Throughout the Penguins development camp in mid-July, it was pretty easy to spot Matia Marcantuoni
amongst the forwards.
Marcantuoni’s blazing speed, slick puck handling skills and competitive edge showed his immense potential as a prospect and why many prognosticators feel he was a steal by the Penguins in the fourth round (92nd overall) at this summer’s NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.
Ranked as high as No. 20 on Red Line Report’s prospect list last September, the 6-foot, 194-pound winger’s stock fell because of an injuries during his season. But Marcantuoni, who ended his year with shoulder surgery, feels the injuries actually were a blessing.
“At first when I popped (my shoulder), obviously it was frustrating, getting injured in your draft year. I wanted to play,“ Marcantuoni said. “But I think it made me mentally stronger. I put on a lot of weight, got stronger, faster. Instead of taking it negative, I took it in a positive way and used it to my advantage.”
Marcantuoni, who plays for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, used his time wisely, coming to all his team’s home games, and watching the road games on TV whenever it was possible. Watching hockey away from the ice gave Marcantuoni a new perspective on how to play the game.
“You see the game differently, you learn. Because on the ice you really get to see how much time you have with the puck,” Marcantuoni said. “It may seem like you have to make a quick play, but when you watch from up top you see you really do have a lot more time. So I’m learning how to be more patient with the puck, and I feel I’m going to be able to bring that next year.”
After the shoulder surgery, Marcantuoni was relegated to a sling for a month and was prohibited from skating for three months, something that frustrated the young forward. Rededicated to a new workout regimen, Marcantuoni said he has already put on about 15 pounds of muscle from the beginning of the season.
In the OHL, Marcantuoni has a very limited sample size, totaling 44 points (20G-21A) in only 66 games the past two seasons. He has proven to be a big-time competitor, playing for Team Canada during their gold medal run at the 2011 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and also captaining Team Ontario to a gold medal at the 2011 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.
Playing with a few cuts on his face after an errant stick struck him during a collision with fellow development camp invitee, 6-foot-8 defenseman Andrej Sustr, Marcantuoni finished off the week with a strong performance and a lasting impression, scoring a goal in the development camp open scrimmage.
Leaving training camp and heading back to Kitchener for the next season, Marcantuoni has left a good impression with the coaches, displaying the traits the organization looks for in prospects.
“He’s been really good,” Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant coach Alain Nasreddine said. “ You notice him out there, which is always good. This is a first impression for him and he’s made a good first impression so far.”