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Could St. Ivany Convince Penguins to Take a Flyer on Him?

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Pittsburgh Penguins Jack St. Ivany

CRANBERRY — Perhaps Jack St. Ivany never got a satisfactory explanation for why Philadelphia declined to sign him after his senior season at Boston College.

Or maybe he just isn’t interested in sharing what the Flyers told him.

Regardless of the reason, St. Ivany, a defenseman who signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins five days after the Flyers relinquished his rights, made it clear after the first day of rookie camp Thursday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex that he isn’t inclined to revisit that chapter of his career.

“I’m ready to move on from (Philadelphia’s decision),” he said. “I’m happy to be in Pittsburgh.”

And early indications are that the Penguins are glad to have him, as St. Ivany’s first impression at the camp was a good one.

“I really liked what I saw out there today,” said Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach J.D. Forrest, who is running the rookie camp.

No surprise there, considering that St. Ivany has good size (6 foot 3, 201 pounds) and seems to possess some pretty solid fundamentals.

Forrest spoke favorably of St Ivany’s “skating ability, his puck-moving ability … he’s got some size, some length.”

Other clubs also were aware of St. Ivany’s vital statistics and skills set when the Flyers cut him loose, and he said that “a handful of teams” were interested in signing him.

He opted for the Penguins, at least in part, because Ron Hextall had been Philadelphia’s GM when he was drafted, and St. Ivany also is familiar with assistant GM Chris Pryor and some Penguins scouts who were with the Flyers then.

“It was just a perfect fit for me,” he said.

St. Ivany played two years at Yale before transferring to Boston College. He arrived at B.C. long after Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin had turned pro, but is keenly aware of what Dumoulin has accomplished in the NHL and views him as a template of sorts.

“I’d never crossed paths with him, but when I was there … he was such a great defenseman, and a great defenseman to learn about,” St. Ivany said. “They’d show us teaching clips of him, and I actually got to meet him the other day.

“I would love to mimic a lot of his game. He’s a simple defenseman, but he’s really effective. A lot of the video clips they’re showing us are him making simple plays, fending off the rush. If I can be the defenseman he is, I’ll be very happy with that.”

Perhaps he and Dumoulin will even be teammates someday, but St. Ivany’s immediate challenge is to make a successful transition from college hockey to pro.

“When you make the next step, it’s bigger guys, stronger guys and a faster game,” he said. “It’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment period, but I had a good summer of training, so I’m ready to make that jump.”

Regardless of how well St. Ivany performs during this rookie camp, as well as the regular one that begins next Thursday, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which he would bypass serving an apprenticeship in the American Hockey League. Nonetheless, St. Ivany said the franchise’s decision-makers made it known that the major-league roster is not set yet.

“The message coming into camp was, ‘Just play your hardest,’ ” he said. “They’re going to take the best defensemen available. Obviously, there are some guys here who have been here and won and have great experience.

“For me, coming into camp, it’s just going to be to learn from those guys and focus on my game and be the best player I can and, hopefully, compete for some of those spots.”

If St. Ivany can somehow do that over the next few weeks, which is an awful lot to expect of a young player, it certainly would send a message across the Commonwealth, to the team that determined there was no place for him in its future.

It also would give the Pittsburgh Penguins’ front office cause to be as pleased about having him on the payroll as St. Ivany seems to be about having a place there.

“The organization is top-notch,” he said. “They have a winning culture here. I’m really excited to be a part of that.”

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Alan Smith
15 days ago

Got to like this guy! Need some new blood on defense! Great attitude and some size as well! Like the Dummo comments! Good luck!

Vince Gori
Vince Gori
15 days ago

Could article Dave. Nice to hear about someone that everyone else isn’t touting. Sounds like the defense is a strong suit across the entire Pens spectrum at this time. It may become a position of strength.