Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

2020 NHL Trade Deadline Recap(ish)

On a day like today, the NHL trade deadline, there are winners and losers. That also will trickle down to the AHL farm clubs. Let’s take a look at some of the contending Atlantic Division teams.

In sum, the losers in the race for Atlantic Division playoffs appear to be the Charlotte Checkers.

This is coupled with losing both goalies to recall yesterday and the trades from last week.

That trade would come at a cost, again directly affecting Charlotte.

The winners appear to be the Springfield Thunderbirds.

Djuse has 29 points with the Texas Stars.

It’s a direct blow to the Charlotte Checkers by the team pursuing them for the final spot in the playoffs that the Checkers currently occupy in Springfield. Here’s a look at the standings real quick.

4. Charlotte (64 points, 53 games played)
5. Springfield (62 points, 56 games played)
6. PENGUINS (62 points, 56 games played)

I’m kind of burying the real lede here and that’s what happened today with Pittsburgh and how it directly affects Wilkes-Barre. First, the direct impact.

Agozzino was placed on waivers Sunday at noon. That was for purposes of having him able to be assigned to Wilkes-Barre after the NHL deadline. Always a risk and there is always a possibility that a guy gets claimed when put on and now it has happened twice to the Penguins with Agozzino now and Stefan Noesen earlier in the season.

Out the door, no direct impacts to the Wilkes-Barre roster. In fact, there was this later Monday afternoon…

Lafferty and Angello were straight up assignments. With those two coupled with Phil Varone and Riley Barber, the Penguins are shaping up to be a solid team. But a contending team or a playoff team? Anyone’s guess.

Zach Trotman will likely be back down at some point, most likely after the Penguins California trip, which is later this week.

Barring any injuries, of course.

Our friends about an hour south with a splash of their own as well.

 

The Big Bear Machine, already warm and leading the Atlantic Division, getting hot.

That’s all really. Lehigh Valley made a few moves with TJ Brennan going to Chicago in exchange for a guy that they assigned to ECHL Reading. Brennan hasn’t played in a while and worked his way out of the locker room in Lehigh Valley. Again, a Phantoms team that stockpiled talent still only has one puck on the ice for the players to access. All of those players on that team is bound to have problems and you are seeing that with how far back the Phantoms are (in seventh place) in the standings.

More Wednesday unless there are notes for an entry Tuesday.

Blandisi and Lucchini Traded for Phil Varone and Riley Barber 2/20

We have seen this fish before.

If you have been around this blog long enough have been a fan of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins then you remember the names vividly, Barber with Hershey and Varone with Lehigh Valley. Varone was AHL MVP in 2018.

So proven goal scorers and point producers at the AHL level. Barber with Laval this season has 31 points in 39 games and nine NHL games (Montreal is the NHL affiliate of Laval) this year. He had 31 goals for a stacked Bears team last season. Barber is also an automatic 20 goal scorer.

Phil Varone had 70 points with Lehigh Valley in ’17-18 in his MVP season and was a point off Chris Terry of Laval that year for the point race. Varone this season with the Rocket has 27 games played, 4 goals and 10 assists. No NHL games this season.

Laval was in Providence Sunday and Mark Divver, one of the hardest working guys in the AHL and in Rhode Island, tweeted this…

So a clash in styles between two players who get shipped out to greener pastures in return for an NHL yo-yo in Blandisi and an unproven young commodity in Lucchini. I don’t know how anyone on this side of the aisle sees this as anything but and upgrade for the Penguins and winners of the trade. On the Laval side you get rid of two guys who look like they didn’t want to be there if Divver’s suspicions are true for a serviceable NHL piece in Blandisi and a good player in Lucchini with upside.

But we have been here before.

Mattias Plachta. Spencer Machacek. Danny Syvret. Ryan Parent. Derek Nesbitt. Colin Smith and Joseph Cramarossa. Chris Wideman.

Sure, Varone and Barber have great numbers and should, by rights, have an instant impact for the Penguins who are fighting for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. But history is an indicator (eight names isn’t an outlier, it’s a downright pattern and that is only some of the names) that these names may pop a few eyes here and there now and be the talk of the AHL going into and through this weekend, but the applications of the players putting in the work and producing remains to be seen.

By no means am I ruining this and saying that the trades are bad and you should expect to finish seventh in the Atlantic Division and miss playoffs for a second straight year. No, I am not saying that. Just take these trades with a guarded optimism that yes, they are massive upgrades over what you lost, but the history of pouting and clashing with management that comes with the trade is not something to be ignored and not just a young prospect thinking he should be in the NHL. Varone is 30, Barber just turned 26.

As to the immediate availability of the assets acquired…

In other news, Ryan Scarfo is up from Wheeling this week and Brandon Hawkins was sent back down. Zach Trotman went up to Pittsburgh on an emergency recall while John Marino recovers from facial surgery.

I was told this week that Kevin Czuczman was a full go in practice this week and Tyler reported that Dustin Tokarski practiced without limits too and also added that Thomas DiPauli won’t be available this weekend.

Also this, which happened Thursday at 5 right after my post went up…

I would assume that with DiPauli not available and Varone sorting out his visa issues, the recall of Knott was needed.

Around the division, Lehigh Valley and Hartford swapped backup goalies, J-F Berube to the Wolf Pack for Tom McCollum. Charlotte’s third leading scorer Julian Gauthier was traded to Hartford for their fourth leading scorer Joey Keane. The Wolf Pack look like they are going to go for a playoff berth this season.

Springfield too…

Same goes for the Penguins, and that applies to what you just read above.

Gameday setup is here Friday at 3 when Riley Barber squares off against his former team the Hershey Bears, provided Barber gets here in time.

Oula Palve Traded to Dallas 1/17

Rare that two AHL teams see their parents swap NHL contracts while those two AHL teams are in the same city together, on the morning of game.

It happened Friday. Oula Palve was traded to Dallas for defenseman John Nyberg.

Palve and Nyberg don’t have to go far, Wilkes-Barre plays Dallas’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars later today.

It’s a swap of two players that had offensive gifts playing last year overseas who, for whatever reason or another, didn’t click with the organization they were currently playing with.

For Palve, he had 51 points in 53 games playing in Finland last year. This year, he has a goal and seven assists in 37 games for Wilkes-Barre. He’s bounced around lines for Mike Vellucci’s crew, until he was shuffled out for good last week.

Nyberg has the same history, touted as an offensive defenseman but never made enough of a mark to stick.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to go far to get information on Nyberg as the great Stephen Meserve’s site 100 Degree Hockey had this to say about Nyberg back in January 2019 about Nyberg:

…He has struggled to make a mark on the lineup, bouncing in and out as a healthy scratch at times and not scoring his first AHL goal until late December. The assignment should give him a chance to play solid top pair minutes and establish himself better in the North American game.

Nyberg has 19 AHL games under his belt this season with two goals, four assists and six points with a even +/- rating.

One foreign (Nyberg is Swedish) reclamation project for another, essentially.

Gameday setup for Pens / Stars hits the blog at 4, later.

California Dreaming – AHL All-Star Rosters Announced 1/3, More Notes

Late-ish announcement by Springfield with New Years falling on a Wednesday, but we know who is going to Ontario, California later this month to skate in the All-Star Classic.

If you don’t feel like clicking to expand, Andrew Agozzino was the sole Penguins representative named.

Friday was Andrew Agozzino’s birthday, and he leads the team in assists with 17 and points with 29.

Cases could have been made for the Penguins goal scoring leader Anthony Angello, but he just has 13 goals to go with 4 assists and also Casey DeSmith, but Hartford’s Igor Shesterkin is pretty much the sole reason the Wolf Pack have been the class of the Atlantic so far with his play in goal. Springfield’s Chris Driedger was the other goalie named and he’s been having an all-around great season for the Thunderbirds also.

Penguins alumni Ben Street (Binghamton) Derrick Pouliot (San Antonio) and Chris Wideman (San Diego) were named for the North, Central and Pacific squads, respectively.

In other news, Casey DeSmith and Thomas DiPauli are getting recalled later today. There is nothing to worry about in that with regards to injuries. Thomas DiPauli will serve as the extra forward on the trip to Montreal Saturday night and Casey DeSmith is going to back up Matt Murray on Saturday because Tristan Jarry is starting Sunday afternoon at home against the Florida Panthers.

Think of it this way, in baseball on the get away day (the game of a series on the road) the starting pitcher for the next days game is already in the city where that game is going to be played. That is what they are doing here.

If you are thinking, “wait a minute, Jarry DeSmith and Murray all came up in the AHL and rode those buses on those weekends where Wilkes-Barre played a three in three” you would be correct. This might be a new, trailblazing thing that Mike Sullivan is doing.

Taylor Haase has more here, including reassurance that Casey DeSmith will not require waivers when he’s reassigned next week, provided Pittsburgh’s plan goes off without a hitch.

Expect Emil Larmi to get recalled from Wheeling unless he isn’t and Mike Vellucci just rolls Dustin Tokarski Friday night against Hershey and Saturday against Springfield and Sebastien Caron gets the weekend PTO again. The Nailers are in Cincinnati for a pair of games against the Cyclones and the games this weekend are far too important to roll a backup out when Hershey is third and Springfield fifth, both visiting fourth place Wilkes-Barre this weekend.

Food for thought, we don’t have long to wait, the Gameday setup against Hershey is up already.

Stefan Noesen Claimed by San Jose Sharks, Larmi Re-assigned 12/20

Didn’t want to do it, but here the post is as alluded to in the close of last nights recap of a toothless display by the Penguins where, they generated close to 40 shots against the Providence Bruins, but didn’t come close to scoring but for an Adam Johnson attempt early in the first period.

From what I have read, the Sharks needed help at right wing. Noesen will provide that. Now if in a month or whenever San Jose should waive Noesen the Penguins can, as they did last year with J-S Dea, reclaim him and assign Noesen back to Wilkes-Barre. Remains to be seen if that happens.

You can look at this two ways. First, a mission accomplished for a coach in Mike Vellucci getting his player in Stefan Noesen full time NHL work again. It’s a coaches job at the AHL level to graduate players, no matter how old they are or how much experience they have, to the next level.

Or, you can look at it as a raw deal for Wilkes-Barre, who are yet again robbed of a player with Noesen’s offensive prowess. Noesen came into the season as a player on an AHL contract, Pittsburgh signs him, has him play a handful of games and loses him on waivers. Was Ryan Haggerty’s phone broke that day? Did Andrew Agozzino not pay his phone bill for the month as part of a prank pulled by the rookies? It was a gamble if or when Noesen was inevitably signed by an NHL team and another gamble when Noesen would have been ultimately exposed to waivers again for the purposes of an AHL assignment.

I’m not choosing a side on this one. Just pointing out both ends of an argument which can be made here.

In other news Thursday, Coal Street assigned goaltender Emil Larmi to their ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers. Just a matter of time here and long overdue once Tristan Jarry, who the Penguins actively tried to trade in the summer, essentially took over the #1 starters job in Pittsburgh and is arguably the best goaltender in the NHL at this juncture.

Back Friday at 3 with the Gameday setup for the rematch with Providence.

Ryan Haggerty Traded 12/17, Other Stuff

I would suppose that there is a benefit to having the head coach of your hockey team also act as the general manager.

It was announced Tuesday afternoon that the Pittsburgh Penguins have traded Ryan Haggerty to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Kevin Roy. It’s essentially a trade between two AHL teams involving NHL contracts. I wonder if there is a trade fee with NHL Central Registry and how much it is and how it compares to the one in the AHL.

Anyway, it solves the veteran problem for Wilkes-Barre as Roy does not count as a veteran. Roy has played 23 games and is tied with two other players on the Panthers AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, in points with fourteen (4-10, fourth overall) – seven of those points have come on the power play (2-5) so the Penguins 12th ranked power play (as of December 17) clicking at nearly 20% (19.1) gets better.

I don’t think it’s change of scenery for either guy per se. Haggerty was a good piece here in Wilkes-Barre. He should have been named captain when Garrett Wilson was promoted to full time NHL work last year. He remained that way this season but because the AHL limits the amount of veterans you can dress every night, became a rotating piece that came in and out of the lineup and you never knew when you’d see him again because of the overage of veterans already on the roster. Penguins Head Coach and General Manager Mike Vellucci obviously knows this and did something which improves his team.

This resets things a bit for Haggerty, who will likely start getting more regular playing time with Springfield.

In other news…

– The AHL tagged Cleveland Monsters forward Calvin Thurkauf with a two game suspension for this hit on Zach Trotman on Friday.

Tyler reported that there weren’t any updates on any injured guys after practice Tuesday morning at Coal Street. Adam Johnson is a maybe for Wednesday vs. Providence, Trotman, Sam Miletic and David Warsofsky were absent.

– Bruins here Wednesday and Friday, here’s some pre-scout reading for you.

News on a Monday 12/2

Bunch of stuff to get to on this Monday.

There is a method to the madness. There’s always a reason.

For Noesen, it’s deserved. He’s been a wolf in sheeps clothing all season for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. Injuries are piling up by the day for Pittsburgh, hell they can’t even get through practices (Hornqvist, Monday) or morning skates (Rust, Friday) without picking up injuries. Brian Dumoulin had surgery on his ankle tendons Sunday and is shelved eight weeks. It just never ends.

Blandisi hitting waivers means if no one claims him, Noesen will go up. He was in Pittsburgh Monday.

Here’s a quick refresher on Noesen for you if you are just dropping in and aren’t entirely familiar with his body of work. You’ll need to click below for it to open in a separate window for you.

Also, Casey DeSmith was named AHL Goalie of the Month in November. A 7-1 record with a 1.60 GAA and a .951 SV% with two shutouts will do that for you.

I think that covers everything for now.