Chirps from Center Ice

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

2019 Offseason Moves

This is a page to follow along with throughout the summer to keep track of all incoming and outgoing signings. If you spot any errors, please feel free to reach out to me so I can correct.

Currently I have tables split into five; AHL contacted free agents, unrestricted NHL contracted free agents, restricted NHL free agents, players under contract and ATO / PTO guys added late in the season.

I’ll update this page with signings and departures throughout the summer.

Note that this only applies to players who played in or are expected to play in the AHL in 2019-2020. Note that I consider Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger (restricted) along with Garrett Wilson (unrestricted) as graduated to NHL so neither are included below.

AHL Contracted Players who are Free Agents

Name Position Notes
Matt Abt Defense Rounded into a serviceable defenseman, but if the Penguins are to be considered in rebuild mode, probably not a first option signing.
Cam Brown Forward Has a high motor and is a bit undersized.
Jarrett Burton Forward Coaching staff loves him, so he’s probably in the plans if the fit is right.
Tim Erixon Defense Serviceable plug in defender.
Yushi Hirano Forward Second Japanese player to play in AHL. Spent most of his season with Wheeling learning North American game.
Cedric Lacroix Forward 42 points for Wheeling in 72 games with 215 PIMs. Leader in PIMs in AHL last season had a scant 154.
Patrick McGrath Forward Can you ever see him with another team?
Anthony Peters Goaltender Signed with Isterholn Roosters (DEL) on May 15.
Ryan Scarfo Forward Center / wing depth.
Trevor Yates Forward Acquired in trade with Grand Rapids for futures. Better ECHL player than AHL.

Unrestricted NHL contracted Free Agents

Kevin Czuczman Defense Wouldn’t mind seeing him back for another year. Wonder if the feeling is mutual. Will probably listen to offers and then make a decision in late July – early August.
Jimmy Hayes Forward Got hot in the second half of the season, but is a painstakingly slow skater. He could have another AHL run in him, but don’t be surprised to see him bolt overseas.
John Muse Goaltender I don’t like the way he was handled with the way that the Pens were anchored to Anthony Peters and everything that went with that. You only hope that where he signs next isn’t a division rival.
Ethan Prow Defense Is a Group VI UFA which is an age / service time grouping. Should be the next re-signing that Pittsburgh should make as he is a coveted prospect who is a blue chipper.
Ben Sexton Forward Was a throw in, low impact forward who was in and out of the line up. At 27, his prime years are nearing their twilight.
Chris Summers Defense Same boat as Czuczman but I have the feeling that Pens fans can’t have both.
Zach Trotman Defense Was kind of Pittsburgh’s insurance policy whenever matchups didn’t call for Marcus Pettersson, Chad Ruhwedel and Juuso Riikola to fill in as that sixth or even seventh defenseman.
Chris Wideman Defense Won the Eddie Shore Award in 14-15 with Binghamton. Came over in a trade for J-S Dea, played in a few games then got hurt. There is already an overrun of NHL contracted defenders, so he’s probably looking elsewhere.

Restricted NHL contracted Free Agents

Joseph Blandisi Forward Had flashes here and there, but I don’t see him part of the long term plans, I would be shocked if they qualified him.
Macoy Erkamps Defense Depth defender.
Adam Johnson Forward I like him more than Blandisi and I think that the coach in staff in Pittsburgh feels the same way. He should be qualified.
Juuso Riikola Defense In my opinion he should have been sent to Wilkes-Barre a lot sooner than he was, then he picked up an injury and his season derailed from there. Qualify him and see what he brings in 2020.
Jeff Taylor Defense Have a feeling that they expected Taylor to be more ahead of the curve. I don’t think he is. Proof will be if he gets qualified or not.
Blake Siebenhaler Defense Didn’t have much of an impact with Wilkes-Barre and even did a stint in Wheeling. I don’t think he gets a qualifying offer.

ATO / PTO players not signed for 2019-20

Chris Brown Forward ATO signing, was teammates with Michael Kim at Boston College.
Danny Fick Defense Great numbers in ECHL. Played one game for WBS on a late season PTO.
Brandon Hawkins Forward ATO add, has heavy shot and scored two goals in five appearances for WBS.
Michael Kim Defense ATO add late in season, I really like what I saw from Kim in the extremely small sample size. Should be a priority signing for Bill Guerin & Company.
Jon Lizotte Defense Offensive D-man joined on ATO, led St. Cloud State in +/-. 1-1-2 with WBS in 3 appearances.
Matt O’Connor Goaltender 6’6 goalie added as Black Ace from Wheeling.

Under NHL or AHL Contract for 2018-19

Calen Addison Defense Has to go back to juniors because he is too young.
Niclas Almari Defense Signed his entry level contract with PIT and should be in WBS in 19-20. Played and won championship with HPK in Finland. Played two games with WBS on ATO in 17-18 and I liked what I saw from him then.
Justin Almeida Forward I think he has to go back to Juniors if he doesn’t stick with Pittsburgh, which I do not forsee happening.
Anthony Angello Forward Hit a bit of a rookie wall last year. Expect better in 2019-20 as he’ll probably be asked to contribute more.
Chase Berger Forward Penn State product who showed signs of flash.
Dane Birks Defense Pens draft pick who spent 65 games in Wheeling. He’ll be pushing for a spot in the Fall.
Jordy Bellerive Forward Penguins draft pick and incoming rookie. Gaudy numbers with Lethbridge of WHL.
Joseph Cramarossa Forward 16 AHL points last season earned him an NHL contract for 2019-20.
Thomas DiPauli Forward Late December injury took out the remainder of his season. Good on PK.
Jan Drozg Forward Is in the same boat as Almeida I believe.
Ryan Haggerty Forward Earned an NHL contract last season and should be named captain here in the Fall.
Tristan Jarry Goaltender Needs waivers in 2019-20 and with Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith already cemented as 1-2 in PIT, he’s definitely trade bait.
Sam Lafferty Forward WBS’ Rookie of the Year is set to have a breakout season in 19-20.
Jake Lucchini Forward Undrafted add by WBS late last year looks like a diamond in rough type signing.
Sam Miletic Forward Lacked consistency at times but had a pretty good year.
Linus Ölund Forward Very inconsistent and his yo-yoing in and out of the lineup showed that.
Oula Palve Forward Don’t know a single thing about him. He’s 27 years old and played in Finland. 19-20 will be the first time he plays on North American ice.

Needs

  • Veteran goaltender for Alex D’Orio. Can’t risk losing Tristan Jarry, who is under contract but now must pass through waivers in the Fall, as a backup. I think what happens with Jarry in the summer (trade likely) sets the table for July 1 with the plan in Wilkes-Barre in the Fall.
  • High impact AHL scorer. The Penguins lacked offensive firepower last season in a big way. Ethan Prow led the team in points, but that’s not really his job to score points. Pittsburgh needs to set up Wilkes-Barre with one or two proven veteran scorers. I joke about players like Chris Bourque, but a player of his caliber would be a perfect fit to compliment the Sam Lafferty’s and Anthony Angello’s already coming back for next year.
  • One or two defensemen in case one of Chris Summers or Kevin Czuczman don’t re-sign. Blueline is looking really, really young next season from here in May 2019.

New Guys

This space won’t see an update until after the start of free agency in July.

Last Update: May 15.