This could be a make or break year for towering winger Keven Veilleux, whose mission is to prove to the Penguins that his future is as promising as his frame is big.
The 6-foot-5, 218-pound winger figures he set the table pretty well with his performance for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season.
"It was a big year for me," said Veilleux, who is participating in the team's summer development camp this week at Consol Energy Center.
"I learned a lot. I gained confidence. Now I know what they expect from me."
Veilleux has looked strong at times through the first two practices at the camp. He beat goaltender Patrick Killeen in a shootout to win a three-on-three, short-rink scrimmage at the end of Wednesday's 90-minute on-ice session.
Veilleux, 22 and a second-round draft pick in 2007, started 2010-11 on the fourth line in the American Hockey League. He moved up in the lineup as the injury-depleted Penguins raided their top affiliate.
"I got more ice time, some power-play time," said Veilleux, who finished with 12 goals, 36 points in 66 games.
The other statistic that stands out is 122 penalty minutes, including some fights. The Penguins had been waiting for years for the hulking winger to be more physical.
"I think I did it," Veilleux said. "That helped, but now we have to start over again with the season."
Killeen, who split last season between Wilkes-Barre and Wheeling of the ECHL, is the lead goaltender at camp. With John Curry slated to play in Europe after his star cooled, Killeen would seem to be in for some competition to be part of a tandem with Brad Thiessen at Wilkes-Barre for the coming season, considering goalie Scott Munroe was signed Wednesday.
"I'm just at this camp to make an impression," Killeen said. "I'm just continuing to improve."
Specifically, he said, "I think just my mental strength, what it takes to be a pro. Physically, I've gotten quite a bit bigger, quite a bit stronger."
Killeen, 21 and a sixth-round draft pick in 2008, takes up a lot of net at 6-41/2, 204 pounds. Despite yielding Veilleux's winning goal, he made a couple of strong saves in the three-on-three scrimmage, including a spinning skate deflection, and at one point came a fair distance out of the net to play the puck away despite the tight playing area.
It helps that Killeen is comfortable with the prospect camp process.
"It's cool being one of the older guys here," he said. "I remember my first year here it was tough to figure out everything. You don't know when to wear a collared shirt, things like that."
Munroe, 29, has a one-year, two-way contract worth $525,000 at the NHL level. He played in one NHL game with Philadelphia in 2008-09 and has played extensively in the minor leagues, but spent last season with Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik in the Kontinenal Hockey League.
Two defensemen, Alex Grant (wrist) and Joe Rogalski (unspecified) are not participating in on-ice sessions as a precaution because of lingering or nagging injuries. ... The players, who had a bowling outing Tuesday night, won't take the ice today. Instead, there will be team-building activities. ... Goaltender Rob Madore, a free agent invitee from Peters Township and the University of Vermont, worked with Penguins goalie coach Gilles Meloche and goaltending consultant Mike Bales for about 20 minutes before practice. ... Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes, who is overseeing the camp, called it "really a holistic approach" with on- and off-ice workouts, seminars and team-building outings.