Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

Wednesday Notes 5/15

Some news for Wednesday.

First, if you are a Penguins Season Ticket Holder (erm, Member) of any kind, check your e-mail. The Penguins have a new online account manager you can use to manage your tickets. For me, as a five year Member, my invoice for my seats are there on their portal. I can opt to pay now or wait for the actual invoice to come in the mail next week. I spoke to my ticket rep Brandon this morning about it. Here’s the page which has a little booklet on how to sign up for the portal. The Penguins have to have your e-mail in order for you to have access to the portal as that’s the only way to log in. It’s housed through Ticketmaster, so if you are comfortable giving your credit or bank card through there, you can get started.

Second, Anthony Peters is the first name off of the 2019 Offseason Moves List (tab above) as he has signed with the Isterholn Roosters in the DEL. Tyler had some nice words about Peters you can read here.

Peters, as a person, was probably a hell of a guy. Let’s just leave it there.

Third, the Penguins signed Kasper Bjorkvist to his two year entry level deal. Some words on him…

And then Jonathan had a thread that starts here:

I would guess that Bjorkvist, provided his shoulder doesn’t hinder him this summer, pushes for a good look in Pittsburgh before he’s sent here to tear up the AHL for a little bit before going up for good. Put him on a Jake Guentzel (his last season here) trajectory vs. a Teddy Blueger (overripened here) one, meaning that Bjorkvist is here for two months, maybe three, before going up for good in January or February 2020.

Or he could get a whole season here with a few looks here and there in the NHL. Who knows. This is professional hockey now. They aren’t kids anymore.

Finally, the Buffalo Sabres have their new head coach and it’s not Clark Donatelli. There had been some scuttlebutt recently due to the Jason Botterill connection that Donatelli was a candidate for the position based off of an article I saw from The Athletic Buffalo a while ago.

I think that’s everything. I signed up for Elite Prospects Premium to help cobble together the AHL Big Board this summer and to stay on top of the signings before during and after the free agent frenzy. I also found a way to easily (well, it takes some work) to port all the names into a spreadsheet to work off of in the build. Cobbling together all the names is the hardest part. Work smart, not hard.

More as it comes, as always. I didn’t see anything on a schedule matrix of opponents and there wasn’t anything from the League on division changes out of their Meetings last week, so you didn’t miss anything on that front. If I see something, it will run here.

Oh, Charlotte, Toronto, Chicago and San Diego are your final four. I still like the Checkers and Wolves chances of advancing to the Finals.

Have a great rest of the week.

Extension Announced in Principle 5/6

“Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” – Mark Twain

In a joint statement made around noon on Monday, the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority and the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins jointly announced this morning that both parties have reached an agreement in principle on a 10-year contract lease extension to keep the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League in Northeast Pennsylvania. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed, with that coming Wednesday, May 8 at a press conference after the regularly scheduled Authority meeting.

If you have been following the story since the beginning, I am sure you have heard and maybe even shared some rumors as to the fate of the team. I sure have heard a lot. In part and in some form or fashion, I’ve heard the following:

– The New Jersey Devils are coming in and placing their AHL affiliate here. This one came up a lot during the season. They allegedly toured the Arena a couple times.

– Clark Donatelli’s maid works with someone who has tickets to games and he came home mad one day that he had to pull his kids out of school and move them back to Wheeling, West Virginia because the teams higher ups told him they were moving the franchise to Wheeling.

That was a good one.

– The Penguins were moving the AHL affiliate either to Johnstown, the Penguins practice facility, Wheeling, West Virginia, Youngstown, Ohio, State College, Altoona or some other ridiculous outlier territory.

I heard my fair share.

Someone in Pittsburgh told one of our Booster Club members that the team was moving. It was heard either in a restaurant, a parking lot, at the actual game, in the street, the hotel or otherwise. Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan can see one of his players go down in the first ten minutes of a game and when asked two hours later what the status of said player is he would respond, “I don’t know.” – so you are telling me and want me to believe that a team that is so tight lipped about injuries is somehow going to let leak what the status is with its top farm team and actual contract negotiations?

P.T. Barnum was right, there is a sucker born every minute.

Best one I saw that caused a lot of stir was that because the team store out in Pittsburgh wasn’t selling Wilkes-Barre merchandise was a sure sign that the team was pulling out. I still laugh at that one, as if the part time associate selling pins and stickers really has a pulse on top level, behind closed doors, non-disclosured negotiations.

As. If.

I could go on and I can pile on, but the fact of the matter is this. No one has it better than we do. No one. There is going to be hockey in the 2019-2020 season here in Wilkes-Barre and beyond, foreseeable for the next ten seasons.

I didn’t believe a thing anyone one told me regarding negotiations because a) Hello! Non-disclosure! And, b) What they were slinging at me was easily discounted when you apply common sense. The cities presented didn’t make any sense. Wheeling’s building is 40 years old and the one in Johnstown is older than that, and explain to me again how you can play AHL hockey in Altoona next year when there’s no building to play in again? Or did you mean Erie? Or was it Altoona? Oil City? What a pity….

Exactly.

I’ll leave you with this. It’s a song from the most successful all female rock band of all time, The Go-Go’s. It’s the song, “Our Lips Are Sealed,” and it’s kind of apropos when you think of it, because you didn’t hear a peep, chirp or single squeak from anyone on, associated with or employed by 40 Coal Street, which is where the Wilkes-Barre / Penguins offices are located regarding lease negotiations. I listened to and consumed pretty much every product that the team put out this season in print, audio, visual or otherwise. No one said a thing, leaked a thing or led on to anything. Their lips were indeed sealed.

Meanwhile, the noise. The Devils are moving in, the team is moving, because of this, means that, or whatever. I took it all in. I read the nonsense, heard the rumors. I applied logic. Give this a spin, read the lyrics, and think of the last six to nine months and all the ridiculousness you’ve heard.

We are here. We are staying here. No one has it better than we do. And now, to play me off my soapbox, ladies and gentlemen, The Go-Go’s……..

Can you hear them?
They talk about us
Telling lies
Well, that’s no surprise

Can you see them?
See right through them
They have no shield
No secrets to reveal

It doesn’t matter what they say
In the jealous games people play
Our lips are sealed

There’s a weapon
That we must use
In our defense
Silence reveals

When you look at them
Look right through them
That’s when they’ll disappear
That’s when we’ll be feared

It doesn’t matter what they say
In the jealous games people play
Our lips are sealed

Pay no mind to what they say
It doesn’t matter anyway
Our lips are sealed

Hush, my darling
Don’t you cry
Quiet, angel
Forget their lies

Can you hear them?
They talk about us
Telling lies
Well, that’s no surprise

Can you see them?
See right through them
They have no shield
No secrets to reveal

It doesn’t matter what they say
In the jealous games people play
Our lips are sealed

Pay no mind to what they say
It doesn’t matter anyway

Our lips are sealed
Our lips are sealed
Our lips are sealed

Di Pauli Re-Signs 4/30

Some more signing news as it was announced Tuesday that Thomas Di Pauli re-signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Di Pauli, considered “week to week” since going down with an injury in late December against Bridgeport is the second signing made by Pittsburgh to set up their farm team in 2019-20* in the wake of Joseph Cramarossa signing last week.

Di Pauli has battled injuries for most of his professional career. He was limited to just 29 games last year. He’s a decent penalty killer and always scores against Hershey it seems. His trajectory was pointing upward until his season was derailed from whatever his “week to week” injury was that cost him the final 15 weeks of the season.

The gamble is that the injury issues are behind the Notre Dame product and he’ll shape out to be one of the better players on the AHL roster for next season. It’s a low risk, potential for high reward signing.

* – still no announcement on a lease agreement for 2019-2020 and beyond between the Penguins and the Arena Authority. It is going to be May 1 on Wednesday. The next arena meeting is May 8. Are we going to get more, “we are negotiating” and “the sides are close” or is this really going to drag out yet another month coming into the month of June and the 11th hour when the lease expires on June 30? I am honestly tired of waiting, am about all out of patience and would like some closure on this in some form or fashion as it has been percolating since the season began in October 2018. 

We’ll wait as we have been, non-disclosures be damned, but as Benjamin Franklin once said, “You may delay, but time will not.”

Cramarossa Re-Signs 4/27

The Pittsburgh Penguins first order of business in their offseason was a re-signing for their AHL affiliate* for the 2019-20 season.

Joseph Cramarossa re-signed for 2019-20.

16 points for the veteran forward in Wilkes-Barre in 2018-19. The signing doesn’t jump off the page to me and I let my opinion known on Twitter on Friday when the unofficial news started breaking.

Quickly, I was told that Cramarossa was one of the Penguins best penalty killers. A penalty kill that finished in the bottom third of the AHL overall last season (26th), but a solid penalty killer nevertheless.

I suppose.

A fair point. I don’t suppose that anyone necessarily stood out from the others on a team that finished sixth in an eight team division and missed the playoffs for the first time in over fifteen years.

It is what it is.

Calder Cup Playoffs are continuing. Charlotte beat Providence in four games in the only series I got right in my predictions from last week. The rest? Yuck.

* – no announcement on a lease yet. League normally puts out a release on alignment changes in the second week of May and teams start releasing their schedule matrices around the same time (May 11 last year and the year before) so you would think that we are up against the gun here on an announcement. That will probably be the next blog post. Hopefully. Stay tuned.

Blandisi and Yates Up, Hello Lucchini

What’s the old saying, “It Comes in Threes?”

The Penguins as an organization made a trio of moves Monday that are worth a blog entry. So here goes.

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed undrafted free agent Jake Lucchini to an entry level contract which will kick in in 2019-2020. For the time being, he will join Wilkes-Barre on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2018-19 season and report to Coal Street on Tuesday.

Coal Street’s press release has all the details for you. Captain of Michigan Tech this past season and had 11 goals and 15 assists in 38 games.

Check out his picture too, with link to the Coal Street release here. Look at that hair.

Zach Aston-Reese picked up a lower body knock in Sunday’s game against Boston. As a result, Pittsburgh recalled Joseph Blandisi on an emergency basis Monday afternoon.

Minutes after, Coal Street recalled Trevor Yates from Wheeling. Since coming over in the trade with Grand Rapids for future considerations, Yates has been a point a game player with the Nailers with 14 points in 14 games.

So that’s that on a Monday. Pens are in action Wednesday in Allentown taking on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7. Gameday setup is yours here on the blog then at 3.

J-S Dea Traded; Teddy Blueger Re-Assigned on Trade Deadline

I’ll let the tweets speak for themselves.

Hart also noted that J.S. Dea leaves the Penguins with the fifth-most games played (288), fifth-most goals (72), sixth-most points (91) and second-most game winning goals in franchise history.

Also…

Looks like a straight up re-assignment.

And…

So expect that Tuesday.

Or Monday.

Jonathan reached out with some news I didn’t see anywhere…

I followed up and asked about Zach Aston-Reese who does not need waivers.

Also, Chris Wideman will report to Wilkes-Barre, per the AHL transaction page.

So that’s all for today.

Monday Notes 2/11

Bunch of stuff to get to today, so let’s get after it.

Here is a recap of Sunday afternoon’s action…

Bridgeport beats Utica in overtime 5-4. Pens have two games in hand and see the Sound Tigers two more times.

Providence shuts out what was a rested Syracuse team 4-0. Pens and Bruins are even on games played with 50. They meet three more times.

Lehigh Valley beats Hartford 5-2. That’s a split with the Wolf Pack this weekend. Wilkes-Barre and Lehigh Valley are on same games played and play six more times.

Hershey keeps winning, sweeping Charlotte with a 2-1 win Sunday. That is points in 12 straight for the Bears. Hershey has a game in hand on the Pens and these teams meet just three more times, with one of those games this Wednesday in Hershey.

Wilkes-Barre has three more games with Springfield and two more with Hartford.

Here is a look at the standings through Sunday night:

Charlotte 71
Bridgeport 62
Providence 59
Lehigh Valley 57
—–
Hershey 55
PENGUINS 53
Springfield 52
Hartford 46

So a lot of catching up to do but room to improve with six more matchups with Lehigh Valley. I have a feeling that just one Pennsylvania team is going to make playoffs. No one is going to catch Charlotte and even if they do, I can’t see them falling out of contention entirely. Bridgeport looks OK for now and Providence just had a twelve point run snapped on Saturday, they are good. So it’s really down to Wilkes-Barre, Hershey and Lehigh Valley for the final spot in the playoffs. I don’t see Springfield recovering and you can stick a fork in Hartford.

Monday, some news came out. Troy Josephs was released from his contract to head overseas. He’s the second such Penguins prospect (Freddie Tiffels at the beginning of the season) to bolt overseas. Josephs was more than a point a game player and one of the best players for the Wheeling Nailers.

Josephs had just three assists in 11 contests for the Pens this season. I think that he was long overdue a shot at AHL work given the fact that Wilkes-Barre has an unproductive veteran overage. Surely Josephs could produce at or better than some of the bottom six forwards that Clark Donatelli puts out on a nightly basis? Ask yourself this, Cam Brown has seemed to carve a nice niche here in Wilkes-Barre. No knock against him intended, but I were to ask you at the start of the season who would stick in the AHL between Brown and Josephs, most of you pick Josephs. Is is coachability? Attitude? Something else I am missing?

That, with Freddie Tiffels bolting before the season really got going, doesn’t set the best look.

I am not ready to have discussions over a debate about coaching vs. general manager yet. I will say this, there is a price that the Pittsburgh Penguins paid to win back to back Stanley Cups. It is starting to slowly erode and the first place it is felt is through the minor league system.

And there is nothing wrong with that per se, provided it pays off for you and it has mightily for the Penguins in the last three seasons.

One other piece of news for this Monday, in the form of a trade!

The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired right handed defenseman Blake Siebenaler from the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday for a conditional seventh round pick. Siebenaler will report to Wilkes-Barre. He has 17 games played this season for the Cleveland Monsters with a goal and an assist and a -11 rating. Professionally, Siebenaler is a -31 in three seasons for Cleveland with a total of seven goals, seven assists, including this season. He’s been injured for the Monsters and Cleveland hasn’t been the best AHL team overall in the last three years since winning the Calder Cup in 2015-16, so maybe a change in scenery will do well for him.

Scouting reports based off of what I have seen on Twitter include the following:

I also saw on Twitter that Siebenaler was a fan favorite in Cleveland and a very passionate player. He has a very hard shot from the blue line also.

The condition on the pick? Siebenaler would have to play in 10 NHL games for Pittsburgh and Columbus would get a seventh round pick from Pittsburgh. That probably isn’t happening, so it’s a contract dump for Columbus and some help for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, however I would be the first to admit that the Penguins biggest problem isn’t keeping pucks out of their net as much as it is depositing them into the nets of the opponents.

So there you have it. Back here on Wednesday with the Gameday setup against Hershey.