Chirps from Center Ice

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

Asked and Answered 10/2

Well, the mailbag idea was a big hit which generated a lot of traffic and discussion. We will make it a bi-weekly thing going forward. For now, let’s hit the questions.

Hi! What’s your opinion of Oula Palve based on what you’ve seen so far? And what about Kasper Björkqvist?
– Mike

Palve played two preseason games. Small sample size, but I thought he looked good. Normally a good gauge on guys playing in their first contests is how tentative they are and whether or not they jump into a play or not. Palve mixed it up, had four total shots and played on second line with Ryan Haggerty in both games. If you’re trying to ease someone new into the North American game, you throw him on a fourth line and give him something like six minutes a period in low leverage situations. Palve didn’t and doesn’t fit that mold. It’s going to be interesting to see him adapt and develop to the North American game because the brass is really high on him.

Bjorkqvist played three games and while I thought he was invisible Wednesday, I started to notice his name more and more from Nick Hart on radio Saturday and Sunday. He had that nice goal Saturday in Hershey. It’s a transition game from college to pros no matter how strong you are. Everything you read with this kid shows that he is something special. Much like Palve, it’s all about building confidence with every shift.

Who do you think will be named Captain?
– Mike

I asked this question in part to Nick Hart on the interactive chat Sunday afternoon in the Penguins game against the Phantoms. From the sound of it, it didn’t seem like they were in a hurry to name one. Hart cited a “leadership group” vs. a straight up captain. I think that’s a fine idea in concept, but the concept didn’t work last season when Garrett Wilson went up and stayed up last year because in my opinion they lacked a direction last season. Tyler reported Tuesday that they would hope to have a captain named by Friday.

To specifically answer your question, my pick would be Ryan Haggerty. He has all the qualities you want in a captain. They have a plethora of options to choose from though; David Warsofsky, Kevin Czuczman, Joseph Cramarossa, Andrew Agozzino and Steve Oleksy off the top of my head would all be fine choices for the “C.”

How do you think they can improve attendance? I realize its not ” the new game in town” anymore, but they gotta draw more. With all these colleges around i would think there would be more interest from the students ( pitts ” student rush ” comes to mind. )
– icemanwbs

I mean they are doing all they can in ticket deals and the like. They have a strong season ticket holder base and realize that not everyone can shell out the thousand or so bucks every year to come to every single home game. The McDonald’s four packs, the $12 Friday deals with the beer specials are all fine ideas to get a casual fan with nothing to do on a Friday or Saturday to come to a game. The way that the schedule lines up (only eight weeknight games this season) it’s a weekend heavy matrix. As far as colleges go with deals and the like, you likely need to swing something with the school because not every student has a car or a viable means of transportation.

And I tell anyone who thinks that the attendance is bad here in Wilkes-Barre to attend a game in person at Hartford, Bridgeport or Springfield. If ours is what you could consider is bad, then in those arenas it would be seen as worse.

Glad to see Olesky back. I am guessing he is on a PTO because there is no contract space. At least two contract spots have to open up if they want him and the goalie.
– John C

Oleksy being signed to a PTO has no bearing on contracts because there is no cap on contracts or roster space in the AHL. You can have as many players as you want at any position in the AHL but you can only dress so many veterans on game nights. He’s a reliable insurance piece with Zach Trotman out with surgery.

Not a specific question or message at this time, but I like the idea very much of a bi-weekly feature and preferably on Monday as you say, after weekend action. And as a side note, has there been anything posted regarding AHL streaming? Is it the same as last year? Thank you for all you do!!
– Marilyn J.

Good to see that the idea of a bi-weekly feature works well. On streaming, AHLTV is back and the pricing structure is the same as it was last year with the addition of a $99.99 option to stream regular season and playoffs. The daily view (one price to watch all games that day) increased from $6.99 to $7.99. There is also a “Free View” this weekend you can also check out gratis.

Hey Jason, Excited for this new feature…Also still can’t wrap my head around that hockey season is here! Anyway, With the Big Pens not as deep on D, and a Jack Johnson trade potentially looming…Seems like the Baby Pens will need to rely heavily on young, inexperienced Blue Liners (Assuming the Penguins keep Trotman and Riikola up). Moreover, the Big Pens could call up Jon Lizotte or P.O Joseph, wiping out blue chip talent on the blue line..I know this is probably a little bit of a complex question ,but Is the Baby Pens blue line good enough for us to compete for a playoff spot?
– Matt

Ideally, if Jack Johnson is traded and there are prospects involved on defense, then the Penguins would likely go out and get a player like they did in Steve Oleksy. Oleksy is here because Trotman is out longer term after sports hernia surgery. (I’m as shocked you are that they disclosed the injury and means to correct it) So I like the fact that they are being proactive instead of putting all the pressure on the rookies.

Is the D corps right now good enough to compete for a postseason spot? I think so, but it’s a new season and we all are undefeated. Ask again in a month.

Great job as always. As a fan of “11 time”, I enjoy following your blog for news on the Bears rivals. Your coverage is not homerish (made that word up) which is enjoyable. Good luck to you and the Pens this year, just not against “11 time”
– Chris P.

I think the one thing that Penguins and Bears fans can agree on is that we all don’t like Lehigh Valley.

Will any of the new NHL rules also be used in the AHL?
– CyGuy

I think that any rule that they come up with in the NHL has been borne here in the AHL. I don’t think you are going to see anything with replay and coaches challeneges and all of that (for as much as I would like it)

Sam Lafferty, Jake Lucchini, Kasper Bjorkqvist, Anthony Angello. Which one of them do you think has the best shot at a steady NHL career.
– Josh

I want to back up this question to the opening night roster from three years ago and four, what you could consider “blue chippers” at the time. You had,

J-S Dea, 20 goals, 36 points the year prior. An undrafted kid that had huge potential. Now: Still in the AHL, 26 NHL games to his credit.

Josh Archibald – 176th overall pick. Not a lot of AHL points but speed got him to the NHL where he’s played over 100 games.

Oskar Sundqvist – 81st overall pick – kind of flamed out in Pittsburgh and ended up getting traded and blossomed with and won a Stanley Cup with St. Louis.

Jake Guentzel – the best homegrown player in the group, arguably all time.

Of that four, at that time, who would you have said?  Probably Dea, right?

So of your four, the obvious choice today is to say Kasper Bjorkqvist because of everything you’ve read about his off-season training habits and how strong he is along with his NCAA accolades. But I’d probably say that a player like Sam Lafferty has the best shot at a steady NHL career. He had a good training camp with Pittsburgh, is targeted for more this season in Wilkes-Barre and pretty much has all the assets.

Where are the AHL Previews that normally run this week?
– Barry

I scrapped the concept this season. Instead, I’ll have an opponent preview for all the teams that the Penguins play this season. Look for that noon Friday.

Good first mailbag. I’ll send you more stamps in two weeks. The Pens will have four games under their belts at that time and their first three in three. For the time being at anytime you want to leave a comment, you can do so at any time. Thanks.

One response to “Asked and Answered 10/2

  1. CyGuy October 2, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    I agree: the Mailbag is a good idea.