Mid-Week Catch Up & Links 3/4

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
AHL Penguins roster stays intact through the trade deadline.
The Penguins organization didn't do anything drastic on trade deadline day, but made two small trades Monday afternoon to re-tool their defensive core, trading youth for experience heading down the stretch.

Bortuzzo/Cole swap, another trade with St. Louis

PIT Gets - D Ian Cole ($825,000 - RFA this summer)
Cole's 2014-15 Stats: 54GP, 4G-5A, +15, 44 PIM

STL gets - D Robert Bortuzzo ($600,000 - RFA this summer) & PIT's 2016-Seventh Round Pick 
Bortuzzo's 2014-15 Stats: 38GP, 2G-4A, -6, 68 PIM

*EDIT - In order to keep the Penguins salary cap compliant, the Blues are retaining some of Cole's salary.

The Penguins lose a physical presence in Bortuzzo, but gain a much more steady two-way defender in Cole from St. Louis and a guy that Pens assistant coach Gary Agnew - a former Blues assistant - is very familiar with. Cole isn't as physical as Bortuzzo, but he's not soft by any means. From what I've seen and read about him, Cole looks and reads like a two-way puck moving defenseman who plays defense first and can add the occasional tally from the back end too.

Another Defense Swap Sees Homecoming For Lovejoy

PIT Gets - D Ben Lovejoy
Lovejoy's 2014-15 Stats: 40GP, 1G-10A, +3, 17 PIM

ANA Gets - D Simon Despres
Despres' 2014-15 Stats: 59GP, 2G-15A, +9. 64 PIM

After the deadline had passed, Pens GM Jim Rutherford said at his media presser at Consol Energy Center that this trade was based on the need for more experience on the back end. Despres fell out of favor with the management and coaching staff with the Pens last season and despite being brought back was traded at the deadline this year for a familiar face in Lovejoy, who needs no explaining to the player he is.

Two AHL Roster Moves

The Pens also re-assigned defenseman Derrick Pouliot to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) yesterday, but just for the day as insurance that Derrick Pouliot could play in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs in the AHL if the WBS Penguins outlast the Pittsburgh Penguins. Frankly, Pouliot's AHL days are done minus a Calder Cup Finals appearance in June by all estimations - he's playing well in Pittsburgh.

Other than that, the only player movement that really affected the AHL Penguins was that defenseman Alex Boak was re-assigned to Wheeling as the Nailers played back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday. The AHL Penguins don't leave for Manchester until after their Thursday morning practice, so it was a chance for ice time for Boak - a guy that has been mostly the AHL Pens' 7th defenseman this season.

Penguins Look To Finish Second Half of Six-Game Road Trip Strong

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (32-18-2-4) are 3-0-0 through the first half of their season-high six-game road trip and have a tough three-game weekend ahead of themselves with a pair of games  in Manchester against the Atlantic Division leading Monachs Friday and Saturday before finishing with a Sunday afternoon tilt in Springfield against the Falcons (5th in Eastern Conference).

Before heading to the Northeast, the Penguins added two more bodies for depth - recalling defenseman Harrison Ruopp and forward Jean-Sebastien Dea from their ECHL affiliate in Wheeling. It appears for now that Alex Boak, who was loaned to Wheeling on Monday, will stay with the ECHL club through the weekend while the AHL Penguins are on the road.

Up Next:

Friday (3/6) at Manchester - 7:00 p.m. EST
Saturday (3/7) at Manchester - 3:00 p.m. EST
Sunday (3/8) at Springfield - 3:00 p.m. EST


Matt Murray has been just about perfect in net for the Penguins lately, going 4-0-0 in the month of February with three shutouts and becoming the 6th different Penguins  goaltender in the last five seasons to be named the CCM/AHL's Goaltender of the Month.

Brian Dumoulin has been playing arguably his best hockey of the season in the last few weeks  and as a pending restricted free agent this summer, Dumoulin is looking to prove he can play at a high level consistently night in and night out and ultimately push for an NHL roster spot next season.

While only on an AHL-contract, Conor Sheary has been one of the Pens' best offensive weapons - sporting an eight-game points scoring streak that lasted most of the month and leading the team with 17 goals.

Speaking of AHL-only contracted players, the AHL trade deadline is next Monday March 9th and only players on AHL contracts can be moved. Besides Sheary, Tom Kostopoulos, Carter Rowney, Barry Goers and Clark Seymour are other players on the WBS roster signed to AHL standard player contracts.

Josh Archibald made his return to the lineup noticeable in his first AHL game since late January this past weekend. Archibald tallied two goals and showed good chemistry with Jayson Megna - Archibald's roomate during his freshman year at the University of Omaha-Nebraska.


Conor Sheary - Andrew Ebbett - Tom Kostopoulos
Dominik Uher - Carter Rowney - Tom Kuhnhackl
Scott Wilson - Jayson Megna - Josh Archibald
Pierre-Luc Leblond - Matia Marcantuoni - Bobby Farnham

Brian Dumoulin - Taylor Chorney
Scott Harrington - Reid McNeill
Nick D'Agostino - Barry Goers

Matt Murray - Jeff Zatkoff


Forward Nick Drazenovic  - upper-body, week-to-week (since 2/11)
Forward Bryan Rust - lower body, day-to-day (since 2/21)
Forward Anton Zlobin - shoulder surgery, out for season (since 10/31)
Forward Adam Payerl - healthy

Phantoms Pursue Playoffs With Out-of-Division Games

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (25-23-6-1) will embark on a five-game road trip of their own after hosting a pair of games this weekend against Bridgeport Friday night and Portland on Saturday. In all, the next seven games for the Phantoms are against teams outside of the East Division - games the Phantoms have gone 9-11-4-1 in so far heading into this weekend.

Since Andrew Gordon's overtime winner in Springfield, the re-united top line from the start of the season - Scott Laughton centering Taylor Leier on the left and Gordon on the right wing - has been anything but effective in the team's last five games.
Last Five Games Stats:
Leier: 0G-0A, 2 PIM, -3
Laughton: 0G-1A, 9 PIM, -6
Gordon: 0G-0A, 0 PIM, -5 
It's unreasonable to believe that trio will be held off the score sheet much longer, but if they continue to struggle as a unit there could be more tampering with the line combos.

Up Next:

Friday (3/6) vs. Bridgeport - 7:05 p.m. EST
Saturday (3/7) vs. Portland - 7:05 p.m. EST


The goalie shuffle in the organization appears to have settled for now, with both Rob Zepp and Anthony Stolarz back with Lehigh Valley after brief call ups amidst injuries to Steve Mason and Ray Emery in Philadelpia.

On defense, Mark Alt missed last weekened's games with an illness. That gave Jesper Pettersson a chance to play in back-to-back games and show that he is more than capable of playing at the AHL level.

Shayne Gostisbehere had his mid-February return pushed back to March to give him more time to rebuild strength. The team is currently carrying seven healthy defensemen, so a Gositsbehere return this month would create lineup decisions for head coach Terry Murray.

Up front, Blair Jones continues to work towards a return to game action from a lower body injury that required him to shut things down in order to recover. Jones has been out since mid-January but a return to the lineup could add a whole new dimension to the Phantoms' offensive attack.


Petr Straka - Nick Cousins - Jason Akeson
Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Andrew Gordon
Jay Rosehill - Austin Fyten - Brett Hextall
Kevin Goumas - Darroll Powe - Zack Stortini

Brandon Manning - Robert Hagg
Adam Comrie - Steven Delisle
Oliver Lauridsen - Jesper Pettersson

Rob Zepp - Anthony Stolarz


Defenseman Mark Alt - illness, day-to-day (out since 2/27)
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere - ACL surgery in November, week-to-week (out since 11/7)
Forward Blair Jones - lower body, out at least six weeks (out since 1/16)
Forward Derek Mathers - healthy

Weekly Links

Christian Ehrhoff's concussion symptoms have returned in this update from Pittsbugh Post Gazette Pens beat writer Seth Rorabaugh.

Last week's Lehigh Valley Phantoms story in The Home News featured rugged veteran forward Zack Sotrtini - having a career year offensively in an embraced power forward role. Stay tuned for this week's Phantoms piece on more unsung heroes on the Lehigh Valley roster.

Here's some of my AHL-related work around the league at Hockey's Future throughout last month:

AHL Eastern Conference Notebook - February
AHL Western Conference Notebook - February

Grand Rapids Forward Teemu Pulkkinen NHL-ready
Worcester Sharks Rookie Forward Ryan Carpenter

One last bit, a shoutout to my high school alma mater Crestwood as the varsity ice hockey team takes on Hershey tonight in the 2nd round of the Flyers Cup. 


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