Chirps from Center Ice

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

Category Archives: Wheeling

Blandisi and Yates Up, Hello Lucchini

What’s the old saying, “It Comes in Threes?”

The Penguins as an organization made a trio of moves Monday that are worth a blog entry. So here goes.

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed undrafted free agent Jake Lucchini to an entry level contract which will kick in in 2019-2020. For the time being, he will join Wilkes-Barre on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2018-19 season and report to Coal Street on Tuesday.

Coal Street’s press release has all the details for you. Captain of Michigan Tech this past season and had 11 goals and 15 assists in 38 games.

Check out his picture too, with link to the Coal Street release here. Look at that hair.

Zach Aston-Reese picked up a lower body knock in Sunday’s game against Boston. As a result, Pittsburgh recalled Joseph Blandisi on an emergency basis Monday afternoon.

Minutes after, Coal Street recalled Trevor Yates from Wheeling. Since coming over in the trade with Grand Rapids for future considerations, Yates has been a point a game player with the Nailers with 14 points in 14 games.

So that’s that on a Monday. Pens are in action Wednesday in Allentown taking on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7. Gameday setup is yours here on the blog then at 3.

Monday Notes 2/11

Bunch of stuff to get to today, so let’s get after it.

Here is a recap of Sunday afternoon’s action…

Bridgeport beats Utica in overtime 5-4. Pens have two games in hand and see the Sound Tigers two more times.

Providence shuts out what was a rested Syracuse team 4-0. Pens and Bruins are even on games played with 50. They meet three more times.

Lehigh Valley beats Hartford 5-2. That’s a split with the Wolf Pack this weekend. Wilkes-Barre and Lehigh Valley are on same games played and play six more times.

Hershey keeps winning, sweeping Charlotte with a 2-1 win Sunday. That is points in 12 straight for the Bears. Hershey has a game in hand on the Pens and these teams meet just three more times, with one of those games this Wednesday in Hershey.

Wilkes-Barre has three more games with Springfield and two more with Hartford.

Here is a look at the standings through Sunday night:

Charlotte 71
Bridgeport 62
Providence 59
Lehigh Valley 57
—–
Hershey 55
PENGUINS 53
Springfield 52
Hartford 46

So a lot of catching up to do but room to improve with six more matchups with Lehigh Valley. I have a feeling that just one Pennsylvania team is going to make playoffs. No one is going to catch Charlotte and even if they do, I can’t see them falling out of contention entirely. Bridgeport looks OK for now and Providence just had a twelve point run snapped on Saturday, they are good. So it’s really down to Wilkes-Barre, Hershey and Lehigh Valley for the final spot in the playoffs. I don’t see Springfield recovering and you can stick a fork in Hartford.

Monday, some news came out. Troy Josephs was released from his contract to head overseas. He’s the second such Penguins prospect (Freddie Tiffels at the beginning of the season) to bolt overseas. Josephs was more than a point a game player and one of the best players for the Wheeling Nailers.

Josephs had just three assists in 11 contests for the Pens this season. I think that he was long overdue a shot at AHL work given the fact that Wilkes-Barre has an unproductive veteran overage. Surely Josephs could produce at or better than some of the bottom six forwards that Clark Donatelli puts out on a nightly basis? Ask yourself this, Cam Brown has seemed to carve a nice niche here in Wilkes-Barre. No knock against him intended, but I were to ask you at the start of the season who would stick in the AHL between Brown and Josephs, most of you pick Josephs. Is is coachability? Attitude? Something else I am missing?

That, with Freddie Tiffels bolting before the season really got going, doesn’t set the best look.

I am not ready to have discussions over a debate about coaching vs. general manager yet. I will say this, there is a price that the Pittsburgh Penguins paid to win back to back Stanley Cups. It is starting to slowly erode and the first place it is felt is through the minor league system.

And there is nothing wrong with that per se, provided it pays off for you and it has mightily for the Penguins in the last three seasons.

One other piece of news for this Monday, in the form of a trade!

The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired right handed defenseman Blake Siebenaler from the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday for a conditional seventh round pick. Siebenaler will report to Wilkes-Barre. He has 17 games played this season for the Cleveland Monsters with a goal and an assist and a -11 rating. Professionally, Siebenaler is a -31 in three seasons for Cleveland with a total of seven goals, seven assists, including this season. He’s been injured for the Monsters and Cleveland hasn’t been the best AHL team overall in the last three years since winning the Calder Cup in 2015-16, so maybe a change in scenery will do well for him.

Scouting reports based off of what I have seen on Twitter include the following:

I also saw on Twitter that Siebenaler was a fan favorite in Cleveland and a very passionate player. He has a very hard shot from the blue line also.

The condition on the pick? Siebenaler would have to play in 10 NHL games for Pittsburgh and Columbus would get a seventh round pick from Pittsburgh. That probably isn’t happening, so it’s a contract dump for Columbus and some help for Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, however I would be the first to admit that the Penguins biggest problem isn’t keeping pucks out of their net as much as it is depositing them into the nets of the opponents.

So there you have it. Back here on Wednesday with the Gameday setup against Hershey.

Troy Josephs Recalled 11/26

The Wheeling Nailers have scored 41 goals as of November 26, 2018.

Troy Josephs has factored into 44% of them.

The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins recalled Troy Josephs Monday afternoon. Josephs has 12 goals, 6 assists and 18 points for the Wheeling Nailers. He was the ECHL Player of the Week last week.

A few things on this recall.

– Wilkes-Barre has, at times, struggled offensively. Introducing Josephs back into the lineup may provide enough of an offensive boost that the Penguins desperately need.

– Up top, the Patric Hornqvist concussion may be more of a longer term issue for Pittsburgh thus leaving Garrett Wilson up in the NHL. The Penguins don’t have Tobias Lindberg for a few days and I doubt that Patrick McGrath is the answer for a team that is 2-5-3 in their last ten.

– Troy Josephs may just be too good for the ECHL.

Do I see Josephs as a savior? No. That’s silly. Injecting him on the first line is throwing him in the deep end. Putting him on the fourth line and giving him seven minutes a night is a waste also. Same if he is the thirteenth forward. Can he help? Only one way to find out and that’s this Wednesday in Hershey.

Out the door, a comparison.

Talk to you Wednesday.

News and Notes 11/20

I found four bits of news which I was able to spin into a blog piece so here goes…

Troy Josephs was named ECHL Player of the Week after his solid weekend for the Wheeling Nailers, who swept through the south last weekend, winning all three games. Josephs had six goals and one assist in four games last week and is second in the ECHL in scoring. None of the goals topped this one he scored against Greenville on Sunday…

Ryan Horvat was released from his professional tryout with Coal Street, per AHL Transactions.

Tom had a nice feature on Sam Lafferty for The Athletic you can read here if you are a subscriber.

With the tumult going on in Pittsburgh right now, don’t be surprised to see someone like Lafferty go up later in the year so Pittsburgh can see what they have asset wise with Lafferty. Add Ethan Prow, Anthony Angello, Thomas Di Pauli and Sam Miletic into that mix as well if things spiral so far out of control in Pittsburgh they are playing for a draft pick instead of a playoff spot. It all trickles down.

On Miletic, Tyler offered the following…

You are going to see in tomorrow’s AHL Power Rankings that the Penguins are missing, “something” right now. I think the two things they are missing is leadership (Garrett Wilson was reassigned Saturday but didn’t play against Charlotte) and a play maker. I think Miletic is that play maker.

Pens have three games this weekend; on the road against Springfield on Friday then two at home with Hershey Saturday and Providence Sunday. I would expect Miletic to get the play Friday, off Saturday, play Sunday treatment.

Check out the Power Rankings Wednesday, enjoy your Thanksgiving on Thursday then check us out Friday for the Gameday setup against Springfield.

Will O’Neill Suspended One Game

Tuesday afternoon, the American Hockey League suspended Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins defenseman Will O’Neill for his actions Saturday night against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

From the release…

O’Neill was assessed an instigator penalty within the final five minutes of the third period, resulting in an automatic one-game suspension under the provisions of AHL Rule 46.22. He will miss Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s game Friday (Oct. 26) vs. Hershey.

From the Rulebook…

Fines and Suspensions – Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) – A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime (see 46.12), shall automatically be suspended for one game. The length of suspension will double for each subsequent offense. This suspension shall be served in addition to any other automatic suspensions a player may incur for an accumulation of three or more instigator penalties.

When the one-game suspension is imposed, the player’s Coach and Club shall each be fined five hundred dollars ($500) – a fine that will double for each subsequent incident.

This is 46.12…

Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) – A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct penalty, subject to the conditions outlined in 46.22.

Here is the video of what got O’Neill the instigator penalty and thus suspended…

As mentioned above, O’Neill will miss this Friday’s home game against the Hershey Bears.

O’Neill tried to make his case to Tom after the game last Saturday…

…but the League wasn’t having it.

Other news from Tuesday….

John Muse has been assigned to Wheeling. I thought they would at least try to make a competition out of the trio that was here (Tristan Jarry, Muse and Anthony Peters) but Jarry is the NHL pedigree that will see the lion share of starts, Peters is the AHL only guy who can’t go to Wheeling because Cincinnati owns his ECHL rights. Wheeling and Cincinnati are in the same division so it’s like Zach Aston-Reese playing for the Hershey Bears…Muse was the odd guy out. It’s a business.

Updates from practice…

If I come up with anything Wednesday, look for it here, otherwise Week 3 AHL Power Rankings will hit the blog Thursday.

Tuesday Notes 10/9

What you see below was a Facebook status update. I didn’t think I had enough to string together for a blog post, but after I finished I looked at it and figured it was so here goes…

Pens made cuts – sent Dane Birks, Kevin Spinoza and Cam Brown to Wheeling on Sunday.

– Pens had a goalie controversy until they didn’t. Matt Murray is out with a concussion (again, his third) and Tristan Jarry is on his way back up.

– I upgraded to a five year plan with the Penguins. The early access, my own line and parking spot put me over the top.

– As some of you may know, the Power Rankings will be out Thursday. I’m not married to Thursday’s yet, but I’m not staying up late on Sunday to run them on Monday anymore. May run them Tuesday, but Thursday it is for now.

– Pens are going to be on NHL Network later in the season. Way later, March 13 and April 7 in Lehigh Valley against the Phantoms.

That’s all. Pens are the only game in town when they play a rare Thursday game in Cleveland. More then.

Weekend Update 9/14

Another week closer to the start of the hockey season. NHL camp started Friday in Pittsburgh. But since the last time I blogged, there were some newsy items I just want to hit on here:

Tom Sestito has retired. He was mulling an offer with an AHL team out west, but told Lindsay Kramer:

“It came to do I want to move the family across country again or call it quits?” he said. “I had enough, I guess. I think I just don’t have it mentally to play another year.”

What Kyle was referring to…

That playoff series with the Bears was probably one of my most enjoyable to cover as a fan and a blogger. It had everything. Sestito was a giant part of that. Sestito may have retired, but legends never die.

Other news…

Penguins rookies went 0-3 and weren’t competitive at all against the three other teams they played last weekend. Take nothing away from this. It was a four day tournament for a bunch of teenagers and players still years away from the AHL. Adam Johnson shined in the tournament, but that’s because he has the experience playing at this level of hockey.

(If you think I am late with this stale news, sorry, I’m trying to enjoy the final knockings of summer and don’t get worked up over rookie tournaments that will be an afterthought come October)

On AHLTV, Stephen Meserve from 100 Degree Hoickey spoke with AHL VP of Communications Jason Chaimovitch about how the whole thing came about. They listened to you about an antiquated AHL Live system that overstayed its welcome and was grossly overpriced. It’s a good read.

Wheeling shores up its goaltending situation with the signing of Evan Cowley. The coaching staff is high on this guy.

Pittsburgh announced its training camp roster. No surprises of the names invited. Ryan Haggerty, on AHL contract only with Wilkes-Barre, gets an invite.

A notable absence on that roster list is Kevin Czuczman. He’s injured. He had offseason shoulder surgery and is out until December. Probably went straight to the operating table after the series with Charlotte and is still rehabbing. If I had to guess, it’s a rotator cuff and without giving away what I do for full time work, it’s a six month recovery period, barring complications.

As noted by Tyler here, Pens are deep on defense, so while Czuczman will be missed, his absence shouldn’t hurt Wilkes-Barre too badly out of the gate.

Too good not to share, Derrick Graffius had his own thoughts on Penguins training camp.

So that’s that. Look for Wilkes-Barre top put a camp roster out at some point during the coming days, probably later next week. When they do, I will have words here.

Enjoy the weekend.