Chirps from Center Ice

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Atlantic Division Preview

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Back we are for the fourth and final day of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews in the Atlantic Division, home of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and seven other really good teams. We are one day away from the AHL’s 80th season! If you missed any of the previews from the other three divisions, you can find them by either scrolling down on the main page or by clicking on the menu above you and selecting the division you missed.



Here is the Atlantic Division, or what will probably be named, “the Mega Powers Division” as this division is loaded. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, Hershey Bears and Lehigh Valley Phantoms are the ghosts of the old East Division joined by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Hartford Wolf Pack and Springfield Falcons of the old Northeast Division joining up with original Atlantic Division members Providence Bruins and Portland Pirates. The only affiliation changes here are Portland with the Florida Panthers and Springfield with the Arizona Coyotes. The Penguins play everyone in this division at least six times, with home games noted in bold.

Let’s meet the teams…


NHL Affiliation: New York Islanders

Record: 28-40-7-1 – 64 pts., 5th place Northeast Division

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Brent Thompson

Arena: Webster Bank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Missouri Mavericks

Offseason Moves: Joe Whitney, Justin Florek, Christopher Gibson, Matt Carkner

The case for: The New York Islanders are trending upwards. This trend should trickle down and the Sound Tigers should be your dark horse pick to contend this season.

The case against: Youth and inexperience may be too much to overcome for a Sound Tigers team to overcome this year.

Media Coverage: Michael Fornabaio for the Connecticut Post

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @TheSoundTigers

Facebook: /soundtigers

Instagram: soundtigers

Broadcaster: Phil Giubileo

vs. WBS: 10/10, 10/18, 2/6, 3/12, 3/13, 4/2


NHL Affiliation: New York Rangers

Record: 43-24-5-4 – 95 pts., 1st place Northeast Division

Playoffs: 3 seed – Swept by the Manchester Monarchs in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Ken Gernander

Arena: XL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Offseason Moves: Jayson Megna, Brian Gibbons, Luke Adam

The case for: Solid additions made by the Northeast Division winner that made it to the Conference Finals last year. Hartford is a playoff team this season, most likely.

The case against: The blueline isn’t going to strike fear in the hearts of anyone. Goaltenders need to be solid.

Media Coverage: Paul Doyle for the Hartford Courant and Mitch Beck, Independent

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @WolfPackAHL

Facebook: /HartfordWolfPack

Instagram: hartford_wolfpack

Broadcaster: Bob Crawford

vs. WBS: 10/30, 11/15, 12/5, 1/3, 1/27, 2/12


NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals

Record: 46-22-5-3 – 100 pts., 1st place East Division

Playoffs: 2 seed – Lost in six games to the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Head Coach: Troy Mann

Arena: Giant Center

ECHL Affiliation: South Carolina Stingrays

Offseason Moves: Zach Sill, Taylor Chorney, Chris Bourque, Sean Collins, Paul Carey, Carter Camper

The case for: Hershey reloaded its firepower up front. You can expect the Bears to rout several teams this season.

The case against: Goaltending is a concern with aging vets Justin Peters and Dan Ellis primed to tend the nets, but it may not matter when you are beating your opponents by multiple goals every night.

Media Coverage: Tim Leone and Dave Sottile for the Harrisburg Patriot-News

Fan Blog: Chocolate Hockey

Twitter: @TheHersheyBears

Facebook: /TheHersheyBears

Instagram: thehersheybears

Broadcaster: Scott Stuccio

vs. WBS: 11/13, 11/28, 12/6, 12/26, 2/23, 3/5, 3/6, 3/19, 3/20, 4/9, 4/10, 4/17


NHL Affiliation: Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 33-35-7-1 – 74 pts., 4th place East Division

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Scott Gordon

Arena: PPL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Reading Royals

Offseason Moves: Chris Conner, Colin McDonald, Tim Brent, Jason LaBarbera, Geoff Walker

The case for: After a disappointing debut season in Allentown, Lehigh Valley returns for its sophomore campaign loaded for bear with seasoned veterans. This team can compete for the division crown, if not the conference.

The case against: In state rivals Hershey and Wilkes-Barre beefed up too and you are going to need to be better than one if not both teams in order to contend in this division. Will the Phantoms be able to pull it all together?

Media Coverage: Gary Blockus for The Morning Call

Fan Blog: The Horn and Bell

Twitter: @LVPhantoms

Facebook: /LehighValleyPhantoms

Instagram: lehighvalleyphantoms

Broadcaster: Bob Rotruck

vs. WBS: 10/17, 12/4, 12/11, 12/16, 12/27, 1/8, 1/29, 1/30, 3/4, 3/9, 4/8, 4/15


NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers

Record: 39-28-7-2 – 87 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division playing as the affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes.

Playoffs: 8 seed – Lost in five games to the Manchester Monarchs in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Tom Rowe

Arena: Cross Insurance Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Brett Regner, Shane Harper, Rob Flick, Gregg McKegg, Sena Acolatse, Cameron Gaunce

The case for: This prospect base won the West Division as the San Antonio Rampage. It’s bolstered with solid AHL talent. You probably can pencil Portland in as a playoff team and if you want to, a division contender.

The case against: It’s different waters that the Pirates are navigating having old East Division heavyweights Wilkes-Barre and Hershey coming in as divisional mates and a very, very good Lehigh Valley team. I see all three of them as a playoff team. There is room at the table for only one more, possibly two with the crossover. Is Portland one of those two?

Media Coverage: Chris Roy for the Maine Hockey Journal

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @PortlandPirates

Facebook: /PortlandPirates

Instagram: piratesahl

Broadcaster: Jeff Mannix

vs. WBS: 1/22, 1/23, 2/13, 2/14, 2/26, 4/3


NHL Affiliation: Boston Bruins

Record: 41-26-7-2 – 91 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division

Playoffs: 6 seed – Lost in five games to the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Bruce Cassidy

Arena: Dunkin’ Donuts Center

ECHL Affiliation: Atlanta Gladiators

Offseason Moves: Brandon DeFazio, Colin Miller

The case for: Your dark horse division winner should be the Providence Bruins. They have a good young blueline, great goaltending and are well coached.

The case against: Looks more like a rebuild year for the P-Bruins, and rebuild teams are not playoff contenders.

Media Coverage: Mark Divver for the Providence Journal

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @AHLBruins

Facebook: /providencebruins

Instagram: ahlbruins

Broadcaster: Nick Gagalis

vs. WBS: 10/9, 11/27, 1/24, 2/28, 3/26, 4/16


NHL Affiliation: Arizona Coyotes

Record: 38-28-8-2 – 86 pts., 3rd place Northeast Division playing as the affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Ron Rolston

Arena: MassMutual Center

ECHL Affiliation: Rapid City Rush

Offseason Moves: Dustin Jeffrey, Dylan Reese, Steven Delisle

The case for: Coyotes prospects come in as the affiliation switches from Columbus to Arizona. That Portland team last year surged at the end of the season and snuck past last years version of the Falcons team. It’s a core that is trending upwards.

The case against: I don’t see Springfield as a playoff team because of the youth that will be responsible to lead and the division that the Falcons play in. Night after night of Hartford, Providence, Wilkes-Barre and Hershey may spell doom for Springfield.

Media Coverage: MassLive / The Republican

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @TheFalconsAHL

Facebook: /falconsahl

Instagram: thefalconsahl

Broadcaster: Andy Zilch

vs. WBS: 10/23, 10/24, 1/2, 2/5, 2/27, 3/29


NHL Affiliation: Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: 45-24-3-4 – 97 pts., 2nd place East Division

Playoffs: 4 seed – Lost in five games to the Manchester Monarchs in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Head Coach: Mike Sullivan

Arena: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

ECHL Affiliation: Wheeling Nailers

Offseason Moves: Kael Mouillerat, Kevin Porter, David Warsofsky, Will O’Neill, Steve Oleksy, Tyler Biggs

The case for: Loaded up for another run. These are not run of the mill additions made to an already stout Penguins lineup. This team will contend and can win the division, provided it can take down in-state rival Hershey and Lehigh Valley on a consistent basis.

The case against: Biggest problem that has crippled this Penguin franchise is playoffs. Despite having the sole longest streak in the AHL by any club, the Penguins have yet to reach the pinnacle. Is new leadership in Mike Sullivan enough to get them there?

Media Coverage: Tom Venesky for the Times Leader and Seth Lakso for The Citizens Voice

Fan Blog: If you are reading this, you know that there is nothing else that comes close.

Twitter: @WBSPenguins

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins

Instagram: wbspenguins

Broadcaster: Mike O’Brien

These were fun this year. Should be a heck of a season to follow. It all starts tomorrow on Opening Night across the League. The Penguins travel to Providence, Rhode Island taking on the division rival Bruins for a 7 p.m. start. The Gameday setup hits the blog Friday at 3 p.m.

North Division Preview

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Back for day three for the yearly Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews. At any time you can catch up on what you missed from the Western Conference via the handy dropdown menu at the top of the page.

We return to more familiar territory back in the Eastern Conference in the North Division. The Penguins play everyone in this division at least twice, with home games represented in bold.



The North is no stranger to changes either. The name comes over as a Western Conference Division. It includes all five New York teams plus Toronto and St. John’s. Affiliation wise, the St. John’s IceCaps are no longer affiliated with the Winnipeg Jets, rather now the proud affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. All the other affiliations stayed the same.


NHL Affiliation: New Jersey Devils

Record: 37-28-5-6 – 85 pts., 4th place Northeast Division

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Rick Kowalsky

Arena: Times Union Center

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Jim O’Brien, Yann Danis, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond

The case for: Devils organization has been completely revamped from the top. Some of that will trickle down to the Capital District. These are solid signings by the Devils. Albany will no longer be a doormat club. Expect a contender this year.

The case against: Albany might be the fourth best team…in New York.

Media Coverage: Pete Dougherty for the Albany Times-Union and Bill Cain for The Daily Gazette.

Fan Blog: Tracey Lake for Thoughts Inside the Box

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils

Facebook: /AlbanyDevils

Instagram: albanydevils

Broadcaster: Josh Heller

vs. WBS: 11/21, 12/12


NHL Affiliation: Ottawa Senators

Record: 34-34-7-1 – 76 pts., 3rd place East Division.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Luke Richardson

Arena: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Evansville IceMen

Offseason Moves: Mike Kostka, Eric O’Dell, Zack Stortini

The case for: Binghamton trends as hot one season, cold the next. Last season may have been the Arctic on the Southern Tier, so expect the B-Sens to contend just based off of the law of averages.

The case against: The change in division. Utica is a defending Conference Champion. Toronto plays big boy hockey, Syracuse was a playoff team and Albany is trending up. Bingo may just end up as a good team in a great division.

Media Coverage: Matt Weinstein for the Press & Sun-Bulletin

Fan Blog: None or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @BSens_Hockey

Facebook: /binghamtonsenators

Instagram: bsens_hockey

Broadcaster: Grady Whittenburg

vs. WBS: 10/28, 11/20, 11/25, 1/5, 3/23, 3/25


NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres

Record: 29-41-5-1 – 64 pts., 5th place North Division

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth

Arena: Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial

ECHL Affiliation: Elmira Jackals

Offseason Moves: Cal O’Reilly, Bobby Sanguinetti, Jason Akeson, Colby Robak

The case for: Seemed like a fresh coat of paint for Buffalo this offseason. Perhaps some of that trickles down to Rochester this season. Offseason adds of O’Reilly and Sanguinetti, two key cogs in the run Utica made last year, should help.

The case against: Too much inexperience will counterbalance the offseason signings, and it looks like Rochester will be on the outside looking in again this season.

Media Coverage: Kevin Oklobzija for the Democrat and Chronicle

Fan Blog: Let’s Go Amerks

Twitter: @AmerksHockey

Facebook: /RochesterAmericans

Instagram: amerkshockey

Broadcaster: Don Stevens

vs. WBS: 11/14, 2/21


NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens

Record: 34-29-12-1 – 81 pts., 3rd place North Division playing as the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre

Arena: Mile One Centre

ECHL Affiliation: Brampton Beast

Offseason Moves: Eddie Pasquale, Joel Hanley

The case for: New affiliate with Montreal. The old Bulldogs seemed like a team that was just on the cusp of being a contender. Could this be the year on The Rock?

The case against: It’s a young team. Maybe a veteran scorer comes in midseason in a trade or something, but I don’t see a playoff team in St. John’s this season.

Media Coverage: Robin Short and Brendan McCarthy for the St. John’s Telegram

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: stjohnsicecaps

Broadcaster: Brian Rodgers (he is the only AHL broadcaster not on Twitter, and it’s a darn shame)

vs. WBS: 11/4, 11/6, 1/12, 1/13


NHL Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 41-25-10-0 – 92 pts., 2nd place Northeast Division.

Playoffs: 5 seed – Swept by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Rob Zettler

Arena: Onondaga County War Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Matt Taormina, Tye McGinn

The case for: Solid youth. Many second year guys may step up for the Crunch this season under the guidance of veteran leadership.

The case against: Goaltending is one. Whether the players have tuned out Rob Zettler is another.

Media Coverage: Lindsay Kramer for The Post Standard.

Fan Blog: Chairman How’s Glorious Army

Twitter: @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /syracusecrunch

Instagram: officialsyracusecrunch

Broadcaster: Dan D’Uva

vs. WBS: 12/9, 12/19, 12/31, 1/16


NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 40-27-9-0 – 89 pts., 2nd place North Division.

Playoffs: 7 seed – Lost in five games to the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Sheldon Keefe

Arena: Ricoh Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Orlando Solar Bears

Offseason Moves: Kasperi Kapanen, Rich Clune

The case for: Youth infused with a group that finished second in the North last year comes over to the Eastern Conference. This team will compete.

The case against: Competing is one thing, a playoff team being the other is another? Toronto may walk a fine line all season.

Media Coverage: Kyle Cicarella for The Canadian Press

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @TorontoMarlies

Facebook: /TorontoMarlies

Instagram: torontomarlies

Broadcaster: Todd Crocker

vs. WBS: 12/18, 2/19


NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks

Record: 47-20-7-2 – 103 pts., 1st place North Division.

Playoffs: 1 seed – Lost in five games to the Manchester Monarchs in the Calder Cup Finals.

Head Coach: Travis Green

Arena: Utica Memorial Auditorium

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Blair Jones, Richard Bachman, Taylor Fedun, Adam Cracknell, John Kurtz

The case for: This is a young team coached by an up and coming mastermind in Travis Green that has solid goaltending with Richard Bachman. The Comets should contend in this division.

The case against: Inexperience and lack of leadership may doom this team.

Media Coverage: Ben Birnell for the Utica Observer-Dispatch

Fan Blog: Comets Army

Twitter: @UticaComets

Facebook: /UticaComets

Instagram: uticacomets

Broadcaster: Brendan Burke

vs. WBS: 1/9, 2/9

Back to wrap things up tomorrow with the Atlantic Division Preview.

Central Division Preview

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Rolling right along today with the 2015-16 Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews. We looked at the Pacific Division yesterday, link here, and today we are in the other division in the Western Conference, the perennial powerhouse known as the Central Division. The Penguins don’t play anyone in this division either.



Just like the Pacific Division, the Central Division has some changes. The Midwest Division from last year remains intact with the same five teams from last year and picks up old West Division foes Charlotte and Iowa. Also added is the Manitoba Moose, playing as the proud affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets. The only affiliation change in this division is Lake Erie Monsters dumping the Colorado Avalanche and joining forces with the Columbus Blue Jackets.


NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes

Record: 31-38-6-1 – 69 pts., 4th place West Division.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Mark Morris

Arena: Bojangles Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Florida Everblades

Offseason Moves: Jake Chelios, T.J. Hensick, Joakim Nordstrom

The case for: After last seasons debacle, the only way to go is up.

The case against: Moderate offseason upgrades to an already mediocre team. Could be another long season in the Queen City.

Media Coverage: Charlotte Observer

Fan Blog: Jenni Probst for Chasing Checkers

Twitter: @CheckersHockey

Facebook: /charlottecheckers

Instagram: checkershockey

Broadcaster: Jason Shaya

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues

Record: 40-29-6-1 – 87 pts., 3rd place Midwest Division

Playoffs: 8 seed – Lost in five games to the Utica Comets in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: John Anderson

Arena: Allstate Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Ty Rattie, Eriah Hayes, Scooter Vaughn, Zach O’Brien

The case for: Coaching. John Anderson is one of the best in this league. He will guide the Wolves to the postseason again this year.

The case against: Goaltending looks shaky, especially if Jordan Binnington has a sophomore slump.

Media Coverage: The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves

Facebook: /chicagowolveshockey

Instagram: chicagowolveshockey

Broadcaster: Jason Shavers

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Detroit Red Wings

Record: 46-22-6-2 – 100 pts., 1st place Midwest Division

Playoffs: 2 seed – Lost to the Utica Comets in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Todd Nelson

Arena: Van Andel Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Toledo Walleye

Offseason Moves: Steve Spinell, Eric Tangradi, Brennan Evans

The case for: Grand Rapids boasts a bedrock of talent that is almost an embarrassment of riches. It’s a team that won the best division in the AHL last season that didn’t lose much in offseason defections.

The case against: It’s tough to find a crack in the armor of the Griffins, but if there is one it may be goaltending, and even that may be a reach.

Media Coverage: Pete Wallner for MLive

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @griffinshockey

Facebook: /grgriffins

Instagram: griffinshockey

Broadcaster: Bob Kaser

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild

Record: 23-49-2-2 – 50 pts., 5th place West Divison

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: John Torchetti

Arena: Wells Fargo Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Quad City Mallards

Offseason Moves: Maxime Fortunus, Tyson Strachan, Zac Dalpe, Matt Carey.

The case for: Leagues worst team last year has no place to go than up. This year has to be better than last, right?

The case against: Fortunus, Dalpe and company will provide a boost, but I don’t see it as a playoff boost. Iowa won’t be among the playoff participants this season.

Media Coverage: Des Moines Register and Tom Witkosky, Independent.

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @IAWild

Facebook: /IAWild

Instagram: iowawild

Broadcaster: Joe O’Donnell

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets

Record: 35-29-8-4 – 82 pts., 4th place North Division playing as the affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Jared Bednar

Arena: Quicken Loans Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Kalamazoo Wings

Offseason Moves: Alex Broadhurst, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Brett Gallant, Jamie Sifers

The case for: Youth and a new affiliation with Columbus.

The case against: You will need to go big or go home in the Central Division this year. Is Lake Erie up to the challenge? Remains to be seen.

Media Coverage: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @monstershockey

Facebook: /lakeeriemonsters

Instagram: monstershockey

Broadcaster: Tony Brown

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets

Record: 32-33-9-2 – 75 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division playing as the St. John’s IceCaps.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Keith McCambridge

Arena: MTS Centre

ECHL Affiliation: Tulsa Oilers

Offseason Moves: Darren Kramer, Matt Fraser, Kellen Lain

The case for: Lots of young faces playing in the same city their NHL parent club plays in should inspire the Moose team to lurk in fourth or fifth place in the Central and sneak in playoffs in the final third of the season.

The case against: One of the youngest team in the AHL? Playing in arguably the toughest division in the AHL? Good luck with that one, Moose.

Media Coverage: Patrick Williams for the Winnipeg Sun

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @ManitobaMoose

Facebook: /ManitobaMoose

Instagram: manitobamoose

Broadcaster: Mitch Peacock

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators

Record: 33-28-8-7 – 81 pts., 5th place Midwest Division.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Dean Evason

Arena: BMO Harris Bradley Center

ECHL Affiliation: Cincinnati Cyclones

Offseason Moves: Connor Allen, Cody Bass

The case for: Milwaukee missed the playoffs last season for the first time in ages. They will be a better team this season.

The case against: Better may not cut it in a division that has teams that are already better that improved this offseason too.

Media Coverage: Dave Boehler for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Fan Blog: Admirals Roundtable

Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Facebook: /mkeadmirals

Instagram: mkeadmirals

Broadcaster: Aaron Sims

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks

Record: 46-23-5-2 – 99 pts., 2nd place Midwest Division

Playoffs: 4 seed – Lost in four games to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Head Coach: Ted Dent

Arena: BMO Harris Bank Center

ECHL Affiliation: Indy Fuel

Offseason Moves: Mark Visentin, Daniel Ciampini, Jake Dowell

The case for: Modest additions made to a Rockford team that finished second to the Griffins last season. Expect Rockford to continue the trend upwards.

The case against: The problem which has plagued this IceHogs franchise is consistency. Is it consistent enough to make it thorough another season in a loaded Central Division? Time will tell.

Media Coverage: Rockford Register Star

Fan Blog: None, or I haven’t found it yet.

Twitter: @goicehogs

Facebook: /RockfordIceHogs

Instagram: rockfordicehogs

Broadcaster: Bob Mills

vs. WBS: Do not play.

I come in from out of the deep end with the Previews tomorrow with a look at the North Division.

Coal Street Cutdowns

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins announced that they have released the following players Monday afternoon:

Derek Army, Shane Bakker, Mickael Beauregard, Riley Brace, Jarrett Burton, Paul Cianfrini, Sahir Gill, Christophe Lalancette, Matthew Maoine, Ryan Parent, Nick Petrecki, Brett Stern, Cody Wydo, Casey DeSmith.

They loaned the following players to Wheeling:

Adam Krause, Ty Loney, John McCarron, Patrick McGrath, Clark Seymour, Brian Foster.

And Anton Zlobin was reassigned to Wheeling from Pittsburgh.

There are 25 players left on the Penguins roster. They are:

Goaltenders: Tristan Jarry, Matt Murray

Defensemen: Derrick Pouliot, David Warsofsky, Barry Goers, Niclas Andersen, Will O’Neill, Reid McNeill Steve Oleksy, Harrison Ruopp. Evan Wardley is injured and still hasn’t reported.

Forwards: J-S Dea, Bryan Rust, Kevin Porter, Conor Sheary, Oskar Sundqvist, Scott Wilson, Tyler Biggs, Josh Archibald, Dominik Simon, Matia Marcantuoni, Dominik Uher, Kael Mouillierat, Tom Sestito, Tom Kostopoulos and Carter Rowney

So the goaltending tandem out of the gate is Matt Murray backed up by Tristan Jarry. I think it is safe to say that Jarry did outplay Brian Foster, but don’t expect Jarry to remain up the entire season unless continues to play lights out. I still think that he has a Wheeling trip or two in him.

Anton Zlobin to Wheeling is surprising, but not surprising. You heard rave reviews about guys like Sahir Gill, Ty Loney and Adam Krause in these last four preseason games. Uh, anyone mention Anton Zlobin or notice him? Anyone? So, let him go down to Wheeling and play. If he proves himself a worthy call-up, he will be back. There is just way too much depth on this current Penguins roster to give guys that were here last year a pass and an automatic roster spot. There are a lot of good teams in the Atlantic Division this season and every point is going to be crucial, so you want your best lineup night in and night out.

So that is it, we are set. Defenseman Tim Erixon was placed on waivers today from Pittsburgh and if he clears he may not immediately join Wilkes-Barre. The plan out of the gate is to carry eight defensemen up top. Erixson could be assigned within 30 days or before so many NHL games. I think 10 is the number, I could be wrong.

Anyway, if you missed earlier, the Pacific Division Preview hit the blog today at noon. Central Division tomorrow then the north Wednesday and finally the Atlantic Thursday. Keep it locked here.

Pacific Division Preview

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If you are familiar with me, you know that I love Apple devices. If you own an iPhone, especially an iPhone 6s, you know that the tagline that went with that device was, “The only thing that’s changed is everything.” The same concept applies in the American Hockey League, which begins its 80th season this Friday.

Take for example, the Pacific Division. A sum total of five teams uprooted from their Eastern bases and moved operations approximately 3,000 miles west to California. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

To better explain all of the changes, I’ll introduce each in every division capsule. The first thing that you should know is that the AHL is back to four divisions, down from six, and the five California teams will play 68 games instead of the regular 76. Playoff positioning will be based not on points, but points percentage.

You can follow the AHL on the interwebs at @TheAHL and @AHLPR on Twitter, /TheAHL on Facebook and TheAHL on Instagram.



Today we begin in the Western Conference in the Pacific Division. The Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage come over from the old West Division. The Rampage are now affiliated with the Colorado Avalanche. The five California teams are the Bakersfield Condors; who were last years Oklahoma City Barons, the Ontario Reign; who are the defending champion Manchester Monarchs reincarnated, the San Diego Gulls who you knew last year as the Norfolk Admirals, the San Jose Barracuda who were last years Worcester Sharks and the Stockton Heat, playing as the ghost of Scorch and the Adirondack Flames.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins do not play anyone in this division nor do they play anyone from the Western Conference this season.

Here we go…


NHL Affiliation: Edmonton Oilers

Record: 41-27-5-3 – 90 pts., 3rd place West Division playing as the Oklahoma City Barons.

Playoffs: 6 seed – Lost in seven games to the Utica Comets in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Head Coach: Gerry Fleming

Arena: Rabobank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Norfolk Admirals

Offseason Moves: Philip McRae, Griffin Reinhart, Brad Ross

The Case For: Bakersfield takes over an Oklahoma City team that took the eventual Western Conference Champion Utica Comets to seven games. There is no reason to believe that Bakersfield will not contend again this season.

The Case Against: A big reason for the success last year was the play of all-star goaltender Richard Bachman. He signed with the team that beat him last year in the Comets. Goaltending may be an issue for the Condors this season.

Media Coverage: Mike Griffith for the Bakersfield Californian.

Twitter: @Condors

Facebook: /BakersfieldCondors

Instagram: condors

Broadcaster: Ryan Holt

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Los Angeles Kings

Record: 50-17-6-3 – 109 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division playing as the Manchester Monarchs.

Playoffs: 1 seed – Won Calder Cup in five games over the Utica Comets.

Head Coach: Mike Stothers

Arena: Citizens Business Bank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Manchester Monarchs

Offseason Moves: Kris Newbury, Michael Houser

The Case For: Much of the core that tore through the AHL last season and won the Calder Cup last year return to Northern California in a brand new environment. Everyone else may be playing for second place again this year.

The Case Against: The only weakness I see is goaltending.

Media Coverage: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and the Press Enterprise

Twitter: @ontarioreign

Facebook: /ontarioreign

Instagram: ontarioreignhockey

Broadcaster: Joseph Zakrzewski

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche

Record: 45-23-7-1 – 98 pts., 1st place West Division playing as the affiliate of the Florida Panthers.

Playoffs: 3 seed – Swept by Oklahoma City Barons in three games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Dean Chynoweth

Arena: AT&T Center

ECHL Affiliation: Fort Wayne Komets

Offseason Moves: Hubert Labrie, Mikhail Grigorenko, Brandon Gormley

The Case For: A new affiliation with the Avalanche. These prospects were a Lake Erie Monsters side that lacked consistency. If the Rampage can remain consistent, they are a playoff team.

The Case Against: I see writing on the wall and it tells me that next year is the year that the Rampage make playoffs. Not this year.

Media Coverage: Nathan Mallett for Runnin’ with the Herd

Twitter: @sarampage

Facebook: /sarampagehockey

Instagram: sarampage

Broadcaster: Dan Weiss

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Anaheim Ducks

Record: 27-39-6-4 – 64 pts., 5th place East Division playing as the Norfolk Admirals.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Dallas Eakins

Arena: Valley View Casino Center

ECHL Affiliation: Utah Grizzlies

Offseason Moves: Shane O’Brien, Harry Zolnierczyk, Chris Mueller, Joe Piskula, Matt Hackett

The Case For: Lots of vets coming in to help San Diego get off the ground on its maiden voyage in the AHL captained by the mastermind of Dallas Eakins. You should expect San Diego to be a playoff team.

The Case Against: Will the stench of what was leftover of a dismal Norfolk team be washed clean?

Media Coverage: San Diego Union-Tribune

Twitter: @SDGullsAHL

Facebook: /SDGullsAHL

Instagram: sdgullsahl

Broadcaster: Craig Elsten

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: San Jose Sharks

Record: 41-29-4-2 – 88 pts., 3rd place Atlantic Division playing as the Worcester Sharks.

Playoffs: 7 seed – Lost in four games to the Hershey Bears in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Roy Sommer

Arena: SAP Center

ECHL Affiliation: Allen Americans

Offseason Moves: John McCarthy, Mark Cundari, Frazer McLaren

The Case For: Barracuda are a team trending upwards, coming over as the Worcester team that made playoffs last season. They could be a dark horse that contends in the Pacific Division.

The Case Against: Western Conference is a better conference than the East with a boatload of good teams that don’t make playoffs. Is San Jose a good team or a great team? Time will tell.

Media Coverage: Bay Area News Group

Twitter: @sjbarracuda

Facebook: /sjbarracuda

Instagram: sjbarracuda

Broadcaster: Eric Lindquist

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames

Record: 35-33-6-2 – 78 pts., 4th place North Division playing as the Adirondack Flames.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Ryan Huska

Arena: Stockton Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Adirondack Thunder

Offseason Moves: Derek Grant, Aaron Johnson, Blair Riley, Kent Simpson

The Case For: Struggling to find one. After a hot start in Glens Falls last season, the bottom fell out. Grant and Johnson could help, but will it be enough to contend with the likes of San Jose and Ontario night after night? I don’t think so.

The Case Against: Calgary doesn’t take serious winning anywhere outside of Cowtown. That’s been made evident year after year with the constant shuffling from city to city and irrelevant teams getting beat night after night. Perhaps that changes with five NHL teams moving operations closer to the NHL affiliate, but I don’t see it this season.

Media Coverage: Scott Linesburgh for the Stockton Record

Twitter: @AHLHeat

Facebook: /ahlheat

Instagram: ahlheat

Broadcaster: Brandon Kisker

vs. WBS: Do not play.


NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars

Record: 40-22-13-1 – 94 pts., 2nd place West Division.

Playoffs: 5 seed – Swept by the Rockford IceHogs in three games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Head Coach: Derek Laxdal

Arena: Cedar Park Center

ECHL Affiliation: Idaho Steelheads

Offseason Moves: Stephen Johns, Brennan Evans, Jesse Blacker, Cory Kane, John Muse

The Case For: The Stars were swept out of the playoffs last year by the Rockford IceHogs in overtime off a goal by the key addition that the organization signed this offseason, Stephen Johns. Add in the other offseason signings incorporated in with a group that already made playoffs last season and you have another contender.

The Case Against: I don’t like the fact that the Stars are playing in the same division with five other teams that are playing fewer games with a playoff format that pits you against other playoff teams in your division.

Media Coverage: Stephen Meserve for 100 Degree Hockey and Sean Shapiro for Wrong Side of the Red Line

Twitter: @TexasStars

Facebook: /TexasStars

Instagram: txstarshockey

Broadcaster: Brien Rea

vs. WBS: Do not play.

We return Tuesday at noon for a look at the Central Division.

Defenseman In, Defenseman Out

Couple signings to note as we edge towards the first round of cuts in Pittsburgh and the start of training camp here in Wilkes-Barre…

–> Coal Street announced the signing of 6’3 defenseman Evan Wardley. Wardley, late of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League, debuted as a professional this past Spring with the ECHL Wheeling Nailers. He has a boatload of penalty minutes, which means he plays a physical game that he can back up with his fists. Admittedly, I am now just making up words about the guy to fill a paragraph, but Wilkes-Barre must have seen enough of him and liked him so much that they offered him an AHL deal.

–> Nick D’Agostino found a home. Remember him? He was arguably, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen here in Wilkes-Barre during the slew of callups to Pittsburgh. His non-tender of a qualifying offer by Pittsburgh this past summer (he was a restricted free agent) came as a shock to me. He signed with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL today. If they name sounds familiar to you, they are the team that is the ECHL affiliate of none other than the Hershey Bears. Now D’Agostino signed an ECHL deal, meaning that he would need to sign an AHL deal with Hershey to play for them. Not saying that he would, but he could.

Goaltender Eric Hartzell remains the only member of last years team that remains unsigned.

That’s about it. Pittsburgh is in the midst of an eight game exhibition schedule. The hope here is not who wins or loses, it’s that no one gets hurt.

More later this week when the first round of cuts come down from Pittsburgh and when Wilkes-Barre announces a training camp roster.

A Camping We’ll Go, Just Don’t Be Late!

NHL training camps got going across the league this morning. The Pittsburgh Penguins started theirs today. Beat writers of old and new were in attendance. Start with Jonathan Bombulie, late of the Citizens Voice in Wilkes-Barre, and his observations of Day 1 of camp starting with Bobby Farnham. Farnham wants to make the team. I see it as a tough, if not impossible task, but Bobby is up to the challenge.

The new guy in town for the Voice, Seth Lakso, was there also with an emphasis on the players that will be joining Wilkes-Barre at some point. He also had a print version today of five things to expect this season of the 2015-16 version of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.

Cleaning up some leftovers….

–> Wilkes-Barre signed John McCarron to an AHL deal this week. He captained the Cornell squad last year. Nothing flashy offensively, but the brass on Coal Street must see something in McCarron to ink him to an AHL pact. They have had success with unheralded Ivy Leaguers in the past you know.

–> Single game tickets to all Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins hockey games go on sale Setpember 21.

–> Last weekend in London, Ontario, the Penguins posted a picture of ex-Captain and all around good fellow Dave Gove. Gove was in Penguins gear helping out. You gotta learn how to read tea leaves when it comes to things like this. Gove has been retired from professional hockey for years now. Why all of a sudden is he back on the ice, “helping out?” Well, the answer was made know today. The Wheeling Nailers, the Penguins ECHL affiliate, announced that they have hired Gove as assistant coach to Clark Donatelli. Hell, the former captain named assistant coach Alain Nasreddine went with John Hynes to New Jersey, why not plant a seed and home grow another assistant coach? It makes sense.

–> To my headline, the New York Islanders sent highly Joshua Ho-Sang back to his OHL team, the Niagra IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League because he was late for training camp. You are a rookie taking the first step professionally in your career. You may not want to be late. First impressions are lasting ones.

–> Finally, some team an hour south of here was named number one AHL logo by The Hockey News magazine. You may have heard of them.

Have a great weekend.


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