Author: Jason Brough

Robin Lehner Beau Bennett

Pens’ Bennett looking ‘a lot more confident’

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Back in April, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford admitted that the club screwed up Beau Bennett‘s development, and that the first-round draft pick in 2010 should’ve spent more time honing his game in the AHL.

Keep that in mind when you read today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story on Bennett, because apparently a summer of strength-training has done wonders for the 23-year-old forward’s state of mind.

“I’ve seen him enter training camp a lot more confident,” said coach Mike Johnston. “He’s handling the puck well.”

Bennett credits his new trainer, Matt O’Hara, for not only helping him get stronger, but getting “strong in the right way.” He added that his ” biggest regret” is that he didn’t meet O’Hara “five years ago.”

After putting up just 12 points in 49 games last season, Bennett signed a one-year, $800,000 contract in July.

That’s actually a decrease in NHL salary compared to his entry-level contract, so he shouldn’t lack for motivation in 2015-16.

The Blackhawks also cut Dan Paille

New York Rangers v Boston Bruins

In addition to cutting veterans Tomas Kopecky and Lubomir Visnovsky, the Chicago Blackhawks also released forward Daniel Paille today.

Paille was with the ‘Hawks on a tryout basis. The 31-year-old is still looking for an NHL job after spending the past six seasons with the Bruins, who cut ties last spring.

Paille enjoyed success as part of the Merlot Line in Boston, along with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. None of the three are still with the Bruins. Campbell is now with Columbus; Thornton’s with Florida.

The ‘Hawks also assigned forward Brandon Mashinter and d-man Cameron Schilling to AHL Rockford, leaving them with 18 forwards, 10 d-men and three goalies on their roster.

Related: Daniel Paille searches for contract as camp looms

Virtanen to skate with Sedins tonight

Karl Stollery, Jake Virtanen, Martin Jones

Sixth overall draft pick Jake Virtanen is getting an opportunity to skate on the Canucks’ top line with the Sedin twins tonight against the Coyotes.

“I think in training camp you have lots of different looks,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins told The Province this morning.

“We know what (Radim) Vrbata can do there, we know what (Alex) Burrows can do there, we know what (Jannik) Hansen can do there. It’s a good time to look at other guys.”

Whether Virtanen, 19, can crack the Canucks or is returned to his junior team still remains to be seen. A right-shooting power forward, he’s been one of the few Vancouver players to score this preseason.

Drafted in 2014, Virtanen became the highest Canucks draft pick since 1999, when the Sedins were taken second and third overall.