The Pittsburgh Penguins have invited 41 players to their annual prospect development camp, which will be held Wednesday through Friday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.
This year’s roster includes all five players selected at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver last weekend – forwards Samuel Poulin (1st round, 21st overall), Nathan Legare (3rd round, 74th overall), Judd Caulfield (5th round, 145th overall) and Valtteri Puustinen (7th round, 203rd overall) and defenseman Santeri Airola (7th round, 211th overall).
Pittsburgh’s top selection last weekend, Poulin, is coming off a career year as the captain of the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 18-year-old set career highs across the board with 29 goals, 47 assists and 76 points. He led his team in all categories during the 2018-19 season, and also led the Phoenix in goals (8) and points (14) through 10 playoff games.
Of the 41 players invited (22 forwards, 14 defensemen, 5 goaltenders), 15 players were originally drafted by the Penguins, including Pittsburgh’s top selection in the 2018 NHL draft, defenseman Calen Addison. Two undrafted free agents who were recently signed to deals, Jake Lucchini and Emil Larmi, also are on the roster.
Addison, 19, recently signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Penguins in April. The defenseman enjoyed another superb season with the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2018-19, ranking sixth among all WHL blueliners with 65 points (11G-54A) in 67 games. Following the conclusion of his playoff run with Lethbridge, where he tacked on nine points (2G-7A) in seven playoff games, Addison skated with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, recording two assists in three games.
Larmi is coming off a championship season with HPK of Finland’s top professional league, Liiga. The goaltender appeared in all 18 playoff games for his team, going 12-6 with a 1.72 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and two shutouts, both in the finals. The 22-year-old signed a two-year, entry level contract with the Penguins earlier this month.
Justin Almeida, Kasper Bjorkqvist and Nikita Pavlychev will miss development camp because of summer rehabilitation.
Camp will begin with a pair of practices on Wednesday. Team A takes the ice from 1:30-2:15 p.m.; Team B hits the ice after from 3:15-4 p.m. Goaltenders will hit the ice 30 minutes prior to their respective team’s time slots for an individual session.
Thursday’s practices, led by Penguins’ skills development coach Ty Hennes, will be held at 10 a.m. (Team A) and 11 a.m. (Team B). Goaltenders will again take the ice 30 minutes before their respective groups.
As in past years, all players will be broken up into four teams to compete in a 3-on-3 tournament on Friday at 7 p.m. The tournament’s winning team will receive the Michel Briere Cup. The players will simulate a traditional game day with morning skates at 10:30 a.m. (Team B) and 11:30 a.m. (Team A).
All practices, including the 3-on-3 tournament, are open to the public and free of charge.
As in previous years, the Penguins’ development camp will feature a variety of off-ice presentations and activities focused on helping players transition to becoming a professional athlete.
In addition to the 2019 draft picks, here is a list of other past draftees attending this year’s camp: Forwards Jan Drozg (2017 5th round; 152nd overall), Liam Gorman (2018 6th round; 177th overall), and Filip Hallander (2018 2nd round; 58th overall), plus defensemen Addison (2018 2nd round; 53rd overall), Niclas Almari (2016 5th round; 151st overall), Ryan Jones (2016 4th round; 121st overall), Zachary Lauzon (2017 2nd round; 51st overall), Antti Palojarvi (2017 6th round; 186th overall), and William Reilly (2017 7th round; 217th overall).