Penguins notebook: Development within system key to Penguins' prospect camp

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The Penguins management seems to be getting this summer prospect development camp thing down pretty well.

"We really do feel like each year it improves," assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald said Saturday after this year's camp concluded with a scrimmage at Consol Energy Center.

"You get wiser and the vision becomes clearer in what you want to do to help these kids -- educate them with this camp, show them the city. There are a lot of things we can do."

The Penguins invite recent draft picks, a few players who have graduated to the American Hockey League and young free agents -- some of them still in college -- to development camp. Among other things, the players are taught the basics of the system used by the Penguins and by their AHL affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Watching the scrimmage, Fitzgerald realized that the message sank in over the course of five days.

"Particularly with the defensemen," he said. "The [puck] retrievals -- something that is a staple with our organization. You did see a lot of reversing, a lot of dinks, a lot of willingness to take a hit to go back and make that play.

"On the other side, the forwards, you saw a lot of corner work, crisscross cycles, cutting the seams, getting pucks to the net -- things that we spoke of or showed them on video.

"To me, that's what the week's all about. That's how we do things here in Pittsburgh and in Wilkes-Barre. We try to get that across."

Goal scorers were Jayson Megna (two), Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson, Matia Marcantuoni, Jean-Sebastien Dea and Carter Rowney, all forwards. In addition, Megna, Dominik Uher and Adam Payerl scored in a postgame shootout.

No statistics were kept for the scrimmage.

Jarry toughs it out

Goaltender Tristan Jarry, the Penguins' top 2013 draft choice, played one period of the two-period scrimmage, as did the other three goaltenders.

The scrimmage came a day after Jarry took a shot to the collarbone in a practice.

"It was a game-time decision, but I was ready for the game," said Jarry, who was selected 44th overall last month.

"I'm probably going to put a neck guard on after that."

Hartzell signs two-year deal

The only one of the three goalies in camp who wasn't a Penguins draft choice, Eric Hartzell, played in the scrimmage hours after signing a two-year, two-way contract worth $550,000 at the NHL level.

Hartzell, 24, is 6 feet 4, 187 pounds. He first signed with the Penguins in April out of Quinnipiac after the Frozen Four and then became a restricted free agent. It's expected he will play this season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where Jeff Zatkoff is the only returning goaltender.

"One thing that jumps off the page is [Hartzell's] size and his athleticism," said Wilkes-Barre coach John Hynes, who isn't conceding the starting job to Zatkoff.

Hynes said Hartzell will be expected to "create a real competition with Jeff in Wilkes-Barre."

In his college career, Hartzell was 58-27-17 with a school-record 1.96 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 106 career appearances.

Tip-ins

Bench coaches for the scrimmage were development coach Bill Guerin and Wilkes-Barre assistant Alain Nasreddine. ... Defenseman Olli Maatta, a first-round draft pick in 2012, doesn't turn 19 until next month. Still, having been at the camp a year ago, he felt like something of a veteran. "I felt like one of the older guys here," he said. "I felt like I could help the younger guys get used to it here." ... Fitzgerald on Marcantuoni, a fourth-round pick last year: "He has NHL speed for sure. He's a kid that has a chance to play in the National Hockey League because of that." ... Hartzell's signing leaves defenseman Robert Bortuzzo as the only prominent restricted free agent yet to sign. Bortuzzo has an arbitration hearing set for Aug. 1, but the sides could reach an agreement before then.

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For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.


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