent shot as well. The 6th round pick in 2011 scored 10 goals last season as a freshman at University of Nebraska-Omaha (we’ll come back to them) and finished tied for 4th on the team in goals. He was the second youngest player on the entire squad (camp invitee Jacob Megna is the youngest by 2 months).

Quick Notes

  • Goaltender Matthew Murray is SKINNY! Murray is listed on the official Penguins height/weight sheet as 6’4” and 166 lbs. Looking at him I would have guessed 145 lbs. He is talented and he will be the #1 goaltender next season for Sault Ste. Marie so he will likely improve upon his impressive stock next year. Just eat a few cheeseburgers along the way!

  • The opposite is true of newly acquired defenseman Brian Dumoulin. He is a very strong defenseman built like a freight train. He’s not a huge hitter but he could be if he ever wanted to.
  • Morrow and _Simon Despre_s stood out among the defenseman. Morrow stood out because of his absurd talent and skating ability. Despres because his development is way ahead of all of the other guys despite being the same age.
  • Scott Harrington looked solid as a rock back there once again. I take back anything bad I ever said about him.
  • Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta both looked pretty raw. As Ian Altenbaugh said today, these guys just finished playing hockey a month or two ago in the Memorial Cup. Then with the draft and everything they are just settling into their offseason. You can see both have some serious talent though. Pouliot needs some work in juniors. Maatta’s game doesn’t translate to drills as well as Pouliot and Morrow so his game should show up in tomrorow’s scrimmage.
  • Mattia Marcantuoni has looked fantastic. He looks finally healthy and ready to prove why he was originally thought to have been a 1st round talent before last season. Fast, heavy shot and sick hands. First one on the ice every day as well.
  • I haven’t seen much from these guys for various reasons: Oskar Sundqvist, Anton Zlobin, and Scott Wilson.
  • Newly signed Adam Payerl is a huge kid. Looks to have a mean streak in him as well. Very strong around the net and he has a decent set of hands as well.
  • Camp invitee Andrej Sustr has looked pretty good in camp as well. He is 6’8” 200 lbs and a teammate of Archibald’s at Nebraska-Omaha. Look for the Penguins to sign him once his college career is over like they did with Brian Gibbons.

Anything else you have questions about or any players I missed just leave me a comment or shoot me an email.