Chirps from Center Ice

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

2018-19 AHL Schedule Released

I guess we can start marking off July 11 as the date that the American Hockey League debuts it’s playing schedule for the coming year. A year to the day, they announced the 2017-18 schedule. Today, on July 11, they did the same.

We already know who the Penguins will open with, that news was announced yesterday (Springfield on Saturday, October 6) so it’s time to look at the other 75 games that make up the 76 game regular season schedule that the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will be playing.

League release here, Penguins release here.

I always do a question and answer session with the schedule since I think it’s the best way to look at it despite the fact that it is the same thing over and over again. So here goes:

1) Alright, so I know when the home opener is and against who, and we already know who the Penguins play and how many times, but refresh my memory again anyway please.

No problem. Here it is again for you.

Opponent Home Road   Opponent Home Road
Binghamton 2 2 Milwaukee 1 1
Bridgeport 4 4 Providence 3 3
Charlotte 2 2 Rochester 1 1
Cleveland 2 2 Rockford 1 1
Grand Rapids 1 1 Springfield 3 3
Hartford 3 3 Syracuse 1 1
Hershey 6 6 Toronto 1 1
Lehigh Valley 6 6 Utica 1 1

As pointed out by John on Twitter, the Penguins do not play the Belleville Senators or the Laval Rocket this season. I didn’t pick up on that when the matrix was announced earlier this year.

2) Cleveland! They are new! When do we play the Monsters?

Four times as the above chart indicates. First match up is right out of the gate in Cleveland immediately following the home opener with Springfield on Thursday, October 11 and Saturday, October 13. The Monsters visit the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Friday, December 7 and again on Friday, February 1.

3) Grand Rapids, Milwaukee and Rockford are back for another year. When do we play these Western Conference teams?

Road trip to the Midwest begins with Rockford on February 6, Milwaukee on February 8 and then a stop off in Grand Rapids on February 9.

Grand Rapids is the first to stop into Wilkes-Barre for a Friday, January 4 game followed by Milwaukee the next night on January 5 and then Rockford is in on Sunday, February 24.

4) Longest road trip? Longest home stand?

Longest road trip is five games in a row in November, starting Sunday November 4 in Bridgeport, a three in three to Providence, Hartford then back to Providence the following weekend then a Wednesday game in Springfield on November 14.

Longest home stand is no longer than three games, which are scattered throughout the schedule.

5) How many three in threes?

6) We know how much you love Sunday home games (/sarcasm<font/off>) so how many times do we have to hear you complain about your Sunday afternoons being interrupted by traveling to the Mohegan Sun Arena?

Haha, funny. There are five Sunday home dates scattered throughout the season.

7) We want more charts…

Good, cause I have them, courtesy of the Penguins release. See below.

GAMES BY DAY OF THE WEEK   GAMES BY MONTH
Home Road Total   Home Road Total
Monday 1 1 2 October 4 4 8
Tuesday 0 2 2 November 6 8 14
Wednesday 5 7 12 December 6 8 14
Thursday 0 1 1 January 5 4 9
Friday 12 9 21 February 5 5 10
Saturday 15 12 27 March 9 5 14
Sunday 5 6 11 April 3 4 7

8) Are the Penguins playing any workday afternoon games?

These are known as kids games because they normally involve droves of school buses bringing school kids to a game to scream when the video board says to. For the longest time, the Penguins haven’t played in any school day games.

Well this year, they play in a sum total of three, all on the road. The first is a November 14 game in Springfield which concludes the five game road trip. That game starts at 10:35 in the morning. They play two more in Bridgeport; 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 23 and again on Tuesday, April 2 at 10:30 a.m. also.

The Penguins host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a 1:05 p.m. game on Monday, January 21 on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

9) All-Star Game this year is where again?

It’s in Springfield, Massachusetts this year and it’s going to be played on January 27 for the Skills Competition and January 28 for the All-Star Classic.

10) What’s the theme the Penguins are going with this year?

Well, it’s their 20th Season in the AHL. They have a logo for the occasion you may have seen. They didn’t really have a theme last year, so maybe they are doing away with them altogether because I didn’t see anything listed for this year either.

11) Are the Penguins playing in any special venues this year?

No.

12) Anything else I need to know?

The Penguins play their 1,500th regular season game on Saturday, October 27 in Hershey. Why in Hershey and not at home to commemorate the milestone baffles me, but that’s the brakes.

Charlotte trip is January 11 and 12th, a Friday / Saturday stop into the Queen City.

The defending Calder Cup Champion Toronto Marlies drop in for their only visit on St. Patrick’s Day which falls on a Sunday this season.

Syracuse makes their only stop by on Saturday March 9. Utica drops by on February 16. Rochester is in on January 18.

The Penguins are the home opponent for the Binghamton Devils on New Years Eve, with a 6:05 p.m. start time.

There are six days this season on which 30 of the league’s 31 teams are in action: Sat., Oct. 13; Sat., Dec. 8; Fri., Dec. 21; Sat., Dec. 22; Sat., Jan. 19; and Sat., Mar. 30. The Penguins play on all of those dates.

Two Friday’s off in October, none in November, one in December, January and February, two in March and none in April.

The Penguins get one Saturday off this season, February 23.

One weird quirk which was pointed out to me was the Saturday, December 8 home game with Bridgeport that starts at 3:05. Penguins are on the road in Hershey Sunday afternoon, but that game starts at 5:05 – and Bridgeport doesn’t play again until December 14. Penn State Football is long done at that time, so if you want to speculate as to what it could be that is accounting for the strange start, please let me know in the comments.

You can sync the entire Penguins schedule to your phone or other device by clicking here and selecting the platform which applies to you.

So there you have it. Now go back to summer and enjoy it, because it will be over before you know it.

Schedule Wednesday – Home Opener 10/6 vs. Springfield

The American Hockey League playing schedule will be released sometime Wednesday, in keeping with the July 11 theme (the same date last years schedule was announced)

So in keeping with last years theme, the Penguins along with the other 30 AHL teams announced their home opener opponent.

For Wilkes-Barre, it’s the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday, October 6 at 7:05 p.m.

The League opens for business on Friday, October 5 and I haven’t seen the Penguins name in any of the other teams releases of opponents on that date. (Edit: They aren’t)

I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at the Penguins 2018-19 schedule.

Save Money, Sign Four (or Five)

Signings came today in droves as the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and Bridgeport Sound Tigers announced a sum total of nine players under contract for the upcoming 2018-19 AHL Season.

First, the Penguins announced that they have re-signed Patrick McGrath and Ryan Haggerty in addition to Cam Brown and Will O’Neill. O’Neill come over from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and should be familiar to Penguins fans as he played with Wilkes-Barre in 2015-16. Cam Brown appeared in one game with Wilkes-Barre last year and was a point a game player with the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL.

Bridgeport made noise earlier in the day signing five big names. Future AHL All-Star Chris Bourque signed as well as goaltender Jeremy Smith (who last skated with the Charlotte Checkers) and they re-signed Chris’ brother Ryan, Connor Jones and their captain and AHL ironman Ben Holmstrom.

All deals were AHL contracts.

AHL Big Board has been updated to reflect the moves.

Also, the 2018-19 AHL Schedule should be out this week. It was announced July 11 last year.

It’s apparently coming Tuesday, if the Colorado Eagles who are the newest AHL team, are to be believed.

Stay tuned.

2018 NHL Free Agency – Day 2

I’ll save you some time here, no signings today for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins or Pittsburgh Penguins. There were some moves around the rest of the Atlantic Division, however, which I will encapsulate here. No links off here, sorry, its hot in Wilkes-Barre and I want to go back in my pool.

— Matt Lorito and Mike Sislo signed with the New York Islanders Bridgeport. Scoring punch with Lorito, who had a big year with Grand Rapids last year and durability with Mike Sislo, who appeared in every game for the Tucson Roadrunners. The Islanders also confirmed the report yesterday that they re-signed G Chris Gibson and Seth Helgeson.

— Bobby Butler signed an AHL only deal with Hartford. He is from the area so he is coming home. I had him #50 on my Big Board.

— Dan Renouf to Carolina. He brings a veteran presence and can put up points.

— Paul Thompson returns to the Florida Panthers / Springfield Thunderbirds. The ex-Penguin and most recently ex-captain of the Chicago Wolves returns back to the Thunderbirds.

— My top defenseman overall, Jacob MacDonald also signed with Florida. He is a power play machine.

As far as other ex-Penguins go, Ben Street, Brian Gibbons, and Carter Rowney signed with the Anaheim Ducks and Tom Kuhnhackl signed with the Islanders. Ben Street is the only player out of that group I would expect to see in the AHL, although you never know when a player moves to another organization.

So the teams that stayed relatively quiet made some big noise today. All were solid signings and all will help teams that missed playoffs last year (but for the Checkers and Renouf, who…well, I forget now…)

There are still some big names available on the AHL Big Board. Chris Bourque is still unsigned. Philip Samuelsson, Eric Tangradi, Dustin Tokarski to name others.

If Day 3 warrants a blog post, it will go Wednesday sometime. If not, Happy July Fourth!

2018 NHL Free Agency – Day 1

Day One of NHL Free Agency is about in the books and the Pittsburgh Penguins signed five players and re-signed another.

They were…

  • Jack Johnson – this had been known for a few days now. Defender that is in the NHL.
  • Matt Cullen – well liked Cullen is 41 years old and will likely push down a Dominik Simon or a Zach Aston-Reese at least to start come October.
  • Jimmy Hayes – defender who played for HV71 last year overseas. Last saw AHL time in 2015-16 with Milwaukee. Elite Prospects has this scouting report on him: “Elliott is a defenseman with decent two-way ability. Offensively, he has a great shot and fine puck skills. Could improve his physical game.”
  • Stefan Elliott – this forward played with New Jersey last year, just 33 games with the Devils. 334 games of NHL experience. Could be another tweeter between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre.
  • John Muse – I had Muse 18th on my AHL Big Board. He was 11-2-2 playing on a loaded Lehigh Valley team in a backup / third goaltender role. He and Anthony Peters will make a good tandem here in Wilkes-Barre come the fall, or Muse could fall to Wheeling depending on what shakes out with Tristan Jarry / Casey DeSmith. Regardless, it’s good to have insurance in this regard.
  • Zach Trotman re-signed.

Announcements on the Hayes / Elliott / Muse and Trotman signings here. I didn’t include Johnson or Cullen because they aren’t direct impacts on Wilkes-Barre.

Elsewhere…

  • Jayson Megna and Michal Sgarbossa signed with Washington. Megna has been in the NHL or injured with the Vancouver organization and Sgarbossa put up 40 points with a good Manitoba team.
  • Providence lost a lot in defections like Tommy Cross to Columbus and Austin Czarnik to Calgary, but had a pair of signings that can help out come the fall. Mark McNeill and Cody Goloubef.
  • Philadelphia / Lehigh Valley was quiet. They don’t need to re-tool as much.
  • I didn’t see anything with Carolina, or the New York Rangers affecting Charlotte or Hartford respectfully.
  • Unconfirmed, but G Chris Gibson and Seth Helgeson have re-signed with the Islanders.
  • Florida signed my top goaltender available, Michael Hutchinson.

Jarred Tinordi signed with Nashville. I was hoping that the Penguins would be able to sway him into staying, but it was not to be.

Pretty quiet otherwise in the AHL’s Atlantic Division. The big arms race was in the North, where a ton of players got signed in what looks like is an arms race to keep up with the defending Calder Cup Champion Toronto Marlies.

I totally forgot about my Offseason Signings Tracker. I will update that later on as well as this blog post (going up around 6:30 pm local) for any additions made to the Penguins or their Atlantic Division foes. (edit: updated here)

AHL Big Board is now pinned to the top of the site, a handy link here if you linked in direct.

2018 AHL Top 100 Free Agents and Beyond – The Big Board

Note: Final update to the AHL Big Board was July 26, 2018. This post will be unstuck by this weekend.

Back for a fourth year is the yearly summertime project here on the blog where I carry on the tradition left by Jonathan Bombulie. It’s the AHL Big Board. A Top 100 list of the best available players to help your AHL team.

I’d like to that Nathan Mallett from Runnin’ With the Herd for his help on San Antonio’s players as well as Tucson and San Diego this year.

Information compiled on the names listed below was gathered from the following websites: The AHL, CapFriendly, HockeyDB and Elite Prospects.

Please feel free to reach out regarding corrections, errors or if guys on this list have signed previously.

NHL Free Agency begins Sunday, July 1.

Please click the jump if you did not link in direct and read, share and enjoy!

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Big Board Wednesday – Other Stuff

My massive summertime project is completed. The 2018 AHL Top 100 Free Agents and Beyond Big Board will be released here on the blog Wednesday afternoon at 5 pm. As of now, there are a total of 288 names that are going to be included in the list Wednesday, barring anyone signing between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday at 5.

It’ll get pinned to the top of the blog once my next blog piece comes out, so if if you visit once a week, just scroll down.

In other news, Coal Street announced a home opener and five other guaranteed dates as well as the logo the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins will use to commemorate their 20th AHL season played in Wilkes-Barre:

Full release here. I would be fine if they punted on Sunday afternoon home games entirely, I detest them.

Anyway, see you back here Wednesday evening after 5 for the AHL Big Board.