Monday, July 12, 2010

PENS CAMP HAS A SEA DOG FLAVOUR

By Bert Richardson
Station Nation Staff

One current and two former Saint John Sea Dogs are set to begin Pittsburgh Penguins development camp tomorrow. The players arrived today, begin sessions tomorrow, and will stay at camp until July 17.

According to Penguins press release, the group of rookies and prospects will take part in on-ice practice and scrimmage sessions at Southpointe, medical and fitness testing at the UPMC Sports Medicine Complex on the South Side and workouts, meetings and seminars at Mellon Arena.

The instructors will be Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Todd Reirden, WBS assistant coach John Hynes, Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald, Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche and Penguins strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.

For a full roster of the camp, click HERE.

“The main function of the camp is not to necessarily grade the players on their individual performance, but rather to teach the kids about the daily structure of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization,” writes Jason Seidling of Penguins.com.

“One of the days we will have a flow practice where there isn’t much battle drills but rather a lot of flow where goalies see a lot of pucks,” Fitzgerald said. “We will also work on system drills which show them how we like to break the puck out, what we like to do in the neutral zone and what we like to do on the forecheck.

“Finally, we show them a work day. Those are days where you better put your work boots and hard hat on because you will be going to work out there on the ice. When we have those days your legs will feel it within 50 minutes to an hour. We give them what we try to teach our guy.”

It’s been a while since the name Alex Grant came onto Sea Dogs' fans radars. The former captain and first player ever drafted by Saint John spent last season with the East Coast Hockey League’s Wheeling Nailers and American Hockey League’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

“We can teach guys like Alex Grant how we defend a one-on-one,” Fitzgerald said. “Do we cross over or do we defend them stick on puck? Up front, it might be something different. It could be how we cycle the puck.”

In 40 games with the Nailers, Grant recorded seven goals and 20 assists in 40 regular season games. With the AHL’s baby Pens, Grant scored three goals and added two helpers in 14 games.

In 245 career QMJHL games, the first overall pick in the 2005 midget draft registered 44 goals and 99 assists. He spent three-and-a-half season with the Sea Dogs before being traded halfway through the 2008-09 season to Shawinigan.

Grants teammate in Shawinigan, Nicholas Petersen, is also on the camp roster. In three seasons in the QMJHL, Petersen scored 87 goals and added 111 assists. Last season with Saint John, the winger recorded a career high 39 goals and also produced 40 assists.

Despres, a first round pick of the Penguins in the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft, is expected to get a long look at training camp this fall. Despres has 12 goals and 81 assists in 193 career Quebec League games.

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