After a few days of practices and skills sessions, the prospects wrapped up this year’s Development Camp with a three-team 4-on-4 tournament on Wednesday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Team 1 went undefeated in front of a packed house of fans to secure the Michel Brière championship trophy.

“Big win. Two years in a row for me,” grinned Penguins 2022 first-round pick Owen Pickering, who served as his team’s captain. “It's been a lot of fun. It’s been a good run. Couldn’t do it with a better group of guys… everybody in this room deserved it. We got it done. That was the plan all along.”

Pickering speaks to the media.

Murashov stands out

Penguins director of player development Tom Kostopoulos said 2022 fourth-round draft pick Sergei Murashov stood out at his first-ever camp, and left a fantastic impression.

“Getting to know him was great,” Kostopoulos said of the 20-year-old netminder. “Watching him compete in drills, he's relentless on the puck, which is a great asset for goalies. Then watching them in the games, it was impressive. We're all really excited that he's here. I thought he played great.”

Murashov only allowed one goal in three games for Team 1, earning some high praise from his teammate Pickering. “Guy’s disgusting,” Pickering said. “My first time meeting him, seeing him play, anything. Looked at his Elite Prospects from the second half, and he's got some really, really good stats. He was a rock back there for us. He was really good. Fun to be around.”

Murashov split last year between Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL and their club in the MHL, Russia’s top developmental league. He went 3-1-2 with a 1.84 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in six KHL games, and 24-4-2 with a 2.03 goals-against average and a .930 goals-against average in 34 MHL games.

As of now, Murashov’s destination next season is to be determined. Penguins assistant general manager Jason Spezza said they would like to have the 20-year-old netminder in North America, if he decides to remain in Russia, they’ll make sure he’s on the right path over there. In the meantime, “it's important to get him in person, for him to be around Pittsburgh, to be with our goalie coaches,” Spezza said of the late addition.

“Just kind of see how things are here and whether it's this year or in future years, it just creates that familiarity for him. So, it's great that he was able to make it. Even though it was last minute, we did everything we could to get him over here.”

It was an enjoyable experience for Murashov, “because it’s such friendly people.” He’s grateful to have learned English in school, saying he couldn’t imagine being here and not knowing it, and gave a charming interview that showcased his personality. Watch below:

Murashov speaks with the media

Future plans for former first-rounders

During his season-ending media availability, President of Hockey Operations and GM Kyle Dubas said the team expects their most recent first-round picks, Pickering and Brayden Yager (2023), to push hard over the summer and assert themselves come fall.

Assistant general manager Jason Spezza likes where Pickering is at entering his first year of professional hockey after four seasons with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, with the 20-year-old defenseman healthy and excited about his opportunity. Read more here.

As for Yager, Kostopoulos praised how much the 19-year-old forward has grown in his Memorial Cup season. As Kostopoulos acknowledged, Yager has played a lot of hockey over the last few months, so it’ll be beneficial for him to transition into the gym once he returns home.

“The biggest thing for him is getting a little stronger,” Kostopoulos said. “That'll be his key. He has the mindset for it, and we'll see what happens in the fall. I would expect him to be pushing for Pittsburgh. I think he can bring certain elements to the game. He can skate at the NHL level right now. So, he keeps building different aspects of his game, and he should be in the mix, in my opinion.”

Day in the life of a Penguins’ draft pick

All six of Pittsburgh’s picks from the 2024 NHL Draft were in attendance this week. Second-round picks Harrison Brunicke and Tanner Howe watched their names get called in person, and we caught up with the other four selections about how they learned the life-changing news.

Chase Pietila: Fourth-round pick (111th overall)

“I was kind of just golfing, enjoying my time with my brother. Then I ended up getting a call from my advisor, and he's just like, ‘Pittsburgh, baby.’ So, that was pretty sweet. Then my phone started blowing up from my family and friends and stuff. So, I still didn't really get to golf much after that, but it was for sure fun.”

Joona Vaisanen: Sixth-round pick (175th overall)

“I was just chilling at home with my family, and I had it on the TV. I was actually eating dinner at dinner and saw my name on the TV. So, it was a special feeling and really excited.”

Mac Swanson: Seventh-round pick (207th overall)

“I was back home. I was pretty nervous throughout the process, but when my name came up and it said Pittsburgh, I was pretty excited because I know how good of an organization this is.”

Finn Harding: Seventh-round pick (223rd overall)

“I was watching with my family at home, and we were hoping that I was taken, especially by a great organization like this one. We were watching the whole way through, and when we found out on the TV, saw my name, we all jumped up. A pretty unforgettable moment, it was unreal.”

Read more about the 2024 draft class.