Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: WBS

NHL Free Agency, Day 1

Click. Click.

That’s the sound of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins reloading for what is hopefully another successful campaign in the 2015-16 AHL season come this October.

It was a most active day. Several signings made today by parent Pittsburgh which could have a direct result on how the roster shapes up for the farm team. There was another team in the division that was really active on the wires as well, but it isn’t who you think. Let’s get into it.

button_pit200     /     WBS

Departures included Kasperi Kapanen and Scott Harrington to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Phil Kessel, Tim Erixson and Tyler Biggs. This was the blockbuster trade of the day. Nothing really to get excited about regarding Biggs or Erixson. Biggs had 47 games with the Marlies last year and was 2-3-5. Erixson is a bit more polished, playing 42 games with the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks and Maple Leafs. In return, Toronto gets an NHL ready defenseman in Harrington and an exciting forward prospect in Kapanen.

But that was the only loss that affected Coal Street. What followed came quickly.

Defenseman David Warsofsky, late of the Providence Bruins and a likely replacement for Taylor Chorney, who signed a $700,000 one way deal with the Washington Capitals today. Warsofsky is a 7th or 8th option on defense at the NHL level. If not, look for Warsofsky to get top minutes in Wilkes-Barre. Warsofsky was #95 on the big board.

Center Kael Mouillierat – played last season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Was #15 on the big board. Automatic 20 goal, 20 assist scorer. Saw his first NHL action with the Islanders last season.

Left Winger Sergei Plotnikov – comes over from Russia and is probably ticketed for full time NHL work with Pittsburgh. If not, he’s entry level and could end up on Wilkes-Barre’s radar.

Conor Sheary got his NHL pact with Pittsburgh. #9 on our big board.

Center Kevin Porter – Played every game for Grand Rapids last year. Is good for about 40 points a year. #14 on the big board. Porter is a former Hobey Baker award winner and ex-captain of the Rochester Americans.

Defenseman Steve Oleksy – should need no introduction to anyone that reads the blog on a regular basis. Oleksy has been a mainstay with the Hershey Bears for years and served as their captain. He was #61 on the big board.

What a haul for the Pens. They lose a veteran center in Andrew Ebbett defecting to Europe but make up for it with Kevin Porter. Pens lose one veteran defenseman in Taylor Chorney and reload almost immediately with TWO veteran defensemen in Warsofsky and Oleksy.

button_wsh200     /     HER

Not to be outdone, the Hershey Bears saw all of the moves made by the Penguins today, dialed up their parents in Washington, and announced the following moves…

Carter Camper, Sean Collins and Aaron Ness and re-signed Mike Moore. Camper was average on a bad Binghamton team last year but does have pedigree and should thrive under Troy Mann. Sean Collins comes over from Springfield and is good for 40 points a year. He’ll probably get that and more playing for Hershey. Aaron Ness is an underrated defenseman and former captain of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Was a point a game guy for the Sound Tigers when they were well out of things at the end of the season. Moore was Hershey’s Man of the year last season.

Camper, Collins, Ness and Moore were 54, 45, 38 and unranked on the big board.

For what it is worth, I do not see Taylor Chorney playing any games for the Bears next year. Not at $700,000 a year.

button_fla200     /     POR

It does seem silly that the Portland Pirates are in the same division with the Penguins, but they are and were a very active team in free agency. Here are the moves:

Goalie Mike McKenna. Ageless goaltender that doesn’t really go anywhere town wise as he played with the Pirates last season under the Arizona affiliation. 23 on the board, put up career numbers at age 32.

Forward Shane Harper – 19 on the big board – scored 32 goals with AHL Chicago and led the Wolves in points last season.

Defensemen Sena Acolatse, Brent Regner and Cameron Gaunce. Acolatse played with Worcester for a while. Recently with Adirondack Flames. Regner had 29 points and a +21 with the Wolves last year and Gaunce comes over from the Texas Stars and is a smart veteran defenseman. None of these players were ranked by us on the big board.

button_nyr200     /     button_hfd200

Couple of well known names snagged by the Rangers.

Forward Jayson Megna, fan favorite of this blog, 26 on the board. Megna scored 39 points with the Penguins last year but fell out of favor with the NHL brass as there were more unproven names that were called up ahead of him. It’s a needed change of scenery for Megna.

Brian Gibbons – 91 on the board. Will want to stay healthy. He and Megna would make a dynamic duo on probably one of the quickest lines in the AHL.

Matt Lindblad, Magnus Hellberg and Viktor Stalberg – coming over from the Providence Bruins and Milwaukee Admirals, respectfully, all unranked.

button_phx200     /     button_spr200

Depending if they filter into Central Massachusetts, some solid signings for the Falcons in forwards Dustin Jeffrey (#5) and Craig Cunningham (not ranked) as well as defenseman Dylan Reese (#18)

button_phi200     /     button_lv200

It almost looked like they weren’t going to do anything today but the Flyers made some big time signings today which could end up in the Lehigh Valley.

Ex-Penguins Chris Conner and Tim Brent. Conner was #8 on the big board. Brent comes back over from Russia, playing in the KHL. They also signed defenseman Davis Drewiske, who had 22 points and a +15 for Hamilton last year. Phantoms are going to need more help than this if they are going to want to stay competitive in Pennsylvania with the Penguins and Bears and afloat, with eight other teams in the new Atlantic Division.

button_bos200     /     PRO

Re-signed Jeremy Smith. Smith was a free agent. Third on the Boston goalie depth chart, a consistent goaltender that can win 20 games and have a save percentage right around 92%.

button_nyi200     /     BRI

Forward Joe Whitney. 10 on the big board and led the Albany Devils in scoring all four seasons he played in the Capital District. Nothing official reported by the Islanders, but the reports were everywhere from all the reputable guys.

Here’s Coal Street’s recap on the guys added today that could have an impact on the farm this season and make sure that you bookmark their shiny new blog, Skating on the Susquehanna.

Jonathan Bombulie may write for the Pittsburgh Penguins these days, but here are his thoughts on the haul that could be assigned to Wilkes-Barre in the Fall.

The AHL Free Agent Big Board and the Offseason Moves Lists have been updated accordingly.

Depending on how Day 2 shakes out around the division, I’ll drop another blog update Thursday.

Draft Recap 6/27

The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have a selection in the first round of the NHL Draft of Friday, but they had four picks on Day 2. Let’s take a look…

I’m lucky that I am able to keep up with the happenings in Wilkes-Barre and the AHL as a whole. NHL Draft Prospects isn’t my cup of tea, but there is a cadre of folk with knowledge, so here they are…

There is a local connection too.

Here is his draft profile page with a bit more on him from Pittsburgh and some highlights that Coal Street tweeted out:

Coal Street mined a shootout goal of his:

Also, a clarification and an update. First, Bobby Farnham is a restricted free agent. It was discovered by Jonathan Bombulie yesterday that due to his NHL service time, Farnham is actually a restricted free agent, it’s in the link at 5:58. I have updated the Offseason Moves List accordingly.

Finally, if you thought that the AHL Free Agent Big Board was going to go away when Jonathan took off for Pittsburgh, think again. I spearheaded an effort with other AHL bloggers to bring it back. I have been in contact with Mike Cignoli from the Citizens Voice about putting the big board up on the Penguins Insider blog and that is where it will most likely end up. If not, we have a Plan B in place to place the Big Board either here or mirrored on this blog and the other blogs where the contributions were made. Keep an eye out for this coming either late Monday or Tuesday.

Kuhn to be Kind; Kuhnhackl Re-Signs 6/23

Announced Tuesday morning that the Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed Restricted Free Agent Tom Kuhnhackl to a one year deal.

Kuhnhackl took a big step forward for Wilkes-Barre in 2014-15, 30 points in 72 games. He flourished on a line with Carter Rowney and Dominik Uher. Rowney is already signed up for next season and I expect Uher to be qualified and re-signed soon, so the claim that the band is getting back together holds true.

Obie’s thoughts…

I updated the 2015 Offseason Moves List.

Oh, in case you were wondering about the headline, it’s a play on this.

Hey! Sullivan Man!

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced the ninth head coach of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Thursday morning.

His name is Mike Sullivan.

Coming on the heels of the news that John Hynes departed for the New Jersey Devils on June 2 and took Alain Nasreddine with him on Wednesday, the search for a new man to lead the prospects on Coal Street was on.

Sullivan comes over from the Chicago Blackhawks organization where he served as a player development coach for the AHL affiliate of the Stanley Cup Champions, the Rockford IceHogs. Prior to that he served as an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks, the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. He was an NHL head coach once with the Boston Bruins.

He’s got quite a resume coming in as a coach with work in the AHL and NHL. I think he may be the most experienced coach coming into the job in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins history. Michel Therrien coached the Montreal Canadiens prior to coming into the job in Wilkes-Barre in 2003. The rest didn’t have much if any NHL / AHL coaching experience at all before taking over as head man of the prospects on Coal Street.

So I see it as a great hire.

Nothing announced as far as assistant coaches yet. I anticipate that something will be announced in the coming weeks. Sullivan will most likely be actively involved in the process.

Check back later in case the Penguins put up a podcast with the new coach. If they do I will link it in here.

Let’s Go Pens!

Rowney Re-Signs 6/15

News out of Coal Street Monday afternoon was that they re-signed F Carter Rowney to a one year AHL pact.

Rowney had a breakout year this season for the Penguins, seventh on the team in points with 10-21-31 and a +14 in 63 games for the Penguins in 2014-15. He also had a 64.25% GF% and a 63.83 ESGF%.

I considered Rowney a Priority One guy for the Penguins to re-sign in the offseason. This is an AHL deal, so his Europe prospects were probably there but he most likely wanted to give it one more run in North America and possibly a shot at an NHL deal in 2016-17 or beyond.

Regardless, with Tom Kostopoulos re-signing a month ago and Barry Goers in the fold again, it would look like the band is getting back together.

Mike O’Brien had these series of tweets which I found appropriate…

EDIT: The Pittsburgh Penguins announced later in the afternoon that they have signed D Niclas Andersen to a one year entry level contract. Andersen is a 27 year old left-handed defenseman that is 6’1 and 218 pounds. He captained Brynas of the Swedish Elite League this past season. He was a fourth round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2006 but never signed. From the limited information out there that I can read that isn’t Swedish, he looks like a defensive defenseman. He’s projected to be a depth guy, which means that he could see Wilkes-Barre in the Fall.

I have updated the 2015 Offseason Moves List appropriately, including the Andersen news.

Let’s Go Pens!

Go With Goers

Coal Street announced Wednesday that they have re-signed Barry Goers to an AHL contract for the 2015-16 season.

Goers has rounded into the form of a solid AHL defenseman this past season. One of the hard workers on the team, he will be expected to step up into a bigger role next season. It’s a role that the brain trust is confident Goers will accept with enthusiasm.

Goers was the Penguins selection for Man of the Year, for his outstanding contributions to the community during the regular season.

The 2015 Offseason Moves List has been updated for the second time this week.

Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals is later as the series shifts to Utica. Manchester will be gunning for a 3-0 series lead. I’ll have a recap for the Power Play Post Show later on.

WBS Adds Loney and Krause

Some news out of Coal Street Monday afternoon.

Forwards Ty Loney and Adam Krause signed AHL contracts today, the team announced.

Loney is the son of long time NHL forward Troy Loney, who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. Loney played four years at the University of Denver and was once a teammate of Beau Bennett. He signed an amateur contract with Norfolk late last season and appeared in five games going 2-2-4.

While doing a search for Loney, I found this article on him and his brother Reed, who were featured by the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2008.

Krause had a bit of a head start, as he suited up for six games with the Wheeling Nailers in the regular season, where he too was 2-2-4. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Krause had a goal and three assists. He’s big too, listed at 6’3 and 210 pounds. He captained Minnesota-Deluth last season.

Admittedly, that’s all I know about these two. You are looking at AHL depth guys that have the pedigree to develop into the next Conor Sheary. Whether or not that happens, remains to be seen.

I have updated the 2015 Offseason Moves List with our first two signings for 2015-16.


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