Penguins newcomers make solid impressions
By Chris Harlan
Published: Saturday, July 14, 2012, 9:08 p.m.
Updated: Sunday, January 13, 2013
There were few surprises this week at prospect development camp, but seeing newcomer Harrison Ruopp score a shootout goal would make the list.
“I didn't expect that, but he did,” Tom Fitzgerald, assistant to the general manager, said, with a laugh.
Known more for toughness than scoring touch, Ruopp buried a breakaway goal during Saturday's scrimmage at Consol
Energy Center that concluded a five-day camp for Penguins prospects.
The scrimmage roster was heavy with offensive-minded defensemen, yet Ruopp and fellow stay-at-home blueliner Brian Dumoulin weren't overshadowed.
“Although I might not be as flashy as some of the guys, I'll try to do whatever I can to be a reliable defenseman,” said Dumoulin, who was acquired from Carolina in the Jordan Staal trade.
More than 6,000 fans watched the afternoon scrimmage, which was divided into five sections: two 25-minute halves, two shootouts and a five-minute three-on-three session. The White Team that included Ruopp won three of the five contests, giving it a 3-2 victory.
Dumoulin, 22, scored the only three-on-three goal. The 6-foot-4, 219-pounder had five goals and 20 assists last season for Boston College.
Ruopp, 19, was acquired from Phoenix last month in a draft-day trade that sent Zbynek Michalek to the Coyotes. The Penguins had considered drafting the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Ruopp in 2011, until Phoenix took him with a third-round pick.
“He's a big kid who was on our radar during his draft year,” said Fitzgerald, who called Ruopp's skills raw. “We had a chance to pick him up in a trade, and we did it.”
Ruopp had just two goals in 62 games last season while playing juniors for Prince Albert in the Western Hockey League. He also had 127 penalty minutes.
“I take pride in my physical play,” Ruopp said, and fighting is “something I'm not afraid to do.” But he left this camp determined to improve his “puck skills (and) offensive play,” he said.
Ruopp had been working out at a gym when the trade was finished June 22, a move that surprised the Ontario native.
“They don't have very good service in there,” he said. “When I stepped outside for a second, my phone was going off the hook. I found out from my friend. He'd seen it on twitter. It's not the greatest way to find out, but I was very excited, though.”
Ready for camp
Simon Despres, who scored a goal during the second 25-minute period, was the only prospect at camp with NHL experience. The defenseman played 18 games last season with the Penguins, a stretch that boosted his confidence.
“I proved I can play at this level,” said Despres, a first-round pick in 2009. But the 20-year-old said that won't change his approach.
“Every year, you want to come into camp with the mindset of doing your best, leave the best impression and hopefully crack the lineup,” Despres said. “I'm going to keep the same mindset.”
Defenseman Reid McNeill, right wing Matia Marcantuoni and center Zach Sill also scored during the five-on-five.
Right wing Beau Bennett, who played his first game since his December surgery, wore a brace to protect his right wrist.
The 2010 first-round pick said the wrist was sore and weaker than usual, but he finished the scrimmage without issue.
“It does get sore, but I think that will get better as time goes on,” Bennett said. “That's another focus going home ... getting the wrist back to 100 percent.”
Doctors told Bennett that might take a year, he said. The injury showed most on a sharp-angled wrist shot Saturday that didn't have his usual snap.
Four of the Penguins' best defensemen were grouped together on the Black Team, when Joe Morrow was paired with Scott Harrington, and Dumoulin was paired with Derrick Pouliot, the eighth overall pick in June's draft. Morrow was a first-rounder in 2011, and Harrington was a second-rounder that year.
The Penguins used three goalies, with Sean Maguire and Matt Murray alternating for the White Team. Undrafted goalie Ryan Faragher of St. Cloud State, who handled the entire afternoon for the Black Team, enjoyed the added work.
“I showed them I'm a hard worker,” Faragher said. “I compete to the end. That's just the kind of person I am. I come from a blue-collar family. That's the kind of work ethic I have.”
Faragher, 22, hopes a good college season this fall could draw a professional offer.
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