Chirps from Center Ice

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

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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