Chirps from Center Ice

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

Coal Street Signs Dustin Tokarski

No, I won’t give you the Powerball numbers for the next drawing.

Monday morning, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins sent an innocuous tweet teasing a player signing later in the day.

Me, being the fun loving wise guy that I am, responded with the following tweet.

About ninety or so minutes later, my premonition came true.

Absolute heist by General Manager Bill Guerin and Head Coach Mike Vellucci. It’s an AHL only deal.

Dustin Tokarski’s resume:

  • Two time Calder Cup winner.
  • Undefeated in regular season and playoffs last season with the Charlotte Checkers after a mid-season trade with Hartford.

I had him at #46 on the AHL Big Board, and probably in hindsight criminally underrated there. He was the one “wish list” signing that I wanted for Wilkes-Barre with the Vellucci connection and the need for the Penguins to go out and sign a veteran AHL goalie.

On my 2019 Offseason Moves List I have a small chapter dedicated to “Needs” – Let’s Review…

  • Veteran goaltender for Alex D’Orio. Can’t risk losing Tristan Jarry, who is under contract but now must pass through waivers in the Fall, as a backup. I think what happens with Jarry in the summer (trade likely) sets the table for July 1 with the plan in Wilkes-Barre in the Fall.

Check. It doesn’t come any better than a two time Calder Cup winning goaltender in Dustin Tokarski. What happens with Tristan Jarry is now irrelevant because you have an enormous insurance policy here in Wilkes-Barre to mentor incoming rookies Alex D’Orio / Emil Larmi.

  • High impact AHL scorer. The Penguins lacked offensive firepower last season in a big way. Ethan Prow led the team in points, but that’s not really his job to score points. Pittsburgh needs to set up Wilkes-Barre with one or two proven veteran scorers. I joke about players like Chris Bourque, but a player of his caliber would be a perfect fit to compliment the Sam Lafferty’s and Anthony Angello’s already coming back for next year.

Check. I had Andrew Agozzino in my top ten on the AHL Big Board. 60 points with AHL Colorado and a special teams ace. Joseph Blandisi will return as well, with incoming rookies like Kasper Bjorkvist. Scoring shouldn’t be a problem on most nights.

  • One or two defensemen in case one of Chris Summers or Kevin Czuczman don’t re-sign. Blueline is looking really, really young next season from here in May 2019.

Check. Czuczman re-signed, Zach Trotman did too and you have a first round pedigree in P-O Joseph turning pro with the returning Dave Warsofsky.

Try to find holes. All three zones (goal, forward, defense) look solid. You have a head coach that just won a Calder Cup with a team in Charlotte which was a buzzsaw. True, you have to negotiate a 76 game season with call-ups, injuries, trades and the like, but the rebuild looks about done and it looks a lot better than it did before.

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