Defenseman balances busy summer schedule
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Scott Harrington is living proof that a lot can happen in, oh, 15 months or so.
"It's been a bit of a whirlwind, but I've enjoyed every minute of it, starting last year at the draft," the defenseman said during this week's Penguins development camp.
Harrington, 19, was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, attended his first development camp last July and made a strong impression during main training camp, getting into two preseason games.
He went back to his junior team, London, which won the Ontario Hockey League championship and went to the final of the Memorial Cup. That season was interrupted by a trip to Calgary, where Harrington was part of Canada's bronze-medal team at the world junior championships.
Now he's back at Consol Energy Center for his second development camp, which ends today with a 3 p.m. scrimmage that is free and open to the public. Next month, he will play in Russia and Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the Russia-Canada junior challenge.
Then comes his second Penguins training camp.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder wouldn't slow down if he could.
"It's been busy, but I've enjoyed it," Harrington said.
"As a hockey player, that's what you want to do -- be successful and be on the ice as much as possible.
"I think [the past year] has really helped my confidence first and foremost. Everything that I learned in Pittsburgh [last year] gave me confidence, with such good players, and I took that back to London. I thought I made a pretty smooth transition and used some of the techniques and skills that they taught me [here] back in London. I think it shows in my game."
With London, Harrington ranked second among defensemen -- behind Penguins 2012 first-round pick Olli Maatta -- with 26 points, and he had an impressive plus-26 plus-minus rating.
His baby face belies the level of his game.
"He's so mature for his age," said Alain Nasreddine, a former Penguins defenseman, a development camp coach and assistant coach of American Hockey League affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He watched Harrington in the junior playoffs after Wilkes-Barre got eliminated.
"He's the kind of guy that does everything well. But that was at the junior level," Nasreddine said. "I think he also made a great impression last year in training camp."
Nasreddine won't get a chance to work with Harrington in Wilkes-Barre this season no matter how well Harrington does in camp.
He is not eligible for the AHL yet, so his monthslong whirlwind of hockey will come to a decisive point during or shortly after training camp.
He will return to junior or stick in the NHL -- although under the current collective bargaining agreement he can play up to 10 NHL games and still be returned to London.
"You know what your options are going to be at the end of the summer," Harrington said.
"It's pretty clear-cut for me."
The Penguins are rich in talent and depth at defense, so cracking the NHL lineup will be difficult.
All Harrington can do is make the most of the myriad experiences he's having in this stretch of months and keep in mind the style of play the Penguins preach.
"I think the main things that I tried to work on were the things that I learned here in camp last year, and I tried to incorporate them into my game the entire season," Harrington said.
"I kind of bundled up main camp, Memorial Cup and world juniors all in one year. Some people never get any of those opportunities, or for some people it takes a couple of years. I think it's helped me mature as a person, playing that much hockey."
NOTES -- The Penguins signed forward Benn Ferriero to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level. Ferriero, 25, a former Boston College player, had seven goals, eight points in 35 NHL games with San Jose in 2011-12 and also spent time in the American Hockey League. ... Root Sports will televise four Penguins preseason games: Sept. 29 vs. Columbus, Sept. 30 at Chicago, Oct. 3 at Detroit and Oct. 5 vs. Chicago. ... The development camp practices were divided into a session each for forwards and defensemen.
First Published July 14, 2012 12:00 am