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Boyle, Penguins ‘Captain Skate’ without Crosby, Will Org Find Diamond in Rough D-Man?

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Pittsburgh Penguins Brian Boyle

It was a pleasant surprise to walk into the UPMC Lemieux Complex on Monday morning and see players on both rinks. Unlike other mornings, the players on Rink 2 were not kids or bantam-level players but more than a dozen of the Pittsburgh Penguins, including Jeff Carter and Jake Guentzel. PTO signee Brian Boyle was there, too.

Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith were also on the ice. DeSmith had offseason surgery in June, but both Penguins goalies were in their nets as music blared, whistles blew, and drills began. You may be happy to know that Jarry was indeed stopping pucks.

Such skates are often called “captain skates,” as the team’s captain usually organizes them. As you may imagine, Sidney Crosby was not on the ice as he recovers from wrist surgery. The drill details aren’t so important as the main idea–the Pittsburgh Penguins season is upon us.

 

 

Christopher Merisier-Ortiz

We wrote about Merisier-Ortiz on Sunday. The small but electric skating defenseman looks much better than an AHL contract defenseman who wasn’t on anyone’s NHL radar.

“Really smooth. He’s a heck of a skater. He’s got a lot of skill and he makes good decisions with the puck,” WBS Penguins head coach J.D. Forrest said. “It’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment for him as being an older guy in junior leagues to being a younger guy in a professional league. But we think he can handle that. We really like his toolset. He’s looked good out here.”

Merisier-Ortiz is only 5-foot-9, and somewhere around 170 pounds. Different guides list him at 165 pounds and 172 pounds. If you missed the PHN+ breakdown on Sunday, here’s the video of Merisier-Ortiz being a “rugger”. He can sneak into traffic along the wall and come out with the puck.

Editor’s Note: Most guides list him at 5-foot-11.

His former Baie-Comeau QMJHL coach, Jon Goyens, has become a friend of PHN and happily discussed the young defenseman’s talents.

 

Goyens specifically praised Merisier-Ortiz but was honest in his critique.

“He can really shine with skills–Ice water in his veins to pull off some plays,” Goyens texted. “(He was the) QB on our PP with a rebuilding team, and we finished third in the league.”

Merisier-Ortiz needs to work on his shot and be more confident with it. He also said the Penguins gave him a two-year deal, instead of the competing offers, which were only one year. The extra year should allow the defenseman to settle in, find a space, and begin the long road to the NHL.

 

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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BIG B
BIG B
1 month ago

He is 5 ft 11 according to hockeydb and elite prospects.

BIG B
BIG B
1 month ago

Merisier-Ortiz that is 5 ft 11 in case i was not clear in first comment.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Is there some sort of rule in the NHL that compels the Penguins to only have players that can double as Santa’s elves at Christmas? Good grief. I appreciate that you cannot have a team that is made up of 6’3″ . . . 220 lbs players but this is getting ridiculous. I am just assuming that anyone brought in automatically has “undersized” as a prefix to their name. Ever since “Dr. Truculence” arrived the team has gotten smaller, less physical and older. Life in the corners and in front of the net is going to be brutal for the… Read more »

Cal
Cal
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Well…hohoho…is it any surprise the team is usually near the top in injuries and man games lost in the league the past few years?

Adam
Adam
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

When we don’t have any draft picks we have to take chances on guys that have attributes like “undersized”. That’s my only rationale. We do have Zhorna in the system and have Boyle doing a PTO.

Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

And if we are lucky to get a tall one like MP, he ends up being 170 pounds. BIG DEFENSEMEN are needed in the playoffs. You can’t go four straight rounds with little guys who are great skaters. Playoff hockey is tight checking and battling down low. Corners, net front. It always will be. Need some big bodies for that. There are those that like to say oh, look at our cup winning teams, they weren’t big. They skated. Yes those teams were fast. But 2016 Defense had Cole, Lovejoy, Maatta, Dumo, all fairly big bodies. In 2017 swap out… Read more »

D1VE is Dumb
D1VE is Dumb
1 month ago

Remember how well Jack Johnson worked out??

Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
1 month ago
Reply to  D1VE is Dumb

Twitter is that way >>>>>

Katz Meow
Katz Meow
1 month ago

A little on the small side, but this kid has potential. Its all about the playoffs. If they don’t win the Cup it will be a disappointment.

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