Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

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!

Cleanup in Aisle Tuesday

Very minor things to catch up on since the last time we did this…

– Penguins Developmental Camp is underway from Pittsburgh. Link here with information as to who was invited. Names familiar to fans of the AHL club include Nick D’Agostino, Brian Dumoulin, Reid McNeill, Scott Harrington, Harrison Ruopp, Josh Archibald, Tom Kuhnhackl, Conor Sheary, Dominik Uher and Anton Zlobin to name a bunch. They all scrimmage on Saturday.

– The Norfolk Admirals have a new Head Coach. His name is Jarrod Skalde.

– Coal Street produced a summer podcast series. Their first installment was Mike O’Brien speaking with Conor Sheary. A good listen.

– No labor strife on the horizon for the AHL and their players union, as it appears as if the Collective Bargaining Agreement was extended for another year.

– Stephane Da Costa is taking is talents to Moscow of the KHL next season. Da Costa had been with Binghamton last season.

– Ex Penguin and current Calder Cup Champion player Toby Petersen was named Assistant Coach of the Springfield Falcons.

– Depth signings to announce. Alex Boak and Clark Seymour, both giant defenders which were around late last season during Wilkes-Barre’s run. I project they start the season in Wheeling next season and are the first call-up to fill a bottom six role on defense, should the need arise. Both Boak and Seymour are in Pittsburgh this week for Developmental Camp.

Bobby Farnham also re-signed. I’ve updated the 2014 Offseason Moves List to reflect the re-signing of Farnham, and the additions of Boak and Seymour.

That’s all for now.

Thursday Notebook: Megna, Samuelsson Re-Sign / AHL Rule Changes

Two re-signings by Pittsburgh. Jayson Megna and Philip Samuelsson were both signed to one year, two-way deals Thursday. Both don’t need waivers to get back to Wilkes-Barre should the need for a reassignment, so it’s plus for the AHL club today.

I’ve updated the 2014 Offseason Moves List appropriately.

Other news in the East Division: Derek Grant re-signed with Ottawa. Tampa Bay signed Jerome Samson, but remember now that Syracuse is out of the Division now so it doesn’t really matter anymore. (Sorry, Alex!)

The other piece of huge news announced by the AHL today were rules changes. Link here, but here they are on your screen without having to jump through…

Rule 85 (“Overtime”)

  • During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period will be seven minutes (7:00) in length, preceded by a “dry scrape” of the entire ice surface.
  • Teams will change ends at the start of overtime.
  • Full playing strength will be 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play (4:00 remaining), at which time full strength will be reduced to 3-on-3 for the duration of the overtime period.
  • If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.

Rule 20.4 (“Major Penalties”)

  • An automatic game misconduct will be applied to any player who has been assessed two major penalties for fighting or three major penalties for any infraction in the same game.

Rule 9.6 (“Helmets”)

  • A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play will be assessed a minor penalty unless he immediately (a) exits the playing surface or (b) puts the helmet back on with the chin strap properly fastened.


The overtime rule should be fun. It’s obviously being implemented to see the game be decided via overtime and to steer away from the shootout.

Question on what happens if there is a penalty while teams are three-on-three is answered with going to four-on-three.

The other two rules are unnecessary in my opinion. Two fights and you get a game misconduct? You have to exit the ice if you lose your helmet? What if I am battling for a puck down low late in the third period of a tie game and I lose my helmet? I just give up the battle to leave the ice because I lost my helmet? It’s over thinking player safety, in my opinion.

Let’s end things today with a poll:


2014 Free Agency Recap: Day 3

Things really slowed down today. I’m probably not bringing back the liveblog back for Day 4. Here’s who did what in the East Division:

Pittsburgh re-signed Zach Sill. Sill will need waivers to get back to Wilkes-Barre this year. The Offseason Moves List has been updated.

Ottawa re-signed David Dziurynski and signed Aaron Johnson. Johnson, 46 on the Big Board, had 40 points for an up and down Hartford team this past year.

That was it. Brad Thiessen defected to Calgary, whose AHL team is in Adirondack for this upcoming season.

Here’s a story from Tom Venesky in Thursday’s Times-Leader about Nick Drazenovic. Drazenovic, concussed in Game 7 of the Providence series, is coming off of offseason hip surgery and was ticketed for Europe until the Pens called him and offered him another year.

If there is anything major for the Fourth of July, I’ll have it a blog post probably Saturday. If not, I may just update the moves that will be made over the weekend on Monday.

Happy Independence Day!

2014 Free Agency Recap: Day 2

Slower day today in comparison to yesterday. Here’s what went down surrounding the East Division:

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Wilkes-Barre / Pittsburgh

Steve Downie signed. He’ll never see Wilkes-Barre. He’ll grind away in Pittsburgh’s bottom six.


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Binghamton / Ottawa

Cole Schneider, Mike Sdao, Chris Wideman re-sign. Ottawa also adds Carter Camper, 21 on the Big Board. Camper is big time top six talent that has terrorized the Atlantic and Northeast Divisions of the AHL for years. I’m going to be very interested in seeing how Camper does in the East Division this season.


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Hershey / Washington

Nothing in the way of signings, but a homecoming. Troy Mann was named head coach and Bryan Helmer was named his assistant. Mann was an assistant with the Bears a few years ago and Helmer won a cup with the Bears a few years before that. Mann coached the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors this past season.


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Lehigh Valley / Philadelphia

Andrew Gordon signed. With Gordon in the mix along with Blair Jones, the Phantoms should make things interesting this season in Allentown, to say the least. I don’t have the Phantoms winning the division by any means, but I don’t have them finishing last, either.

Also added was Zack Stortini. Stortini is your typical grinder / enforcer type.

Tampa Bay and Anaheim were quiet today. No moves that I saw affecting the Crunch or the Admirals.

I’ll have the live blog back again for Day 3. Still some names left on the Big Board that would be great additions to an AHL lineup. We will see what Thursday brings.

2014 Free Agency Recap: Day 1

Like piranhas on a piece of flesh in a pond, NHL Free Agency began at 12 noon today. The moves and press releases were coming in virtually non-stop with who signed where. Here’s the lowdown surrounding the Penguins organization as a whole and the rest of the AHL East Division:

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Wilkes-Barre / Pittsburgh

Nick Drazenovic re-signed. Certainly a case of unfinished business for Drazenovic, who could have easily gone elsewhere.

Goaltender Thomas Griess signed. He and Jeff Zatkoff will battle for the backup spot behind Marc Andre-Fleury with the loser most likely ticketed to Wilkes-Barre. Waivers being what they are, since both Greiss and Zatkoff need to pass through them, is something which will need to be dealt with at that time.

Pittsburgh also signed Blake Comeau and Christian Ehrhoff. Comeau is a solid bottom six addition, which could mean that a tweener would be shipped to Wilkes-Barre as a victim of numbers.

Defenseman Taylor Chorney, 65 on the Bombulie big board, 74 points over the last 3 AHL seasons. Chorney captained the Chicago Wolves this past season.

Marcel Goc has re-signed with Pittsburgh as well.

Not a bad day for new General Manager Jim Rutherford. I was worried that with the change in the regime in Pittsburgh that this would come as a detriment to Wilkes-Barre. That does not appear to be the case on Day 1.

Here’s Pittsburgh’s nice recap on the departures and additions.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t win a Calder Cup in July.

Michael Cignoli had an update on Bombulie’s blog. Also, across town, Tom Venesky spoke with John Hynes, who expects less turnover than past years. System wise, it’ll be similar with slight changes, but the style will pretty much remain the same.

Here’s what everyone else in the division did, plus the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who will be in the division next season:


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Hershey / Washington

Michael Latta re-signs. He gave Wilkes-Barre problems last year.

Goaltender Justin Peters signs. He will back up Braden Holtby in Washington while Philipp Grubauer and Eddie Pasquale (provided he signs his qualifying offer) tend the nets in Chocolatetown.

Jon Landry and Mike Moore. Landry, late of the AHL’s Iowa Wild, is described by Bombulie as a “puck mover with size.” Moore is a leader, has worn a “C” pretty much everywhere he’s been, most recently with the Providence Bruins.

Chris Conner. Needs no introduction. If he gets squeezed out by the Caps, Conner could give teams including Wilkes-Barre, problems in the East Division.


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Norfolk / Anaheim

Re-signed G Igor Bobkov and signed Jason Labarbera. Labarbera, 47 on the big board, is a veteran netminder, underrated and should help stabilize things for Norfolk in net.


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Syracuse / Tampa Bay

Re-signed Mike Angelidis. Angelidis has been the heart and soul of the Crunch now for a few years.

Mike Blunden. A bit of a homecoming for Blunden, as he had previously played with the Crunch. Blunden, late of Hamilton, is a power forward coming off 18 goals this year with the Bulldogs.


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Binghamton / Ottawa

Ottawa shipped Jason Spezza to Dallas for prospects. Those prospects are Nick Paul and Alex Guptill.


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Lehigh Valley / Philadelphia

Goaltender Rob Zepp. It was erroneously reported on Twitter that Zepp was headed to Pittsburgh. Zepp comes over from Germany, and has won five titles for his Berlin club. I am more disappointed at all the fun I could have had with the Zepp, if he was heading here, with his name and playing that into punny headlines for the blog.

Blair Jones. A depth forward, 55 on the Big Board, which was a point-a-gamer with Abbotsford last season.



I didn’t link off here. Trust me on these.

Harry Zolnierczyk joined the New York Islanders. The Islanders / Sound Tigers look like the real winners from an AHL perspective because they also picked up ex-Bears goaltender David Leggio and highly ranked Jack Skille as well as top AHL Free Agent TJ Brennan. With pending realignment on the horizon for the AHL, better hope that the Sound Tigers aren’t in the same division as the Penguins this upcoming year.

Penguins to sign elsewhere include Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to Washington, Joe Vitale to Phoenix, Deryk Engelland to Calgary, Jussi Jokinen to Florida, Tanner Glass to the New York Rangers.

Of note, Shavertown product Patrick McGrath re-signed with the Wheeling Nailers.

Oh, also, the 2014 Offseason Moves List has been updated.

Live blog will be back up tomorrow at 8 am Wednesday, and will probably be up all day, as I am traveling to New York City to spend the Fourth of July with my brother and his wife. Depending on travel and relevant moves, I’ll do my best to update the blog at that time. If not, definitely Thursday morning. Latest on Twitter, as always.


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