Monday's Catch Up & Links 6/1

Monday, June 1, 2015
The Utica Comets are one game away from a Calder Cup Finals appearance.
The calendar has reached June and while the Stanley Cup Finals matchup is set between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, the Calder Cup Finals is awaiting the winner of the the AHL's Western Conference Finals between top seeded Utica Comets (Vancover) and #2 seed Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit).

Sunday night in Game Five, the Comets left Grand Rapids with a 3-2 win and a 3-2 series lead heading home to Utica for Game Six Tuesday night and if necessary Game Seven on Wednesday night - also the night of Game One of the Stanley Cup Final in Tampa Bay. This save by Jacob Markstrom (courtesy of Comets TV below) is all over the internet, and according to Utica's Director of Communications Mark Caswell Jr. the save made ESPN, and NBC's Pro Hockey Talk.

This week at Highland Park Hockey, it's Lehigh Valley Phantoms week. Much like I did with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, I'll be breaking down and analyzing the Philadelphia Flyers' prospects who played in the AHL in 2014-15 in a two-part series with the same format as my End of the Year Progress Reports on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

After the jump, Monday's weekly links including Pittsburgh Penguins prospect analysis, a feature on Manchester's Michael Mersch, WBS Penguins head coach John Hynes possibly on the move to New Jersey & much more.

Monday's Weekly Links (6/1)

(EDIT: Local Wilkes-Barre news station (WNEP) Sports Director/Anchor Jim Coles is reporting that John Hynes will be named New Jersey Devils net head coach tomorrow.)

My thoughts on Hynes' likely hiring, what fans of the Devils can expect and who could be in line to be next head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

If you missed it here last week, I broke down and analyzed the prospects in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization that played in the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins during the 2014-15 season. Over 5,000 words on the development, progress and future of 33 prospects by position.
End of the Year Progress Report - AHL Penguins (Part 1)
End of the Year Prospect Report - AHL Penguins (Part 2)
My latest at Hockey's Future takes a look at Manchester Monarchs rookie Michael Mersch, who has really turned it on down the stretch and in the postseason. The Monarchs swept their way to the Calder Cup Finals and await the winner of the West Finals between Utica and Grand Rapids. Games 1 & 2 of the AHL Finals are in Manchester on Saturday and Sunday.

If you missed my latest AHL feature for The Home News, it's on AHL Regular Season MVP Brian O'Neill of the Manchester Monarchs. O'Neill, a Yardley, Pa. native, has had quite the journey from playing youth hockey in the Philadelphia area to four years at Yale University and now in the Los Angeles Kings system. O'Neill is on the cusp of making his dream of playing in the NHL a reality.

The AHL Penguins made their first signing of the summer, re-signing team captain Tom Kostopoulos to a one-year AHL contract. Kostopoulos had told media during the team's break up day that it was either return to the Pens or retire. The 36-year-old chose one more year, likely the last of his professional hockey career as he enters his 17th season at the pro-level.

Speaking of the Penguins, the team announced today that Kris Letang has been cleared to resume workouts.

Josh Yohe, Pittsburgh sports reporter for, has this exclusive update on the condition of Letang, Olli Maatta and Pascal Dupuis. All three - Yohe reports per Pens' GM Jim Rutherford - are expected to return to the lineup next season, with Letang and Maatta expected to be ready for training camp in the fall. Rutherford also held Maatta in high regards in his interview with Yohe, saying he's already a top-pairing defenseman, and at a young age.

Stay tuned for this week's edition of The Home News, which will feature Brett Hextall's thoughts on what new Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol is really all about and his lack of surprise with current Lehigh Valley Phantoms head coach Terry Murray's name being mentioned as a possible assistant head coach under Hakstol in Philadelphia.


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