The Penguins announced their roster for this weekend's Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, and some big names highlight the list.
Jordy Bellerive, severely burned in a campfire accident in June, will return to game action for the first time in this weekend's tournament. Bellerive, whom the Penguins say is "close to 100 percent" recovered, has been through extensive rehabilitation and training after his 12-day hospital stay.
"The entire Penguins' organization is very proud of how hard Jordy has worked rehabbing himself back into game shape," Bill Guerin said. "Throughout the summer, Jordy's recovery was always our top priority. We are all very excited to watch him return to game action with his fellow prospects this weekend in Buffalo."
Bellerive, a center, scored four goals and had three assists in the three games of last year's Prospects Challenge, and his successful tryout earned him an NHL contract. He'll remain with his junior team for one more year, but Bellerive remains one of the Penguins' top prospects. His two-way play, physicality and shot production are some elements of his game that should translate well to the professional game when the time comes.
Left wing Adam Johnson, who earned a contract out of last summer's development camp, will be another prospect to watch in this tournament. Johnson amassed 11 goals and 20 assists in 70 games during his 2017-18 rookie season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. One of Johnson's biggest strengths is his speed, but he's slender and can be pushed around easily. This weekend's games could provide a look at how Johnson grew over the offseason.
Unlike the Penguins' development camp, which did not feature a single player who spent the 2017-18 season in Wilkes-Barre or Wheeling, some players who already have played one or more full professional seasons will play this weekend. In addition to Johnson, defenseman Jeff Taylor, and left wings Freddie Tiffels and Troy Josephs split time between the Penguins' two affiliates last season, and they will look to stick in Wilkes-Barre full-time for 2018-19.
Defensemen Dane Birks, right wings Jan Drozg and Anthony Angello, and center Sam Lafferty all made their Wilkes-Barre debuts last spring and will be playing their first full professional seasons this year. Defenseman Joseph Masonius, and center Linus Olund will make their debuts this season.
One player, center Cédric Lacroix, is already on an ECHL-level deal with Wheeling and will attend the tournament on a tryout. His father, Daniel Lacroix, is a former NHL forward and current assistant coach for the Montreal Canadiens.
Goaltender Alex D'Orio, the Penguins' lone goaltending prospect, will attend the tournament. D'Orio earned an NHL contract after a strong tryout in last year's Prospects Challenge. He posted a 9-26-9 record, a 4.01 goals against average, and a .895 save percentage last year for the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs, but the numbers don't tell the whole story. D'Orio was one of the few bright spots on a dismal Saint John roster, and the Penguins liked seeing how D'Orio worked through adversity.
Three defensemen, two forwards, and two goaltenders from junior hockey will attend the camp on amateur tryout agreements and look to earn a contract.
Wilkes-Barre head coach Clark Donatelli will coach the prospects for the tournament, along with Wilkes-Barre assistants J.D. Forrest and Jarrod Skalde.
The games will take place at HarborCenter, home of the NWHL's Buffalo Beauts and practice facility of the Buffalo Sabres. Other teams participating in the tournament are the Bruins', Devils', and Sabres' prospects.
Pittsburgh Penguins' 2018 Prospects Challenge Schedule
Friday, Sept. 7
3:30 p.m. - Game vs. Boston
Saturday, Sept. 8
3:30 p.m. - Game vs. New Jersey
Monday, Sept. 10
12:30 p.m. - Game vs. Buffalo
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