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Lemieux's son still hopeful of NHL shot with Penguins

Arizona State forward attending Pittsburgh development camp for fourth time

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Austin Lemieux has been through this drill before.

The 23-year-old son of Mario Lemieux, the Pittsburgh Penguins owner and legend, skated around a sheet of ice bearing his last name on Wednesday. His father's No. 66 hung above the rink, moved to the far wall from a corner where there's now a 2017 Stanley Cup championship banner.

All of that is familiar. This is the fourth time the forward has attended the Penguins prospect development camp at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, and his outlook remains the same as it did in his first go-around in 2016.

"I think anyone that plays college hockey has the NHL in mind," Lemieux said after practice Thursday.

He is attending camp on a tryout contract after finishing a redshirt freshman season with Arizona State in 2018-19. He scored 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 31 games.

During his first Penguins development camp in 2016, Lemieux (6-foot-3, 170 pounds) said he would be honored to wear the logo of the team his father helped lead to two championships as a player (1991 and 1992) and three more as an owner (2009, 2016 and 2017). But he wouldn't get ahead of himself, saying he'd focus on that opportunity after a few years in college.

Following one college season, not much has changed. Instead of looking to the future, Lemieux wants to use this camp to help Arizona State right away.

"I enjoyed my first year, getting that out of the way," he said. "Had a few ups and downs, but certainly looking forward to next season. ... There's always something I can work on. I'm not too sure right now, but production-wise and playing-wise, I hope to get out there a little bit more and produce for my team."

The college experience could help Lemieux down the line, making him adapt to a faster style.

"The speed was a big step for me," he said. "It was certainly overwhelming. I think toward the end of the year, the pace started to slow down a little bit. It was good and nice to get that out of the way and be ready for next year."

Arizona State (21-13-1) made it to the NCAA Regionals before losing 2-1 to Quinnipiac on March 30. After being recruited by the Sun Devils, Lemieux decided not to pass on a chance to make his mark.

"I thought it would be a good fit," he said. "It's an up-and-coming program. It's something where going somewhere and playing right away and helping them build their tradition, it's certainly something that popped into my head right away. I'm glad I did it."

Away from campus and back in Pittsburgh, Lemieux understands his role among the other prospects. Four years in, Mario's son attempts to be a leader for a group of future Penguins.

"These guys, they're all prospects, so they know what they're doing," Lemieux said. "They're not talking to me on the ice all that much. ... It's off the ice, just asking what goes on here, stuff like that, training-wise. It's nice to help them out and give them a few pointers if they need them."

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