Defenseman Joe Morrow, the Penguins' first-round pick in the June NHL draft, figured the fishbowl was changing beginning with the club's development camp.
"I just picked up a lot on the game speed, how powerful everyone was," he said. "You're not the strongest kid when you come into camp anymore like when you went to junior camp.
"It was a little bit eye-opening. It was fun to see. It kind of gives you a mark to work toward, and you can gauge yourself against everybody else."
Morrow, 6 feet and 197 pounds, had two assists and looked strong in a scrimmage Saturday at Consol Energy Center that marked the end of the camp.
Defenseman Simon Despres, the Penguins' first-round pick in 2009, knows one thing he wants for his first pro season, regardless of whether that's with the Penguins or in the American Hockey League -- a roommate comfortable in the kitchen.
"I'm good at cooking [but] I don't always feel like cooking," he said. "I'll make sure I have someone with me that likes to do that."
Nutrition is one of the seminar topics at these development camps, and at 6-4, 205 pounds, Despres has a solid frame to maintain.
He was the final cut at the 2010 training camp and dominated in his final year of junior hockey. He had 13 goals, 41 points in 47 games and was named the top defenseman of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He helped Saint John win its league title and the Memorial Cup, the top junior championship.
He said bringing the level of his play defensively up to match his offensive skills was key.
"I knew I always had offensive abilities," Despres said. "My only issue was confidence before. I think I gained that in the last few years."
Asked if he was ready to be a pro player, he said simply, "Yes."
There was a newcomer at the scrimmage, defenseman Sean Whitney, younger brother of former Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney.
Sean, six years younger than Ryan, is a senior at Cornell. Through Ryan and their father, Dan, who got to know Penguins management well, Sean got an invitation to come to camp for a couple of days as a non-playing member but then was able to join the scrimmage.
"It's a great experience," Sean said. "This building is absolutely incredible. If you think you have the dream to play in the NHL and then you walk into this building, you certainly know you have it."
Sean describes his game as similar to Ryan's.
"I'm trying to follow in my bother's footsteps," Sean said of Ryan, now with Edmonton. "I'm a righty; he's a lefty. I went undrafted. He's a connection, so I might as well use him."
The scrimmage started five-on-five but was played four-on-four for much of the time, with some three-on-three play thrown in.
Defenseman Scott Harrington, the Penguins' second-round pick this year, and winger Nick Petersen, a fourth-round pick in 2009, each had a goal and two assists.
Winger Keven Veilleux, a second-round pick in 2007, had two goals and won the shootout. He won both three-on-three scrimmage shootouts earlier in the six-day camp. The only other player with two goals in the scrimmage was center Scott Wilson, a seventh-round pick this year.
There was no official crowd estimate for the scrimmage, which was free, but it appeared to be upward of 4,000, exceeding the Penguins' expectations.