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Addison looks to bring offensive flair to Penguins

Defenseman prospect's up-tempo style could make him big part of Pittsburgh's future

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Calen Addison sits a few lockers down from the stall normally reserved for Kris Letang, possibly a future teammate with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But Addison, a defenseman prospect, said he idolizes another notable offensive defenseman.

"My favorite player is Erik Karlsson," Addison said. "He's a special breed."

Addison, selected by the Penguins in the second round (No. 53) of the 2018 NHL Draft, caught their attention by employing a puck-moving approach similar to that of Letang and Karlsson, of the Ottawa Senators. Though the 18-year-old's NHL debut likely is a few years away, he sees himself as a natural fit in Pittsburgh.


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"I play a similar game to the style the Penguins play," Addison said. "So I mean, that [drafting him] is a pretty good compliment coming from this organization. They picked me for a reason. I'm just going to do what I do and just have fun with it out there.

"The style of game that they play is speed and skill. Those are my two biggest attributes. So I'm just going to come here every time and be ready to go, and show them what I've got, and use my speed and skill, because the quicker I can play here, it's good for me."

Though he looks up to Karlsson, Addison said he has modeled his game after Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie, who had an NHL career-high 57 points (14 goals, 43 assists) in 68 games last season. That style led to Addison having 65 points (11 goals, 54 assists) in 68 games with Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League in 2017-18.

But at 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds, Addison isn't satisfied with solely being an offensive threat.

"Being my size of guy and the way I play, I need to improve my defense if I want to play at the next level," he said. "I think that will just come with maturity, getting bigger and stronger. Just learning how to get smarter in the D-zone."

Video: Addison speaks with media after the scrimmage

Addison joined Pittsburgh's other three 2018 draft selections -- Timra (Sweden) center Filip Hallander, Moose Jaw (WHL) center Justin Almeida and St. Sebastian's School (Needham, Massachusetts) center Liam Gorman for development camp at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex from June 27-29. After the first day, Penguins director of player development Scott Young said he was impressed, but said it was too soon after they were drafted to evaluate their performance.

"We're trying not to assess too much, because it is the middle of summer," Young said. "But we like what we see. They came in ready and we see that they're adapting to getting around some older players and getting out there. ... Those were two very high-paced practices, and they did very well."

In that same vein, it was too early to give Addison any indication of when he could reach the NHL, which is fine by him.

In the meantime, he plans to improve so he's prepared once that time does come.

"I'm not sure [when he'll play in the NHL]. That's a tough one to answer," Addison said. "All I can do is focus on what I can do in the summer, coming in here ready to go and put my best foot forward on the ice. That's what I'm going to do every time I come here. That's on them, what they want me to learn."

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