Chirps from Center Ice

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

AHL Previews: North Division

Back for the penultimate day of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews. If you missed the Pacific on Monday or the Central yesterday, you can scroll down or head to the top of the blog and use the drop down menu I installed there.

We are in the North Division today and there is lots of shake up in this division. Ottawa moved their prospects from Binghamton to Belleville, Montreal moved from St. John’s to Laval and New Jersey moved from Albany to Binghamton.

Penguins play everyone in this division. Home games listed in bold.

NHL Affiliation: Ottawa Senators

Record: 28-44-2-2 (60 pts., 7th place North Division playing as the Binghamton Senators)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst

Arena: Yardmen Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Max Reinhart, Tyler Randell, Erik Burgdoerfer

The Case For: Last years Binghamton Senators team reincarnate as the Belleville Senators with a fresh look and a new city and venue. If we laid any money on dark horses in the North, smart money is on Belleville.

The Case Against: It may be an uphill battle. Look for an improved Ottawa prospect pool, but one that just misses out on a playoff spot in April.

Social Media: @BellevilleSens // /BellevilleSens // bellevillesens

Broadcaster: TBA

vs. WBS: 1/6, 1/12

NHL Affiliation: New Jersey Devils

Record: 39-32-2-3 (83 pts., 3rd place North Division playing as the Albany Devils)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in four games to the Toronto Marlies playing as the Albany Devils

Head Coach: Rick Kowalsky

Arena: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Adirondack Thunder

Offseason Moves: Bracken Kearns, Brian Strait, Mirco Mueller, Tim Erixon

The Case For: Watch out for the BInghamton Devils. They return a large corps of players who got them to playoffs last year and added some big names.

The Case Against: Binghamton is in a pool with a loaded up Rochester team, a Syracuse team that is the defending Eastern Conference champion. The North is shaping up to be a war zone.

Social Media: @BingDevils // /BingDevils // bingdevils

Broadcaster: Rob Lippolis

vs. WBS: 11/17, 12/22, 1/27, 3/9, 3/24, 4/7

NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens

Record: 36-30-8-2 (82 pts., 4th place North Division playing as the St. John’s IceCaps)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in four games to the Syracuse Crunch

Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre

Arena: Place Bell

ECHL Affiliation: Brampton Beast

Offseason Moves: Matt Taormina, Byron Froese, Peter Holland

The Case For: We have a feeling that one of these new Canadian teams in Laval here and Belleville will make playoffs and we are leaning heavily towards the Rocket.

The Case Against: Rocket had a boatload of departures which pushed the IceCaps to a four seed last season. These new guys better be ready to step up.

Social Media: @RocketLaval // /RocketLaval // rocketlaval

Broadcaster: Anthony Marcotte

vs. WBS: 10/20, 1/13

NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres

Record: 32-41-0-3 (67 pts., 7th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify

Head Coach: Chris Taylor

Arena: Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial

ECHL Affiliation: Cincinnati Cyclones

Offseason Moves: Kyle Criscuolo, Barry Goers, Sahir Gill, Kevin Porter, Seth Griffith, Adam Wilcox

The Case For: Totally overhauled, retooled roster put in place by a totally overhauled, retooled front office looking to win. Amerks signed big names and big role players and are expecting to jump out of the gate and contend.

The Case Against: Amerks aren’t going to surprise anyone and every team is going to give them their best. Will they be ready to answer the challenge is going to be the number one question.

Social Media: @AmerksHockey // /RochesterAmericans // amerkshockey

Broadcaster: Don Stevens

vs. WBS: 12/2, 2/16

NHL Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 38-24-7-7 (90 pts., 1st place North Division)

Playoffs: Lost in the Calder Cup Finals to the Grand Rapids Griffins in six games.

Head Coach: Benoit Groulx

Arena: Oncenter War Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Mat Bodie, Michael Leighton, Reid McNeill, Alex Gallant, Jamie McBain

The Case For: Defending Conference champs reload for another run. We think this is Syracuse’s division to lose.

The Case Against: Too many departures to other teams may be enough of a crack in the foundation to bring the Crunch down a few notches.

Social Media: @SyracuseCrunch // /syracusecrunch // syracusecrunch

Broadcaster: Lukas Favale

vs. WBS: 10/15, 11/24, 11/25, 2/24

NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 42-29-4-1 (89 pts., 2ns place North Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 2 in seven games to the Syracuse Crunch.

Head Coach: Sheldon Keefe

Arena: Ricoh Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Orlando Solar Bears

Offseason Moves: Cal Heeter, Vincent LoVerde, Chris Mueller, Max Novak, Josh Winquist

The Case For: Marlies started slow last year and it nearly cost them but they finished second behind the team that knocked them out in seven games. The number one threat to the Crunch in the North may not be Binghamton or Rochester, but Toronto.

The Case Against: Departing players from last year and their absences this season may end up hurting the Marlies.

Social Media: @TorontoMarlies // /TorontoMarlies // torontomarlies

Broadcaster: Todd Crocker

vs. WBS: 11/8, 3/20

NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks

Record: 35-32-7-2 (79 pts., 5th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Trent Cull

Arena: Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium

ECHL Affiliation: Kalamazoo Wings

Offseason Moves: Jaime Sifers

The Case For: The Comets always put up a fight and this year should be no different. With the viper pit of the Rochesters, Torontos, Binghamton and Syracuse of the division beating the tar out of one another, Utica could sneak up and claim a playoff spot.

The Case Against: The Comets are more of a team that you expect to be an easy two points for those teams mentioned above vs. the other way around.

Social Media: @UticaComets // /UticaComets // uticacomets

Broadcaster: Andy Zilch

vs. WBS: 2/27, 3/23

Back tomorrow to wrap up the previews with the Atlantic Division.

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