Took them a while, but the Penguins made a big splash again in Free Agency. Setting aside the news that they signed Rob Scuderi and re-signed Craig Adams, two players that will never set foot in Wilkes-Barre, the parent club signed three players likely destined for Coal Street in the Fall and re-signed a familiar face.
Let’s get to the familiar one first. Bobby Farnham earned himself an NHL contract today. He needs no introduction.
The next three were all in the Top 50 in the Bombulie / Cignoli Big Board.
Chris Conner. A familiar face to Wilkes-Barre fans. His second tenure in Northeast Pennsylvania. Number 34 on the Big Board, Conner put up 13-27-40 in 60 games for the Portland Pirates last year, good for fifth on the team.
Nick Drazenovic. 24 on the Big Board. Breakout year for Drazenovic on a pretty loaded Springfield Falcons team, second in points for the Falcons, going 17-36-53 in 62 games last season including an eight game look for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Andrew Ebbett. 26 on the Big Board, described on it as a bubble player who is an elite playmaker at the AHL level. 11-21-32 in 37 AHL games for the Chicago Wolves last season. Ebbett also played 28 games for the Vancouver Canucks, going 1-5-6.
Jonathan summed it up nicely:
There’s a great new AHL blog out there focusing on strictly the AHL and its teams. Today, they had this piece on the WBS news.
Matt Cooke signed with Minnesota today. What this means is that it is very likely that recent acquisition Harry Zolnierczyk will probably remain with Pittsburgh and not be sent to Wilkes-Barre, at least in my opinion.
There was other news too.
The Hershey Bears kicked things off by announcing that they had signed Jamie Johnson to an AHL deal, who spent last season over in Russia in the KHL. Johnson had (27-44-71) playing with Rochester in 2009-10 while playing with Jeff Taffe in Rochester.
The Bears later announced the hire of assistant coach Ryan Mougenel who was recently the head coach of the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL.
Tampa Bay / Syracuse signed ex-WBS Penguin Geoff Walker. Walker played 51 games limited by injury for the Lake Erie Monsters last season and put up 5-15-20.
Walker had this to say to Lindsay Kramer, which to me, represents an East Division power shift:
There was a trade that may affect Norfolk, as Bobby Ryan was traded back to Ottawa from Anaheim for Jakob Silfverburg and Stefan Noesen. After the lockout last season Silfverburg went up and stayed up with Ottawa. Noesen is a prospect that will most likely start the season in Norfolk.
Trevor Smith is off to the The Big Smoke. No news on Brad Thiessen, Warren Peters or any other free agent on this list you should check out right now.
Finally, number one on the aforementioned Big Board, Keith Aucoin signed with the St. Louis Blues. Also, Mark Mancari and Alexandre Bolduc signed on with St. Louis. These guys were in the top nine on the Board. If they don’t stick with St. Louis, AHL affiliate Chicago has themselves quite the haul.
I will have the Liveblog back later tonight and all day tomorrow for Day 2.