Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

Zatkoff? No. Zatk-ON

Interesting news out of Coal Street this afternoon. Eric Hartzell and Nick D’Agostino were re-assigned to the Wheeling Nailers.

For D’Agostino, it’s a chance to finally play. He has played just one game and has been the forgotten man in town.

For Hartzell, this signifies the imminent return of Jeff Zatkoff. Jonathan blogged Tuesday that Zatkoff practiced in full. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that the Hartzell demotion means that Zatkoff is ready to go again.

So a question. Who leads the team out first at approximately 6:20 p.m. Friday night against Lehigh Valley? My guess is Matt Murray. Murray has been playing steady as of late. He played really well against the Phantoms on October 29. So, when does Zatkoff get a game? I think it’s Saturday against Syracuse and then Murray starts the 5 o’clock Sunday game against Hershey and the Bears.

I could be wrong and I probably am. One thing is for certain, Jeff Zatkoff is healthy enough to play again. He was injured October 21 in Albany and was out approximately three weeks. Murray and Hartzell held the ship together quite nicely.

Oh, Beau Bennett was recalled to Pittsburgh Tuesday.

Next blog entry will be Friday’s setup against the Phantoms at 3 p.m., but for more breaking news for me to speculate on.

Three Additions

Wilkes-Barre got some help in the form of the additions of Scott Harrington and Andrew Ebbett on Monday and the addition of Derrick Pouliot today.

Neither Harrington nor Ebbett appeared in a game with Pittsburgh since the season opened. Harrington was sent down to Wilkes-Barre once before but then immediately called back up but had not appeared in a game. Robert Bortuzzo is getting healthy enough to work his way into a lineup discussion, so the decision was made to send Harrington to Wilkes-Barre to get quality AHL minutes rather than wearing a suit and eating popcorn in the players suite at the NHL level.

For Ebbett, he will boost the lineup here in Wilkes-Barre and should help out on the power play. Wilkes-Barre is one of three teams which have yet to score a power play goal. (Toronto and Worcester the others)

Pouliot is an interesting but predictable move. He’s been with Wilkes-Barre since camp opened but was still on the Pittsburgh roster and is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He’s apparently reached a point to where he could begin playing. That said, I think it may be until November until we see him on the ice. However, if you see corresponding moves from Wilkes-Barre sending guys to Wheeling, then it is entirely possible that Pouliot could be inserted into the lineup, as soon as this weekend. Time will tell.

Gameday for tonight’s game in Albany hits the blog at 3 p.m. today.

Let’s Go Pens!

All-Stars and Non

Interrupting the AHL Previews with a note on some news of the day…

Coal Street made cuts today.Tyler Murovich, Patrick McGrath, Jonathan Narbonne, Carter Rowey, Kevin Ryan and Clark Seymour were released. McGrath, Rowney and Seymour will go to Wheeling. The other guys were on ECHL deals elsewhere.

NHL rosters have to have 23 names on them by 5 p.m. Tuesday. Only Chris Kunitz (illness) and Kasperi Kapenen (went home to see family) did not practice today for Pittsburgh. Guys like Evgeni Malkin and Olli Maatta did practice and could be ready for the start of the season, so it’s still possible that we see a name or three find their way back to Wilkes-Barre later today or this week. Front runners in my opinion are Taylor Chorney and Zach Sill, but who knows. Every time I try to talk myself through who can or can’t get sent back here I only end up confusing myself further. Who comes, comes.

Edit: After I published this, Pittsburgh announced that Oskar Sundqvist was returned to his Swedish club, Scott Harrington was assigned here and Andrew Ebbett, Taylor Chorney and Zach Sill were sent to Wheeling of the ECHL. Release here. The ECHL moves are so the team can get under the salary cap. I’d expect Sill, Chorney and Ebbett to be recalled back to Pittsburgh Wednesday.

Springfield announced where they are having the All-Star Classic this year. It’s Utica, home of the Comets. They will return to the East vs. West format that they’ve used in the past. Last year it was a cast of AHL All-Stars vs. Farjestad in St. John’s, while the NHL was on the OIympic break. I think fans like the East v. West format. I know I do. Tickets go on sale November 1.

Big day for minor league hockey as the ECHL announced it has granted membership to the seven remaining Central Hockey League teams; Allen Americans, Brampton Beast, Missouri Mavericks, Quad City Mallards, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder. Details here. It brings the number of ECHL clubs up to 29, with Las Vegas sitting out this season while they finalize details on a new home to play in 2015-16.

Look for the next non-AHL Preview blog piece to come in the form of the Gameday setup vs. Lehigh Valley Saturday at 3 p.m.

Remember, you can always keep up with me @nafsnep on Twitter.

First Weekend of Camp

The first weekend of training camp is in the books on Coal Street. Different from this year is the lack of long shot names to make the roster for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. It’s a camp comprised of guys that will likely be significant contributors to the Penguins success in 2014-15.

So you would expect the first weekend of camp to be intense. It was. This team made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in back-to-back years but none of that matters in late September when every AHL team is 0-0 and every single one has their eye on the Calder Cup, currently residing in Cedar Park, Texas.

Here are the the recaps from the Penguins website on Day 1 and Day 2. Here’s Jonathan’s take.

A note, Jayson Megna, Dominik Uher and Reid McNeill were re-assigned by Pittsburgh Saturday night.

All of those signings Pittsburgh made this offseason bumped a guy like Megna back to Wilkes-Barre. While surprising to some, Megna’s presence will certainly aid the Wilkes-Barre offense. It shouldn’t be a long stay for Megna, provided he continues to do all the things necessary that got him his first NHL game action last year.

Tonight is the last chance to vote Chirps from Center Ice NEPA Blog Con’s “Sports Blog of the Year” make sure you vote if you haven’t and vote some more if you have.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend. The first preseason pucks hit the ice across the AHL this week. Wilkes-Barre hosts Utica Wednesday.

First Round of Cuts

Pittsburgh trimmed its roster today to 37 players Wednesday afternoon. From the release…..

The Penguins assigned 13 players to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League (AHL): goaltenders Matt Murray and Eric Hartzell; forwards Scott Wilson, Josh Archibald, Anton Zlobin, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Matia Marcantuoni, Tom Kuhnhackl, Adam Payerl, Bryan Rust and Nick Drazenovic; and defensemen Nick D’Agostino and Harrison Ruopp.

Goaltender Tristan Jarry has been assigned to his junior team, the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League – the defending WHL and Memorial Cup champions.

Four players – forwards Tom Kostopoulos and Conor Sheary and defensemen Alex Boak and Clark Seymour – have been released from their tryout contracts and will report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s training camp.

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I’m actually surprised that guys like Bobby Farnham and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond made it through the first round of cuts.

Players that did time in Wilkes-Barre last year that remain with Pittsburgh are Simon Despres, Brian Dumoulin, Scott Harrington, Reid McNeill and Scott Harrington on the blueline. Forwards with Wilkes-Barre last year still with Pittsburgh include the aforementioned Farnham and Leblond, Andrew Ebbett, Jayson Megna, Zach Sill and Dominik Uher. Kasperi Kapanen and Oskar Sundqvist stay with Pittsburgh, but if they get cut, I don’t think a ride to Wilkes-Barre is in their future. They may be Europe bound.

Wilkes-Barre opens camp this weekend. Details and schedule of events here.

Don’t forget to vote Chirps from Center Ice NEPA Blog Con’s, “Sports Blog of the Year” if you haven’t already. And if you have, vote again. Voting closes September 28.

A Camping We Will Go…

Just a few things to catch up on as October approaches…

Pittsburgh opens camp Friday. Here is the list of who was invited. No real surprises as far as invitees go. The name on the list which stood out was Daniel Carcillo, as a try out. Carcillo did some time in Wilkes-Barre a few years ago before being traded to Phoenix. I think it is a stretch to ever even consider having a homecoming celebration for him.

The rookie tournament was this past weekend. The Penguins went 2-1. The recaps are here, here and here. I never try to pay too much attention to these because a) I can’t watch; b) a majority of these guys get released or playing could end up in Wheeling; and c) How you did in a Rookie Tournament means nothing in the middle of November.

Jonathan had some takeaways on the rookie tournament. He also used a headline you may or may not see in a future game recap here on the blog.

I’m working on my AHL Previews and they are for all intents and purposes done. I just have to link all the blogs and media coverage and what not and add formatting. I don’t want to give it all away, but the Penguins are going to have a lot of youth on this team with a mix of veterans. Normally it’s the other way around or a 50/50, but there are going to be a lot of guys like Conor Sheary, J-S Dea coming into their first full year of pro hockey with guys like Anton Zlobin, Scott Harrington and others coming into their second. Every team in the East Division has pitfalls. For the Penguins, youth could be one of them.

Back to camps, Jonathan also had another early look at depth charts. Again, looking strictly off of the guys in red, you have a ton of youth headed back to Coal Street at some point.

Alumni watch: Goaltender Jeff Deslauriers was invited to Los Angeles Kings camp, Peter Mannino is in Tampa Bay’s camp. Defensemen Brendan Mikkelson is in Toronto’s camp with Spencer Machacek. Since these are basically tryouts, I’m not making an alteration to my Offseason Moves List.

Wilkes-Barre will be announcing and opening their camp information soon. We are less than two weeks away from preseason hockey against Utica on October 1. Enjoy what’s left of summer.

Fast Friday News

Just a couple things to touch on as we head into the weekend….

– Simon Despres signed his qualifying offer. It’s a two year deal. He’ll get a chance to shine in Pittsburgh under the new regime.

– Ex-Penguin Mark Recchi replaces Billy Guerin as Penguins Development Coach.

– Mike O’Brien is in Pittsburgh at Development Camp and checked in with this entry on development camp. He’s also got Part Two of the Summer Catch-Up Series with Nick Drazenovic.

I’ve updated the 2014 Offseason Moves List to reflect the Despres signing, the last of the Restricted Free Agents to sign.

That’s it. Now go out and enjoy the weekend!

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