Chirps from Center Ice

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

Di Pauli Signs 8/19

It was announced Friday morning that free agent forward Thomas Di Pauli signed a two year entry level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Di Pauli, originally a Washington Capitals draft pick, never signed with the Caps and became a free agent this week.

He’s 5’11, 197 pounds. Speedy forward with good hands. Played on Notre Dame with Bryan Rust which, depending on what website you do to to get your hockey projections, plays the same style.

Di Pauli went 22-39-61 over his last two seasons with Notre Dame, so he knows how to get his name on the scoresheet.

If he doesn’t make the big club out of camp, you can expect to see Di Pauli here in Wilkes-Barre, probably getting booed by Bears fans who were excited to see him play for them next season if he didn’t make the Capitals roster. Di Pauli’s presence alone will provide a boost for what was looking like an offensively starved AHL Penguins team. You can only keep so many bodies in the NHL, so if Di Pauli sticks, another body gets sent down. It’s a win-win for Wilkes-Barre regardless.

Elsewhere, Lehigh Valley signed goaltender Mark Dekanich Thursday. Dekanich hasn’t been the same since his All-Star days with Milwaukee a couple years ago. He spent much of last season with South Carolina in the ECHL and I expect him to do the same with Reading in the ECHL.

Our ECHL affiliate in Wheeling announced Wednesday that they have extended their affiliation agreement with Pittsburgh and subsequently Wilkes-Barre for two more seasons, out to 2018.

No AHL schedule yet. Probably early next week, based off of tweets from some teams that I have seen. Only question that remains is how many times we see Hershey and Lehigh Valley, everyone else in the division and everyone else in the conference, because we aren’t going to play anyone from the Western Conference. You get your hopes up for variety and new teams only to be disappointed year after year with the same old, same old.

Back next week to break it all down.

Schedule Soon, Other Notes

Real quick one today.

The NBA has their schedule, so the AHL can start finalizing theirs. The NBA announced their schedule last week, so I would expect that the AHL will have their schedule by the end of this week.

No rush. I am enjoying the summertime.

Out the door, Clark Seymour and James Melindy have new homes. Seymour was a little used defensive fill-in and Melindy was a throw in for the Dustin Jeffrey trade that never played a game in Wilkes-Barre. Seymour signed with HC Bolzano in the EBEL and Melindy signed with Wichita in the ECHL.

So there is that. I updated the 2016 Offseason Moves List and put one last edit in on the big board, which as you see if you didn’t link in direct is no longer pinned to the top of the site. You have to scroll down now if you didn’t bookmark.

Will probably drop a line here again when the “schedule is coming tomorrow” announcement is made. An announcement about an announcement!

Go outside and jump in the pool while you still can!

Filling Out the Fourth Line – Pens Re-Sign Jarrett Burton

In keeping up with the news cycle this week, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins announced that they have re-signed Jarrett Burton for the 2016-17 campaign.

Burton is one of those players that has had a lot of success in the ECHL. Nearly a point a game player with the Wheeling Nailers last season, Burton had four game winning goals for Wheeling in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

I know that it may be hard to get excited about the signings of Jarrett Burton and Patrick McGrath this week, a total combined three points between each at the AHL level, given what the likes of Lehigh Valley brought in (T.J. Brennan and Andy Miele) and Hershey (re-signing Ryan Bourque) did this past summer, and I can’t blame you if you are underwhelmed by the offseason signings by the Penguins this season.

Wilkes-Barre has scoring threats in Tom Kostopoulos, Carter Rowney, Jake Guentzel and Dominik Simon. I think that Oskar Sundqvist pushes for full time NHL work next season. Same for Scott Wilson. Yes, Pittsburgh re-signed Kevin Porter, but don’t expect him to be in a Wilkes-Barre uniform anytime soon. Jean-Sebastian Dea and Josh Archibald better come to camp and ready to kick ass because these are make or break years for both. Garrett Wilson is a big unknown. I didn’t consider him for the AHL Big Board because I considered him graduated. If he doesn’t stick in Pittsburgh and makes it to Wilkes-Barre, he will contribute.

You are then left with Sahir Gill, Adam Krause, Tom Sestito and Patrick McGrath. Maybe Gill and Krause are the next Carter Rowney and will break out. Sestito and McGrath are too one-dimensional and you know what they are going to do when they step on the ice.

On the flip side, you have the defense, which is probably the deepest in the Atlantic Division and two goaltenders which will likely be trying to one up the other. Good problem to have?

Tell me what you think in the comments.

Out the door, on Wednesday the Penguins announced what their warmup jerseys will look like. You can take a look at these here.

If Monday was primary jerseys, Tuesday a player signing, Wednesday a jersey and today a player signing, consider Friday a jersey announcement. Probably the alternate. That’s just me guessing though, so stay tuned.

Pens Re-Sign Patrick McGrath 8/9

In keeping with keeping their name in the news cycle during the middle of August, there was more news out of Coal Street Tuesday.

They re-signed Forward Patrick McGrath.

McGrath is a Shavertown native known more for his fists than anything else. With the AHL cracking down on staged fights and fighting in general, the McGrath signing adds toughness to the Penguins lineup.

If you are expecting a big splash name in AHL free agency this week with this parade of news so far from the Penguins, prepare yourself to be underwhelmed….

We’ll see. We aren’t even at Wednesday yet. The 2016 Offseason Moves List has already been updated.

Stay tuned.

Lively New Livery

Coal Street teased the following this morning…

…which is good for summertime blogging I suppose. I’m enjoying my summer and the warm weather along with the pool and cigar time. Good to keep the fingers sharp and the content on the blog fresh.

Later that day, the Pens announced a new look…

Release here. Remember with the new rule change this year it will be whites at home till Christmas than darks at home thereafter.

No word on if there will be alternate jerseys and what those will look like. There always is but there was no word in todays release.

For visual learners…

Details on when and where you can get these new colors in the press release.

One other note that was out there today was on an ex-Penguin. Eric Hartzell is back playing in America and today signed with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL.

More news to come this week.

Leach Defects 8/3

With the announcement earlier this week of the assistant coaches named to the bench with Clark Donatelli manning the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins ship for 2016-17, it wasn’t a matter of if Jay Leach would land on his feet with another team, but when.

It happened Thursday. What was wildly reported on for weeks was made official. Leach is heading to Providence to serve as assistant coach with Trent Whitfield. Leach and Whitfield will serve as assistants to Kevin Dean.

It’s a bit of a monkey see, monkey do bit with the P-Bruins, who are the second team this week to name two assistant coaches. I think that you will see that become the norm. Your ideal situation is to run your AHL bench like you do in the NHL.

Kevin Dean on Whitfield and Leach as told to Mark Divver of The Providence Journal

Back home, Mike O’Brien and Nick Hart sat down with new Penguins assistant coach J.D. Forrest and podcaster about it. You can check that out and give it a listen here.

Enjoy August. Remember to apply sunscreen.

Clark Finds Taylor With a Nikkel in the Forrest

Today, the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins filled out their coaching staff for the 2016-17 season.

Chris Taylor and J.D. Forrest join Clark Donatelli behind the bench as assistant coaches. In addition, Coal Street announced the hire of Madison Nikkel as video coach.

Release here with information on each. Taylor comes over from Rochester where he was an assistant coach with Amerks after he retired. Forrest coached in Austria last season and was an assistant with the U.S. National Team Developmental Program in 2014-15. Nikkel comes from the college ranks, recently with Boston College.

Wait a second, what happened to Jay Leach…

So there is that.

One other thing that I saw across the Coal Street media platforms I will leave you with…

You'll be seeing a bit of this guy at the arena this year.

A video posted by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (@wbspenguins) on

I have no idea. They didn’t explain.

Schedule for the 2016-17 AHL season will be out a few days after the NBA schedule is out later this month. Here’s a preview: Hershey and Lehigh Valley 12 times, everyone else in the division a couple times, a few games with the North Division teams here and there and nothing scheduled against any Western Conference teams.

Enjoy your August.