Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: The AHL

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.

AHL Power Rankings: Week 20

We are 20 weeks into the AHL season and there is about 20 games left for most teams and for some, their chances at a postseason berth took a huge hit this past week. Cleveland, Binghamton, Tucson and Texas come to immediate mind.

The San Jose Barracuda are the best team in the AHL right now and are halfway to the Norfolk Admirals record of 28 straight wins. So of course they remain the number one team this week.

Click through the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up this week.

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AHL Power Rankings: Week 19

After what seems like an eternity, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins are no longer the top team in the Weekly Chirps from Center Ice AHL Power Rankings.

At least not in Week 19.

That team is the San Jose Barracuda who have quietly plugged along for the past few months. Winners now of eleven straight games and the top team in the Pacific. Even if the Penguins won a few games this week, the Politburo would have been hard pressed to ignore all the work being done in San Jose to put the Barracuda on this run.

Another streaky team in the Eastern Conference follows the Barracuda at the two spot. Apologies to anyone who checks in from in Grand Rapids, the Griffins drop to third because of these streaking teams.

Hop through the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up this week.

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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.

Samuel Morin Suspended Two Games

Thursday morning, the AHL suspended Lehigh Valley Phantoms defenseman Samuel Morin for two games on this hit on Garrett Wilson from Tuesday…

Morin was only given a cross checking penalty. 28.1 in the rule book is supplemental discipline in which a team asks the league to review a sequence. I think in order for there to actually be a suspension, the other player involved had to have sustained an injury. There are other factors involved, such as whether the player has a history and Morin has that.

Wilson is currently week to week with an upper body injury. Penguins will be leaving later today for their thee game trip through the North Division beginning Friday night in Albany.

 

AHL Power Rankings: Week 18

No changes at the very top in the Week 18 AHL Power Rankings. While, yes, I am a blogger that follows the number one team, I think that my explanation as to why the Penguins are still the top team this week is enough to convince you that Wilkes-Barre should remain at the pinnacle in this weeks AHL Power Rankings.

A couple of changes in the top five, ten and on back, so click through the jump if you didn’t link in direct to see where your favorite team ended up this week.

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AHL Power Rankings: Week 17

We are already past the first weekend of February. There are 10 weeks left in the 2016-17 AHL season. Where has the time gone?

The top team in the AHL was embarrassed Friday night and responded in a big way Saturday against their biggest division rival right now. They didn’t just beat the Phantoms, they crushed them. That, coupled with some minor falters below the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins keeps them at the pinnacle of the Week 17 AHL Power Rankings.

To see the rest of the order, click through the jump if you didn’t link in direct.

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