On day 2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins development camp, the 39 prospects divided up into two groups and participated in a 4 on 4 scrimmage. The Penguins played strictly in the neutral zone and put a goal along each wall.
The purpose of this camp is to develop the future Penguins and prepare them as future NHL players. Among the prospects are last year’s first rounders Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot; both are offensive defensemen. Also included are Brian Dumoulin -a defensive prospect acquired in the Jordan Staal trade- and goaltender Tristan Jarry, selected in the second round by the Penguins in the 2013 draft.
There’s been a decent amount of chatter via social media, the radio, and general conversation over this prospect camp. My only question is, why?
Why, when the current head coach and GM have shown obvious favoritism towards veterans instead of rookies, should we care about who does what in this camp? The only prospect that has a sliver of a chance to make the NHL team is Brian Dumoulin and he’ll likely be used as a seventh defensemen.
Maatta and Pouliot, on the other hand, have a few years to go. That’s assuming they don’t get traded first.
If you need an example, look no further than Simon Despres’s tenure with Pittsburgh. Despres was a 2009 first round pick and he’s still fighting for an everyday spot. Despres played 18 games in 2011-2012 and just 33 games in the 2012-2013 season. When the playoffs started, Despres barely played and after the Penguins were eliminated, both Dan Bylsma and Ray Shero stated that Despres was a top four defenseman.
That title only lasted for a few days as the Penguins signed Rob Scuderi on the first day of free agency. Scuderi signed for four years and now the Penguins have three defensemen locked up for at least the next two years. Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik have expiring contracts after next season but it is unlikely the Penguins would want to fill two holes with rookie defensemen.
So where do Pouliot and Maatta fit? Better yet, where do Pouliot, Maatta, Scott Harrington, Reid McNeil, and Harrison Ruopp fit? Spoiler: they dont.
That means more trades are on the horizon for the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the team unable to refill the pool of talent thru this past draft, the team will likely hold off on packaging prospects together to bring in a big name. Instead, they’ll likely make a few lateral moves; I.E. a prospect defenseman for a young forward.
It is likely most of the names you see at this camp will never wear a Pittsburgh Penguin sweater, regardless of their talent or even how much a team claims they have interest in a player.
So, again, who cares about this development camp? It’s as entertaining as hockey in July.