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2010-11 Season Review: Tim Wallace

Thursday, June 30, 2011
Player: Tim Wallace
Role: Two-way forward
Contract Status: UFA on July 1st

Notables: 26 years old, 6-1, 200 lbs., Right handed shot

Season Stats: 62 games played, 20G, 17A, +8, 61 PIM
Playoff Stats: 10 games played, 1G, 4A, +4, 6 PIM

Tim Wallace has played five years with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and is coming off back-to-back 20 goal seasons.  He was one of only three to rack up 20 goals this season for the WBS Penguins and appeared in seven games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He is set to become an unrestricted free agent tomorrow and it's looking like Wallace will test the free agent market in hopes of finding a better path to playing in the NHL regularly. But don't rule out a Penguins comeback for a guy who has played in 359 games with the organization's AHL affiliate.

2010-11 Season Review: Geoff Walker

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Geoff Walker was another Penguins forward that turned up his play down the stretch, posting 14 points (6G, 8A) in his last 18 games of the regular season. He also got off to a good start in the playoffs, where he posted all four of his points (1G, 3A) in the first seven games. 

Walker was signed last week and the move gives the Penguins more depth up front in case NHL forwards like Tyler Kennedy and yes, even Jaromir Jagr aren't able to be signed by Ray Shero and company in Pittsburgh. Arron Asham was just signed to a one year deal worth $775,000. The NHL Penguins still have about $5.7 million in cap space with 11 forwards signed for next season.

2010-11 Season Review: Joe Vitale

Player: Joe Vitale
Role: Grinder, Penalty Killing Specialist
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12

Notables: 25 years old, 5-11, 194 lbs., Right handed shot

Season Stats: 60 games played, 9G, 21A, +13, 64 PIM
Playoff Stats: 11 games played, 3G, 3A, +1, 18 PIM

Joe Vitale is basically the AHL version of a Max Talbot. He plays center, kills penalties, sticks up for his teammates, is a force on the forecheck and much more. He's an energy guy that gives every shift his best effort.  Vitale was tied for first in playoff goals scored (3) and tied for third in playoff points (6) for the Penguins.  His hard work and dedication to the game are paying off. With a friendly $512,500 NHL cap hit, could Vitale be a dark horse candidate to play in Pittsburgh in 2011-12?

2010-11 Season Review: Keven Veilleux

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Player: Keven Veilleux
Role: Power Forward
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12

Notables: 22 years old, 6-5, 219 lbs., Right handed shot

Season Stats: 66 games played, 12G, 24A, +17, 122 PIM
Playoff Stats: 11 games played, 2G, 2A, -1, 12 PIM

After playing just nine games in 2009-10 before a season ending shoulder injury, Keven Veilleux needed to prove his wasn't an injury prone forward that couldn't handle the day-to-day beating of the pro game. He played in 66 games this past season and punished several on the ice. The big 6-5 forward still has a lot to learn, but showed glimpses of NHL ready play down the stretch. Could Veilleux be the power forward the Penguins organization needs?

Thiessen Receives Qualifying Offer

Monday, June 27, 2011
Good news today as the Penguins have extended a qualifying offer to Brad Thiessen according to WBS Penguins beat writer Jonathan Bombulie. The offer will pay him $632,500 at the NHL level. The reigning AHL Goalie of the Year isn't signed yet, but this gets him one step closer. Qualifying offers to restricted free agents were due today by 5 p.m. EST.

With NHL Penguins backup Brent Johnson entering the last season of his contract, could this be Thiessen's final season in the AHL?

The shocking news is that Tyler Kennedy was not tendered a qualifying offer and will now become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

Thiessen was next on our list for the 2010-11 season review, so after the jump we'll add to the breaking news with a look back at an incredible season by the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins goaltender.

With the 23rd Pick, the Penguins Select...

Saturday, June 25, 2011
Picture courtesy of the Penguins Twitter account.
The Penguins surprised some and drafted another defenseman.

Joe Morrow, 18, plays in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the Portland Winterhawks. He registered 49 points (9G, 40A) in 60 games this past season and ranked second among defensemen in playoff scoring, registering 20 points (6G, 14 A) in 21 games.

The 6-0, 197 pound defenseman has the offensive ability to make it in the NHL and he also adds a physical edge to his game. Watch him drop Jacob Doty in this fight back in 2009.

Thoughts and insights after the jump.

WBS Penguins Re-sign Lerg & Walker

Thursday, June 23, 2011
Had to post the "Mustache Boy" picture!
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins announced this morning that the team has re-signed forwards Geoff Walker and Bryan Lerg to one-year AHL contracts. Glad to have these two guys back. The forward core got a giant boost today. Here's a look at who the AHL Penguins could have have up front to start 2011-12:

Eric Tangradi, Dustin Jeffrey, Ryan Craig, Nick Johnson, Joe Vitale, Keven Veilleux, Ben Street, Nick Petersen, Bryan Lerg, Geoff Walker, Zach Sill, Paul Thompson, Brian Gibbons.

That's a pretty solid forward core to have, especially in June. Of course, Tangradi and Jeffrey could be in the NHL full-time. Heck, even Ryan Craig, Nick Johnson or Joe Vitale could make the NHL club out of camp. But the fact is, the Penguins are realizing what last year's team did and have now brought back most of the core forwards in Sill, Johnson, Craig, Street and now Walker and Lerg.

2010-11 Season Review: Eric Tangradi

Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Player: Eric Tangradi
Role: Power Forward
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12

Notables: 22 years old, 6-4, 225lbs., Left handed shot

AHL Season Stats: 42 games played, 18G, 15A, +9, 86 PIM
NHL Season Stats: 15 games played, 1G, 2A, -4, 10 PIM

Eric Tangradi started the season in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a goal and an assist in nine games, Tangradi was sent down to the AHL. He didn't seem to take the demotion well to say the least.  With just three goals and an assist after 15 games with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, there was a lot of concern about Tangradi's work ethic and attitude.

2010-11 Season Review: Ben Street

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Player: Ben Street
Role: Playmaker; Offensive-minded forward
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12.

Notables: 24 years old, 5-11, 185lbs., Left handed shot

Season Stats: 36 games played, 12G, 11A, +9, 8 PIM
Playoff Stats: 8 games played, 0G, 1A, +1, 0 PIM

After 51 points (24G-27A) in 38 games with the Wheeling Nailers, Ben Street finished the year in Wilkes-Barre, tallying 23 points (12G-11A) in 36 games. He made quite a duo with Nick Petersen in the ECHL, and I'm excited to see if the two will be paired on the same line in the AHL in 2011-12.

2010-11 Season Review: Brian Strait

Monday, June 20, 2011
Player: Brian Strait
Role: Defensive-minded defenseman
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12

Notables: 23 years old, 6-1, 200 lbs., Left handed shot

Season Stats: 75 games played, 2G, 8A, +22, 49 PIM
Playoff Stats: 12 games played, 1G, 3A, +3, 10 PIM

With only five goals and a +45 in two full seasons with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, it's safe to say that Brian Strait is not an offensive defenseman by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Strait hasn't scored more than three goals in any campaign dating back to his days at Boston University.

Rather, he plays solid defensive hockey and is rarely caught out of position or even on the ice for an opposing team's goal.

Strait has been a warrior on the blue line, missing only seven games in his Penguins career. He was actually rumored to have been playing the 2010-11 Calder Cup Playoffs with a broken finger!

2010-11 Season Review: Brett Sterling

Sunday, June 19, 2011
Player: Brett Sterling
Role: Offensive Forward, Goal Scorer
Contract Status: UFA on July 1st

Notables: 27 years old, 5-8, 174 lbs., Left handed shot

Season Stats: 65 games played, 27G, 26A, +13, 88 PIM
Playoff Stats: 12 games played, 2G, 4A, Even, 10 PIM

Ray Shero and company brought in Brett Sterling last July 3rd, adding a proven AHL scorer and perhaps taking a gamble to see if Sterling could make it in the NHL. While he only managed seven games with the big club, he made the most of his time posting five points (2G, 3A) while on recall in February when injuries struck hard to the Penguins forward core.

Still, Sterling led the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in goals (27) and points (53) in 2010-11.  But will the unrestricted free agent give the Penguins organization another try? Or will he opt to find a team with a better chance of playing in the NHL?

2010-11 Season Review: Carl Sneep

Saturday, June 18, 2011
Player: Carl Sneep
Role: Offensive Defenseman
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12

Notables: 23 years old, 6-3, 212 lbs., Right handed shot

Season Stats: 61 games played, 4G, 13A, +17, 39 PIM
Playoff Stats: 2 games, 0G, 0A, Even, 0 PIM

Carl Sneep came into this season as a rookie and obviously has room to grow into a more dominant defenseman at the AHL level, but the future is bright for the big defenseman out of Boston College.

Sneep scored his first professional goal in just his sixth game with the WBS Penguins this past season - the game winner against the Adirondack Phantoms back on October 29th. With Steve Wagner and Andrew Hutchinson gone and the status of unrestricted free agent Corey Potter still uncertain, Sneep could play a more pivotal role on the blue line in 2011-12.

Hutchinson Signs With KHL's Barys

Friday, June 17, 2011
Andrew Hutchinson will also be taking his talents overseas, as the offensive defenseman signed with Barys Astana of the KHL today, according to this website. Hutchinson had a great start to the 2010-11 season with the Penguins but a knee injury that he never seemed to recover from slowed him down as the team entered the stretch run.

After the jump, a look at the defensemen left that are up for free agency in two weeks.

2010-11 Season Review: Zach Sill

Thursday, June 16, 2011
Player: Zach Sill
Role: PK Specialist, Grinder, Third Line Center
Contract Status: Signed through 2012-13 ($535,000 NHL Cap Hit)

Notables: 23 years old, 6-0, 200 lbs, Left handed shot

Season Stats: 80 games played, 11G, 19A, +16, 85 PIM
Playoff Stats: 12 games played, 1G, 2A, +1, 6 PIM

Zach Sill was the first player in the off season to be re-signed, as he was rewarded for his hard work throughout the season with a two-year contract extension last month.

Sill was a warrior for the WBS Penguins, appearing in all 80 regular season games. He really improved this past season nearly tripling his offensive production from 11 points (5G, 6A) in 2009-10 to 30 points in 2010-11. Sill was also a regular on the penalty kill and got better in the face-off dot as well. Sill became a more productive player in all areas of the ice last year.

John Curry to Play in DEL Next Season

Backup goaltender John Curry has signed with the Hamburg Freezers of the German DEL, this according to their team's website. I didn't expect Curry to be playing in Wilkes-Barre next season but I'm surprised that he won't be playing in North America in 2011-12. That makes the second Penguins player in a week to sign overseas in Germany (Steve Wagner).

More details and insights on what the Pens can do now in searching for a goalie to back up Brad Thiessen after the jump.

Penguins Re-Sign Ben Street to AHL Deal

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Ben Street will be back for the Penguins in 2011-12.
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins have announced that they have re-signed forward Ben Street to a one-year AHL contract.  Street was the ECHL's Rookie of the Year last season, and was clearly a top priority of the organization's free agents.

After 51 points (24G-27A) in 38 games with the Wheeling Nailers, Street finished the year in Wilkes-Barre, tallying 23 points (12G-11A) in 36 games. He made quite a duo with Nick Petersen in the ECHL, and I'm excited to see if the two will be paired on the same line in the AHL in 2011-12.

After the jump, a look at the re-signed forwards and the remaining free agents up front for the Penguins to make decisions on before free agency begins on July 1st.

Penguins Re-Sign Forward Ryan Craig

Monday, June 13, 2011
The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed their AHL captain from last season, Ryan Craig, to a one year deal that pays him $525,000 at the NHL level. This is a great signing for the WBS Penguins, as they now have strength down the middle much like the NHL Penguins. With Craig joining Joe Vitale and Zach Sill, the center position becomes even more deep.

Craig was 2nd on the team in scoring during both the regular season and playoffs. His +7 in the playoffs was the best on the team as well.

Overall, a good depth signing for the organization and a good leader to have in the AHL locker room with the rookies and prospects in the minors.  He was a 20G/20A guy the past two seasons and there's no reason to believe he can't continue at that pace.  He is a solid two-way forward who can play on the power play and penalty kill. Craig also isn't afraid to drop the gloves to stick up for his teammates or to give his team a wake up call.

2010-11 Season Review: Corey Potter

Will the Penguins retain Potter for 2011-12?
Player: Corey Potter
Role: Two-way defenseman
Contract Status: UFA on July 1st

Notables: 27 years old, 6-3, 201 lbs., Right handed shot

Season Stats: 75 games played, 7G, 30A, +25, 52 PIM
Playoff Stats: 12 games played, 2G, 7A, +2, 10 PIM

Corey Potter led the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins during this most recent year's playoff run in both assists (7) and points (9). He has played in more than 300 AHL games in his career, including 30 Calder Cup playoff games.  Would retaining Potter for another year be a good move by the Penguins organization?

Wagner To Play in Germany in 2011-12

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Steve Wagner will not be returning to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins next season. He won't even be playing hockey in North America in 2011-12. The news became official early this morning when the DEL's Adler Manheim Eagles team website released the story that Wagner has indeed signed to play in Germany next season.

I wish Wagner all the best with his new team. After the jump, a look at what Wagner's departure means for the organization's depth on the blue line as well as the free agents that could be retained.

WBS Penguins Re-sign Hynes/Nasreddine

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
 After leading the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins to their franchise best regular season campaign in just his first year as head coach, it was only a matter of time before the organization came calling to re-sign John Hynes. That day came on Tuesday afternoon when not only was Hynes retained, but also his assistant coach Alain Nasreddine also signed to muti-year contracts.

In Pittsburgh, all the assistant coaches were brought back on multi-year contracts as well. This includes former WBS Penguins coach Todd Reriden along with Tony Granato and Gilles Meloche.

So the organization's entire coaching staff in the NHL and AHL will be back next season.  After the jump we'll take a look at the AHL unrestricted free agents and who needs to be a priority to return for 2011-12.

2010-11 Season Review: Nick Petersen

Sunday, June 5, 2011
Player: Nick Petersen
Role: Offensive-minded forward
Contract: Signed through 2012-13 (ELC)

Notables: 22 years old, 6-2, 189 lbs., Left handed shot

ECHL Season Stats: 40 games played, 24G, 33A, +17, 30 PIM
AHL Season Stats: 23 games played, 5G, 9A, +7, 4 PIM
AHL Playoff Stats: 11 games played, 2G, 0A, -2, 6 PIM

Despite playing only half a season with the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers, Petersen still finished as 23rd in the regular season scoring race. He was clearly a man among boys in Wheeling and was recalled for good at the beginning of February.

2010-11 Season Review: Joey Mormina

Saturday, June 4, 2011
Player: Joey Mormina
Role: Defensive Defenseman
Contract Status: UFA on July 1st

Notables: 29 years old, 6-6, 230 lbs., Left handed shot

Season Stats: 50 games played, 2G, 9A, +17, 44 PIM
Playoff Stats: 12 games played, 0G, 0A, -1, 16 PIM

Joey Mormina began his season with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins on a professional tryout (PTO) before being signed to an American Hockey League contract on December 9th. The big 6-6 defenseman recorded a monster +/- in his 2008-09 season with the WBS Penguins at +37, but this season he had to settle for less than half that with a +17.

Penguins Re-Sign Forward Nick Johnson

Friday, June 3, 2011
The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed forward Nick Johnson to a one year, two-way deal worth $550,000 at the NHL level according to RDS reporter Renaud Lavoie.

Johnson, an offensive minded forward, played just 48 games with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins this past season after being being called up to Pittsburgh in February. Johnson suffered a concussion in his 4th NHL game of 2010-11 and wasn't able to return to the AHL for the playoffs per league rules.

Wednesday's Afternoon Links

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Not much news going on in the Penguins organization as of late but there are certainly some major hockey news stories developing today. Here's a look at a few of them:
  • The AHL's Manitoba Moose appear to have a deal in place to move to St. John's Mile One Centre for the 2011-12 season, this according to The St. John's Telegram. They needed a new home since Winnipeg got the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers.
  • The AHL's Calder Cup Finals shift to Binghamton for Games 3, 4 and 5 starting tonight with the series tied at one game apiece. The Penguins connection? Former player and assistant coach Mike Yeo is the head coach for the team representing the Western Conference: the Houston Aeros. Wilkes-Barre's local WBRE televison caught up with Yeo.
  • In the NHL, it appears as though NHL senior vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell is stepping away from his role as head of NHL discipline. Could Brendan Shanahan be his replacement next season? That story here.
  • The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins, with Game 1 in Vancouver. Here's a preview I wrote up over at The Hometown Fan with key matchups and the full series schedule.
I'll be getting back to the player reviews shortly, with Joey Mormina next on the list. I figured I would break up the routine a little bit in case some were getting tired of player review after player review. The blog should also be finishing up on the design work I have intended to do before the end of the week. I've heard a ton of positive feedback and I'm glad that the new design is a success.