Stepping into the Penguins locker room for the first time, many of Pittsburgh’s 2012 NHL draft picks were struck with awe as this week marks the beginning of their journey towards making it to the NHL.
“I was kind of at a loss for words once I walked in,” said goalie Sean Maguire, drafted in the fourth round (113th overall). “It’s the only thing I really dreamed of.”
|2012 second-round draftee Teddy Blueger is one of the first-time attendees at this year's development camp. |
Tuesday marks the first official day of the Penguins’ annual prospect development camp, and for the players who have been in the system for some time, it’s a chance to step into leadership and mentoring roles with the younger guys. But for the newly drafted players, it’s where they learn what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin in every sense of the word and develop the habits and mindset of a pro athlete.
“It’s really a surreal moment,” said Matt Murray, Pittsburgh’s third round (83rd overall) pick. “To be drafted a couple weeks ago was life changing and it’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid. It’s really hard to explain right now. This is not something that everybody gets to experience. I ‘m very privileged and I’m really honored to be apart of it. “
This camp is just the first stepping-stone for many of these prospects’ careers. While it’s primarily about education – learning the Penguins’ systems and sitting through seminars on nutrition, sports pychology and NHL security – there’s also going to be a healthy dose of competition between the athletes.
“I think it’s going to be tough,” Maguire said. “It’s not going to be easy but also at the same time it’s going to be fun and competitive. That’s exactly why I’m here and what I like.“
Many of the players realize this is their chance to leave a good first impression on the coaching staff. It’s also a superb opportunity for players to showcase some of their strengths during drills, like fourth-round selection Matia Marcantuoni with his blazing speed, and see what they need to improve on in order to make it in the pros.
“I’m just going go out there and definitely show them what I can do,” said Marcantunoni, the 92nd-overall pick in June. “It’s fun since I can compare myself against the top players here that belong to the organization.”
Some of the prospects from this year’s draft class will be coming back to Pittsburgh in September for training camp. For others, they plan on just soaking it all in and learning as much as they can before they begin the year back with their respective college and junior teams.
“It’s just a really fun experience and I’m glad to be apart of it,” said Theodor Blueger, the Penguins’ second-round (52nd overall) pick. “I’m expecting a week of hard work and just a good opportunity to be here and get better and hopefully make the team some day.”