Sore wrist can't stop Bennett from seeing scrimmage in different light
Goaltender Ryan Faragher concentrates on the puck during a scrimmage Saturday at Consol Energy Center.
Beau Bennett, the Penguins' first-round draft pick in 2010, turns the corner against Kenny Agostino in the scrimmage Saturday that concluded the team's annual prospect camp at Consol Energy Center.
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Beau Bennett couldn't mask a bit of wincing at least once when he went back to the bench Saturday but still wore a wide smile afterward in the Penguins locker room at Consol Energy Center.
A right wrist that is about 80 percent healthy following surgery in early December didn't deter Bennett in a scrimmage that marked the end of this summer's development camp.
"It does get sore over time," said Bennett, a 2010 first-round draft pick who turned pro this year. "I think that will get better as time goes on."
Bennett, who wore a protective shield on the wrist but has shed the brace he wore for a long period of time, didn't have any goals or assists in the scrimmage. Getting through it and remembering what it's like to play was enough for him.
"I was just trying to keep it simple," he said. "That's my first game since Dec. 2. It was awesome to get back out there."
The scrimmage drew an estimated crowd of 6,000 to 7,000. It was scored on a point system, not by goal count.
Reid McNeill (sixth-round draft pick, 2010) twice, Simon Despres (first-round pick, '09), Joe Morrow (first-round pick, '10), Alex Velischek (fifth round, '09), Harrison Ruopp (trade with Phoenix), Scott Harrington (second round, '11), Philip Samuelsson (second round, '09) and Nick D'Agostino (seventh round, '08) each scored on penalty shot or shootout attempt. That list is intriguing because they are all defensemen.
Forwards Matia Marcantuoni (fourth round, '12) and Zach Sill as well as Despres got conventional goals. Despres and forwards Brian Gibbons and Anton Zlobin (sixth round, '12) got assists.
Bennett, 20, opted to leave Denver University in the spring following his sophomore year, even though his wrist injury limited him to 10 games, in which he had four goals and nine assists. He had nine goals and 25 points in 37 games as a freshman.
"I felt it was the right step going forward, and I was definitely ready for it," he said of going pro.
The past two summers, Bennett attended development camp at his own cost to maintain his NCAA eligibility, then returned to school. This time, his next stop will be Penguins training camp.
"It is a little different," he said. "I'm taking everything in just as [with] the other years, but just moving forward it is more important with the fitness, the nutrition, the sleeping.
"College is a different animal with only 40 games, and you've got a big offseason. I'm definitely ramping it up going home. I need to get a lot better come September, just trying to get my conditioning up and being ready to play with the bigger guys."
Bennett will spend the balance of his summer in California. When he returns for training camp in September -- assuming that isn't affected by a work stoppage over the NHL collective bargaining agreement, which expires Sept. 15 -- he expects his wrist to be stronger.
He will be stronger, too, compared with when he was drafted and listed at 6 feet 1, 173 pounds. He now checks in at 6-2, 207.
Perhaps that size and his stickhandling skill will help him realize an idea floated during the week by Penguins coach Dan Bylsma -- that Bennett could get a look as star center Sidney Crosby's right winger during an exhibition game and, who knows, maybe beyond.
Bennett doesn't plan to study extra video of Crosby or plot out strategy for playing alongside him just yet.
"I think I'll just focus on my training, first and foremost," he said. "If I ever get that chance, hopefully I'll be ready."
Key dates: NHL calendar
• Friday-Aug. 4: Salary arbitration hearings will be held.
• Aug. 6: Deadline for salary arbitration decisions to be rendered.
• Sept. 15: Expiration date of Collective Bargaining Agreement.
• Sept. 19: NHL preseason is scheduled to begin.
• Oct. 11: NHL regular season is scheduled to begin.
First Published July 15, 2012 12:00 am