Chirps from Center Ice

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

2018-19 AHL Previews – North Division


Welcome to Day Three of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews for the 2018-19 season. Today, we find ourselves in the North Division. On Monday we started in the Pacific Division and yesterday we covered the Central Division.

No affiliation changes here, Cleveland comes over from the Western Conference. Penguins play everyone in this division at least twice but for the Laval Rocket and Belleville Senators whom they do not play at all. Home games listed in bold.

Let’s get after it…

NHL Affiliation: Ottawa Senators

Record: 29-42-2-3 (63 points, 6th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Troy Mann

Arena: CAA Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Brampton Beast

Offseason Moves: Rudolfs Balcers, Chase Balisy, Paul Carey, Joseph Labate, Mike McKenna, Adam Tambellini

The Case For: No team completely rebuilt from the ground up like Belleville did this offseason. These signings are for real and the Senators should compete this season.

The Case Against: With Ottawa in full and complete rebuild, how much of that tumult trickles down to Belleville? 

Social Media: @BellevilleSens / /BellevilleSens / bellevillesens

Broadcaster: David Foot

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: New Jersey Devils

Record: 25-38-9-4 (63 points, 5th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Mark Dennehy

Arena: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Adirondack Thunder

Offseason Moves: Kurtis Gabriel, Eric Tangradi, Eric Gryba

The Case For: Really nice signings for the Devils as they compete on the Southern Tier in the sophomore season under the New Jersey affiliation. Binghamton could surprise a few in the North Division this season.

The Case Against: Belleville is totally retooled, Toronto its coming off of a Calder Cup, Rochester and Syracuse are set to be solid. There is only so much room at the table. Is Binghamton really going to be a player this season? That is a question which has yet to be answered.

Social Media: @BingDevils / /BingDevils  / bingdevils

Broadcaster: Rob Lippolis

vs. WBS: 12/31, 1/26, 4/5, 4/14

NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets

Record: 25-41-7-3 (60 points, 7th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: John Madden

Arena: Quicken Loans Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: J-F Berube, Tommy Cross, Adam Clendening, Dan DeSalvo, Dillon Simpson

The Case For: Getting out of the ever competitive Central is one.

The Case Against: Moving into the ultra competitive North Division is the other.

Social Media: @monstershockey / /monstershockey / monstershockey

Broadcaster: Tony Brown

vs. WBS: 10/11, 10/13, 12/7, 2/1

NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens

Record: 24-42-7-3 (58 points, 7th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Joël Bouchard

Arena: Place Bell

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Kenny Agostino, Alex Grenier, Martin Lamarche, Matt Peca, Xavier Ouellet

The Case For: Solid signings with one time league MVP in Agostino and another with Alex Grenier. Laval shouldn’t be a pushover this season.

The Case Against: Putting it all together is half of the battle. Getting it all to click is the other. Can Laval compete and win right out of the gate?

Social Media: @RocketLaval / /RocketLaval / rocketlaval

Broadcaster: Anthony Marcotte

vs. WBS: Do not play.

NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres

Record: 37-22-11-6 (91 points, 3rd place North Division)

Playoffs: Swept in three games by the Syracuse Crunch in the North Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Chris Taylor

Arena: Blue Cross Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Cincinnati Cyclones

Offseason Moves: Yannick Veilleux, Scott Wedgewood, Tyler Randell, Wayne Simpson

The Case For: The Amerks contended and were a strong team for much of 2017-18. You should expect that to continue in 2018-19.

The Case Against: If we were to pick a team that made playoffs in the North last year to miss playoffs this year, there may be a few fingers pointing in Rochesters direction.

Social Media: @AmerksHockey / /RochesterAmericans / amerkshockey

Broadcaster: Don Stevens

vs. WBS: 11/30, 1/18

NHL Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 46-22-3-5 (100 points, 2nd place North Division)

Playoffs: Swept in four games by the Toronto Marlies in the North Division Finals.

Head Coach: Benoit Groulx

Arena: Oncenter War Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Orlando Solar Bears 

Offseason Moves: Cameron Gaunce

The Case For: Syracuse should be good this year, always a solid team and one that makes you battle for everything.

The Case Against: It’s a new day, yes it is with fresh new blood coming out from Laval, Belleville and Binghamton. If the Crunch have a winning record against these teams at the end of the season, they are probably a playoff team. If not, then they may just miss out.

Social Media: @SyracuseCrunch / /syracusecrunch / syracusecrunch

Broadcaster: Lukas Favale

vs. WBS: 12/22, 3/9

NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 54-18-2-2 (112 points, 1st place North Division)

Playoffs:  Won Calder Cup in seven games over the Texas Stars.

Head Coach: Sheldon Keefe

Arena: Coca-Cola Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Newfoundland Growlers

Offseason Moves: Adam Cracknell, Josh Jooris, Emerson Clark, Stefan Leblanc, Eamon McAdam, Jordan Subban

The Case For: Defending champs reload for another run at Calder.

The Case Against: Defending champs almost never repeat and win a consecutive Calder.

Social Media: @TorontoMarlies / /TorontoMarlies / torontomarlies

Broadcaster: Todd Crocker

vs. WBS: 12/1, 3/17

NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks

Record: 38-26-8-4 (88 points, 4th place North Division)

Playoffs: Lost in five games to the Toronto Marlies in the North Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Trent Cull

Arena: Adirondack Bank Center

ECHL Affiliation: Kalamazoo Wings

Offseason Moves: Tanner Kero, Jesse Graham, Ivan Kulbakov

The Case For: Comets bring in some solid signings this season who can keep Utica a threat all year in the North Division.

The Case Against: Competition in the North is going to be fierce this season. No room for slip ups in Utica this season. Doing so, and the Comets could fall behind and get trapped out come the Spring.

Social Media: @UticaComets / /UticaComets / uticacomets

Broadcaster: Joe Roberts

vs. WBS: 2/16, 4/12

Back tomorrow to close out the previews with a look at the Atlantic Division.

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