CRANBERRY TWP. — Joseph Cramarossa knows he doesn’t have a shot to make Pittsburgh’s roster out of training camp.
As one of several players on an AHL contract, Cramarossa will likely report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when their training camp opens this weekend.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything for the AHL players to prove while they’re skating and scrimmaging with Pittsburgh.
“My mindset is to use this opportunity to get back on an NHL deal,” Cramarossa said. “A lot of guys are going to Europe and I didn’t think it was right for me to do that. I still think I have a shot here.”
So does Ryan Haggerty, who signed an AHL deal in the summer to return to the organization for a third season. Haggerty had a strong showing with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season, registering 16 goals in 47 games. During the first two days of Pittsburgh’s training camp, Haggerty continued his scoring prowess by posting the only goal in Saturday’s scrimmage and a second tally on Sunday.
“I want to earn an NHL contract, and right now the best place for me would be to start where I left off last season by putting up points and being on a top line in the AHL,” Haggerty said. “I want to make a good impression here and continue doing that in Wilkes-Barre.”
Still, earning an NHL contract isn’t the primary focus for every player on an AHL deal.
At least not right now.
Will O’Neill is a lock to start the season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after signing an AHL contract in the summer. He spent the last two seasons with Lehigh Valley after being an all-star the year before with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
At age 30, O’Neill knows the window is slowly closing on his chance for another NHL contract but that hasn’t changed his approach in Pittsburgh’s camp.
“I’m just worried about coming here to work hard and trying to get better. I’m happy to be here,” O’Neill said. “I anticipate I’m going to have an impact in Wilkes-Barre, and I want to have a good camp here to start things off.”
For some players, simply having an AHL contract is an opportunity for a fresh start. Forward Troy Josephs missed time at the start of last season due to an injury and he spent most of the year with Wheeling.
Now that he’s healthy, Josephs is ready to use his AHL contract to re-establish himself.
And there’s no better place to start that in Pittsburgh’s training camp, where the organization’s top brass is always watching.
“When you’re playing in the AHL or the East Coast, you only have so many people watching you play. Having everyone here all at once to be able to see what you’re capable of is big,” Josephs said. “I want to make a good impression here and hopefully use that to make an impact in the AHL.”
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky