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Lauzon out to show himself, earn contract with Penguins

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CRANBERRY, Pa. — Zachary Lauzon as soon as thought-about giving up his NHL dream.After being chosen by the Pittsburgh Penguins within the second spherical (No. 51) of the 2017 NHL Draft, the 20-year-old defenseman prospect struggled to remain wholesome following post-concussion signs. He thought-about attending a college, trying to find a route to steer his life.Lauzon could not do it. The sport meant an excessive amount of. So he attended Penguins growth camp in June, searching for a path to proceed his hockey profession.”I used to be exploring what I might do with my life, apart from hockey, as a result of while you play hockey your entire life, it is type of your id,” Lauzon mentioned. “You be ok with your self largely due to that. As soon as it is taken away from you, I felt somewhat bit misplaced. I performed hockey all my life, so I did not know actually what to do.”Not having performed since 2017-18, Lauzon is aware of the place he stands. The Penguins relinquished his rights, selecting to not signal him to an entry-level contract by the June 1 deadline. His future possible was extra tenuous than any of the high-profile prospects at growth camp.”I nonetheless have the mentality to play within the NHL at some point, and getting an expert contract with the Penguins,” Lauzon mentioned. “They drafted me for a cause in 2017.”In addition they did not signal him for a cause, Lauzon mentioned.”Sadly, I have not been in a position to play,” he mentioned. “So it is robust for them to present me a contract if I do not play.”Lauzon (6-foot-1, 187 kilos) has to show himself another time. Not simply that he can nonetheless play at a excessive degree, however that he can achieve this and stay wholesome.Earlier than he was drafted in 2017, Lauzon sustained a concussion within the playoffs with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Main Junior Hockey League. The Penguins saved him off the ice throughout their growth camp that yr, which led Lauzon to push himself earlier than skating throughout rookie camp and the principle coaching camp that September.Lauzon admits that was a mistake; he skilled complications and dizziness and has not performed in a recreation since he had 4 assists in 25 video games with Rouyn-Noranda in 2017-18 and hadn’t skated in a high-paced observe since November earlier than taking the ice at growth camp.”All I wished to do was show myself after being drafted,” Lauzon mentioned. “It was laborious for me to go and take the time I wanted to heal. However on the finish of the day, I discovered rather a lot from that have. I am completely satisfied and lucky to have the ability to play hockey once more. That is an important factor, to be wholesome.”That optimistic mentality is one thing Lauzon cultivated the previous two years.”If I look again at who I used to be and the way I used to be feeling mentally a yr in the past, I am a completely totally different particular person,” Lauzon mentioned. “I really feel like I’ve grown rather a lot. I really feel like I’ve matured rather a lot on this course of. … I will be capable to return and use the expertise I acquired to assist me with any conditions in my life.”Penguins participant growth coach Tom Kostopoulos additionally thinks that angle will take Lauzon far.”He is able to go. So it is nice to see him,” Kostopoulos mentioned. “I feel all of us want the perfect for him and simply wish to see him in a aggressive setting to see what he can do. So I feel it will be an enormous yr for him. He is bought rather a lot to show, and I feel he can do it.”The long run stays unsure; two years in the past, Lauzon possible anticipated to be on his strategy to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League by now.With the best mindset, he thinks that may come. Even nonetheless, he thinks he has already received.”I went by way of lots of adversity,” Lauzon mentioned. “I feel simply having the ability to come again right here and skate and be the hockey participant I used to be earlier than, it is actually story.”

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