Forward Kenny Agostino attended his first Penguins’ development camp two years ago fresh from high school after Pittsburgh drafted him in the fifth round (140th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft.
Agostino, 20, attended his second development camp in mid-July after playing two seasons of college hockey at Yale, and the difference was palpable.
“I feel good out there,” he said. “Coming off two years of college hockey as opposed to high school hockey my first time around this camp, I feel good and comfortable out there.”
Agostino, who is Delbarton High School’s all-time leading scorer with 261 points over three seasons and a two-time New Jersey high school player of the year, has made a smooth transition from high school to college hockey over the last two years.
“It was a big jump,” he said. “You can’t compare the two levels of hockey. I think halfway through my freshman year I started to figure it out. I got accustomed to the play and had a pretty good freshman year after that.
“It took a little time to get used to that pace and physical play. I think I adapted pretty quickly.”
Agostino, who committed to Yale as a high school junior, posted 25 points (11G-14A) in his freshman campaign.
The three-time first-team all-state selection was so impressive during that season that he was invited to attend Team USA’s 2011 National Junior Evaluation Camp, where he finished as the team leader with 10 points (3G-7A) in six games. Despite being one of the final cuts, Agostino is still honored by the invitation.
“Anytime you put on a jersey and represent your country is a special feeling,” he said. “It was an honor to make that preliminary roster. It was unfortunate it didn’t work out, but it was an experience I’ll take with me. It was unbelievable.”
Agostino followed up his strong opening season at Yale by ranking third on the Bulldogs in goals (14) and points (34) while garnering All-Ivy League honorable mention in 2011-12.
“I look at myself as a top-6 forward at Yale,” Agostino said. “The way we play, anyone can contribute. The coaches really demand work ethic and two-way hockey, just like the Penguins do here.
“I think I’m a pretty good offensive player. I think puck protection is one of my best areas. I’m good in tight spaces and can finish around the net.”
When he isn’t shooting pucks on the ice, Agostino can be found studying political science. And while he may have a future career as a politician, his attention is currently on hockey and learning.
“We’ll see. Maybe down the road,” he said of his political career. “Right now it’s not really my focus. I’m focusing on hockey and school, taking it one semester at a time, one game at a time.”