Penguins notebook: Big 5th-round pick Judd Caulfield works on hands
At 6-foot-3, 204 pounds and coming off a season in which he had 12 goals in 64 games prior to getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, it isn’t difficult for Judd Caulfield to identify what he wants to improve at.
“I just need to work on my hands and shooting ability now,” the wing said from Penguins development camp Friday, six days after he was taken at No. 145 overall in the fifth round.
One of the flurry of big forwards the Penguins took last week, Caulfield said he embraces that “power forward” title and admires the game of the Islanders’ Anders Lee.
“I am a big guy, so I like to be physical when I can and kind of play down low in the gritty areas and take pucks to the net when I can and play well in the D-zone too,” said Caulfield, who will attend North Dakota in the fall.
Gorman better in Year 2
At last year’s camp, Liam Gorman was only a few days removed from being taken in the sixth round of the draft.
Fifty-two weeks later, Gorman looks different (an added 10-15 pounds), plays differently (faster and quicker on his skates), and he said he has a “totally different mindset,” too.
“Last year, I came in and it was like just chaos for me,” Gorman said Friday. “Everything was happening so quick. I am just trying to get a grip on everything that’s going on. But this year it’s been a lot easier coming in, and I have been more confident in myself.”
A year before the Penguins had an obvious trend in drafting that way, Gorman was the closest thing to the proverbial “power forward” they drafted in 2018. He was listed as a 6-3, 194-pound center at the time of his draft.
But in the year since, Gorman focused on his skating, and he switched his college commitment from Boston U. to Princeton.
“You’ve gotta realize there is life after hockey and that something can happen any day, and you want to be able to do have something you can lean back on,” Gorman said. “So (an Ivy League education) is definitely a huge part (of the switch).”
Winger Jan Drozg remains a sleeper prospect in the Penguins organization, a player who has put together a fairly strong resume outside of the glare of the spotlight. He’s one of the better players to come out of his home country, but that country is Slovenia, a nation with a population of around 2 million.
He was his junior team’s leading scorer each of the past two seasons, averaging 18 goals and 56 points, but Shawinigan hasn’t been one of the Quebec Major Junior League’s marquee clubs. Drozg, 20, will get his chance to make some headlines when he turns pro in the fall.
“No one is perfect. Everyone needs to do something better. I work to be better every day, to not make so many mistakes in the game,” Drozg said. “I played a skilled game. There’s more room for mistakes. That’s normal. But I try to work on my game to make as few mistakes as possible.”
Against the grain
Quinn Preston, a 5-10 winger with impressive junior hockey scoring credentials who is in camp as a tryout, wants to make one thing clear. He’s not trying to be a smart aleck.
Yes, he’s a Michigan native who plays at Ohio State, where he’s a rising sophomore. And yes, he’s a Penguins fan despite growing up in the heart of Red Wings country. But he’s not trying to stir up trouble. It just worked out that way.
“I grew up a huge Michigan fan. My dad’s a diehard Michigan fan. Then I visited Ohio State … and I fell in love with the place. It’s a little farther from home, which I like,” Preston said. “I grew up as a Detroit Red Wings fan, but watching (Sidney) Crosby play and how the team’s been so successful, I sort of turned that way.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .