We are now getting ready for the start of AHL training camps, with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins slated to begin to begin this week. They have initially posted a 20-man roster: 2 goaltenders, 7 defensemen, and 11 forwards. They will get additional reinforcements before too long since the Pittsburgh Penguins still have to reduce the NHL roster by half.
Nine of the players were up in Pittsburgh for the NHL training camp, although none of them saw any action during preseason games. Six of those and three additional AHL prospects were invites to the 2019 Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, and eight of that bunch also participated in Prospect Development Camp back in June.
They begin with two separate morning practice sessions on Tuesday September 24. They play their first home preseason game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:05pm on Wednesday September 25. Back again for morning practice sessions on Thursday September 26. Then a final home preseason game against the Hershey Bears on Friday September 27 at 7:05pm. They finish off camp with a road trip, first facing the Bears at 7:00pm on Saturday September 28 then against the Phantoms at 3:05pm on Sunday September 29. After this they start preparing for the regular season which is set to begin on Friday October 4.
Alex D’Orio – 2017 free agent signing
D’Orio is a rookie who will be turning pro this year after aging out of the QMJHL, he was up in Pittsburgh for development camp, the rookie tournament, and NHL training camp. He played one game in the rookie tournament (1.00 GAA and 97.3 Sv%). Being that there are a few guys ahead of him on the depth chart the chances are he will get sent down to the Wheeling Nailers.
Dustin Tokarski – AHL contract
Tokarski was brought in as a veteran to help guide the young netminders as they develop. He was up in Pittsburgh for training camp this year. Tokarski ended the season last year with the Charlotte Checkers, working under the new WBS GM/Head Coach Mike Vellucci, where he was the backup goaltender through their Calder Cup run. He looks to play the same role this year as a backup and veteran mentor.
Matt Abt – AHL contract
Abt was invited to Pittsburgh for NHL training camp this year on a PTO. This time last year he was signed to an ECHL deal with the Wheeling Nailers, but he performed so well in WBS during training camp that he earned a contract with the team and remained in the AHL all year. He is one of the few players that they opted to bring back this year.
Jon Lizotte – AHL contract
Lizotte is a rookie who joined WBS last spring when his college career was finished. He spent the summer with the Pens first attending development camp in June, then the rookie tournament where he played in all three games, and lastly at NHL training camp in Pittsburgh. There are a lot of D in the system and he is just a rookie so he may well end up down in the ECHL.
Macoy Erkamps – AHL contract
Erkamps was acquired by Pittsburgh in a trade halfway through last season and finished the year in WBS. This summer they signed him to an AHL deal so that he can return to the team. His place in the lineup isn’t guaranteed, he was in the ECHL last year before joining the Pens and there should be quite a few D competing for playing time in WBS, so it is possible he may spend some time with the Nailers.
Michael Kim – AHL contract
Kim got to spend the summer with the Pens, first attending development camp and then playing in all three rookie tournament games before joining NHL training camp. He is a rookie who joined WBS last spring after finishing school. Because of his inexperience and the number of D on the roster he may wind up playing with the Nailers.
Blake Siebenaler – AHL contract
Siebenaler was acquired by Pittsburgh late last year and played with the Nailers before finishing the season in WBS. This summer they signed him to an AHL deal so that he can return to the team. They have a lot of D to work with and he is already familiar with the Nailers so he could wind up back in Wheeling.
Aaron Titcomb – ECHL contract
Titcomb played his rookie season with the Nailers last year and is one of the few players they opted to bring back this year. Most likely he is just up as a camp body, he should be heading back down to Wheeling for the season.
Craig Skudalski – ECHL contract
Skudalski is from Wyoming, Pa just north of Wilkes-Barre, so he is a local boy. He played his rookie season with Nailers last year, prior to that he bounced around the FHL and SPHL. He was brought back again this year and should be heading back down to Wheeling after camp.
Jan Drozg – 2017 5th round pick
Drozg was the first of the Pittsburgh property we knew was getting sent down as they had him practicing with Team 3 during his last few days in camp. He played all three games at the rookie tournament (1G/1A) and was also present for development camp back in June. He is a rookie who played in the QMJHL last year and due to the sheer number of players they have in the lineup it looks like he may wind up down in Wheeling.
Jordy Bellerive – 2017 free agent signing
Bellerive is turning pro after being in the Pens system the past two years, he has been playing in the WHL. It was a bit of a surprise seeing him amongst the first round of cuts, but he didn’t really manage to stand out from the crowd and there are a few players ahead of him. He played all three rookie tournament games (1G/2A) and attended development camp back in June. He will get a shot at making the AHL club, but as a scorer the team may prefer he play top 6 minutes in the ECHL rather than being at the bottom of the AHL depth chart.
Jamie Devane – AHL contract
Devane is the elder statesman amongst the current crop of players, he spent the past seven years in the AHL and will count as one of their Tweeners in the lineup (12 of 18 skaters must be developmental, no more than 5 veterans, with the tweeners being the gap between prospect and vet). He is a big bodied physical type, bottom of the lineup guy, fills the role that guys like PL3 and Big Mac used to play.
Ben Sexton – AHL contract
Sexton was the non-prospect invite to training camp up in Pittsburgh. He is the son of former Pens Director of Amateur Scouting Randy Sexton (he left to join Botterill in Buffalo as an AGM) and was acquired by Pittsburgh from Ottawa last December. He signed an AHL contract this summer in order to stay with the team. I don’t know where he fits in the lineup but he should be part of the corps of older players that help guide and mentor the young prospects.
Ryan Scarfo – AHL contract
Scarfo was another that came along in that deal with the Senators, although he was under an AHL contract so it was technically a separate trade. He re-signed with WBS this summer and should remain in the AHL, although he did spend part of last year in the ECHL before coming to WBS so it isn’t really out of the question.
Brandon Hawkins – AHL contract
Hawkins is a rookie who joined WBS last spring after finishing up school. He played all three games at the rookie tournament and was also an invite to development camp back in June. As a rookie on an AHL deal he could very well be one of the guys that gets shuffled down to Wheeling.
Myles Powell – AHL contract
Powell is a new addition signed as a free agent this summer after previously playing in Buffalo’s system. He spent most of last year playing in the ECHL so he may end up playing with the Nailers, although if he can do as well in camp as he did down there last year he may manage to stick with the AHL club (and if so he would still count as a rookie).
Chase Berger – AHL contract
Berger is a rookie who joined WBS last spring and got to attend development camp in June, played all three games at the rookie tournament (1A), and was a late addition as an invite to NHL camp in Pittsburgh. He has the talent to battle for a spot in the AHL lineup, but it is a crowded depth chart so it wouldn’t be a shock to see him spend some time in Wheeling.
Yushiroh Hirano – AHL contract
Hirano-san was under contract with the Nailers last year but was signed to an AHL deal in January, although he remained in Wheeling until they were done for the year. He put up impressive numbers last year so he certainly stands a chance at making the AHL roster out of camp, but we will have to see what happens because Pittsburgh still has quite a few players to send down.
Christopher Brown – AHL contract
Brown comes from a hockey family, son of former Penguin Doug and nephew of former Penguin Greg. He joined WBS in the spring at the conclusion of his college career although he did not attend development camp along with the other rookies. He did, however, participate in the rookie tournament where he played one game. A rookie on a deep lineup, he is likely going to be amongst the guys that get shuffled down to the ECHL.
Renars Krastenbergs – AHL contract
Krastenbergs is the other guy that was signed with the Nailer last year but given an AHL contract in January, although he remained in Wheeling for the rest of the season. He attended development camp back in June and played one game at the rookie tournament. Chances are he will be back in the ECHL again, but he will have a shot to earn a roster spot out of camp.