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Penn Staters Past and Present to Participate in NHL Development Camps

Eleven current and former Nittany Lions will travel around the country looking to make a name for themselves.

Photo by Heather Weikel

While the NHL season ended not even a month ago, professional franchises are already looking ahead to next season and beyond. The future of these franchises may involve a number of players who honed their talents at Penn State.

Eleven current and former Nittany Lions will head to development camps over the summer. While many have already gained stardom in the blue and white, they will try to make a name for themselves with NHL clubs.

Evan Barratt: One of the most highly-touted players to arrive at Penn State, Barratt lived up to the hype. Although it took a large portion of his freshman season to grow accustomed to the college game, he finished the season as one of Penn State’s top performers. Barratt scored four goals in back-to-back sweeps of Minnesota, the latter in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament. A third-round pick of Chicago in 2017, Barratt will head to the Blackhawks camp from July 15-20.

Cole Hults: Hults was given a trial by fire during his freshman season. Hults was tasked with replacing Vince Pedrie on the team’s top defense pairing. Hults handled the challenge with confidence and became one of the team’s most stable defensemen, suiting up for all 38 games and finishing the season with 20 points and a plus-6 rating. A fifth-round pick by Los Angeles in 2017, Hults will participate in the Kings’ camp from June 25-29.

Denis Smirnov: While he may not have the electrifying speed of Andrew Sturtz, Smirnov established himself as the most offensively gifted Nittany Lion. After setting scoring records as a freshman, Smirnov struggled through injury and illness during his sophomore season, but finished the season near the top of the Lions’ scoring chart. Colorado’s sixth-round pick in 2017, Smirnov will head to the Avalanche’s development camp from June 27-July 3.

Aarne Talvitie: The only member of the list yet to suit up for the Nittany Lions, the incoming freshman captained the Blues U-20 team in his native Finland last season. Talvitie topped the Jr. A SM-liiga in goals with 34 and tied for third with 58 points. Both Penn State and the New Jersey Devils — the team which drafted Talvitie in the sixth round in 2017 — hope his offensive prowess will carry over to the North American game. Talvitie will join the Devils’ camp from July 9-14.

Andrew Sturtz: Penn State’s all-time leading goal scorer signed a two-year, entry level deal with the Ottawa Senators shortly after the 2017-18 season ended, forgoing his final two years of eligibility. After playing six games with Belleville of the AHL at the end of last season, Sturtz will try to show the Senators he belongs in the NHL as he joins the team’s camp from June 27-July 3.

Trevor Hamilton: After completing his NCAA eligibility, Hamilton signed a one-year deal with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, the farm team of the Detroit Red Wings. The deal kicks in for the 2018-19 season. Over the next few days, however, Hamilton will try to impress the Red Wings’ staff with the hope of earning a spot with his home-state team.

Eamon McAdam: After a successful junior season in 2015-16, McAdam forwent his final season of eligibility to sign an entry-level deal with the New York Islanders. Since then, he has bounced between the AHL and ECHL as he tries to work his way up the Islanders goaltending depth chart. Entering the final year of that entry-level contract, McAdam will have another opportunity to showcase his talent at the Islanders’ camp from June 25-29.

Chase Berger: Joining McAdam at the Islanders camp is top-line center Chase Berger. Entering his senior season, Berger has been one of Penn State’s most consistent performers in his three seasons under Guy Gadowsky. Berger has posted seasons of 26, 36 and 27 points and has been one of the team’s top penalty killers alongside Sturtz.

Alex Limoges: Joining McAdam and Berger is sophomore Alex Limoges. Limoges quietly posted a strong freshman campaign, with 21 points in 37 games. Overshadowed by Barratt’s theatrical performance against the Golden Gophers, Limoges had three goals and seven points in those back-to-back sweeps of the Gophers.

Brandon Biro: After spending his freshman season deep on the Nittany Lions’ depth chart, Biro formed one half of one of the team’s top duos in his second season. Biro and fellow sophomore Nate Sucese combined for 23 goals and 60 points in 2017-18. Biro’s performance earned him an invite to the Buffalo Sabres’ camp from June 26-30.

Peyton Jones: Rounding out the list is the only Nittany Lion to head to multiple development camps. The junior netminder will join the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals from June 25-29 then the Chicago Blackhawks camp from July 15-20. After a strong freshman campaign, Jones’ performance dipped during his sophomore season. He finished his second season with a 3.03 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.