Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Mailbag

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?
– TMP

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.

Mailbag Monday 2/10

After an 0-2 weekend and losses to the Bears and Phantoms, I figured now is as good a time as any to fire up the mailbag, so get those questions ready for another version of the Chirps from Center Ice Mailbag. Ask anything you want, you don’t even have to give your real name. I’ll have a blog piece later in the week with answers to all your questions.

Fire away below…

This Mailbag is closed. Click here for the answers and check back soon for another Mailbag.

Asked and Answered 1/7

Let’s open up the mailbag and jump into the questions this go around….

If you can name one player that has been consistent who would it be? Just about half way into the season, do you think they trade someone for a goal scoring forward or just stay put and let the young guys develop for next season?

– Rose

Niclas Almari’s name is one that is coming up as a guy who, in his first North American season, has really been consistent. However, he’s kind of tied to an anchor with Macoy Erkamps. Through the weekend, Almari has a 46% goals for percentage overall and a 52.58% at even strength. I have enjoyed watching him step into an increased role with the injuries to the veteran defensemen in David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman, but his numbers are being dragged down a bit by Erkamps who has a 36.17% / 44.74 overall and at even strength goals for percentage. Some of the holes in this team is lack of depth scoring and defense, and a lot of that shows above.

As far as a trade goes, I think it’s a good possibility you see Penguins Head Coach Mike Vellucci tinker with the lineup like he has been these past few weeks. Stripped down to it’s bare bones right now, it’s not a playoff team. But, once Warsofsky and Trotman get healthy and Kevin Czuczman returns from his Pittsburgh stint, the defense will beef up and guys like Matt Abt, Macoy Erkamps and Michael Kim will be out of the lineup and depending on the health of the forwards in Pittsburgh you’ll eventually get Joseph Blandisi and Andrew Agozzino back. Working in a trade to help bolster the lineup even more isn’t out of the equation by any means.

Just my opinion, although I’m sure others have a similar opinion, would like to see what you have to say about it so here goes… Casey goes from goaltender of the month in November stopping almost everything in his path, to in the majority of December and so far January can’t seem to A. Respond when a goal is scored against him and B. Has essentially been outright awful giving up 4,5,6 goals a game, at what point does Vellucci give him a little break to regroup mentally, because in my mind you can win games scoring 2,3,4 goals in this league but if your running a goalie out who can’t stop anything you just won’t win. Just curious to see what anyone may like to add to this.

– Jeff

Tough spot. Casey DeSmith should be in the NHL but because of the play of Tristan Jarry, he’s here collecting his NHL salary living out of a hotel. I think right now he would have to be god awful in goal in order to be replaced by Dustin Tokarski as the full time starter. Half of your defensive corps are hurt or on recall, Stefan Noesen is gone, Anthony Angello accounted for more than 75% of the offense in the past month. Are they a better team playing in front of Dustin Tokarski? I think Friday’s result against Hershey answered that question pretty resoundly. The team has a lot of problems right now, but the staff you have playing goaltender isn’t one of them.

Between Michael Kim and Matt Abt as the #5 and #6 on D when anyone is called up or injured clearly doesn’t seem to be cutting it most nights, why do we think those seem to be our best options? Siebenaler has been great all season in the Wheel, and I get at the time we had a Vet issue but now that we do not, I’m sure Reid McNeill is available I mean even Aaron Titcomb would be worth a shot, just curious to see what anyone else may think. Because I can’t seem to wrap my head around why we aren’t trying anything different, Vellucci is supposed to be a mastermind behind the bench and [I don’t know] how he likes running Kim out there every night.

– Jeff

Right now (as of January 6) the Wheeling Nailers have played 34 games and have a 16-14-4 record with a 101-115 / -14 goal differential. The Penguins have a 17-14-3-2 record and a 95-111 / -16 goal differential. I don’t see much difference there as far as a numbers or goal prevention model to advocate recalling a guy from Wheeling for the sake of at this point. I would be game to have McNeill come back in on a PTO, but the issue there is he’s found work already playing in Denmark.

I think Vellucci is simply riding the storm out now and is hoping that Warsofsky and some combination of Trotman or Czuczman is ready by next week’s Texas trip. Playing three divisional home games this week is a bit of a gamble based off of the teams recent run of form, but I think it may be too soon to hit the panic button just yet.

What do you think the team could do to increase attendance?

– Josh

I mean the Friday ticket deals for $15 with $2 beers till 7:30 seem like a great deal to me. I think they are doing all they reasonably can to help with attendance, only nine weekday games this year, two on Sundays and the rest are Saturday and Sunday. Short of giving tickets away for free, I really don’t know what more they can do. If people aren’t interested then you could give tickets away for free and the building still be half empty. I don’t listen to terrestrial radio at all around here so I don’t know how much of the team exposure is out there on the radio airwaves. Attendance was good these past Saturday’s with the lower bowl close to capacity. I think the days of sellouts are long gone. There will always be interest, but waiting until May of 2019 to announce an arena extension probably drove people with faint interest in a season ticket package away in early March or April. We’ll have to see how it rebounds for next year.

Why didn’t they wear the Spongebob jerseys Saturday?

– Todd

From what I gathered, the acquisition of Cole Cassels threw a monkey wrench in the whole deal. Because they couldn’t come up with a number and name plate for him in time, they scrapped the whole concept of the specialty jerseys as game worns altogether and just ran the in arena promotions and the silent auction on the concourse.

Personally, I think they would have looked ridiculous in cartoon character jerseys meant for kids. But, the proceeds of the whole idea were for kids, so who am I to say as someone with no kids.

I know it’s kind of a broad question, but do we know what this team “is” yet? It’s January, but I can’t find an ounce of personality in this team. Does the returning D-corp do anything to bolster their play? On a side note, is Ben Sexton the new Beau Bennett?

– Mike

I think it is kind of hard to identify a personality of a team whose roster is in flux so much night after night. At the start of the season, it was a veteran problem where you never knew who was in over another. Also, some of the veterans who departed just weren’t any good other than just a dime a dozen field filler role player which every team has. Now, it’s less because it’s a bare bones staff of players in a slog of a schedule that you are trying to fight out of.

Funny that you mention no personality because as I am sitting here thinking of all the characters that have gone through here, I remember guys like Ben Lovejoy, Dennis Bonvie, Paul Bissonnette, Steve MacIntyre, Patrick McGrath and others who, no matter what their skill level was, gave it their all on a nightly basis. Also, of those players mentioned nearly everyone fought, and fighting is something they are stripping away from the game. Listen next time you are at a game at the chatter around you whenever there is a dust up or pushing and shoving. The fans want fighting, they want something to cheer for and they want to be entertained. You aren’t getting that with what they are trying to do to ban fighting and in some degree to answer Josh’s question above, that’s why people stop coming.

To your other point, certainly getting the services of Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky and Kevin Czuczman reinserted back into the lineup will help the Penguins overall. I think that goes without saying.

Finally, I agree with you that it would be fair to ask just what the hell is up with Ben Sexton. A player is useless when he’s always hurt. You aren’t “week to week” when you haven’t played a single game all season, and we are in mid-January now. If he’s out, just say he’s out. He’s had no impact, so it’s not like he’s missed at all.

Hi – who awards the stars of the game and what is the deciding factor for a player to receive that award? Thanks!!

– Marilyn J

I had someone named Jean ask the same question in this mailbag also. The off ice guys award the stars of the game in Wilkes-Barre. I always used to think it was press row that did it but as someone who has been in the press box for games in the building, they do not. I think it is off ice guys pretty much in every AHL building except for Hershey, and the only reason I know that is because I saw someone hand Tim Leone, the now retired, long time beat writer for the Bears, a three stars slip once. That said, I don’t know if they do it there like that anymore either.

As for decisive factors, my guess is the player would have had to have a significant impact in the game in some form or fashion. Game winning goals, first goals, monumental points, a shutout, hat tricks, that sort of stuff.

Good stuff this week. Hopefully, they turn it around here in the near future and are a playoff team by the all star break.

Mailbag Monday 1/6

I suspect there may be a lot to talk about out there so let’s get those questions in so we can do another mailbag. The Penguins are in a tail spin and spilling points everywhere with a bare bones staff currently. Let’s open up the floor to questions. If I get enough of responses, I’ll run the answers here Tuesday, if not, we’ll run them Wednesday morning before the Charlotte game that evening.

Name (doesn’t have to be your real one) and question. Fire away.

Mailbag is closed. Answers to your questions are here. Thanks for submitting!

Asked and Answered 12/11

Lots of questions in the mailbag this week so let’s get right to them…

1 being Completely Not Worried, 10 being Extremely Worried… 1-10 How alarmed should Wilkes-Barre / Scranton fans be of the teams recent form from this past week (1 out of 6 points)? Also, I know you have been attending games for a long time at Mohegan Sun Arena… Is there any hidden gem vendors or food stands you highly recommend?
– Matt

After one weekend? A four. The Penguins caught a team they never played before in Texas on a run that sometimes a team goes on which makes them unbeatable (Hershey last year, after the start of the New Year) and gave away points to a non-Conference opponent. Texas’ speed was on full display and it was something that the Penguins couldn’t keep up with. One of the fastest guys on the team in Adam Johnson is hit in the head with a puck from his own teammate in Jon Lizotte Friday and was out. Hard to combat that.

You can’t get too worked up over one bad weekend when you came off of an almost perfect November (9-2-1-1, 20 points out of a possible 26) – you just can’t. Now, if the trend continues (Rochester is an elite North Division team and the Penguins have not had much success there) and Cleveland is a bit inconsistent, but find me an AHL team which isn’t. The Penguins have to be careful here.

As for vendors, the stand right behind me in 104 has a decent chicken sandwich. They give you chips and a pickle. I add BBQ sauce. It is tasty. Also there is a nacho vendor across from me in 118/119 that has all the toppings you can think of for nachos besides your heated up cheese-wiz and olives. Chickie’s and Pete’s isn’t bad either, but they baste everything there in one big salt lick. The Roast Beast located in the Lion’s Den (enter the East gate, make a left, past Tim Horton’s, next stand on your left) is a good choice too. My best advice is come to the game on a full stomach.

Is there any consideration for future cross AHL blogging? Even though I’m a Hershey fan, your interview with 100 Degree Hockey was very enjoyable. I know it’s not a question about the state of WBS … but it would be awesome to see more of.
– Chrs

A long time ago, I used to host a divisional summit with fans and bloggers of all the teams in the division. Thing is, I have lost contact with most of them and with all the other things going on with the blog (the Stat Board, AHL Power Rankings, a real job, etc.) it hasn’t come up as an idea in recent times. Also, I don’t know anyone in Hartford, Providence or Bridgeport outside of media that goes to or blogs about those teams such as I do. So it would be an incomplete effort if I chose to resurrect it. However as this is an ever evolving project of mine, it may be worth considering because you aren’t the first person to tell me how much they enjoyed that piece with Stephen.

What is your view/projection for this team right now? I know call ups factor in to some degree but it feels like inconsistency is setting in..
– Tracey

I don’t see inconsistency. One bad weekend does not a season make.

As far as a projection, I think it is too soon to concede the division. I don’t honestly know how long Hartford can sustain the run they have been on. Now, the Wolf Pack did win all three of their games this past weekend and crushed an overall good Providence team in the process Sunday. They have resurrected themselves and are on top of the Atlantic Division again….I think two PA teams make playoffs. Right now Lehigh Valley is too banged up and far too inconsistent to be considered one of the two. That leaves Hartford, Springfield and Providence (assuming Wilkes-Barre and Hershey are locks) for two more spots. I like Providence over Springfield and Hartford and whomever between the Wolf Pack and Springfield are the least inconsistent and the time. The Thunderbirds always play the Penguins tough and you’ll get no argument from me if you tell me that they are the bigger divisional rival at present over the Phantoms and Bears. They, too, struggle with consistency.

To answer straight up the question, a three seed starting playoffs on the road either against Providence or Hershey.

1. Why do you think Vellucci is not playing Dustin Tokarski in goal? 2. Ryan Haggerty has been quiet and not scoring. Do you think they should try him on the top line right side with Stefan Noesen gone it might get him going or do you think he’s too slow for that line?
– Rose

They don’t need to play Tokarski in goal right now for two reasons: 1. Casey DeSmith is going to get the lion share of starts, 2. Emil Larmi is someone they see as their future in goal and want to immerse him into as much of the North American playing experience as possible. It’s obvious right now that Larmi is getting some mentoring from DeSmith. Also, while I am not covering practices or anything like that being around the team day-to-day, Tokarski could be simply resting up whatever it is that ailed him at the beginning of the season. The more and more Tristan Jarry plays well in Pittsburgh, the more and more that all goaltenders (Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith included) become trade bait for another NHL team. Eventually, Tokarski will get his reps. He’s a two time Calder Cup winning goaltender and right now a very valuable AHL insurance piece barring injury, trade or call-up.

Ryan Haggerty has been a victim of the veteran rule. I don’t see him as a top liner at all. I think right now, they really like Jan Drozg as the replacement for Noesen for as long as he stays up with Pittsburgh.

Without Stefan Noesen, the first line doesn’t look nearly as lethal. With Hershey getting hot and WBS already being in 3rd, can this team make the playoffs without him?
– Josh

Yes. I don’t foresee Noesen’s stay with Pittsburgh being permanent first of all. I think they like Sam Lafferty as the 13th forward more so than Noesen. Now, you run the risk of Noesen being scooped up as a waiver claim, but I think he passes without incident if put on. If another NHL team wanted him, they would have signed him in October. Sure, he worked last week on the second line up there and scored a goal. But then they put him on the fourth line and while I didn’t watch any of the game in Detroit Saturday, reports were that the fourth line overall didn’t have an overly grand showing. Does it continue? I guess you can read those tea leaves this week when Pittsburgh plays Montreal, Columbus and the LA Kings. Where they and how they apply Noesen should foreshadow whether or not he remains in the lineup when Bryan Rust and Sidney Crosby return in a few weeks.

As far as playoffs? Bridgeport, Charlotte and one PA team which I think right now is Lehigh Valley isn’t going to make it. That leaves you in a battle with a team like Springfield. I like the Penguins chances now, but it is still too early to say even with my perditions they finish third in the question above, especially in this league.

Has a WBS Penguin ever looked as ineffective while scoring at a point per game pace as Agozzino has this season? He hasn’t brought anything to the ice aside from scoring, much of which seems to come on the power play anyway.
– Mike

You know, it’s a very interesting way to look at it. When Stefan Noesen signed his NHL contract last week with Pittsburgh, he accounted for a third of the goals scored for Wilkes-Barre at the time. The thing is, so did Agozzino. Andrew actually took over the point scoring lead from Noesen with his power play goal on Friday and now leads the team in scoring with 24 points. Agozzino has been on the ice for 14 goals on the power play, and 20 at even strength. However, and I think this is where you are going with this, 16 goals scored against have come with Agozzino and the top line on the ice. That isn’t something that you want just 25 games into the season over the course of an entire 76 game campaign. The same can also be said about Agozzino’s linemates in Noesen (12 goals against at even strength) and Miletic (12 also) so you may be onto something here which is definitely worth keeping an eye on going forward.

Why doesn’t Mike Vellucci like Anthony Angello? On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving he was benched for the 3rd period and he is getting hardly any power play/penalty kill time. Last year he was used whenever possible and got as much ice time as Lafferty. Is it an issue this year with effort? Or maybe attitude? He is a guy who is quick, has size, can hit, and can shoot. I don’t see a reason why he shouldn’t be playing whenever possible.
– Josh

Well, let’s examine the numbers again.

Angello has appeared in every contest (25 games through this past Sunday) this season. He’s got a 50% goals for differential 16 goals scored for and against while he was on the ice and 42.86% at even strength (12 for, 16 against) and has been applied on the second power play unit for the most part. Penalty minutes aren’t a problem, he only has 24 of them. He’s 23 years old in his second full professional year. He has the size, 6’5, 210 and has the body of an NHL-er but his skating is so-so and he lacks Adam Johnson-like speed. Should he be further along in his development as a viable NHL call-up? I believe Mike Vellucci thinks so. He should be scoring more. He has seven points as someone who has played in the top six for a vast majority of the 25 games on a team that dominated the month of November. I think it is a bit of tough love from the coaching staff that yes, you have all of the physical assets to contribute at the AHL level, but it’s the coaches job to graduate players to the NHL and not allow them to stagnate when they have the size to be in the NHL. They clearly want more from him.

When do you think Brandon Hawkins gets called up? Personally I think he’s been better than Drozg, and he just scored a hat trick.
– Emma

When there is room. Right now, you’re replacing him with who on the wing exactly? You can maybe argue one of the veterans in Ryan Haggerty or Andreas Martinsen, but you aren’t taking Sam Miletic, Thomas DiPauli or Anthony Angello out of the lineup unless one gets called up or injured, another veteran returns (Czuczman, but then you need to get creative) and if Stefan Noesen returns forget about it.

What I always tell folks in situations like this (one guy over another) is ask yourself who has the NHL contract. Right now, it’s Jan Drozg, not Hawkins. Since we are, at our base, a developmental league for the NHL, it’s those types of players that get the nod over someone else. It may not be fair, it’s just how it works.

Now, if Hawkins continues to impress in Wheeling, the Penguins will have no choice but to make room for him in the lineup.

It seems as though WBS is keeping more players available/around than in previous years. Is this the case?
– John

When you trade away all the draft picks and the kitchen sink for winning two Stanley Cups in the span of three seasons, faces on the farm are going to look familiar, no matter how good or how bad the team is. All of the better players (Teddy Blueger, Jake Guentzel, Chad Ruhwedel, Zach Aston-Reese) move up and then you are left with the ‘AAAA’ players that sometimes go up but often return (Blandisi, Trotman, etc.)

Thank you to all who asked questions this time around. I like the once a month concept I think and this will definitely be back in a few weeks.

Mailbag Monday 12/9

So, after a 0-2-1 weekend for the Penguins and the first bit of adversity facing the team with Stefan Noesen up with Pittsburgh and dropping all three games, time to dust off the mailbag.

Send in anything on your mind related to the team below. If there are a lot questions, we will have a post Wednesday morning in advance of that night’s game in Rochester against the Americans. If you don’t then I have nothing to answer and the concept of a mailbag goes away for good. I decided to bring it off the shelf here after a weekend of bad results for the Penguins.

Send questions below:

Mailbag is closed. Answers here. Thanks for all the questions this time, we will do this again in a month or so.

Asked and Answered 11/13

Let’s open up the Mailbag and get to your questions with some answers.

Best Pens Defenseman? Any younger D making an impression? -Rob

The answer is Jon Lizotte to both questions. In the larger sample size, he’s far and away the best Penguins defenseman when it comes to overall goals for and at even strength. I think in the long run Zach Trotman may give him a run for his money, but the answer, right now, is Jon Lizotte.

Honorable mentions to Nicolas Almari and Michael Kim. Almari moreso than Kim. Almari I feel is more polished because he played overseas and more NHL ready right now if you needed a recall.

If Stefan Noesen continues to play well do you think the penguins or another NHL team offers him a NHL contract. – Jim

Pittsburgh no, other NHL teams, possibly. I think Noesen likes it here and him leading the team and AHL in goals scored shows this. Guys that drop out of the NHL can go back to the AHL where they played 10-15 years ago and pout and go through the motions. Not Noesen. You’re not coming here and in a month start tearing the AHL to shreds if you don’t like it here.

Is Noesen playing in the NHL again this season? No, I don’t think so. An NHL team would have to be desperate enough to be out of options with their own AHL affiliate to offer Noesen a lucrative contract and at best he’s a fill in.

If you had to answer right now, Do you think Jake Lucchini will make the NHL for the Penguins? – Matt

He’s got to button up his own end defensively, 37.5% overall GF%, 42.11% at even strength, but yes I think he’s on the right track and his NHL debut for Pittsburgh shouldn’t be too far off.

Thanks for the questions. Gameday setup for tonight’s game vs. Hershey will be up at 3. I have to remember to not run a mailbag feature when there are Wednesday games.