It may have been a normal Tuesday afternoon on the outside.
But, inside Southpointe, there was a flurry of action on the ice as Pittsburgh Penguins rookie conditioning camp got underway.
The nearly three dozen Penguins prospects went through medical testing in the morning before heading to Southpointe in the afternoon for some on-ice work. The emphasis was on skating and power skating instructor Besa Tsintsadze put the players through an intense workout.
One of those players in attendance was Angelo Espostio, the Penguins’ 2007 first-round draft choice. It was his first appearance in Pittsburgh and he was happy to meet the other prospects.
|Angelo Esposito |
“I guess you could say at the draft it was a long wait. I was a little disappointed when the Montreal Canadiens passed me up, but I ended up here in Pittsburgh and I couldn’t be any happier,” he said. “My goal this fall is to make the Penguins as an 18-year-old. But, if that doesn’t happen, I won’t be disappointed – another year of junior hockey wouldn’t hurt.”
Esposito has a unique opportunity playing with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. The Montreal native has former NHL star goaltender Patrick Roy as his coach.
“It’s something pretty special. I grew up in Montreal and went to Shattuck-St. Mary’s for two years and then I wound up in Quebec playing for Patrick Roy the past two years,” he said. “That’s helped me a lot. He’s helped me become a better player.”
Esposito, a center, credits Roy with having the foresight to give the young playmaker experience skating on the left wing. That’s important, considering the Penguins already have three young centers in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal.
“It is a difficult adjustment, but I guess I learned. One reason that Patrick put me on the wing was to make sure that I’d know how to play the wing if I ever have to play it in my career. It’s a different position, but you get used to it,” Esposito said. “I enjoyed playing left wing, but I’ve always played center growing up. Wherever I play – I just want to play. If they put me on the wing, then I am going to make sure I can play the wing.”
Once rookie camp is over, Esposito will return to Montreal and focus on achieving his goal of playing in the NHL.
“I work out two or three hours a day, six days a week. I am going to do some on-ice work once I get back to Montreal after this camp. I will just go on about two times a week,” he said. “It’s going to take hard work. I have to go back and work hard, train and get ready.”