Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

Trade Deadline Eve – Moves So Far

We are just under 24 hours from the NHL Trade Deadline and there have been some moves made and some moves setting up future moves which I would like to discuss in some capacity.

Focusing only in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, here’s what happened so far…

button_16pit200   Pittsburgh / Wilkes-Barre   WBS

Eric Fehr is on waivers. $2,000,000 salary is all yours if you claim him by noon Wednesday. If not, Pittsburgh can assign him to Wilkes-Barre and save $950,000 in cap money and frees up a roster spot with Pittsburgh.

Here’s what I think: Fehr goes unclaimed and isn’t immediately assigned to Wilkes-Barre. Depending on what moves GM Jim Rutherford tries to swing in either trying to move Marc-Andre Fleury or trading for another defensemen, Fehr goes unclaimed, stays in Pittsburgh with the option of being moved to Wilkes-Barre if the need arises. Do I think we ever see Fehr in Wilkes-Barre? It’s a possibility. I hope so, the pun possibilities for this blog would increase exponentially.

You needed to be on waivers today in order to be assigned to the AHL Wednesday for the playoff run. The only every day name Wilkes-Barre fans are familiar with which was not waived was Chad Ruhwedel. Consider him up for good with Pittsburgh as the seventh defenseman.

Steve Oleksy and Cameron Gaunce are still technically waiver exempt. They should be papered down along with Carter Rowney, who should be assigned for real this week with the news that Conor Sheary participated in full at practice Tuesday as well as Jake Guentzel. Guentzel getting papered down is risk free, and keeps him developing playoff skills if Pittsburgh should get knocked out of the playoffs before Wilkes-Barre.

button_wsh200   Washington / Hershey   HER

Late Monday, Washington swung a trade with St. Louis for the services of unrestricted free agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. There were picks involved which I didn’t pay attention to. The other bodies involved were Zach Sanford, who was 4-1-5 against Wilkes-Barre this season, Brad Malone, who was a veteran scratch from time to time for the Bears and goaltender Pheonix Copley.

If you remember Copley, that’s because he was with Washington / Hershey last year. I think they moved him in a trade for someone and got him back.

Here’s what I think: Copley will get the lion share of starts for the Bears for the stretch run as told by Bears Head Coach Troy Mann to Kyle Mace Tuesday. Copley is a giant step up over whatever the hell Hershey tried in goal this season with a combination of Vitek Vanecek, Joe Cannata and Parker Milner. Milner and Vanecek are better served as backups and Cannata, who won 20 games with Utica last year, just never got comfortable with Hershey this year. Consider it Copley’s crease now for the 11 time Champs. Hershey has a long way to go and a short time to get there if they want to make the playoffs and they are going all in with the hope that Copley will be the bus that gets them there.

button_nyr200   NY Rangers / Hartford Wolf Pack   button_hfd200

The Rangers made a trade with the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday that saw Wolf Pack captain Mat Bodie get traded for Daniel Catenacci. Catenacci is a center with 13 points in 50 games for a bad Rochester team. So it’s a lateral move for Catenacci from one bad team to another.

Here’s what I think: Hartford is in last place in the Atlantic and it looks like they will finish there.

Trade Deadline is at 3 Wilkes-Barre time tomorrow. Depending on moves made which are notable I’ll have another blog post here Wednesday night breaking it all down.

Danny Kristo Traded – First Chip to Fall?

If you are a defenseman on the Pittsburgh Penguins, you have to look behind you constantly to watch out for the injury bug. Seems like every serviceable defenseman on the Penguins is out with something…

– Kris Letang – day-to-day with an upper body injury.
– Justin Schultz – concussion. Practiced Thursday but is still not cleared.
– Trevor Daley – announced today that he is out six weeks after having his left knee operated on.
– Olli Maatta – hand surgery. Out six weeks.

Brian Dumoulin and Ian Cole are the only regulars, for now, that haven’t had a hit put out on them from the injury bug. Dumoulin had his jaw broken earlier in the year.

Cameron Gaunce, Steve Oleksy and Chad Ruhwedel are players up in Pittsburgh that have played in Wilkes-Barre for a time. Oleksy and Ruhwedel have been the interchangeable seventh defensemen that, had all of the above defemsemen been healthy, one of two would still be in Pittsburgh.

So the Pittsburgh Penguins were in the market for a defensemen and Thursday they got one in the form of Ron Hainsey in a trade that saw Danny Kristo get shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hainsey will report to the NHL and Kristo will likely report to the Hurricanes AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.

Danny Kristo came over in the trade which saw Reid McNeill get sent to the St. Louis Blues in a change of scenery for both players earlier this year. Kristo appeared in 32 games and had six goals and five assists. You could tell a few games into his tenure that the fit wasn’t there. Kristo was touted as a goal scorer, but only scored December 3 against St. John’s before going cold and not scoring again until January 7 against Binghamton. He had been a healthy scratch here and there and depending on the way you analyze things, was getting bumped in the lineup in favor of Patrick McGrath.

Kristo’s departure leaves the Penguins with 14 forwards, only 13 of those are available for the weekend as Thomas DiPauli was ruled out for this weekend.

Wilkes-Barre plays the Utica Comets Friday and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Saturday on the road this weekend.

Gameday for the matchup against the Utica Comets will hit the blog Friday at 3 p.m.

Depth Charges

With Pittsburgh losing two defensemen Thursday night’s thrilling overtime victory against Winnipeg, the Pittsburgh Penguins recalled Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy from Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Friday morning.

It was announced that Olli Maatta is shelved for at least six weeks due to surgery on his left hand. I rag on the NHL and their archaic non-stance on actual injury updates, so much respect to Pittsburgh for actually disclosing what the injury was, what it took to fix it and a time table for recovery.

No such luck for Justin Schultz, who was hit along the boards by Dustin Byfuglien. Still don’t know if it’s upper or lower body or what the timetable is.

With Pittsburgh playing again tonight against Columbus, Sunday against Detroit, Tuesday against Carolina, Pittsburgh took two players from Wilkes-Barre.

Out of available players, Gaunce and Oleksy are probably the easiest for Pittsburgh to recall and Wilkes-Barre afford to lose. Derrick Pouliot, David Warsofsky, Tim Erixon and Stuart Percy remain in the AHL. Warsofsky is too valuable to recall, then possibly lose to waivers like he was last year. In the Gaunce / Oleksy recall, you are recalling one player to play with Chad Ruhwedel already in Pittsburgh and one player to sit. It’s probably Oleksy again.

If you haven’t realized yet, 50+ games into the season, Wilkes-Barre’s greatest strength is defense and goaltending. Pittsburgh can recall all the Jake Guentzel’s or Carter Rowney’s they want to, the defense is what gets the AHL Penguins to the best record in the AHL and a 10 point lead on the second place overall team in the league.

Penguins of all levels will be fine, provided no other injuries hit in the coming days. Wilkes-Barre should be seeing some combination of Josh Archibald or Carter Rowney back in town soon with Carl Hagelin and Conor Sheary making progress.

Wilkes-Barre recalled Christan Hilbrich from Wheeling before the defenseman recalls. They haven’t announced a move for another player from Wheeling in light of the recalls from Pittsburgh as of noon Friday.

In other news, the AHL Playoff Primer is out. Wilkes-Barre’s magic number is currently 37. A new twist this season is strength of schedule, listed in purple. The Penguins current strength of schedule is .576, third in the Atlantic Division. That number will change daily.

More later with the 3 p.m. Gameday setup against Albany and the post game recap later tonight.

Thursday Notes 1/26

Some roster moves made today.

Defenseman Steve Oleksy cleared waivers Thursday afternoon and his clearing paved the way to Carter Rowney’s recall from Wilkes-Barre to Pittsburgh. Rowney’s first NHL recall. To be determined is whether or not Rowney will actually dress when the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Boston Bruins tonight in Boston. Patric Hornqvist participated in the morning skate at TD Garden this morning and looked none the worse for wear. He’s listed as a game time decision.

If I were coaching the team instead of just blogging about it, I would let Hornqvist sit and dress Rowney. What is the point of holding Rowney out of Wednesday’s game against Syracuse, recalling him Thursday just to sit him and only send him back to Wilkes-Barre once the Penguins go on the all-star break? Let Hornqvist rest his leg and get closer to 100% and give Rowney a shot.

Jonathan had some interesting ideas based off of what can happen if Hornqvist can or can not go that you can read about here. He also had some quotes that Seth got from Tom Kostopoulos and Clark Donatelli on Rowney’s first call-up that are worth checking out as well.

Steve Oleksy is back in the AHL after spending the better part of the last two and a half months in the NHL. Oleksy’s last game with Wilkes-Barre was November 6 against the Providence Bruins.

In wake of the Oleksy reassignment, the Penguins, who now are overflowing with defensemen, sent Michael Webster back to Wheeling. Seth got confirmation from practice this morning that Tim Erixon will be available Friday against Utica and that Oskar Sundqvist should be back Saturday in Binghamton.

Brett Stern remains up with the Penguins for now. My guess here is that he will likely be sent down to Wheeling by the weekend. They are probably keeping him up to insure that Erixon is indeed totally fine to go Friday in Utica.

I think that about covers it. Any other roster moves made will be addressed in the postgame recap of the Penguins trip to Utica Friday night. Look for the Gameday setup Friday at 3.

Thursday Transactions 1/12

A couple of transactions for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins happened Thursday.

Goalie Doug Carr was released from his professional tryout agreement and has rejoined the Wheeling Nailers. Carr picked up a win Saturday against Binghamton, stopping 33 of 37 shots.

Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel was returned to Wilkes-Barre by Pittsburgh. It was Ruhwedel’s second recall of the season only this time he nevere appeared in any games. David Warsofsky it appears fro now has the dubious distinction of staying up on NHL recall while Brian Dumoulin recovers from his broken jaw.

I’m curious to wonder if Pittsburgh will send Warsofsky back at some point and recall another defenseman to avoid exposing him to waivers.

Out the door, you can watch the AHL All-Star Classic on TV again this year. The AHL announced details today. It will be on MyNetworkTV locally as well as other regional sports channels.

Pens are back on the ice Friday in Rochester. Gameday setup hits the blog Friday at 3.

Three Down on New Years

Announced at around 10:30 Sunday morning the following…

 

Have to assume with the health of Kris Letting and Trevor Daley that one if not both Ruhwedel and Warsofsky will remain in Wilkes-Barre. Brian Dumoulin is still out with his broken jaw. My guess is it will be Chad Ruhwedel, who played in last nights overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens.

As for Jarry, it is a bit of a risk re-assigning him to Wilkes-Barre being as though should he get hurt while back that leaves Pittsburgh with no NHL contracted goaltender as a back up. Yeah, you could say that Sean Maguire is under an NHL deal, but he is in Wheeling and too green to even consider as a viable option.

Wilkes-Barre plays Tuesday at home against Hartford, Friday at home against Hershey, Saturday at home against Binghamton and again Sunday in Hershey. Pittsburgh is off till next Sunday when they play Tampa Bay.

Assume Jarry gets the Tuesday game against the Wolf Pack, and is either called up or backing up Casey DeSmith Friday against Hershey and then either called back up Saturday or Sunday if not already called up by Friday.

As for Wheeling, the Nailers do not play again until Friday when they host the Toledo Walleye and then again Sunday when they host the Cincinnati Cyclones. My guess is depending on how the dominoes fall later in the week with whenever Pittsburgh recalls Jarry again will spell out Doug Carr’s status for the Penguins this coming weekend. You would have to assume, should Jarry go up before Friday, that Carr gets one of the three weekend games against either the Senators or Bears.

We will see. have a nice New Year holiday.

I’ve Seen This Fish Before

Well, it’s the end of December and if you have followed the Pittsburgh Penguins organization from top to bottom, you know that this is the season for injuries.

You already knew that Chad Ruhwedel and Derrick Pouliot were up in Pittsburgh, but on Tuesday night, Brian Dumoulin took a puck to the face which broke his jaw. He’s out 4-6 weeks. He’ll likely be on a liquid diet as his jaw heals which means he will lose weight and muscle mass. Once he’s okay to eat solid food again, he’ll need to regain all that weight he lost and gain back the muscle and get his wind back. Depending on how all that goes, it could be 6 weeks, it could be longer.

David Warsofsky was recalled Wednesday and was a scratch in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Matt Murray started that game and was mysteriously replaced in goal in the third period by Marc-Andre’ Fleury. Murray was on the bench for the third, but on Thursday it was revealed that he is week to week with a lower body injury.

There go those benign terms again. Hockey will always be a niche sport in America unless or until owners start disclosing what the injury is and the time frame for recovery (like Dumoulin’s injury) beyond that, any run of the mill sports fan has no time for body, “injury” and “day-to-day.” Aren’t we all?

Anyway.

Tristan Jarry was recalled from Wilkes-Barre Thursday evening. In the same release, and little bit of a silver lining for a Wilkes-Barre club that only has six defensemen on its roster, Pittsburgh sent Derrick Pouliot back to Coal Street.

Jarry is 13-5 with a 2.15 GAA and a .921 save percentage in the AHL and was second in the league in wins at the time of his recall.

It’s Casey DeSmith’s team for now here in Wilkes-Barre. The only question which remained was which goaltender was going to be recalled from ECHL Wheeling. The Nailers have Doug Carr and Sean Maguire. Maguire is on an NHL contract and should be a mainstay in Wilkes-Barre soon.

Well, it was Doug Carr that Wilkes-Barre signed to a professional tryout agreement and not Maguire, which the Penguins could have recalled.

This is a good thing. The reason why is because Maguire is at a key point in his development, just recently being cleared to play from his injury in the Fall. Calling him up to have him sit and hold a clipboard watching DeSmith play does nothing for his development when he can get reps and carry the load in Wheeling.

Carr is 8-7-1 in 17 games for the Nailers and has a 3.31 goals against average and a .889 save percentage. He recorded a shutout against the Kalamazoo Wings this season.

The Coal Street press release linked above has more, including the time he played two periods of preseason play for the Penguins against Hershey and didn’t allow a goal and his numbers with Albany last year in a similar situation that he is in now.

Personally, I think the Penguins will be fine, but I say that every year when the injuries start. By mid-March when Wilkes-Barre is mired in a four game losing streak because they are calling guys up from Wheeling every day and losing guys to Pittsburgh every hour, my tone may be different.

But we have seen this fish before.

DeSmith was likely getting the start Friday against Providence anyway, a team on a roll that Casey owns anyhow.

Gameday setup for tomorrow’s game against the aforementioned Bruins will be on the blog Friday at 3.