CRANBERRY — The number of prospects at the Pittsburgh Penguins development camp which appeared to have NHL chops was not great, but a few stood above the rest. The Penguins pool is neither deep nor varied, but a few diamonds are hiding in the rough.
Whether those diamonds will transfer their skills to the professional game is always another matter, but it appears a few have that chance to join the legitimate Penguins prospect pool.
On Thursday, the Penguins held the annual prospects scrimmage. It was a 4v4 game with two 25-minute halves and a running clock. It provided a good look at where the prospects stood.
Owen Pickering is a given. The smooth defenseman was flawless, if unspectacular. That’s probably the 6-foot-4 defenseman’s game for the foreseeable future while he catches up with the gifts mother nature heaped on him almost overnight. Perhaps he backed in too far midway through the second half of the scrimmage, allowing Daniel Laatsch space to cut to the middle and rip a top-shelf wrister past UFA goalie Nolan Lalonde.
Later, shifty winger Lukas Svejkovsky worked Pickering for a bit of space and a good shot, too. Pickering will learn to use his stick and trust himself a little more.
While Pickering (likely) returns to juniors this fall, some players who turned pro last fall or will turn pro this fall probably made a good impression on the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
There were also some kids who probably didn’t like their performance, including a 2022 draft pick.