Chirps from Center Ice

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

2018-19 AHL Previews – Central Division

 

Back for Day Two of the yearly Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews. If you missed the Pacific Division click here to get caught up.

Today we find ourselves in the Central Division. The Central loses the Cleveland Monsters to the Eastern Conference’s North Division and gains the San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars. Everyone in this division plays 76 games. No affiliation swaps other than San Antonio moving from Colorado’s NHL affiliate to St. Louis’ and Chicago no longer sharing an affiliate with Las Vegas, they are the sole affiliate of the Stanley Cup runners up Golden Knights.

Penguins play the Rockford IceHogs, the Milwaukee Admirals and the Grand Rapids Griffins twice each, with the games played at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza listed in bold.

Let’s get started…

NHL Affiliation: Vegas Golden Knights

Record: 42-23-7-4 (95 points, 1st place Central Division)

Playoffs: Swept in three games in the Central Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Rocky Thompson

Arena: Allstate Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Fort Wayne Komets

Offseason Moves: Daniel Carr, Zach Fucale, Jimmy Oligny, Gage Quinney, Curtis McKenzie

The Case For: Central champs return retooled, reloaded. Should be another successful season in Rosemont. 

The Case Against: Texas and San Antonio join the division and Rockford, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids project to be strong. It’s going to be an angry bees nest that the Wolves must negotiate through almost every weekend.

Social Media: @Chicago_Wolves / /ChicagoWolves / chicagowolves

Broadcaster: Jason Shaver

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: Detroit Red Wings

Record: 42-25-2-7 (93 points, 2nd place Central Division)

Playoffs: Lost in five games to the Manitoba Moose in the Central Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Ben Simon

Arena: Van Andel Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Toledo Walleye

Offseason Moves: Carter Camper, Harri Sateri, Chris Terry, Wade Megan, Jake Chelios

The Case For: The NHL parent team may be crap this season, but the prospects in Grand Rapids are a solid threat provided everyone stays healthy.

The Case Against: How much does the organizational lack of success seep down to the AHL level come January or February?

Social Media: @griffinshockey / /grgriffins / griffinshockey

Broadcaster: Bob Kaser

vs. WBS: 1/4, 2/9

NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild

Record: 33-27-10-6 (82 points, 5th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Tim Army

Arena: Wells Fargo Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Allen Americans

Offseason Moves: Matt Bartkowski, Matt Read, Mike Liambas, Andrew Hammond

The Case For: Tim Army comes in from Wilkes-Barre to hopefully guide the Wild to a postseason berth with a solid group of offseason acquisitions.

The Case Against: Iowa has become the poster child for the old saying that they don’t play games on paper. Wild will need to prove to everyone that they are a serious threat.

Social Media: @IAWild / /IAWild / iowawild

Broadcaster: Joe O’Donnell

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets

Record: 42-26-4-4 (92 points, 3rd place Central Division)

Playoffs: Swept in four games by the Rockford IceHogs in the Central Division Finals.

Head Coach: Pascal Vincent

Arena: Bell MTS Place

ECHL Affiliation: Jacksonville Icemen

Offseason Moves: Ken Appleby, Nic Kerdiles, Seth Griffith, Felix Girard

The Case For: Really don’t see a reason for a major regression for the Moose this season, Manitoba should again be a solid club.

The Case Against: If there was a team in the Central that made playoffs that there were odds to miss, Manitoba may be a heavy favorite.

Social Media: @ManitobaMoose / /ManitobaMoose / manitobamoose

Broadcaster: Mitch Peacock

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators

Record: 38-32-4-2 (82 points, 6th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Karl Taylor

Arena: UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Colin Blackwell, Brian Cooper, Jarred Tinordi, Zac Rinaldo, Rocco Grimaldi

The Case For: Missing playoffs is the rare exception in Milwaukee, look for the Admirals to rebound in a big way and possibly be a strong contender.

The Case Against: Competition in the Central is high, Milwaukee cannot be plagued by the inconsistency which haunted them last season. 

Social Media: @mkeadmirals / /mkeadmirals / mkeadmirals

Broadcaster: Aaron Sims

vs. WBS: 1/5, 2/8

NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks

Record: 40-28-4-4 (88 points, 4th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Lost in six games to the Texas Stars in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Jeremy Colliton

Arena: BMO Harris Bank Center

ECHL Affiliation: Indy Fuel

Offseason Moves: Terry Broadhurst, Andrew Campbell, Jordan Schroeder

The Case For: Last years surprise team was Rockford, who will continue that momentum into 2018-19 and be a decent contender.

The Case Against: Book is out on the IceHogs, who will not be seen as an automatic two points for the opponent. Teams will be prepared for what Rockford brings. How the IceHogs react off of that will tell the tale of how far and how much success they have.

Social Media: @goicehogs / /RockfordIceHogs / rockfordicehogs

Broadcaster: Joseph Zakrzewski

vs. WBS: 2/6, 2/24

NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues

Record: 35-31-10-0 (80 points, 8th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Drew Bannister

Arena: AT&T Center

ECHL Affiliation: Tulsa Oilers

Offseason Moves: Brian Flynn, Joey Laleggia, Jordan Nolan, Trevor Smith, Tyler Wotherspoon

The Case For: St. Louis comes in as a full time affiliate for the Rampage. That, coupled with some solid offseason acquisitions leads you to believe that San Antonio will be markedly improved in 2018-19.

The Case Against: Competition is expected to be stiff in the Central, where the Rampage move to this season. Can they keep up?

Social Media: @sarampage / /sarampagehockey / sarampage

Broadcaster: Brian McCormack

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars

Record: 38-24-8-6 (90 points, 2nd place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Lost in seven games to the Toronto Marlies in the Calder Cup Finals.

Head Coach: Derek Laxdal

Arena: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park

ECHL Affiliation: Idaho Steelheads

Offseason Moves: Erik Condra, Joel Hanley Colton Hargrove, Michael Mersch

The Case For: Defending Western Conference champs come in as favorites in a new division. Stars should be good again this year and threaten for a playoff spot.

The Case Against: May not be the best team team in Texas anymore in a new division which was fun to watch last year.

Social Media: @TexasStars / /TexasStars / txstarshockey

Broadcaster: Brian Tosti

vs. WBS: Do not play.

Back tomorrow for a look at the North Division.

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