Jarrett Burton was all smiles as reporters approached him at his locker following the first day of training camp. Not only was he excited to get back on the ice in preparation for the 2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season, but he was happy to get a little relief from the soaring templates outside.
“Everyone’s happy to be back in the rink, especially during this heat wave right now we have going on,” he laughed, noting the 90 degree temperatures hitting northeast Pennsylvania.
Now entering his fourth training camp with the Penguins, Burton is looking to grab a regular spot in the team’s lineup. He spent the majority of the 2016-17 campaign with Wilkes-Barre, notching 11 points (7+4) in 39 regular season games.
But Burton is hardly taking his opportunity to earn a roster spot out of camp for granted.
“You want to make sure that you’re always working as hard as you can,” he stated. “Everyone’s on a clean slate. It’s a brand new season, and everyone’s looking to make a great impression.”
One person who Burton has left a mark on already is Clark Donatelli. The Penguins head coach was behind the bench in Wheeling when Burton first turned pro back in 2014, and has seen the 26-year old forward continue to develop.
“Burts is really good on face-offs, he kills a lot of our penalties,” Donatelli said. “Great two-way player, and has a lot of responsibilities defensively.
“He’s going to develop and continue to get better.”
Burton is on a career path similar to one that his former teammate – Carter Rowney – travled. Rowney started out playing in Wheeling, moved up to full time duty with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, then made the leap to Pittsburgh last year.
“I got to see what Carter does and how hard he works every single day, which is something that a lot of guys are fortunate that they’ve been able to see,” he said. “He’s always been a great two-way player, but he just keeps on getting better each year. That’s something that you can learn from a guy like that.”
Donatelli doesn’t see any reason why Burton couldn’t be the next former Nailer to suit up in the NHL.
“He’s proved that he can play here in the American Hockey League, and now he’s going to try to make that next step.”
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins open up their exhibition schedule this Wednesday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena against the Hershey Bears. Tickets are available at the arena box office, by phone at 570-208-7367 or online at TicketMaster.com.