Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: The AHL

AHL Power Rankings: Week 1

It’s the first weekend of AHL hockey for the 2016-17 season and the Week 1 AHL Power Rankings are due.

If you are new to this, it’s one guys attempt at ranking all the AHL teams, 1-30. It runs all season on Monday at 4 p.m. most times, right here on the blog.

In this weeks version, the defending champs sit at the top of the mountain after raising a banner and beating a division rival.

The Eastern Conference runner ups and their closest competition are 2 and 3 this week.

Every team played a game this week except for the Bakersfield Condors, who are ranked, you just have to find them.

I won’t keep you. The Rankings begin after the jump if you didn’t link in direct.

Read more of this post

Atlantic Division Preview


On the final day of the 2016-17 Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews, we find ourselves in familiar territory. It’s the Atlantic Division and the division where the Penguins will play the most amount of games. The only changes here is the old Portland Pirates team being sold to the Florida Panthers and their relocating the prospects to AHL League Headquarters residing in Springfield, Massachusetts. In keeping with yesterday’s North Division, home games for the Penguins are listed in bold.




NHL Affiliation: New York Islanders

Record: 40-29-4-3 (87 pts., 5th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Played as the five seed out of the Atlantic Division on account of having a higher points percentage than fourth place Syracuse in the North Division and were swept by the Toronto Marlies in the North Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Brent Thompson

Arena: Webster Bank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Missouri Mavericks

Offseason Moves: Kellen Jones

The Case For: In this division, with the caliber of teams in it, I’m not finding one.

The Case Against: Please keep reading.

Media Coverage: The Great Mike Fornabaio for the Connecticut Post

Twitter: @TheSoundTigers

Facebook: /soundtigers

Instagram: soundtigers

Broadcaster: Alan Fuehring

vs. WBS: 11/5, 11/18, 11/25, 11/26, 12/11, 4/15


NHL Affiliation: New York Rangers

Record: 41-32-3-0 (85 pts., 6th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Ken Gernander

Arena: XL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Offseason Moves: Michael Paliotta, Philip McRae, Matt Carey, Sean Sullivan

The Case For: Solid veteran signings made by Hartford here.

The Case Against: Four teams make the playoffs. Pennsylvania is a lock. That leaves room for one more team. Is Hartford it?

Media Coverage: Mitch Beck for the blog Howlings Today

Twitter: @WolfPackAHL

Facebook: /HartfordWolfPack

Instagram: hartford_wolfpack

Broadcaster: Bob Crawford

vs. WBS: 10/15, 11/13, 12/14, 1/3, 3/5, 3/10, 3/21, 4/8


NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals

Record: 43-21-5-7 (98 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Played as the one seed playing out of the Atlantic Division and were swept by the Lake Erie Monsters in the Calder Cup Finals.

Head Coach: Troy Mann

Arena: Giant Center

ECHL Affiliation: South Carolina Stingrays

Offseason Moves: Hubert Labrie, Dominic Monardo, Joe Cannata, Darren Dietz, Christian Thomas

The Case For: Bears return the Bourque brothers in Ryan and Chris, Zach Sill, along with these solid signings. The Bears are the division champion favorites until another team comes and knocks them off.

The Case Against: Is this an upgraded Bears team that got swept by the Monsters in the Calder Cup Finals or baseline upgrades to a team in whose in-state rivals upgraded big time?

Media Coverage: Kyle Mace for the blog Chocolate Hockey

Twitter: @TheHersheyBears

Facebook: /TheHersheyBears

Instagram: thehersheybears

Broadcaster: Zack Fisch

vs. WBS: 10/23, 11/19, 11/23, 12/9, 12/10, 1/6, 1/8, 1/18, 1/21, 2/10, 3/4, 4/14


NHL Affiliation: Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 34-35-4-3 (75 pts., 7th place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Scott Gordon

Arena: PPL Center

ECHL Affiliation: Reading Royals

Offseason Moves: T.J. Brennan, Will O’Neill, Andy Miele, Greg Carey

The Case For: Brennan and Miele were 1-2 in the offseason AHL Big Board ran here on the blog in the summer. The Phantoms can’t mess up the season with these all-stars can they?

The Case Against: If history is any indicator, Lehigh Valley will find a way to mess things up and be irrelevant by January.

Media Coverage: Stephen Gross for The Morning Call and @KRAM209 for The Horn and Bell blog.

Twitter: @LVPhantoms

Facebook: /LehighValleyPhantoms

Instagram: lehighvalleyphantoms

Broadcaster: Bob Rotruck

vs. WBS: 11/16, 1/20, 2/4, 2/14, 2/25, 3/8, 3/17, 3/18, 3/25, 4/1, 4/7, 4/12


NHL Affiliation: Boston Bruins

Record: 41-22-9-4 (95 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Played as the two seed out of the Atlantic Division and were swept in three games by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins in the Atlantic Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Kevin Dean

Arena: Dunkin’ Donuts Center

ECHL Affiliation: Atlanta Gladiators

Offseason Moves: Alex Grant, Anton Khudobin, Tim Schaller

The Case For: Veteran defense and goaltender added to the mix for Kevin Dean. Bruins have been around for a bit, but this feels like a dawning of a new era in Providence.

The Case Against: We’ll believe the hype when we see the Bruins in the second of the playoffs.

Media Coverage: Mark Divver for the Providence Journal

Twitter: @AHLBruins

Facebook: /providencebruins

Instagram: ahlbruins

Broadcaster: Craig Durham

vs. WBS: 11/6, 11/12, 12/30, 2/19, 3/11, 4/9


NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers

Record: 41-27-6-2 (90 pts., 4th place Atlantic Division playing as the Portland Pirates)

Playoffs: As the Portland Pirates and playing as a four seed out of the Atlantic Division, lost in five games to the Hershey Bears in the Atlantic Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Geordie Kinnear

Arena: MassMutual Center

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Ryan Horvat

The Case For: Should be a better campaign for Springfield fans as Florida moves their prospects in. Panthers have been trending upwards, so maybe the Thunderbirds can play upset.

The Case Against: Healthy doses of Providence, Hershey, Wilkes-Barre and we’ll go ahead and throw Lehigh Valley in for the Thunderbirds can’t bode well for Springfield’s playoff chances.

Media Coverage:

Twitter: @thunderbirdsahl

Facebook: /thunderbirdsahl

Instagram: thunderbirdsahl

Broadcaster: Ryan Smith

vs. WBS: 10/21, 10/29, 12/17, 12/27, 2/18, 3/31


NHL Affiliation: Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: 43-27-4-2 (92 pts., 3rd place Atlantic Division)

Playoffs: Playing as the three seed out of the Atlantic Division, lost in overtime in Game Seven in the Atlantic Division Finals to the Hershey Bears.

Head Coach: Clark Donatelli

Arena: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

ECHL Affiliation: Wheeling Nailers

Offseason Moves: Stuart Percy, Cameron Gaunce, Chad Ruhwedel, Garrett Wilson, Thomas DiPauli, Ryan Haggerty

The Case For: Deepest blue line in the division, if not the conference, if not in all of the AHL. Penguins will win a lot because the other team may not score.

The Case Against: Shallowest forward corps in the division. Beyond the top two lines, who will score? Penguins may not win a lot because they can’t score.

Media Coverage: The best in the business. Seth Lakso for the Citizens Voice, Tom Venesky for the Times Leader, and you know who for you know what blog. Probably the most covered AHL team in the league with two daily newspapers and a full time blog covering the team from every angle.

Twitter: @WBSPenguins

Facebook: /WilkesBarreScrantonPenguins

Instagram: wbspenguins

Broadcaster: Mike O’Brien with Nick Hart on color.

If you have a team going Friday, good luck. Pens open their eighteenth season Saturday at home against Hartford. The Gameday setup for that will hit the blog Saturday afternoon at 3.

North Division Preview


Rolling right along here on Preview Week here on the blog and today we find ourselves in the North Division. We looked at the Pacific Division on Monday and the Central Division Tuesday. Today, we find ourselves in a more familiar territory.



No affiliation changes for any teams in this division. The Penguins play everyone in this division at least twice, once home and once away. Home games will be listed in bold.

Let’s get started.


NHL Affiliation: New Jersey Devils

Record: 46-20-8-2 (102 pts., 2nd place North Division)

Playoffs: Played as the two seed out of the North Division and lost in seven games to the Toronto Marlies in the North Division Finals.

Head Coach: Rick Kowalsky

Arena: Times Union Center

ECHL Affiliation: None.

Offseason Moves: Carter Camper, Andrew MacWilliam, Karl Stollery, Brian Gibbons

The Case For: This Devils team put up 102 points last season and if they were playing in any other division they would have won that division. Expect Albany to contend again this season.

The Case Against: I think the Devils biggest obstacle this season is the same team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, Toronto.

Media Coverage: Pete Dougherty for Albany Times Union and Tracey Lake for the blog Thoughts Inside the Box.

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils

Facebook: /AlbanyDevils

Instagram: albanydevils

Broadcaster: Josh Heller

vs. WBS: 10/26, 2/17


NHL Affiliation: Ottawa Senators

Record: 31-38-6-1 (69 pts., 7th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst

Arena: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Wichita Thunder

Offseason Moves: Chad Nehring, Mike Blunden

The Case For: Ottawa brought back and Binghamton re-signed a lot of key contributors for the B-Sens last season while adding Nehring and Blunden. Sens should be more competitive this season.

The Case Against: Goaltending has to improve vastly or else it will be another long season on the Southern Tier.

Media Coverage: Matt Weinstein for The Ithaca Journal

Twitter: @SenatorsAHL

Facebook: /binghamtonsenators

Instagram: senatorsahl

Broadcaster: Grady Whittenburg

vs. WBS: 11/4, 12/26, 12/31, 1/7, 1/28, 2/11


NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres

Record: 34-38-3-1 (72 pts., 6th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Dan Lambert

Arena: Blue Cross Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Elmira Jackals

Offseason Moves: Justin Falk, Erik Burgdoerfer, Taylor Fedun, Derek Grant, Tyson Strachan

The Case For: See above. The incoming crop of signings made by parent Buffalo, should they make it down to Rochester, should bolster the Amerks into a contending team in 2016-17.

The Case Against: John Muse better eat his Wheaties. Amerks fans can’t be too confident in any combination of Jason Kasdorf and / or Linus Ullmark in goal for any extended period of time.

Media Coverage: Kevin Oklobzijia for the Democrat and Chronicle

Twitter: @AmerksHockey

Facebook: /RochesterAmericans

Instagram: amerkshockey

Broadcaster: Don Stevens

vs. WBS: 12/16, 1/13


NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens

Record: 32-33-8-3 (75 pts., 5th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre

Arena: Mile One Centre

ECHL Affiliation: Brampton Beast

Offseason Moves: Zach Redmond, Philip Samuelsson, Jeremie Blain

The Case For: Solid defensive signings made by St. John’s here should help the IceCaps this season.

The Case Against: St. John’s was a mediocre team in a division filled with heavyweights. Don’t expect that to change this season.

Media Coverage: Brendan McCarthy for the St. John’s Telegram

Twitter: @IceCapsAHL

Facebook: /stjohnsicecaps

Instagram: stjohnsicecaps

Broadcaster: Brian Rogers – only broadcaster in the AHL who is not on Twitter and this is a shame. Rogers would be an instant classic.

vs. WBS: 12/3, 12/4, 2/3, 2/8


NHL Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 32-29-11-4 (75 pts., 4th place North Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify. Were beat out by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the crossover spot, on percentage points.

Head Coach: Benoit Groulx

Arena: Oncenter War Memorial Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Kalamazoo Wings

Offseason Moves: Adam Comrie, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Gabriel Dumont, Mike Halmo, Jeremy Morin, Michael Bournival

The Case For: I like these offseason signings made by Syracuse, which got beat out on percentage points due to a silly crossover postseason rule last season. Syracuse can push Albany and Utica for the top team in New York.

The Case Against: After Kristers Gudlevskis in goal the Crunch have Adam Wilcox and Nic Riopel in goal. Gudlevskis better be built for 40+ starts this year.

Media Coverage: Lindsay Kramer for The Post-Standard and Brandon Curtis for the blog Raw Charge

Twitter: @SyracuseCrunch

Facebook: /syracusecrunch

Instagram: syracusecrunch

Broadcaster: Dan D’Uva

vs. WBS: 10/22, 10/30, 1/14, 1/16, 1/25, 3/24


NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 54-16-5-1 (114 pts., 1st place North Division)

Playoffs: Played as the one seed out of the North Division and lost in five games to the Hershey Bears in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Sheldon Keefe

Arena: Ricoh Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Orlando Solar Bears

Offseason Moves: Marc-Andre Cliche, Colin Smith, Spencer Asuchak

The Case For: Pencil Toronto in as another playoff contender. You just don’t fall off after putting up a league best 114 points last season.

The Case Against: Said this about Albany and will bring it back here, the biggest threat for the Marlies may be Albany. Also, the way Hershey disposed of Toronto in the playoffs may give teams a blueprint on how to solve this Marlies machine.

Media Coverage: Kyle Cicerella for The Canadian Press

Twitter: @TorontoMarlies

Facebook: /TorontoMarlies

Instagram: torontomarlies

Broadcaster: Todd Crocker

vs. WBS: 11/11, 1/11


NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks

Record: 38-26-8-4 (88 pts., 3rd place North Division)

Playoffs: Played as the three seed out of the North Division and lost in four games to the Albany Devils in the North Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Travis Green

Arena: Utica Memorial Auditorium

ECHL Affiliation: Alaska Aces

Offseason Moves: Derek Hulak, Jayson Megna, Michael Chaput, Borna Rendulic

The Case For: Call the offseason signings made by Vancouver / Utica an upgrade.

The Case Against: Are these upgrades enough to contend with Albany / Toronto and enough to collect maximum points out of rival Syracuse? Maybe, but consistently?

Media Coverage: Ben Birnell for The Observer-Dispatch

Twitter: @UticaComets

Facebook: /UticaComets

Instagram: uticacomets

Broadcaster: Andy Zilch

vs. WBS: 1/27, 2/24, 3/26, 4/2

Back to wrap it up tomorrow with the Atlantic Division Previews Thursday at noon.

Central Division Preview


Welcome back to Day 2 of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews. Yesterday we checked out the Pacific Division and today we find ourselves finishing out the Western Conference in the Central Division. As the previews advance, you can find the links at the top of the blog in the menu bar under “AHL Previews.”



The only change comes from the Central Division is the name of the defending champion Cleveland Monsters, who last season played under the name of Lake Erie Monsters. The Penguins don’t play anyone in this division either, so keep dreaming.

Here we go.


NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes

Record: 36-32-3-5 (80 pts., 5th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Ulf Samuelsson

Arena: Bojangles’ Coliseum

ECHL Affiliation: Florida Everblades

Offseason Moves: Andrew Miller, Kevin Raine, Mitchell Heard

The Case For: Charlotte can be a team to watch this season. Expect Milwaukee and Grand Rapids to contend for the division, but Charlotte can play upset.

The Case Against: Iowa is retooled, discount Cleveland at your peril. There may be too many cooks in the contenders kitchen for the Checkers to make it to the postseason.

Media Coverage: Jenni Probst for the blog Chasing Checkers

Twitter: @CheckersHockey

Facebook: /charlottecheckers

Instagram: checkershockey

Broadcaster: Jason Shaya


NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues

Record: 33-35-5-3 (74 pts., 6th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Craig Berube

Arena: Allstate Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Kenny Agostino, Alex Friesen, Brad Hunt, Andrew Agozzino, Morgan Ellis, Wade Megan

The Case For: A team that was expected to contend last season never got out of second gear and was forgotten about. Don’t expect that this season.

The Case Against: Central is shaping up to be the most competitive division again in the AHL. Do the Wolves really have all the horses to contend?

Media Coverage: The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times 

Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves

Facebook: /ChicagoWolves

Instagram: chicagowolveshockey

Broadcaster: Jason Shaver


NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets

Record: 43-22-6-5 (97 pts., 2nd place Central Division)

Playoffs: Won Calder Cup. Played as the two seed out of the Central Division and swept Hershey in four games.

Head Coach: John Madden

Arena: Quicken Loans Arena

ECHL Affiliation: None

Offseason Moves: Aaron Palushaj

The Case For: Defending champs look to avoid the championship hangover. I get the sense that Cleveland will field another competitive club again this season.

The Case Against: Don’t expect a repeat though.

Media Coverage: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Twitter: @monstershockey

Facebook: /monstershockey

Instagram: monstershockey

Broadcaster: Tony Brown


NHL Affiliation: Detroit Red Wings

Record: 44-30-10-4 (90 pts., 4th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Played as the four seed out of the Central Division and were swept by the Milwaukee Admirals in three games in the Central Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Todd Nelson

Arena: Van Andel Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Toledo Walleye

Offseason Moves: Matt Ford, Carter Sandlak, Ben Street, Matt Lorito

The Case For: Solid, big time signings for Grand Rapids and Todd Ford to tinker with. The Griffins disappointed last year with some growing pains last season. Expect things to run a bit smoother this season with these signings and Nelson’s second season.

The Case Against: Will be the same with any contending team in this division, any run of bad luck can get you buried in a hurry.

Media Coverage: Pete Wallner for Grand Rapids Press

Twitter: @griffinshockey

Facebook: /grgriffins

Instagram: griffinshockey

Broadcaster: Bob Kaser


NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild

Record: 24-41-5-6 (59 pts., 8th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Derek Lalonde

Arena: Wells Fargo Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Quad City Mallards

Offseason Moves: Patrick Cannone, Victor Bartley, Alex Stalock

The Case For: Re-tooled lineup for Iowa. Do not expect the Wild to be a team you can just steamroll anymore.

The Case Against: We will believe the Wild’s facelift when we see it.

Media Coverage: Des Moines Register and Tom Witosky, Independent

Twitter: @IAWild

Facebook: /IAWild

Instagram: iowawild

Broadcaster: Joe O’Donnell


NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets

Record: 26-41-4-5 (61 pts., 7th place Central Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Pascal Vincent

Arena: MTS Centre

ECHL Affiliation: Tulsa Oilers

Offseason Moves: Kevin Czuczman

The Case For: The AHL is all about developing talent for the purposes of getting to the next level. The Moose will develop their talent, beyond that?

The Case Against: I can’t say anything nice, so I won’t say anything at all.

Media Coverage: Patrick Williams

Twitter: @ManitobaMoose

Facebook: /ManitobaMoose

Instagram: manitobamoose

Broadcaster: Mitch Peacock


NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators

Record: 48-23-3-2 (101 pts., 1st place Central Division)

Playoffs: Played as the one seed out of the Central Division and lost in six games to the Lake Erie Monsters in the Central Division Finals.

Head Coach: Dean Evason

Arena: UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Cincinnati Cyclones

Offseason Moves: Matt Irwin, Michael Liambas, Harry Zolnierczyk

The Case For: Another strong team ready to take over the Central Division rests in Milwaukee. The Admirals should contend out of the gate. If they sustain dominance, they can run away with this division.

The Case Against: I wouldn’t expect a runaway from the Admirals. A playoff team? Yes. A Cup contending team though?

Media Coverage: Admirals Roundtable, who have a blog and a twitter feed and Dave Boehler, who writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Facebook: /mkeadmirals

Instagram: mkeadmirals

Broadcaster: Aaron Sims


NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks

Record: 40-22-10-4 (94 pts., 3rd place Central Division)

Playoffs: Played as the three seed out of the Central Division and were swept in three games by the Lake Erie Monsters in the Central Division Semifinals.

Head Coach: Ted Dent

Arena: BMO Harris Bank Center

ECHL Affiliation: Indy Fuel

Offseason Moves: Sam Carrick, Jeremy Langlois, Daniel Ciampini

The Case For: Look for Cleveland to have a hangover, Chicago and Manitoba to struggle. Iowa is an unproven commodity. You can probably pencil in Rockford as a playoff team and contender.

The Case Against: The Central Division was the most competitive division last season, don’t expect that to change. A couple bad weekends strung together and Rockford can be on the outside looking in.

Media Coverage: Rockford Register Star

Twitter: @goicehogs

Facebook: /RockfordIceHogs

Instagram: rockfordicehogs

Broadcaster: Bob Mills

Back in more familiar territory Wednesday as we tackle the North Division.

Pacific Division Preview



Back again this year are the soon to be famous Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews. I think that the AHL Previews have been the longest standing feature piece on the blog since its inception about 2,000 posts ago.

Anyway, if you are new here, it’s my best effort at painting the picture for each AHL team. I do it division by division. Today, we start in the far away land in the Western Conference known as the Pacific Division.

But before we do that, I just want to mention that nothing changed this year format-wise other than just a slight change in the media information. Face it folks, gone are the days where you read about a sporting event in the paper the next day. If there is a blog that covers the AHL team more than the newspaper, that gets the primary spot. In cities where I don’t know of a blog, it defaults to whatever paper is in the city. Links are provided where necessary.

Follow the American Hockey League on Twitter @theAHL and @AHLPR. On Facebook at /TheAHL and TheAHL on Instagram.


This season, the teams that play just 68 games grows by one as the Tucson Roadrunners enter the fray as the old Springfield Falcons team. No other affiliation changes here and still the “California Five” teams of Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose and Stockton remain on the 68 game plan as the Texas teams in San Antonio and Cedar Park remain with the rest of the league at 76 games.

Penguins don’t play anyone in this division, so the “vs. WBS” section was removed for redundancy sake.

Here we go…


NHL Affiliation: Edmonton Oilers

Record: 31-28-7-2 (71 pts., 5th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Gerry Fleming

Arena: Rabobank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Norfolk Admirals

Offseason Moves: Frankie Simonelli, Taylor Beck, Mark Fraser

The Case For: Forgettable inaugural season for the Condors at the AHL level. Team seems more committed to being competitive this year.

The Case Against: I don’t know, man. It’s an Edmonton affiliate. They had one good year two years ago with Oklahoma City making it to the Western Conference Finals. When were Edmonton affiliates competitive?

Media Coverage: Mike Griffith for the Bakersfield Californian

Twitter: @Condors

Facebook: /BakersfieldCondors

Instagram: condors

Broadcaster: Ryan Holt


NHL Affiliation: Los Angeles Kings

Record: 44-19-4-1 (93 pts., 1st place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Played as the one seed out of the Pacific Division and were swept by the Lake Erie Monsters in the Western Conference Finals.

Head Coach: Mike Stothers

Arena: Citizens Business Bank Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Manchester Monarchs

Offseason Moves: T.J. Hensick, Jack Campbell, Daniel Ciampini

The Case For: Defending Western Conference Champions hit a road block named Lake Erie last season. I see no reason for that to slow this Reign team down. Expect them to use that as a learning experience and again to contend in the Pacific and overall in the West.

The Case Against: Did Lake Erie expose a weakness that other teams will now be able to capitalize on?

Media Coverage: Lindsay Czarnecki for the blog LA Kings Insider.

Twitter: @ontarioreign

Facebook: /ontarioreign

Instagram: ontarioreignhockey

Broadcaster: Joseph Zakrzewski


NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche

Record: 33-35-8-0 (74 pts., 7th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Eric Veilleux

Arena: AT&T Center

ECHL Affiliation: Colorado Eagles

Offseason Moves: Nathan Lieuwen, Jeremy Smith, Ryan Stanton, Mike Sislo, Joe Whitney, Trent Vogelhuber, Jim O’Brien

The Case For: Don’t sleep on this Rampage team. This team, at least on paper, is built to contend out of the box.

The Case Against: Lots of stars, one puck. Good division, competitive Central Division.

Media Coverage: Nathan Mallet for the blog Running with the Herd

Twitter: @sarampage

Facebook: /sarampagehockey

Instagram: sarampage

Broadcaster: Dan Weiss


NHL Affiliation: Anaheim Ducks

Record: 39-23-4-2 (84 pts., 2nd place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Played as the two seed out of the Pacific Division and were beaten by the Ontario Reign in the Pacific Division Finals in five games.

Head Coach: Dallas Eakins

Arena: Valley View Casino Center

ECHL Affiliation: Utah Grizzlies

Offseason Moves: Jeff Schultz, Nate Guenin, Scott Sabourin, Nick Tarnasky

The Case For: Solid veteran signings for the Gulls this season. San Diego will be a contender again this season.

The Case Against: Ontario is strong, Bakersfield is looking for a bounceback, San Antonio is a dark horse Calder Cup contender, Texas is always great. Gulls will need to be on their toes all season if they want to be around in April.

Media Coverage: Dan Arel for the blog Mayor’s Manor

Twitter: @SDGullsAHL

Facebook: /SDGullsAHL

Instagram: sdgullsahl

Broadcaster: Craig Elsten


NHL Affiliation: San Jose Sharks

Record: 31-26-7-2 (73 pts., 4th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Played as the four seed out of the Pacific Division and were beaten by the Ontario Reign in the Pacific Division Semifinals in four games.

Head Coach: Roy Sommer

Arena: SAP Center

ECHL Affiliation: Allen Americans

Offseason Moves: Dan Kelly

The Case For: Struggling to find one. San Jose was a playoff team last season, but struggled to get there and were easily dismissed. It’s possible that the Barracuda were happy with the team that they had and only added a player in Kelly just because.

The Case Against: Too many competitive teams in the Pacific. The Barracuda ain’t one of them.

Media Coverage: Bay Area News Group

Twitter: @sjbarracuda

Facebook: /sjbarracuda

Instagram: sjbarracuda

Broadcaster: Nick Nollenberger


NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames

Record: 32-32-2-2 (68 pts., 6th place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Ryan Huska

Arena: Stockton Arena

ECHL Affiliation: Adirondack Thunder

Offseason Moves: Linden Vey, Jamie Devane (PTO), Mike Angelidis, Matt Bailey, Matt Frattin

The Case For: These are solid signings for the Heat, who had a terrible inaugural season. Look for better things from Stockton this season.

The Case Against: Goaltending may be an issue, defense too. In this division where the emphasis is on percentage points, could be killer.

Media Coverage: Scott Linesburgh for The Record

Twitter: @AHLHeat

Facebook: /ahlheat

Instagram: ahlheat

Broadcaster: Brandon Kisker


NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars

Record: 40-25-8-3 (91 pts., 3rd place Pacific Division)

Playoffs: Played as the three seed out of the Pacific Division and were beaten by the San Diego Gulls in the Pacific Division Semifinals in four games.

Head Coach: Derek Laxdal

Arena: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park

ECHL Affiliation: Idaho Steelheads

Offseason Moves: Brandon DeFazio, Caleb Herbert, Dustin Stevenson, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Austin Fyten

The Case For: Texas is always competitive, and there are no indicators that this season will be the anomaly. May not be the best team in Texas, though.

The Case Against: It shouldn’t be that hard to name four more teams better than Texas in the Pacific.

Media Coverage: Stephen Meserve for the blog 100 Degree Hockey

Twitter: @TexasStars

Facebook: /TexasStars

Instagram: txstarshockey

Broadcaster: Brien Rea


NHL Affiliation: Arizona Coyotes

Record: 26-42-3-5 (60 pts., 8th place Atlantic Division, playing as the Springfield Falcons)

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Head Coach: Mark Lamb

Arena: Tucson Convention Center

ECHL Affiliation: Rapid City Rush

Offseason Moves: Justin Peters, Brandon Burlon, Anthony DeAngelo, Jamie McBain, Chris Mueller, Garrett Ross

The Case For: Should be an interesting maiden voyage in Tucson this season with this Roadrunners team. Coming over as the god awful Springfield Falcons team, this team, at least on paper, looks to be very competitive.

The Case Against: How many, “on paper” teams have ever won a Calder Cup or been competitive in reality?

Media Coverage: Alexander Kinkopf 

Twitter: @RoadrunnersAHL

Facebook: /RoadrunnersAHL

Instagram: roadrunnersahl

Broadcaster: Tom Callahan

Back tomorrow at noon Wilkes-Barre time for the Central Division Previews.

Camp Coming; Cuts Made*

* – questionable semicolon use by the author.

Wednesday the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins announced a training camp schedule. Camp opens Saturday on Coal Street. More about it here with a schedule. Practices held at 40 Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre are always open to the public.

Thursday, Pittsburgh sent defensemen Barry Goers, Michael Webster and Ryan Segalla and forwards Tom Kostopoulos, Milos Bubela, Gage Quinney, Jarrett Burton, Christian Hilbrich and Reid Gardiner to Wilkes-Barre. None of this first crop were on NHL contracts. There are 49 players left in Pittsburgh’s camp.

Tristan Jarry shined in his preseason start in Chicago Wednesday, shutting out the Blackhawks 2-0. Jarry will be gunning hard at the backup role behind Marc-Andre Fleury while Matt Murray recovers from his hand injury.

Elsewhere around the AHL…

— Binghamton is losing Ottawa as an NHL parent in 2017-18 it was announced this week. Pending AHL Board of Governors Approval, Ottawa will place their AHL prospects in Belleville, Ontario. Say hello to the Belleville Senators. They have a Twitter page and everything.

— Back in Binghamton, Executive VP of Operations Tom Mitchell emphatically states that the AHL is going nowhere when it comes to Binghamton. Video on that here. Mitchell didn’t mention anything about a potential NHL partner, so I don’t know if he is blowing smoke or if in fact there is an NHL team waiting in the wings once Ottawa uproots the Pens prospects at the end of this coming regular season.

I’ll say this. I love my trips to Binghamton. There are good people in Binghamton and it’s a great city for AHL hockey. I hope that Mitchell is in fact correct and that we all can rest easy and not worry about there not being hockey on the Southern Tier in 2017-18 and beyond.

— The Hershey Bears have a new voice. Meet Zack Fisch. Promoted from the Bears ECHL affiliate in South Carolina, he takes over for the job Scott Stuccio did for the Bears. They didn’t list his shoe size but he better have big feet because he has enormous shoes to fill.

Coal Street will probably publish a training camp roster some time Friday and when they do, I’ll jump back on here and blog about it.

One more thing. I don’t know if you noticed or not but the “WBS News” feed to the left of the blog is down. That’s cause I pull the RSS feed from but that domain is under construction. If you go to their website you are hit with a splash page that says that the new is coming soon. Hopefully the RSS doesn’t change.

It isn’t you. Or me. In case you were wondering, that’s why there hasn’t been any “WBS News” for the last month or month and a half.

More this weekend, presumably.

Last Weekend of August

Couple things to touch on as we have our AHL schedule and are looking forward to September, kids going back to school, and hockey season getting going in about 50 days….

Pittsburgh announced rosters for the annual rookie tournament in London, Ontario in mid-September. Seth did a blog post highlighting players to watch. Jonathan offered a piece where he wrote capsules on all the players.

Ty Loney signed with Adirondack of the ECHL Thursday. I have updated the 2016 Offseason Moves list.

I took a look at that list. The unsigned players that remain are Harrison Ruopp and Dan O’Donoghue (who were RFA’s that were not tendered offers by the Penguins) and Tyler Biggs, Brian Foster and Ryan Parent.

The only other thing going on right now as a preview of sorts is the summertime Penguins Podcast with Nick Hart and Mike O’Brien. The duo are previewing the divisional opponents. They touched on how the Lehigh Valley Phantoms stack up. They give their predictions on if they see the Phantoms as a playoff team. The answers they give may surprise some, as it surprised me. The total podcast time is about 20 minutes, so it’s good to listen to at work, the gym or on the way home or maybe outside having a cigar or in the pool. They plan on rolling these out once a week to the start of the AHL season. Should make for some good listening.

Man, Labor Day weekend is next weekend. Where did this summer go?