Chirps from Center Ice

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

AHL Previews: Central Division

Back for Day 2 here in the Chirpos from Center Ice AHL team previews with a look at the Central Division. A division who loses a team to the Eastern Conference in the Charlotte Checkers. So it’s seven teams for four playoff spots.

The Penguins play the Grand Rapids Griffins, Milwaukee Admirals and the Rockford IceHogs in home and home action this upcoming season. Feels weird to be on Day 2 of the AHL Previews and explain to you that the games against the Penguins at home shall be featured in bold.

Here we go.

NHL Affiliation: Vegas Golden Knights

Record: 44-19-8-5 (101 pts., 1st place Central Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 2 in five games to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Head Coach: Rocky Thompson

Arena: Allstate Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Quad City Mallards

Offseason Moves: Chris Casto, Paul Thompson, Alex Tuch, T.J. Tynan

The Case For: Wolves should contend this season, as they do every year.

The Case Against: How will serving as the primary affiliate of an expansion NHL franchise affect the Wolves?

Social Media: @ChicagoWolves // /ChicagoWolves // chicagowolveshockey

Broadcaster: Jason Shaver

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets

Record: 39-29-4-4 (86 pts., 5th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: John Madden

Arena: Quicken Loans Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Andre Benoit, Carter Camper, Cameron Gaunce

The Case For: Solid offseason moves made by parent Columbus for a Cleveland team that won the Calder Cup two seasons ago and failed to make the playoffs last season.

The Case Against: As with so many teams, will these improvements made by this team be enough to get them back into playoff contention?

Social Media: @MonstersHockey // /MonstersHockey // monstershockey

Broadcaster: Tony Brown

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: Detroit Red Wings

Record: 47-23-1-5 (100 pts., 2nd place Central Division)

Playoffs: Won Calder Cup. Beat Syracuse Crunch in six games.

Head Coach: Todd Nelson

Arena: Van Andel Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Toledo Walleye

Offseason Moves: Turner Elson

The Case For: Defending champs look like a lock for Central Division leaders again. Re-signed a lot of the core that led them to their second Calder Cup.

The Case Against: Defending champs rarely repeat.

Social Media: @griffinshockey // /grgriffins // griffinshockey

Broadcaster: Bob Kaser

vs. WBS: 3/2, 3/10

NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild

Record: 36-31-7-2 (81 pts., 6th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Derek Lalonde

Arena: Wells Fargo Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Rapid City Rush

Offseason Moves: Landon Ferraro, Alex Grant, Cal O’Reilly, Ryan Murphy

The Case For: Iowa loaded up this offseason in a big, big way. These signings have got to be enough to get the WIld to the playoffs, don’t they?

The Case Against: They don’t play these games on paper.

Social Media: @IAWild // /IAWild // iowawild

Broadcaster: Joe O’Donnell

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets

Record: 29-37-5-5 (68 pts., 7th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Pascal Vincent

Arena: Bell MTS Place

ECHL Affiliation: Jacksonville IceMen

Offseason Moves: Buddy Robinson, Cameron Schilling, Mike Sgarbossa, Brody Sutter

The Case For: Manitoba is going to have to work if they want to improve on their 7th place overall showing they put up in the Central last year. These signings could nudge them to a playoff spot.

The Case Against: There are more people picking Manitoba to finish last they there are to finish first.

Social Media: @ManitobaMoose // /ManitobaMoose // manitobamoose

Broadcaster: Mitch Peacock

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators

Record: 43-26-4-3 (93 pts., 3rd place Central Division)

Playoffs: Swept in Round 1 in three games by the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Head Coach: Dean Evanson

Arena: UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Norfolk Admirals

Offseason Moves: Bobby Butler, Matt OConnor, P-C Labrie

The Case For: Admirals alway put forth a strong hockey product and this year should be no different.

The Case Against: In a crowded pool of Chicago, Grand Rapids and Iowa, will the Admirals have enough horses to compete for a playoff spot?

Social Media: @mkeadmirals // /mkeadmirals // mkeadmirals

Broadcaster: Aaron Sims

vs. WBS: 12/1, 3/4

NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks

Record: 25-39-9-3 (62 pts., 8th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Jeremy Colliton

Arena: BMO Harris Bank Center

ECHL Affiliation: Indy Fuel

Offseason Moves: J-F Berube, Jordan Oesterle

The Case For: Only way is up for what was a sorry season in Rockford.

The Case Against: Almost feels like they are restarting from the beginning in Rockford, and with the top heavy Central Division, it looks like the IceHogs have an uphill battle against them.

Social Media: @goicehogs // /RockfordIceHogs // rockfordicehogs

Broadcaster: Bob Mills

vs. WBS: 2/23, 3/3

Back tomorrow for a look at the North Division.

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