Chirps from Center Ice

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

AHL Previews: Atlantic Division

Back for the final day on the eve of the 2017-18 AHL season with a look at the Atlantic Division. If you missed any of the other division previews you can scroll down if you didn’t link in direct or use the drop down menu above.

The only changes in the Atlantic are the reemergence of the Charlotte Checkers, who again come back to the Eastern where they had previously played in the Western Conference and the Central Division. With this being the Penguins home division, expect a lot of dates played against the opponents here, with those games played at home listed in bold.

Let’s wrap it up…

NHL Affiliation: New York Islanders

Record: 44-28-3-1 (92 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Brent Thompson

Arena: Webster Bank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Worcester Railers

Offseason Moves: Seth Helgeson

The Case For: The 92 points that the Sound Tigers finished 2016-17 with would have won the North Division and cemented themselves firmly in the Calder Cup Playoffs but since they played in the most competitive division in the AHL, they were left out. Does Bridgeport come roaring back with a vengeance and lay the hammer to the rest of the division?

The Case Against: Answer is probably no.

Social Media: @TheSoundTigers // /soundtigers // soundtigers

Broadcaster: Alan Fuehring

vs. WBS: 10/28, 12/16, 1/3, 3/25, 4/6, 4/8

NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes

Record: 39-29-7-1 (86 pts., 4th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in five games to the Chicago Wolves.

Head Coach: Mike Vellucci

Arena: Bojangles Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Florida Everblades

Offseason Moves: Martin Ouellette, Jeremy Smith, Zack Stortini, Matt Finn, Brenden Kichton

The Case For: Charlotte returns back to the Eastern Conference after bouncing around and around in divisions in the Western Conference. They are coming in as a playoff team last year from a loaded Central Division.

The Case Against: The four teams favorited for playoffs have already penciled in in the Atlantic. Charlotte, while they may be a darkhorse, doesn’t look like one of them.

Social Media: @CheckersHockey // /charlottecheckers // checkershockey

Broadcaster: Jason Shaya

vs. WBS: 10/7, 12/8, 3/13, 3/14

NHL Affiliation: New York Rangers

Record: 24-46-4-2 (54 pts., 7th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Keith McCambridge

Arena: XL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Offseason Moves: Paul Carey, Cole Schneider, Scott Kosmachuk, Ryan Bourque

The Case For: Only place to go is up for this last place team. Decent signings should ensure that last year’s result will not replicate itself in 2017-18.

The Case Against: Up? How far? Playoffs? Don’t think so.

Social Media: @WolfpackAHL // /HartfoedWolfPack // hartford_wolfpack

Broadcaster: Bob Crawford

vs. WBS: 10/21, 12/15, 12/29, 1/21, 3/17, 3/30

NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals

Record: 43-22-8-3 (97 pts., 3th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 2 in seven games to the Providence Bruins.

Head Coach: Troy Mann

Arena: Giant Center

ECHL Affiliation: South Carolina Stingrays

Offseason Moves: Paul Geiger, Tyler Graovac, Wayne Simpson, Anthony Peluso

The Case For: Arms race between Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre, Hershey calmly went through summer making signings which should bolster an always strong Bears side. Oh, they also locked up the services of future Hall of Famer Chris Bourque for another season.

The Case Against: May be the third best team. In Pennsylvania.

Social Media: @TheHersheyBears // /TheHersheyBears // thehersheybears

Broadcaster: Zack Fisch

vs. WBS: 10/27, 11/5, 11/12, 12/3, 12/10, 12/30, 1/24, 2/2, 2/25, 3/18, 4/3, 4/15

NHL Affiliation: Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 48-23-5-0 (101 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in five games to the Hershey Bears.

Head Coach: Scott Gordon

Arena: PPL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Reading Royals

Offseason Moves: Phil Varone, John Muse, Derek Hulak

The Case For: Phantoms returned a huge lot of their corps from last season who gave in state teams fits. Are locked and loaded for a bunch of wins and possibly a long playoff run.

The Case Against: Healthy doses of Wilkes-Barre and Hershey, coupled with visits from those North Division teams may wear down the Phantoms enough that they miss, but don’t bank on it.

Social Media: @LVPhantoms // /lehighvalleyphantoms // lehighvalleyphantoms

Broadcaster: Bob Rotruck

vs. WBS: 10/13, 10/14, 11/3, 11/22, 12/6, 12/23, 12/27, 1/17, 1/26, 2/3, 2/18, 4/14

NHL Affiliation: Boston Bruins

Record: 43-23-6-4 (96 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 3 in five games to the Syracuse Crunch.

Head Coach: Jay Leach

Arena: Dunkin’ Donuts Center

ECHL Affiliation: Atlanta Gladiators

Offseason Moves: Teddy Purcell, Kenny Agostino

The Case For: Playing an already stingy style of hockey that lost out to a trip to the Calder Cup Finals, Providence makes a few good signings this season and it looks like will start with the services of reigning AHL MVP Kenny Agostino. You want a dark horse Calder Cup contender? Look no further.

The Case Against: Seemed like every team that the Bruins play this year made upgrades. You still have to play these games, so nothing is a given till the trophy is passed out.

Social Media: @AHLBruins // /providencebruins // ahlbruins

Broadcaster: TBA

vs. WBS: 11/11, 1/19, 2/9, 2/11, 3/28, 3/31

NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers

Record: 32-33-9-2 (75 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Geordie Kinnear

Arena: MassMutual Center

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Harri Sateri, Curtis Valk, Alex Grenier, Connor Brickley

The Case For: We have talked about sleeper teams in all of these previews, so count Springfield as one of those.

The Case Against: Thunderbirds have a lot of work to do if they want to be considered a contender.

Social Media: @ThunderbirdsAHL // /thunderbirdsahl // thnderbirdsahl

Broadcaster: Ryan Smith

vs. WBS: 12/13, 1/5, 2/7, 4/13

NHL Affiliation: Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: 51-20-3-2 (107 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in five games to the Providence Bruins.

Head Coach: Clark Donatelli

Arena: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

ECHL Affiliation: Wheeling Nailers

Offseason Moves: Christian Thomas, Kevin Czuczman, Colin Smith, Greg McKegg, Jarred Tinordi, Zach Trotman

The Case For: Could be better than last year, if that is imaginable. Lots of firepower up front, retooled, even better defense and two goalies who were best tops in the league which will be trying to outdo each other for the backup spot in Pittsburgh in 2018-19.

The Case Against: Normally this team is stripped away by injuries. Playoffs have become a norm around these parts, but never has that gotten them to the Promised Land.

Social Media: @WBSPenguins // /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins // wbspenguins

Broadcaster: Mike O’Brien and Nick Hart

Thanks for reading these previews. These are fun to put together and share year after year. If you have a team going Friday, good luck and have a great season!

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