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The Inside Scoop: Informal Skate Roundup

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins' 2016-17 season officially will begin on Friday when the team opens training camp. However, for every NHL player camp is basically already underway.

Player begins training and preparations in August so that they are in top shape for the start of the training camp - and all of Pittsburgh's players are in that category. 

In fact, many of the players are already back in Pittsburgh and working out everyday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, such as goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, forwards Nick Bonino, Chris Kunitz, Conor Sheary and Eric Fehr and defensemen Trevor Daley, Ian Cole, Brian Dumoulin and Derrick Pouliot to name a few.

Here are a few small takeaways from the team's most recent informal media availability.

*The anchor of the HBK Line - Bonino - had an elbow infection and a fever of nearly 101 degrees, which required IV fluids during the Stanley Cup Final against San Jose. It was so bad that Bonino was quarantined in his hotel room and kept away from his newly born baby girl.

But Bonino gutted it out and suited up for every single game, scoring the game-winning goal in Game 1 for Pittsburgh.

It's been a few months now and Bonino is back to full health.

"It was an interesting thing in the Final," Bonino told the media. "After we won the Cup my golf game suffered the most. It was an ugly swing for a bit. My handicap went right up.

"For the most part my body feels great right now. Good summer workouts. I feel good. I put on the weight that I lost in the playoffs. I was down pretty good, I think everyone was. I feel good."

*Two other players that suffered season-ending ankle injuries are skating with their teammates: Daley and forward Kevin Porter.

Daley suffered his ankle injury in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final and was out for the Stanley Cup Final.

Porter, who re-signed with the Pens to a one-year contract, was injured in early March against the New York Rangers and missed the entire postseason for Pittsburgh.

"Ankle feels good," Porter said. "I had to tweak some things over the summer. I finally got things rolling. I just skated for two hours with no problems. That's a good sign.

"Two or three weeks after the season I got right back into it. I missed skating for three months. That's probably the longest I'd gone in 20 years. I tried to get right back out there and right into the swing of things right away."

*Pens forward Tom Kuhnhackl is a national treasure in his native country of Germany, not only for being the first player in league history to bring the Stanley Cup to Germany, but also because he scored a crucial goal to help his country earn a spot in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Kuhnhackl scored the game-winning third-period goal against Latvia in the qualification tournament to put Germany in the Olympics.

"The whole team did a pretty good job," said Kuhnhackl, deflecting credit. "The whole nation is just glad we won that last game and qualified."

*Speaking of Kuhnhackl, he has reinvented his game several times over his career.

In his youngest days, he was a prolific goal scorer. Kuhnhackl posted 39 goals in 63 games in 2010-11 with Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. But he knew that he wouldn't produce the same way in the NHL and needed to adapt his style.

"My first and second year with Pittsburgh I talked to (assistant general manager) Billy Guerin," Kuhnhackl recalled. "I said I want to be in the NHL, what do I have to do? We talked about it.

"Year after year I tried to switch my game around and be a penalty killer instead of a power-play guy and working on my role, forecheck, penalty killing. It takes a couple of years, but I think I've done a pretty good job so far."

Kuhnhackl, who has added some weight in the offseason, has established himself as a strong forechecker and penalty killer in the NHL.

So naturally, he wants to transform again.

"The role I have is getting pucks in, getting in on the forecheck, finishing hits, blocking shots," he said. "But I want to contribute a little more offensively this year and next year."

*Bonino joked that he won't lobby to have the HBK Line of himself, Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin reunited to start the season.

"I don't really like Phil," he joked before correcting, "Just kidding. I love playing with those two. They were a lot of fun to play with. We'll see what happens come camp."

*Kuhnhackl on his day with the Cup: "It was the first time that the Cup was in Germany so the crowd was crazy. There were a lot of people there. Everybody wanted a picture. It was a busy day.

"I didn't know what to expect if it would be 500 or 5,000. You never know how many people are coming from other countries. It was quite a lot of people. That made it very special for me."

*Kunitz on trying to repeat: "People come talk to you and call you the defending champs. The cliché thing is that you have to go out and prove it everyday. You have to go out and earn your space again."

*Kunitz on the odd start to training camp with many of the World Cup of Hockey players and head coach Mike Sullivan not around: "No coach. No top-6 players. I would say (it's strange).

"Our coaching staff is really connected. They probably met a few weeks (ago) and understand what they expect out of training camp. Our job as players is to come work."

Video: Hear what Kunitz has to say after today's skate

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