Chirps from Center Ice

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

AHL Previews: Pacific Division

Back for yet another year are the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Team Previews. I have been doing previews for as long as I have maintained this blog. It’s just my quick snippet of every team in the American Hockey League, broken down into divisions.

I start in the Pacific Division, will have the Central on Tuesday, the North on Wednesday and then the Atlantic on Thursday.

I tweaked some things this year. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all consolidated in “Social Media Coverage” and I am altogether nixing the media coverage otherwise. Most teams don’t have a full time beat anymore and these newer teams in Laval and Belleville just have general coverage that I have seen so far. If you are a fan of a team not named, “Penguins” that happens to read this blog, you know where to get your team coverage.

One more thing before we start, the St. Louis Blues don’t have a full time affiliate this season. St. Louis is splitting placing their prospects in Chicago and San Antonio. It will balance out next season with 31 NHL teams being serviced by 31 AHL clubs, but not this year.

Here we go, starting in the Pacific. The Penguins don’t play anyone here. Note: The social media tags are Twitter first, Facebook second and Instagram third.

NHL Affiliation: Edmonton Oilers

Record: 33-29-5-1 (72 pts., 5th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Gerry Fleming

Arena: Rabobank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Wichita Thunder

Offseason Moves: Yohann Auvitu, Mitch Callahan, Eddie Pasquale, Ryan Stanton

The Case For: Bringing in proven veterans should bolster the Condors and push for a playoff spot.

The Case Against: Other teams upgraded too, so are the Condors keeping up or catching up?

Social Media: @Condors // /BakersfieldCondors // condors

Broadcaster: Ryan Holt

NHL Affiliation: Los Angeles Kings

Record: 36-21-10-1 (83 pts., 3rd place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in five games to the San Diego Gulls.

Head Coach: Mike Stothers

Arena: Citizens Business Bank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Manchester Monarchs

Offseason Moves: Jamie Devane

The Case For: Ontario always puts out a good product and are extremely well coached. Reign will be looking to get back to the top of the Pacific Division this season.

The Case Against: Pacific looks loaded this year. Reign may not be a top four team this year.

Social Media: @OntarioReign // /ontarioreign // ontarioreignhockey

Broadcaster: Joseph Zakrzewski and Cameron Close

NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche

Record: 27-42-5-2 (61 pts., 8th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Eric Veilleux

Arena: AT&T Center

ECHL Affiliation: Colorado Eagles

Offseason Moves: Andrew Agozzino, Sam Britain, Dave Warsofsky

The Case For: Finished dead last in the Pacific last season. Only way to go is up.

The Case Against: May be a lame duck season with the Avalanche with rumors swirling that the ECHL affiliate Colorado Eagles will be the AHL affiliate a year from now. Could be another long year in the Alamo.

Social Media: @sarampage // /sarampagehockey // sarampage

Broadcaster: Dan Weiss

NHL Affiliation: Anaheim Ducks

Record: 43-20-3-2 (91 pts., 2nd place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 2 in five games to the San Jose Barracuda.

Head Coach: Dallas Eakins

Arena: Valley View Casino Center

ECHL Affiliation: Utah Grizzlies

Offseason Moves: Reto Berra, Derek Grant, Steve Oleksy

The Case For: Gulls should be a contender out of the box looking to build on last years success and early exit to San Jose.

The Case Against: It feels like it’s San Jose’s division to lose.

Social Media: @SDGullsAHL // /SDGullsAHL // sdgullsahl

Broadcaster: Craig Elsten

NHL Affiliation: San Jose Sharks

Record: 43-16-4-5 (95 pts., 1st place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 3 in five games to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Head Coach: Roy Sommer

Arena: SAP Center

ECHL Affiliation: Allen Americans

Offseason Moves: Brandon Bollig, Antoine Bibeau

The Case For: Nothing is a given, but with a team like the Barracuda who only lost 16 regulation games and have a future Hall of Fame Coach in Roy Sommer, you can pencil in San Jose as a playoff team now.

The Case Against: With all of that said, the Barracuda got shredded by the Griffins in the playoffs and a lot of weaknesses were exposed. Did other teams take notice?

Social Media: @SJBarracuda // /SJBarracuda // sjbarracuda

Broadcaster: Nick Nollenberger

NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames

Record: 34-25-7-2 (77 pts., 4th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in five games to the San Jose Barracuda.

Head Coach: Ryan Huska

Arena: Stockton Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Kansas City Mavericks

Offseason Moves: Luke Gazdic, Marek Hrivik

The Case For: If you are looking for a sleeper team in the Pacific, the Heat should be a team to watch.

The Case Against: Any string of losses to a team that only plays 68 games with five other teams that play the same amount could be a big hole to dig out of.

Social Media: @AHLHeat // /AHLHeat // ahlheat

Broadcaster: Brandon Kisker

NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars

Record: 34-37-1-4 (73 pts., 7th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Derek Laxdal

Arena: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park

ECHL Affiliation: Idaho Steelheads

Offseason Moves: Mike McKenna, Greg Rallo, Brent Regner, Brian Flynn

The Case For: Texas is a team that missed playoffs last season in surprising fashion. With these offseason signings, don’t expect history to repeat itself.

The Case Against: Not exactly spring chickens brought in. Are the younger guys ready?

Social Media: @TexasStars // /TexasStars // txstarshockey

Broadcaster: Brien Rea

NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes

Record: 29-31-8-0 (66 pts., 6th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Mike Van Ryn

Arena: Tucson Convention Center

ECHL Affiliation: Fort Wayne Komets

Offseason Moves: Mike Sislo, Andrew Campbell, Zac Larrazza, Zac Rinaldo.

The Case For: Last years pesky Roadrunners looked good out of the box but slowly ran out of gas. This is a team, like Stockton, worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.

The Case Against: Four teams will make playoffs and four teams won’t. Right now, many have Tucson on the side that doesn’t make it in.

Social Media: @RoadrunnersAHL // /RoadrunnersAHL // roadrunnersahl

Broadcaster: Tom Callahan


Back tomorrow with a look at the Central.

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