Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

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.

Cramarossa Traded 11/20

As I was typing up the part about Jamie Devane getting healthier and not having a spot at the table because of the overage of veterans on the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins this afternoon, I wanted to throw in a line about a potential trade.

I didn’t. It kind of took care of itself a few hours later.

It does and doesn’t take care of the Penguins veteran problem. Knott isn’t a veteran, hell he hasn’t even played a single game in the AHL this season (9 points with the Indy Fuel) so what, if any, impact Knott with have at the AHL level remains to be seen.

Andrew Agozzino, Ryan Haggerty, Jamie Devane, Stefan Noesen, Andreas Martinsen, Kevin Czuczman, Zach Trotman and David Warsofsky are your vets. That’s eight. You can only dress six. Goalies do not count.

It may not be the only shoe to drop, meaning that there may be another trade at some point, but not immediately. The Penguins still have too many veterans. If you had to make me guess, it’s probably down to Martinsen and Devane. I would have thrown in Cramarossa.

More Friday, as needed before.

Tuesday Transactions

There was a lot of activity on Coal Street Tuesday.

Well this doesn’t make sense. The Pens already have Ben Sexton in town and Pittsburgh skated with 14 forwards on Monday which means some combination of Joseph Blandisi, Adam Johnson or Sam Lafferty are headed back soon.

But wait….

That explains the Hawkins recall.


Now Wilkes-Barre has Zach Trotman down on a conditioning assignment for six days (three games essentially, at Binghamton Wednesday, home vs. San Antonio Friday and Saturday). Because Trotman had the LTIR tag associated with him as part of the assignment, it is different than a straight up conditioning assignment where the player had been a healthy scratch night in and night out prior to the assignment.

Roster jockeying, tea leaves and conditioning assignments. It’s not even November.

Binghamton Wednesday night. Gameday setup here on the blog Wednesday at 3.

Lafferty and Agozzino Recalled – More News

I’m late with this by more than a day, but figured I would drop in here and note that Sam Lafferty and Andrew Agozzino were recalled to Pittsburgh on Monday in the wake of Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstead’s lower body injuries that will keep them out of action for a while.

Through the course of investigating because, you know, in this niche sport known as hockey they don’t divulge what the injury is like in every other sport, it looks like Malkin has a leg injury that will have him on the shelf for about six weeks. Bjugstead should be back before Malkin.

Locally, Tyler reported that D Justin Almeida and G Dustin Tokarski are back to 100%. I am speculating that both should be available for the three in three this weekend. Tyler also had lines from practice Tuesday:

I will concur with this statement by Tyler. Injuries happen, Wilkes-Barre is insulated somewhat because there is depth across all positions.

For now.

In other news, Michael Leighton retired Monday. A sure fire AHL Hall of Famer someday, Leighton played for 13 AHL franchises over the course of 18 seasons as a professional. From the release, they include the Norfolk Admirals (2001-05), Rochester Americans (2005-06), Portland Pirates (2006-07), Philadelphia Phantoms (2006-07), Albany River Rats (2007-08), Adirondack Phantoms (2010-13), Rockford IceHogs (2014-16), Charlotte Checkers (2016-17), Syracuse Crunch (2017-18), Chicago Wolves (2017-18), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2017-18), Ontario Reign (2018-19) and Utica Comets (2018-19).

Other Penguins alumni in the news include a pair of defensemen and a forward, Joe Morrow signed with the New Jersey Devils Monday and was placed on waivers for the purpose of a Binghamton assignment. If he clears, you’ll probably see him next Wednesday when the Penguins host the Devils at 7:05. D Reid McNeill was released from his PTO with the Charlotte Checkers and Cedric Lacroix, a forward with a handful of games with Wilkes-Barre last year, was assigned with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

That’s all I have. Remember, no charts or Power Rankings this week. Both will debut next week, with the charts again the week following and then staggering them each week going forward. But for anything else breaking, talk to you Friday at 3 getting you set for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

DeSmith, Tokarski, Warsofsky, New CBA, More

Alright so, a lot has happened this week in the run up to the regular season opener in Hershey Saturday.

G Casey DeSmith was placed on and cleared waivers and was assigned to Wilkes-Barre this week. He and Emil Larmi are the 1-2 combo in goal right now. That’s because Dustin Tokarski has picked up a knock and won’t be ready for Saturday’s game with the Hershey Bears. Also, Alex D’Orio was sent to Wheeling with Ryan Scarfo this week.

The goaltending position is the deepest position right now. You have quality depth with DeSmith (for now) and Tokarski. The Pens play four games in the next two weeks, so there is plenty of time for Tokarski to fully heal and be ready for next weekend’s three in three.

— David Warsofsky was named captain of the team with Andrew Agozzino and Kevin Czuczman serving as his alternates.

Really can’t go wrong with that veteran group.

— The AHL and the Professional Hockey Players Association (PHPA) announced Thursday they have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place for five years.

Labor piece is always a good thing.

I thought when I sat down to hammer this piece out that it would be a long, 500+ word piece. It should check in at just under 200 words.

I’ll be back at noon Friday for a look at the Penguins opponents for the upcoming season.

A Little More Off the Top

Cuts continued Monday as the Pittsburgh Penguins trimmed their roster to 27, sending 15 players to Wilkes-Barre and two, Nathan Legare and Sam Poulin, to their junior teams.

The players sent to Wilkes-Barre are Andrew Agozzino, Justin Almeida, Anthony Angello, Kasper Bjorkqvist, Joseph Blandisi, Joseph Cramarossa, Thomas Di Pauli, Ryan Haggerty, Sam Lafferty, Jake Lucchini, Sam Miletic and Oula Palve; defensemen Niclas Almari, Kevin Czuczman, Pierre-Olivier Joseph and David Warsofsky and goaltender Emil Larmi.

Agozzino, Blandisi, Cramarossa, Czuczman, Di Pauli, Haggerty and Warsofsky all must clear waivers. I don’t expect them to get claimed by another team.

Updated roster from Pittsburgh here.

10 defensemen, 14 forwards and three goalies remain. Pittsburgh needs to trim four more players to get to the roster limit of 23 and also become cap compliant.

John Marino, Juuso Riikola and Zach Trotman are three names who are possibly battling for the final spot if Pittsburgh wants to go into the season carrying eight defenders with Chad Ruhwedel as the seventh defender.

In the other positions, it really depends on what to do with Matt Murray’s backup. One of Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith is hitting the waiver wire later this week. DeSmith would probably be the more cap friendly choice if you believe it.

Forward wise, it’s a tough call. Adam Johnson is the only name that sticks out as a name that could be odd man out due to roster size and pushing maximum cap limits. If the Pens needed to clear three more players, a case could be made that you send some combination of defenders and DeSmith down and keep Johnson up. But that isn’t the case, they need to shed four more bodies to  get to 23 and save cap space. It’s essentially two defenseman, one forward and a goaltender.

Tough calls.

In other news, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton area was named in the top ten of the minor league markets by the Sports Business Journal. Our area ranked eighth. Not bad, overall.

Camp opens Tuesday on Coal Street. Preseason game Wednesday at home against Lehigh Valley. More then, if not sooner.

Training Camp Schedule, Roster Revealed 9/21

Coal Street announced Saturday morning their roster for their training camp, which starts Tuesday morning.

Link here, but I’ll cut and paste the schedule and roster here for you.

Tuesday, Sept. 24
10:00 a.m.          Group A Practice                Toyota SportsPlex
11:15 a.m.               Group B Practice                Toyota SportsPlex

Wednesday, Sept. 25
7:05 p.m.            Game vs. Lehigh Valley     Mohegan Sun Arena

Thursday, Sept. 26
10:00 a.m.          Group A Practice                Toyota SportsPlex
11:15 a.m.               Group B Practice                Toyota SportsPlex

Friday, Sept. 27
7:05 p.m.             Game vs. Hershey             Mohegan Sun Arena

Saturday, Sept. 28
7:00 p.m.             Game at Hershey              Giant Center

Sunday, Sept. 29
3:05 p.m.             Game at Lehigh Valley     PPL Center

If you scroll to the bottom of that post I linked, you’ll also see the roster construction for players who will be at camp Tuesday morning. They are, and I’m cutting and pasting from the Coal Street release again, as follows:

Player Pos. Hometown Birthdate Ht Wt
Matt Abt D Leduc, AB 1993-07-25 (26) 6-4 180
Jordy Bellerive C North Vancouver, BC 1999-05-02 (20) 5-11 194
Chase Berger C St. Louis, MO 1994-11-14 (24) 6-0 194
Chris Brown C Bloomfield Hills, MI 1996-02-22 (23) 6-0 179
Jamie Devane LW Mississauga, ON 1991-02-20 (28) 6-5 239
Alex D’Orio G Sherbrooke, QC 1999-04-28 (20) 6-3 208
Jan Drozg LW Maribor, SVN 1999-04-01 (20) 6-2 175
Macoy Erkamps D Richmond, BC 1995-02-02 (24) 5-11 193
Brandon Hawkins RW Macomb Township, MI 1994-04-25 (25) 5-10 198
Yushiroh Hirano RW Tomakomai, JAP 1995-08-18 (24) 5-11 216
Michael Kim D Toronto, ON 1995-06-28 (24) 6-0 183
Renārs Krastenbergs LW Jelgava, LAT 1998-12-26 (20) 5-11 183
Jon Lizotte D Grand Forks, ND 1994-11-10 (24) 6-0 210
Myles Powell C Courtenay, BC 1994-07-24 (25) 5-9 174
Ryan Scarfo C North Chelmsford, MA 1994-03-03 (25) 5-11 193
Ben Sexton RW Ottawa, ON 1991-06-06 (28) 5-11 195
Blake Siebenaler D Fort Wayne, IN 1996-02-27 (23) 6-2 207
Craig Skudalski D Trucksville, PA 1995-05-12 (24) 6-6 215
Aaron Titcomb D Charlestown, MA 1993-05-16 (26) 6-4 220
Dustin Tokarski G Watson, SK 1989-09-16 (30) 6-0 198

No surprises this season. Of the names listed above Chase Berger (AHL contract), Jordy Bellerive, Jan Drozg, Ben Sexton (AHL), Matt Abt (AHL), Michael Kim (AHL), Jon Lizotte (AHL), Alex D’Orio and Dustin Tokarski (AHL) were all cut from Pittsburgh’s camp Friday. The only names that may be foreign to you are Aaron Titcomb and Craig Skudalski are non-contracted (to Wilkes-Barre at least) invites. A welcome change from years past when you had names you never heard of on a line with one another in a preseason game.

The release mentions that players will be added as time wears, which is obvious because Pittsburgh still has 46 players on their roster at present, and only 23 can make the team at opening night. So essentially the Penguins need to cut half the roster as it stands today. There are players who will get assigned back to juniors (Calen Addison was yesterday) so you can expect an influx of two more goaltenders (or maybe just Emil Larmi if Tristan Jarry is traded or claimed on waivers) six or seven defensemen depending on how Pittsburgh wants to carry to start (Niclas Almari, Kevin Czuczman, P-O Joseph, John Marino, David Warsofsky are sure bets to either get cut or be placed on waivers, then a battle between guys like Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel and Zach Trotman for that seventh or eighth spot. Riikola wouldn’t require waivers, while the other two would.

Up front, Andrew Agozzino, Justin Almeida, Anthony Angello, Joseph Blandisi, Joseph Cramarossa, Thomas DiPauli, Ryan Haggerty, Adam Johnson, Sam Lafferty, Jake Lucchini, Sam Miletic and Oula Palve are sure bets to get cut and waived / re-assigned to the AHL. That’s twelve. Sixteen forwards left.

I have Kasper Bjorkqvist, Nathan Legare and Sam Poulin as the outliers. Forget about Poulin and Legare, as they are too young for the AHL. They would have to go back to juniors. Subtract those two, fourteen forwards left up top. Bjorkqvist I think you can make a case gets an extended look with Pittsburgh to start. That would mean that there would be a player like Ruhwedel or Trotman to hit waivers with Riikola as a straight reassignment to Wilkes-Barre while Pittsburgh carries seven defenseman and gives Bjorkqvist a longer look. Or, they may, for the sake of fear of losing Trotman or Ruhwedel to waivers, leave both on the NHL roster, carry eight defensemen and assign Bjorkqvist to Wilkes-Barre to tear the AHL to shreds. Who knows. I like that option better as a safer bet but like I’ve long said, I blog about the team, and don’t coach / run it.

Things get cute if they lose Jarry to waivers or a trade involving him or anyone else. Or, if they decide to give Poulin a longer look and let him start the season in Pittsburgh, like they did Daniel Sprong.

Like I said, easier to blog about the team than run it. We’ll see. More as it comes.