Courtesy of Point Park University

Legare, Spooner shine in camp tournament


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Team Jagr, Michel Briere Cup champions. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- The Penguins' development camp concluded Friday evening with a three-on-three tournament.

Team Jagr, coached by St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson and consisting of forwards Renars KrastenbergsJake LucchiniSamuel PoulinJared Spooner, and Bobby Trivigno, defensemen Michael KimRoni AllenClayton Phillips, and Liam Ross, and goaltender Emil Larmi captured the Michel Briere Cup in a 7-5 win over Team Lemieux in the championship game.

Here are some takeaways from the tournament:

• Forward Nathan Legare's shot earned a lot of praise when he was drafted, and it still feels like it was understated. He's got a great release, and it's accurate:

"I think (three-on-three) was good for me," Legare said. "When I have space I try to put the puck on the net, and tonight it was successful for me."

• There were some concerns about Legare and Poulin's skating in some pre-draft scouting reports. Based off of these games, there shouldn't be any concerns. Both were able to keep up with the play, seemed to be agile, and had the lower-body strength to be strong on the puck.

"It's a quick game," Poulin said. "Especially three-on-three, there's a lot of ice to cover. If you're slow it's going to beat you. I think I did pretty well in the tournament."

"I think I work on my speed every day," Legare said. "I want to show the scouts that my skating is not that slow. But for sure it is something that I need to improve, and this is what I'm going to do."

Director of player development Scott Young wasn't concerned with either of the top picks' skating.

"I think their skating looks good," Young said. "I read (scouting reports) too, and again, they're 18 years old. Everybody at 18 years old has to pick up their pace a little bit to play in the NHL. Maybe Connor McDavid didn't have to. But there are very few of those. I see that written, and to me, it's not a concern."

Young was also impressed by the overall game of the Penguins' top two picks.

"They're impressive players," he said. "They're very determined, hungry players. They want to score goals. They are big bodies, they're strong. They have pro habits in the way that they practice and the way that they do every drill. Pretty impressive for 18 years old."

• Spooner, a forward and an undrafted free agent invite out of Minnesota State was arguably the star of the tournament. He's a good skater, and even though he's slightly on the slender side at 6-feet, 174 pounds, he was hard to knock off the puck. He had good vision on the ice, made some great plays, he's physical, and scored a couple of goals. Dejan will have more on Spooner in a separate piece.

• The three-on-three format led to a lot of open ice, and it allowed some of the faster players to shine. One of them was the 5-feet-8, 150-pound forward Trivigno, an undrafted free agent invite from UMass-Amherst. At his size he has to be fast, but he seemed especially agile, and scored Team Jagr's first goal of the tournament in the first game.

Trivigno was strong on the puck for a guy of his size. He was also pretty effective at backchecking and singlehandedly broke up a number of the opposing team's chances. He's not a heavy hitter at his size, but he was still throwing the weight he does have around in some checks.

• Young was coaching Team Malkin during the tournament, a team that included forward Jordy Bellerive. He liked what he saw.

"I was coaching Bellerive, and I thought he looked good in the three-on-three," Young said. "He's strong. He's really strong for his size. He's not the biggest guy, but he's really strong on the puck. He has zone time, he makes plays, his head's up, he can shoot the puck really well."

• Emil Larmi isn't the most technically sound goaltender, but he performed well given the high shot volume and was a lot of fun to watch. Twice, he came far out of his net to challenge a shooter and cut down the angle. The first time it paid off, the second time he missed his target and Trivigno had to jump in the crease and block a chance. I asked Larmi about those decisions, and he gave a very Larmi-like answer.

"I was bored, so I had to do something," Larmi laughed. "Just kidding."

Larmi tried to score twice. The first time there was a whistle before he was able to get the shot off, and the second attempt went wide in the final seconds of the second game.

"Someday I will do that," he said. "I tried it (in Finland). It's been close a few times, but not yet."

Larmi will be playing in North America next season. That was known when he was signed, and he's been talking about the impending transition all camp.

• Alex D'Orio's style is the opposite of Larmi's. While Larmi seemed to thrive in the chaos, D'Orio is very calm, very steady in net, even with the high shot volume. He's used to it from his time in Saint John.

• I thought forward Renars Krastenbergs had a good game. There were a few instances where he was really able to take advantage of the open ice and show off his speed, and he had some good defensive plays too.

• Defenseman Niclas Almari was great at moving the puck up the open ice, and he had a few solid chances of his own. He scored a goal on his best friend Larmi in the opening game, and the friendship is now on hiatus.

"I'm not talking with him anymore," Larmi laughed. "We are not friends anymore."

• I liked seeing how aware forward Filip Hallander was of his surroundings, his head is constantly on a swivel. He was great at hanging onto the puck and made some good plays.

• Forward Jan Drozg's skating stood out to me, as well as his backchecking efforts. His two-way game is encouraging for someone coming from the QMJHL, with its high-powered offense.

• Kim, a Boston College grad who is signed to an AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre for next season, stood out in this game. The defenseman has speed, and he made some great plays. Kim and Poulin teamed up for this 2-on-0, with Poulin getting the finish:

Kim scored a highlight-reel goal of his own:

• I'm not sure that defenseman Zachary Lauzon is ready to turn pro after all of the time he spent injured. His skating could improve, and he wasn't as strong on the puck as he could have been had he not been away from the game for over a year. He could benefit from a year at the University of New Brunswick to regain some of his strength.

• When Young was asked about who stood out to him the most, he couldn't narrow it down.

"There's a lot of guys that stood out," Young said. "I think it showed that we had a great draft this past draft in Vancouver. I thought all of those guys looked really good. We had some free agent guys that looked really good and we had some picks from years past. It's hard to single anybody out, we had a lot of strong showings and we have a lot of kids that were excited to be here. You could see it in the way we played."


[caption id="attachment_848746" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Penguins development camp, Cranberry, Pa., June 28, 2019 - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]

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