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Pens open 2017 development camp

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens opened their weeklong Development Camp at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Wednesday. 

Forty prospects from within the organization, including the most recent six additions from the 2017 NHL Draft last weekend in Chicago, will be in attendance.

The day began with fitness and conditioning testing in the morning to be followed by on-ice practice sessions in the afternoon.

Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Recchi, who was recently promoted to the Pens director of player development, is ready to get things going.

"I'm excited to see all of them," he said Wednesday morning. "When you go through the meetings and listen to our scouts, they've seen all of them. We've seen the odd one, but not as significant as them. I'm excited to see all of our guys this year."

Several high-level prospects are in Pittsburgh for the week, including forwards Daniel Sprong, Thomas Di Pauli and Zach Aston-Reese and goaltender Filip Gustavsson.

"I'm excited for you guys to see Zach Aston-Reese," Recchi said. "It's good for him to come here and be around."

Aston-Reese, 22, signed a two-year deal with the Pens in March as a college free agent. The Northeastern product was highly pursued by NHL teams after he led the NCAA in goals (31) and points (63) in just 38 games during his senior campaign in 2016-17.

Unfortunately, a few players have minor health issues and will not be participating in the on-ice sessions during the week.

Defensemen Zach Lauzon, the Pens' top selection at 51st overall a few days ago in the NHL Draft, and Ryan Jones, forward Troy Josephs and Gustavsson are all dealing with minor issues.

"At this time of year we'd rather they just keep doing their rehab, keep them off the ice," Recchi said. "We still want them to be a part of this."

Even without hitting the ice, there are many benefits for all the prospects this week, whether it's building bonds with their future teammates, learning about fitness and nutrition, working in the Pittsburgh community or learning from scheduled speakers on how to conduct themselves as professional athletes.  

"There is a lot of teaching that goes on in the dressing room," Recchi said. "It's a real learning thing for them as well, which is just as important as going out and skating for 45 minutes right now."

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