Chirps from Center Ice

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

North Division Preview

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Rolling right along here on Preview Week here on the blog and today we find ourselves in the North Division. We looked at the Pacific Division on Monday and the Central Division Tuesday. Today, we find ourselves in a more familiar territory.

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No affiliation changes for any teams in this division. The Penguins play everyone in this division at least twice, once home and once away. Home games will be listed in bold.

Let’s get started.

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NHL Affiliation: New Jersey Devils

Record: 46-20-8-2 (102 pts., 2nd place North Division)

Playoffs: Played as the two seed out of the North Division and lost in seven games to the Toronto Marlies in the North Division Finals.

Head Coach: Rick Kowalsky

Arena: Times Union Center

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Carter Camper, Andrew MacWilliam, Karl Stollery, Brian Gibbons

The Case For: This Devils team put up 102 points last season and if they were playing in any other division they would have won that division. Expect Albany to contend again this season.

The Case Against: I think the Devils biggest obstacle this season is the same team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, Toronto.

Media Coverage: Pete Dougherty for Albany Times Union and Tracey Lake for the blog Thoughts Inside the Box.

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils

Facebook: /AlbanyDevils

Instagram: albanydevils

Broadcaster: Josh Heller

vs. WBS: 10/26, 2/17

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NHL Affiliation: Ottawa Senators

Record: 31-38-6-1 (69 pts., 7th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst

Arena: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Wichita Thunder

Offseason Moves: Chad Nehring, Mike Blunden

The Case For: Ottawa brought back and Binghamton re-signed a lot of key contributors for the B-Sens last season while adding Nehring and Blunden. Sens should be more competitive this season.

The Case Against: Goaltending has to improve vastly or else it will be another long season on the Southern Tier.

Media Coverage: Matt Weinstein for The Ithaca Journal

Twitter: @SenatorsAHL

Facebook: /binghamtonsenators

Instagram: senatorsahl

Broadcaster: Grady Whittenburg

vs. WBS: 11/4, 12/26, 12/31, 1/7, 1/28, 2/11

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NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres

Record: 34-38-3-1 (72 pts., 6th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Dan Lambert

Arena: Blue Cross Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Elmira Jackals

Offseason Moves: Justin Falk, Erik Burgdoerfer, Taylor Fedun, Derek Grant, Tyson Strachan

The Case For: See above. The incoming crop of signings made by parent Buffalo, should they make it down to Rochester, should bolster the Amerks into a contending team in 2016-17.

The Case Against: John Muse better eat his Wheaties. Amerks fans can’t be too confident in any combination of Jason Kasdorf and / or Linus Ullmark in goal for any extended period of time.

Media Coverage: Kevin Oklobzijia for the Democrat and Chronicle

Twitter: @AmerksHockey

Facebook: /RochesterAmericans

Instagram: amerkshockey

Broadcaster: Don Stevens

vs. WBS: 12/16, 1/13

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NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens

Record: 32-33-8-3 (75 pts., 5th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre

Arena: Mile One Centre

ECHL Affiliation: Brampton Beast

Offseason Moves: Zach Redmond, Philip Samuelsson, Jeremie Blain

The Case For: Solid defensive signings made by St. John’s here should help the IceCaps this season.

The Case Against: St. John’s was a mediocre team in a division filled with heavyweights. Don’t expect that to change this season.

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

Twitter: @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: stjohnsicecaps

Broadcaster: Brian Rogers – only broadcaster in the AHL who is not on Twitter and this is a shame. Rogers would be an instant classic.

vs. WBS: 12/3, 12/4, 2/3, 2/8

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NHL Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 32-29-11-4 (75 pts., 4th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify. Were beat out by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the crossover spot, on percentage points.

Head Coach: Benoit Groulx

Arena: Oncenter War Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Kalamazoo Wings

Offseason Moves: Adam Comrie, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Gabriel Dumont, Mike Halmo, Jeremy Morin, Michael Bournival

The Case For: I like these offseason signings made by Syracuse, which got beat out on percentage points due to a silly crossover postseason rule last season. Syracuse can push Albany and Utica for the top team in New York.

The Case Against: After Kristers Gudlevskis in goal the Crunch have Adam Wilcox and Nic Riopel in goal. Gudlevskis better be built for 40+ starts this year.

Media Coverage: Lindsay Kramer for The Post-Standard and Brandon Curtis for the blog Raw Charge

Twitter: @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /syracusecrunch

Instagram: syracusecrunch

Broadcaster: Dan D’Uva

vs. WBS: 10/22, 10/30, 1/14, 1/16, 1/25, 3/24

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NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 54-16-5-1 (114 pts., 1st place North Division)

Playoffs: Played as the one seed out of the North Division and lost in five games to the Hershey Bears in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Sheldon Keefe

Arena: Ricoh Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Orlando Solar Bears

Offseason Moves: Marc-Andre Cliche, Colin Smith, Spencer Asuchak

The Case For: Pencil Toronto in as another playoff contender. You just don’t fall off after putting up a league best 114 points last season.

The Case Against: Said this about Albany and will bring it back here, the biggest threat for the Marlies may be Albany. Also, the way Hershey disposed of Toronto in the playoffs may give teams a blueprint on how to solve this Marlies machine.

Media Coverage: Kyle Cicerella for The Canadian Press

Twitter: @TorontoMarlies

Facebook: /TorontoMarlies

Instagram: torontomarlies

Broadcaster: Todd Crocker

vs. WBS: 11/11, 1/11

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NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks

Record: 38-26-8-4 (88 pts., 3rd place North Division)

Playoffs: Played as the three seed out of the North Division and lost in four games to the Albany Devils in the North Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Travis Green

Arena: Utica Memorial Auditorium

ECHL Affiliation: Alaska Aces

Offseason Moves: Derek Hulak, Jayson Megna, Michael Chaput, Borna Rendulic

The Case For: Call the offseason signings made by Vancouver / Utica an upgrade.

The Case Against: Are these upgrades enough to contend with Albany / Toronto and enough to collect maximum points out of rival Syracuse? Maybe, but consistently?

Media Coverage: Ben Birnell for The Observer-Dispatch

Twitter: @UticaComets

Facebook: /UticaComets

Instagram: uticacomets

Broadcaster: Andy Zilch

vs. WBS: 1/27, 2/24, 3/26, 4/2

Back to wrap it up tomorrow with the Atlantic Division Previews Thursday at noon.

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