The Pittsburgh Penguins officially announced their 41-man roster for the team’s 2019 development camp, which will run from June 26-28. That roster includes each of the team’s five selections from the 2019 NHL Draft as well as most of their 2018 draft class. Naturally, many eyes will be on those young stars, but which low-key prospects will stand out?
Matt Murray – Goalie
No, not that Matt Murray. The Penguins will host the other Matt Murray at this year’s development camp. An undrafted free agent out of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound netminder is looking to get the attention of NHL scouts and coaches after two seasons at the collegiate level.
Last season, Murray broke the school’s record for wins in a season, becoming the first to reach 20 wins in the program’s history. Who held the record previously? Two-time Stanley Cup champion, Jonathan Quick. Along with 20 wins, he posted a strong 2.11 goals-against average (GAA) and .919 save percentage (SV%).
Emil Larmi – Goalie
Another of the five netminders attending development camp, Emil Larmi already secured a two-year, entry-level deal from Pittsburgh earlier this month. He led HPK of the Finnish Elite League to a championship last season with a stellar playoff run. He went 12-6 in the postseason with a 1.72 GAA and .930 SV%.
His regular season GAA was also under 2.00, though his .900 SV% wasn’t as impressive on paper. With his two-year deal beginning next season, the 22-year-old should get started with AHL Wilkes-Barre. With some uncertainty about the Penguins’ organizational goalie depth, Larmi and Murray have a big opportunity at development camp.
Jordy Bellerive – Forward
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Jordy Bellerive still has three years left on his entry-level contract due to the entry-level slide rule. The 20-year-old forward shredded WHL competition over the last two seasons, combining for 79 goals and 175 points as the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ captain during that span.
Bellerive made a brief jump to the AHL during the 2018-19 campaign, going scoreless in three games. The 5-foot-11 offensive star will get a full season at the AHL level as he sets his eyes on cracking the NHL roster in the near future. With his upside and experience, Bellerive could be on the short-list of potential call-ups in case of injury on Pittsburgh’s roster later in the season.
Jake Lucchini – Forward
After a four-year career at Michigan Tech, Jake Lucchini suited up for 15 games with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season, tallying six goals and seven points in the process. He’s on an entry-level deal for the 2019-20 campaign and will likely get a full AHL season under his belt before possibly earning another two-way contract.
Lucchini is one of the oldest development camp invitees at 24 years old, which also means he’s one of the most experienced. The 5-foot-11 forward totaled 45 goals and 104 points in his collegiate career and was the team’s captain as a senior. With his offensive potential, could he be another undrafted college free agent success story like Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese?
Zachary Lauzon – Defenseman
If Penguins fans are looking for a player to really cheer for and get behind, it would have to be Zachary Lauzon. A second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the 20-year-old blueliner nearly had his career derailed due to injuries. After earning the QMJHL’s “Defensive Defenseman of the Year Award” in 2017, he appeared in 25 games during the 2017-18 campaign with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies while battling several injuries, including some serious neck and concussion issues.
After nearing his return in December 2018, Lauzon suffered a foot injury that cost him the entire 2018-19 season. The Penguins never ended up signing him and instead he’ll head to the University of New Brunswick next season. Still, Lauzon hopes to impress at development camp and eventually earn a contract with Pittsburgh:
“They took care of me as best they could. I never felt any pressure despite everything that was happening. It’s a business, but I never felt rushed. I am extremely grateful; they supported me financially in my treatments.
If I have a chance to sign with the Penguins, it would be a dream for me. When I look at the progress I’ve made in the last two years, it would be a really good story, “(from “Zachary Lauzon still dreams of Penguins” NHL.com 6/3/19).
With several new prospects to watch, development camp will surely be exciting. The Penguins’ prospect pool is slowly getting deeper and the team hopes that the 2018 and 2019 draft classes will take the next step.
Tyler Bowen is a University of South Florida graduate and lifelong hockey fan. Tyler covers the Pittsburgh Penguins for thehockeywriters.com. You can usually find him obsessing over his fantasy teams and looking for his next gambling tip.