Deryk Engelland has played 187 NHL games, all with the Penguins and all after the age of 27.
He knows something about seizing an opportunity, or even a sliver of an opportunity, and he's willing to adjust and learn.
That's how he broke into professional hockey in the ECHL, eventually stuck in the American Hockey League and, finally, stuck in the NHL and became a top-six or top-seven defenseman in the Penguins organization.
Now, he's fighting -- and for him, that could be literally -- to keep his job.
As one of seemingly dozens of defensemen in Penguins training camp -- in reality, it's 18 -- Engelland's job is not necessarily secure even after he spent a lot of the past three seasons as a third-pairing defenseman.
"You've got to come in no matter who you are and prove yourself," Engelland, 31, said. "There's always someone wanting to take your spot."
Knowing camp would be bursting at the seams with NHL veterans and a crop of touted prospects among the defensemen, Engelland tried to make the most of a relatively short offseason.
He worked out with his regular summertime trainer, Mark Philippi, who is based in Las Vegas. Engelland settled on that as an offseason home after playing in the ECHL there as a rookie pro.
This summer, he added a few workouts to his routine.
"My wife got her pilates instructing [certificate]," Engelland said. "I went in once a week all summer with her. It's tough. It's fun, though.
"I was impressed. It was just different. You're using different muscles. I found it was good for mobility, like my hip mobility, too."
He also took a boxing lesson with friend and Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker.
"I wanted to maybe learn how to throw a punch a little better," said Engelland, whose playing style borders on that of an enforcer, a rarity among defensemen. He otherwise is a defensive defenseman who has seven goals, 35 points in his NHL career but had 70 hits and 57 blocked shots in 42 games last season.
He also worked out with a trainer who works with Ultimate Fighting Championship competitors.
"It was a little different," Engelland said. "I did a little bit of wrestling, more like grappling that might help out hockey-wise.
"It was interesting and fun. I think next summer I'll keep that going."
In the much shorter term, Engelland is focused on navigating his way through camp, where the roster of defensemen could be an evolving thing between now and the Oct. 3 season opener against New Jersey.
For one thing, the Penguins might trade a defenseman for salary cap reasons, but that won't leave a gaping hole.
Robert Bortuzzo, 24, a hulking, physical defenseman, played in just 21 games over the past two seasons but seems to be ready to take on a more regular role and could be Engelland's biggest competition among the returnees.
In addition to the returning defensemen, the Penguins brought back steady Rob Scuderi over the summer. He was on the team's 2009 Stanley Cup team, then won another cup with Los Angeles.
There also is a long list of prospects who have not played in the NHL but who could push for a job during camp, names such as Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot and Scott Harrington.
"They're knocking on the door," said Engelland, who is impressed with the number and quality of young defensemen in camp.
"Yeah, by the looks of it and what you read about all the guys they've got -- a lot of first-rounders and second-rounders [from the NHL draft]," he said.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said where there are openings or possible openings in the lineup, the club is not favoring veterans or prospects.
"They're going to get equal opportunities," Bylsma said. "We'll see it play out over the first 10 days of camp, what they do with their opportunity."
Engelland doesn't resent that. He's not expecting to retain his job as if it was owed to him or some sort of formality. And he applauds the Penguins' stockpile of talented young defensemen.
"It's good to see," he said. "You can never be too short on [defense].
"It's good for every guy here. It just pushes you a little harder every day. I want to get better every day."
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: email@example.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. First Published September 15, 2013 4:00 AM