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Penguins Prospects to Watch at Development Camp; Who Has Most to Gain/Lose



Pittsburgh Penguins Development Rookie Camp

We will not know the identity of the star attraction at the Pittsburgh Penguins development camp to be held from July 10-14 at the UPMC Lemieux Complex. The Penguins are scheduled to make a first-round pick at the NHL draft in Montreal on July 7. A few days later, that first-rounder will probably join the Penguins development camp with undrafted free agents and the Penguins’ recent picks and prospects.

2019 first and third-rounders Sam Poulin and Nathan Legare completed their first professional seasons and have figuratively aged out of the process. However, the Penguins’ next first-rounder is a likely attendee, as are a handful of players with something to prove.

Or lose.

First, there will be a few older players at camp. For example, 2019 fifth-rounder Judd Caufield just completed three years at the University of North Dakota. He’ll likely return for his senior season. He’s not yet distinguished himself at North Dakota, but older players like Caufield generally stand out against the 18-year-olds getting their first taste of elevated competition. Don’t get too excited by their performance.

Another of those “older” players will be Chris Ortiz. The 21-year-old undrafted defenseman popped in the autumn rookie camp last year. This season, he played eight AHL games and 54 ECHL games in Wheeling. He showed considerable skills though he was obviously raw. After four seasons at Baie-Comeau Drakkar (under the careful coaching of Jon Goyens), Ortiz impressed PHN with his offensive talents.

Ortiz is a fun player to watch, though he doesn’t have much to gain in a rookie camp. In those 54 ECHL games, he put up 38 points. Presumably, his big chance will come in training camp and the AHL training camp to stick with the WBS Penguins. He’s a late bloomer. He’s not yet an NHL prospect, but he’s got the skills to become one if he continues to put them together.

Players with Something to Gain or Lose

Tristan Broz

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ second-round pick in 2021 and a prospect no one is talking about. The COVID draft was difficult because so many leagues weren’t playing enough hockey. Shutdowns and stoppages. Pauses and travel limits.

Broz, a left winger, played three seasons at Fargo of the USHL before committing to the University of Minnesota, where he just finished his freshman season. Broz had 11 points in 36 games. He’s still “growing.” He’s 6-foot, 178 pounds.

The NCAA has some draconian rules for collegiate players. They get a one-time 48-hour exemption, in which the team can pay for meals and hotel. Otherwise, the player is on his own for the duration. After the first exemption, the player must pay all costs to attend the camp. Also, players cannot miss any classes, which is why you don’t see college players at the rookie tournaments in September.

There wasn’t a mid-summer rookie camp last year, so this is Broz’s chance to make a good impression.

Raivis Ansons

After his draft selection, the 2020 fifth-round pick lept off the screen at PHN. PHN Raivis Ansons scouting report. However, hockey folks poured some cold water on our analysis; inconsistency was the biggest knock. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward plays with size and skill but was known to disappear.

He had 60 points in 56 games split between St. John and Baie-Comeau Drakkar this season, including 18 goals. He also had five points in five playoff games. The former teammate of Legare and Ortiz has already signed a three-year entry-level deal and is ready to turn pro this fall.

If inconsistency is the knock, showing up with serious intent–at every chance–is essential. He’s got the talent to be a real sleeper pick.

Joel Blomqvist

The Penguins’ 2020 second-round pick tasted international play at the World Juniors. The 6-foot-2 Finnish tendy didn’t participate in the camp last year, but he got to play one game for the WBS Penguins this season. He stopped 25 of 27 shots.

You can watch all of the videos in the world. Seeing a player up close gives you a sense of whether they play big, quickness, and personality under duress.

The Penguins are beginning to amass a stockpile of goalies with potential. Blomqvist and fellow rookie camp attendee Filip Lindberg should show well.

Max Sasson & Brooklyn Kalmikov

Undrafted, unsigned. Both hope to follow Jordy Bellerive, and others have used the rookie camp as a springboard to a professional contract.

Sasson, 21, started his junior career in the NAHL before working his way into the USHL with Cedar Rapids. He was more than a point-per-game player as a 20-year-old with Waterloo of the USHL before playing a season at Western Michigan. He posted a respectable 22 points (9-13-22) in 37 games.

Kalmikov, 21, could be a victim of the COVID-slowed QMJHL. As an overage junior, he scored 34 goals and 72 points in 62 games. Our friends at the Neutral Zone (head scout, former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Moran) say Brooklyn Kalmikov plays fast and is good on the walls.

He needs a contract. A bad camp could be disastrous. A good camp could put him on the path to the Pittsburgh Penguins. No pressure, kid.

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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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Trevor Funk
Trevor Funk
1 month ago

St. Johns? How about Saint John Sea Dogs (Anson)… And is 5mins from winning Memorial Cup!

Last edited 1 month ago by Trevor Funk

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