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Bennett's scoring ability intrigues Penguins

| Friday, July 13, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Forward Beau Bennett skates during the Penguins' developmental camp on Wednesday, July 11, 2012, at Consol Energy Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)
The Penguins' Beau Bennett during development camp at Consol Energy Center July 11, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
The Penguins' Beau Bennett skates during development camp at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

Beau Bennett was shocked when his dad called and asked: “Did you hear what Dan Bylsma said?”

Bylsma had mentioned Bennett among the wingers who might skate with Sidney Crosby when training camp arrives this fall.

“I didn't even know until my dad told me about it,” said the 20-year-old right wing, the Penguins' first-round pick in 2010. “He was kind of in shock, too.”

Bennett liked the idea, of course.

“It's pretty cool to hear something like that,” he said, “but I'm definitely not thinking that far ahead right now.”

Bennett has used this week's prospect development camp to shed seven months of rust. He has played just 10 games over the past year and none since his December wrist surgery.

But at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds with solid scoring skills, Bennett has raw top-six potential that intrigues Bylsma.

“Having only played 10 games last year, it's tough to see where he's at,” Bylsma said, “but you definitely can see that skill.”

It showed yesterday when Bennett scored a quick backhand goal during three-on-three drills.

“He's got that ability in tight in those areas,” Bylsma said. “That's the reason you draft him in the first round.”

That's also why Bennett could see preseason time with Crosby, if another winger isn't added to the roster before then.

“I would love the opportunity,” he said.

Bennett was injured in October, four games into his sophomore college season at Denver, when a skate sliced his wrist during practice. He played six more games but opted for surgery after an MRI revealed a cut tendon.

“I'd say it's about 80 percent right now,” he said. “… It's coming along and I'm pretty happy with where I am.”

Conditioning has become his focus, along with added weight and strength. He was listed at 173 pounds in 2010, and 190 his last year in college. Now the Penguins place him above 200.

“I've been working really hard two or three hours a day, and I've put on the weight,” Bennett said, “but I've got to make it more functional weight. I'm going to start doing some two-a-days because I've got to get in better shape.”

Bennett watched most of the Penguins games last season and marveled at Crosby's speed. Come September, he wants to prove he can keep up.

“But I need to get a lot better by then,” Bennett said. “I need to get a lot stronger and faster. I have two months to do so.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5666 or charlan@tribweb.com.

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