Chirps from Center Ice

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

Asked and Answered 2/11

Lots of good questions this week so let’s get right to them….

How do you feel about losing Calen Addison in The Minnesota trade? From what I saw last year in the short time he played in Wilkes Barre, he looked like a good prospect who would have been impactful when he was able to play next year.
– Bob

There was a trade Monday night that sent Alex Galchenyuk and Calen Addison with a 2020 first round draft pick to Minnesota for Jason Zucker. Addison was highly touted as the number prospect in the Pittsburgh pipeline.

You can’t really get upset over something like this because you have never seen Addison play a professional game that counts. Is he the next Brian Dumoulin or the next Derrick Pouliot? Pittsburgh is in “win now” mode and didn’t want to wait long enough to find out. This is one of those trades that doesn’t have any immediate impact on Pittsburgh right now but may down the line in the next three to five years. You are out a 2020 first round draft pick and lost Addison and, depending on the type of player he develops into, go all in on Zucker to win a Stanley Cup. You can’t fault Jim Rutherford for making that trade.

On the flip side, Galchenyuk hasn’t worked anywhere, you gain a first round draft pick and a blue chip defensive prospect. Who wins the trade? You’ll never convince me otherwise that Bill Guerin is a terrible General Manager. He’s essentially getting fleeced for a really good player in Zucker for a fourth line plug in Galchenyuk, Addison who is still a few years away and a draft pick who is farther than that. Do you honestly trust Bill Guerin to rebuild Minnesota into a contender? I don’t. He has a lot of people fooled that he’s good at what he does.

At the end of the day, John Marino made Calen Addison expendable. They know what they have in Marino. They don’t with Addison and the Stanley Cup is in the car in the driveway with the engine running waiting for the Penguins to take it down the Boulevard of the Allies again.

What your opinion on are power play and coaching stuff and where they can improve
– Jag

Well, the power play is 14th overall in the 31 team league clicking at an 18.7% conversion rate. It’s not that bad, clicking at just under once in five tries (rounding up to 20% here). It’s aggressive, which I like, but sometimes lacks consistency. I think in large part that’s due to having Anthony Angello and Andrew Agozzino on recall right now. As to where they improve? You can always use good wingers on your power play. One of them was Oula Palve. According to my chart he was on the ice for 14 power pay goals for and just one against. The problem was he was only on for six even strength goals for and twenty-six against and had an 18.75 even strength goals for percentage. There was a lot bad that outweighed the good. You have to be careful there. Clicking at nearly 20% and in the upper half of the teams on special teams isn’t that bad, all things considered.

With all the injuries and players up in Pittsburgh do you think the team has a shot to make playoffs? Pittsburgh will probably make (another) trade soon. Do you think we get get someone for WBS or will they subtract more by trading someone we already have?
– Rose

Under the current lineup? No. They need Jordy Bellerive and one of or ideally both of Andrew Agozzino or Anthony Angello back. Even if they got those guys back you have five, maybe six teams for four playoff spots. Let’s take a quick look.

Hershey: I think they are safe. They have a three point lead on the division now, second place Hartford has games in hand but the Bears are good to make playoffs I think. They don’t have many holes.
Hartford: At biggest risk to fall out of contention once the NHL trade deadline passes and the Rangers sell off all their assets. I definitely think their reign at the top of the Atlantic is over.
Providence: Interesting team in flux. Their power play is bad (24th) and they lost two straight to Bridgeport this past weekend. I still think Head Coach Jay Leach figures it out and they pencil in at a three or four seed.
Charlotte: Team that won’t go away and doesn’t have an identity. Hovered at .500 for the first half of the season, went on a run, cooled off when the Penguins came to town and then are now 7-3 in their last ten. They have games in hand on everyone in the division and could finish as high as second in my opinion.
Penguins: They were doing more with less, but then lost Jordy Bellerive who was the straw that stirred the drink and lost both games badly this weekend. They need to get healthy both internally and up top in Pittsburgh. If they don’t, I don’t see them cracking the top four.
Springfield: Stick a fork in this team, they are done. Same story every year with the Thunderbirds. They have the most amount of games played in the division and trail by three points. Two flaccid performances this weekend with Lehigh Valley and Hershey.
Lehigh Valley: Had a strong showing this weekend against some non-playoff (Springfield and Wilkes-Barre) teams, then went to Hershey and got manhandled. This is a paper team with a lot of issues that need to be figured out. They are nine points out, will probably make things interesting but I don’t see them as a playoff contending team down the stretch.
Bridgeport: Were out of it months ago.

Pittsburgh already made a trade acquiring Zucker. Do I think they are done? Maybe, but lets look at some names anyway.

Casey DeSmith: Would be a major loss because he’s been the best player, but you don’t see many goaltenders moved at a trade deadline and organizationally, that would make Emil Larmi third on the depth chart. Is it out of the realm of the reasonable that DeSmith gets traded? No. But the cupboard is too bare to give DeSmith away unless the haul is huge, and they already made a big splash.
P-O Joseph: He’s a guy I would give the highest odds to get moved if they decide to go ahead and make another move. He turns 21 this July, had put up pretty decent defensive metrics so he’s a name to watch.

There really isn’t anything else that you would want on this team that you could look at to get traded unless it is a very minor, minor, throw in move.

When Pitt is healthy do we get the help we need?
– John M.

Agozzino, Angello and Lafferty are all possibilities, yes. They all just have to stay healthy.

Is a call up expected after the news of Marino’s surgery?

Marino is out three to six weeks. Check back Tuesday afternoon at around 5:30 to see if Pittsburgh recalled anyone. I don’t see a really reason why they would, but if they do, it’s probably David Warsofsky or Zach Trotman going back up.

There’s gotta be something wrong with Adam Johnson, right? Nagging injury, personal issues…something? My dude had a fantastic end to his season last year, showed some ability to perform in Pittsburgh…and now he can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. What’s wrong with my boy?
– Mike

He’s fourth in points on the team, has positive defensive metrics and is having a very good year. If you are looking for him to put the team on his back and carry them through the slog like, say Jordy Bellerive, I don’t see it. Defenders like to key on the top line guys, which Johnson is, so he’s getting exposed a bit.

It also could be coaching. Mike Vellucci is a demanding coach who expects a lot out of his players. I think Clark Donatelli was more of a players coach, Vellucci I don’t think by any stretch is.

Do we need more speed? Or puck moving defenseman?
– Alex

Every team could, but when you are a feeder team to a Stanley Cup contending team, you wish in one hand and … well, you know the rest.

In your opinion, what will the state of the AHL be, in say 10 years? It seems like the league changes constantly every year now. Will there ever be period of time of “stability” for the league?
– Chrs

You answered the first part of your question with your next sentence and to answer your final question, what many perceive as “stability” may be the never ending shifts in franchises moving.

For those unaware, the San Antonio Rampage will be going away at the end of the year. The franchise was purchased by the Vegas Golden Knights and pending AHL Board of Governors approval, will play their games in Henderson, NV next season while a new arena is built. That leaves the Rampage’s NHL affiliate, the St. Louis Blues and the Golden Knights current AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, without an AHL/NHL partner. Those two will probably pair up again. The model of an NHL team owning an AHL affiliate and stashing those assets close by is catching on.

I don’t know what that is going to do with the Pacific Division which right now has seven teams and with Henderson coming in next season gives them eight and with Palm Springs coming in 2021-22 would give them nine. Nine is too many. Does Colorado join the Central Division and go from playing 68 to 76 games then? Everyone flies there for two games then flies out. Will the AHL be at a point where everyone plays 72 games? Chicago, Hershey, Providence and other teams that do well with Sunday games may never allow that. This new AHL Commissioner coming in (David Andrews is retiring at the end of the season) has a plateful of moving tasks that are huge in getting the league shaped up for the next decade or beyond.

Good stuff this month. Thanks for all the questions.

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