Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan declined to name names, even for praise, for players who have made positive impressions in the four-day training camp at the UPMC Lemieux Complex. Technically the camp is over, and the preseason schedule begins on Monday at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
After daily scrimmages, battle drills, and even a few days of prospect work prior, Sullivan dumped the puck into the corner. Training camp is the first chance to make a first impression. As Filip Hallander pointed out during the Pittsburgh Penguins prospects camp, “I’m here to take a spot.”
For new players, the NHL training camp is a chance to show coaches what is possible. For some, it’s a chance to show improvements. For others, it is a chance to learn a new system and build chemistry with new linemates.
“We’ll watch, and we’ll see where it goes and how it evolves. But I’m excited about this next phase of training camp,” Sullivan said. “When the exhibitions start, I think the players get tired of playing among ourselves. And it’s nice to play against an opponent and start to build from there. But we’ve been encouraged with what we’ve seen to this point.”
Top prospects P.O. Joseph, Sam Poulin, and Nathan Legare will have to push through the final steps to the NHL. None of the trios are guaranteed, though Sullivan was effusive when talking about Joseph on Saturday.
“P.O.’s knocking on the door. I think he’s been there for a while now. He’s a real good player,” Sullivan said. “I love his attitude, his enthusiasm for the game. He loves hockey, and I think his energy is contagious. And I love those types of guys.”
In camp, Joseph was paired with top defenseman Kris Letang.
But which players have attracted attention for more opportunities in the preseason schedule?