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For three Baby Pens, all signs point to Pittsburgh

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Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins winger Eric Tangradi woke up early Sunday morning in a Hartford hotel room to welcome news.

“Hey, Tango,” said forward Paul Thompson, his roommate on the road. “Lockout's over.”

Tangradi, rookie winger Beau Bennett and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo were healthy scratches for the first time this season when the Baby Pens lost, 2-0, to the Connecticut Whale on Sunday.

“All I know is we got a day off to get healthy,” Tangradi said. “As far as details, I don't know anything yet.”

It's not hard to connect the dots and presume those three will head to Pittsburgh to join 20 players on one-way contracts on the Penguins' training camp roster.

Tangradi and Bortuzzo have NHL experience and reached the point under the old CBA that they would have needed to clear waivers to play in the minors. It's no surprise they'll get looks.

Bennett is different. The 2010 first-round pick who missed most of last season at the University of Denver with a wrist injury has exceeded expectations. He leads the Baby Pens in scoring with 16 points (5 goals) in his past 16 games.

Because he is an imaginative, play-making winger, the Penguins might be tempted to try him in a top-six role.

“He's obviously someone that can help your team offensively,” Baby Pens coach John Hynes said.

Two other players who would be considered candidates for inclusion on a training camp roster — defensemen Brian Strait and Simon Despres — were in the Baby Pens' lineup Sunday.

Jonathan Bombulie is a freelance writer.

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