Denver Manderson was pleasantly surprised to hear the Pittsburgh Penguins were interested in him.
Following back and forth conversation between his agent and Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill, the former Penticton Vees captain will continue his career with the Wheeling Nailers, after inking a one-year, two-way deal. Before joining the Nailers in the East Coast Hockey League, Manderson will attend the baby Penguins camp in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“Since I was three-years-old you don’t dream to play in Europe, I think you’ve always dreamed to play in the NHL,” said Manderson, who knows he must prove himself. “I think this is as good a chance as I’m going to get to really make an impression.”
Initially the plan was for him to return to Europe and play in Finland’s Mestis League with HeKi Heinola where he scored 17 goals and 33 points in 46 games.
“I kind of had a deal in Europe but we were kind of waiting on it for too long,” said Manderson. “Didn’t get a great feel on it and so it was good timing.”
Manderson’s agent said a head scout for Pittsburgh’s organization really liked him while scouting Beau Bennett and put Botterill onto him.
While Bennett was in Penticton for the Vees’ spring camp in April, Manderson spoke to his friend about the possibility, then told him on the computer when it was done.
“He was pretty excited,” said Manderson.
And so is Manderson’s family, who is within a six or seven-hour drive of watching their son play in West Virginia.