As free agency continues, it's becoming clear that the Pittsburgh Penguins are not going to be signing any big-name free agents.
The Penguins are going to be developing talent in their system. They're going to find opportunities and no longer search for answers. This is prospect week for the Penguins and 34 young guns are ready to showcase their skills in hopes of reaching the NHL.
This new set of prospects is once again something to behold. Pittsburgh heads into the prospect camp a little short this season as Eric Tangradi wasn't invited.
Tangradi's omission may show that Pittsburgh is ready for him as a full-time player and no longer considers him a prospect.
While the Penguins are continuing their search for a power winger to play with Sidney Crosby, the theme at this season’s prospect camp is going to be defense.
2012 first round defenseman picks Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot will join 2011 first and second round picks Joe Morrow and Scott Harrington. Along with top prospect Simon Despres, the Pittsburgh Penguins look to show off more than enough blue line fire power.
It's expected that Despres becomes the Penguins sixth defenseman, unless a trade is made.
But, there are two others who look to be ready right away.
Morrow of the Portland Winterhawks is rapidly jumping up the charts to becoming Pittsburgh’s top prospect. His size- 6-feet, 198 pounds- is nothing intimidating, but he is a very powerful skater and has a booming slapshot.
Many now consider Morrow as the Penguins top prospect.
The other defenseman to keep a sharp eye on is Scott Harrington. The Penguins second round draft pick in 2011 was a stud this past season.
Described as a fluid skater and heads up player, Harrington is a great stay at home defenseman. He has the ability to join the rush, but can be found protecting the defensive zone most of the time.
His great season last year with the London Knights (OHL) shows that his game is evolving consistently in all areas.
There are also a few forwards to keep an eye on.
Right winger Beau Bennett is coming off of an injury-riddled season and is looking to develop into an NHL daily player. He has officially left the University of Denver and is expected to join Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL.
One might also want to keep an eye on Tom Kuhnhackl, the very talented forward from Niagra (OHL). The 6’2 left wing had struggled recently, but appears to be ready for a change and a move to the ECHL or even the AHL could help out his game tremendously.
There is another sleeper at forward who bears watching.
Dominik Uher is a 5’11 wrecking ball who has a nose for the net as well as the big hit. During a Winterhawks game, Uher made himself stick out for Spokane with a big hit. He followed that up with a dirty, crashing the net type goal.
His play is something that Pittsburgh loves and he could really make strides this week.
While 34 players were officially invited to the Penguins Prospect Development Camp, six other free agents also received an invite.
The 40 players will start their camp in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, July 10th and finalize their camp experience on Saturday with a scrimmage. Be sure to check in mid-way through camp for all updates.