Marcantuoni hoping to overcome injuries and mispronounced names - 07-16-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

If his speed doesn't catch your attention, his last name certainly will.

Penguins prospect Matia Marcantuoni: (Pronounced "Ma-tee-ah Mar-can-twu-nee") enjoyed a 2012-13 season with the OHL's Kitchner Rangers which saw him rebound from a shoulder injury which required surgery. While his production wasn't impressive (18 points in 64 games), the fact that Marcantuoni the vast majority of his team's 68 games was a big step forward. In 2011-12, he was limited to 24 games.

A strong skater, Marcantuoni used his speed to become one of the top penalty killers for Kitchener which had one of the league's best penalty kill at 83.7 percent. He led the Rangers in short-handed goals with two.

At one point, Marcantuoni was considered a high-end prospect and was projected to be a top-20 pick in the 2012 draft. Various injuries such as a concussion as well as his ailing shoulder dropped his stock and as a result, the Penguins were able to select him in the fourth round (No. 92 overall) at the 2012 draft.

Today, during the team's prospect development camp, he talked about his health, his future and his tricky last name:

How often does your name get mispronounced?

"Probably every day to be honest. If it’s someone new I meet, usually they don’t pronounce it right. I usually tell them my name is Matt. It’s pretty simple. If anyone wants to just call me Matt, it’s a lot easier."

What's the worst pronunciation you have ever heard?

"I heard ‘Martini’ today when I was doing my physicals."

How do you assess your 2012-13 season with Kitchner?

"I got healthy. That was my main goal. I didn’t produce as much as I wanted to. I felt with my surgery and stuff, I just came back… for me it was just getting a full season. I got a new trainer. Put on a lot of muscle and been training. I feel better than ever right now."

What's the biggest issue to overcome with a shoulder injury?

"Sometimes I’d be a little hesitant with my shoulder doing certain things and certain movements. Now, I feel like I have more range. I can stick handle better and do certain movements. With my shoulder before, I felt more restricted. I felt like I was playing in a box. It feels a lot better now. I feel great."

Is there any hesitation in being physical with an injury like that?

"A little bit. My game is aggressive anyway. When I play my game, I go full-out. I don’t think about getting an injury. It’s a part of game. If it happens, it happens. I put on a lot of muscle so there’s less chance of it happening."

What are your plans for the 2013-14 season?

"I’ll probably play in Kitchener one more season. I don’t know if they want to bring me up to Wilkes-Barre the next season. I haven’t signed yet. We’ll see what happens. Not sure but hopefully it happens."

Now that you've gotten a full season in after the injury, is your next goal increased production?

"For sure. Next year I definitely want to double that."

Do you prefer playing wing or center?

"I couldn’t say I prefer one more the other. I played wing one year, center the next year. Honestly, I feel comfortable with both positions."

How key are special teams in your game?

"In Kitchener, we had (one of the best penalty killing) percentage in the league and I was out there all the time. It was good. Last year, I wasn’t much of a [power-play player] but I found my role. Hopefully I can produce more next year and become a [power-play] guy. Last year, I was a [penalty kill] guy and I did great at it."

How much is speed an asset in your work on the penalty kill?

"On the breakout, I can kind of intercept passes and mess up their breakout and stuff like that. Even when they’re in the [offensive] zone, I can pressure the puck a lot quicker than most guys."

Are you friend with former Kitchner goaltender and Whitehall native John Gibson (current a Ducks prospect)?

"Yeah, he’s my goalie. He’s a good buddy of mine. He’s told me a lot about the city, places to go visit. I love the city. It’s great."

(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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