Pens invite 26 to prospect conditioning camp

| Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Penguins are already looking ahead, just a little more than a month removed from their Stanley Cup run.

Penguins' first-round draft pick Simon Despres, highly touted Eric Tangradi and late-season call-up Dustin Jeffrey will highlight the crop of 26 players — 12 forwards, 10 defensemen and two goalies — who will take part in the Penguins' prospect conditioning camp. The camp opens Monday and runs through Sunday.

The diverse group of rookies and prospects will participate in on-ice scrimmages and off-ice activities and undergo medical and fitness testing, giving management an opportunity to further evaluate the prospects. In addition, the rookies will receive an introduction to the NHL, particularly to the Stanley Cup champions.

"I think it' gonna be a really exciting camp because we've ramped it up, taken it up another notch from what they've done in the past," Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach Todd Reirden said. "With the success at the end of the year in Pittsburgh, it's an exciting opportunity to be connected to the Stanley Cup champions.

"Something we want to do is take a step this year and start to be able to evaluate our young players."

Reirden, along with Penguins assistant to the GM Tom Fitzgerald, Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley and Penguins strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar, will be the instructors at the camp. They will get their first up-close look at Despres, a defenseman taken with the 30th overall pick. Tangradi — who came to the Penguins along with winger Chris Kunitz from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Ryan Whitney — is also a player to watch.

"Tangradi is someone we're extremely excited about," Reirden said.

"I'm really excited to see newest first-round pick Simon Despres and see where he fits into things. He comes highly, highly recommended. For me, what this is about is about putting these guys in a situation to start developing a camaraderie with one another."

There's a more recognizable name in Jeffrey, who played 14 games with the Penguins this season, and was on the roster for the Penguins' postseason run. Though he's more seasoned than most of the prospects, Jeffrey received an invitation to the camp because he has not played three seasons of professional hockey.

Penguins fans could be seeing a lot more of Jeffrey this season, and the seven-day camp will be a good indication of how the forward progressed.

"For me, he'd be the front-runner because of the way he transitioned through the year," Reirden said. "He could be the player that could best fit into the lineup. He's probably the closest to being ready for the roster."

Shaping up

Here is a list of prospects that will attend the camp:


Andy Bathgate

Luca Caputi

Joey Haddad

Ben Hanowski

Dustin Jeffrey

Nick Johnson

Nathan Longpre

Nathan Moon

Nicholas Petersen

Casey Pierro-Zabotel

Zack Sill

Eric Tangradi

Keven Veilleux

Joe Vitale


Robert Bortuzzo

Lane Caffaro

Nicholas D'Agostino

Jonathan D'Aversa

Simon Despres

Alex Grant

Carl Sneep

Brian Strait

Denny Urban

Alex Velischek


Patrick Killeen

Brad Thiessen

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