Minor Distractions – AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 1st Half 2019-20

I was having laptop issues and was unable to update at the actual midway point, so the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have now played 42 games in the 2019-20 AHL season. So we are going to take a look at their performance 3 games past the 1st half of the year.

 

Team Stats

WBS is currently 6th in the Atlantic Division, 11th in the Eastern Conference, and 16th in the AHL with a 19-16-7 record (53.6 P%). They are 26th in the league with 2.64 goals for per game, 19th with 3.12 goals against per 60, and 28th with a 45.9% goal differential.

They are 16th in the league having gone 29/162 on the power play for a 17.9 PP% and 26th having stopped 132/166 on the penalty kill for a 79.5 PK%. They scored 2 shorthanded goals for (26th most in the AHL) and gave up 3 shorthanded goals against (2nd fewest).

They have struggled more since we last checked in during the 1st Quarter, falling out of playoff contention, the primary difference being that they have given up a lot more goals against. It shouldn’t be too surprising of course considering that injuries and trades have caused a lot off call-ups and inconsistent lineups. Of course even though the underlying numbers are similar their biggest weak point is still their lack of offense, the team just isn’t scoring enough to win games even when the goalies stand on their heads.

 

Goaltenders

Casey DeSmith has gone 12-11-2 with a 2.96 GAA and 90.3 Sv%. He is 33rd in GAA and 30th in Sv% out of 51 qualified netminders.

Dustin Tokarski has gone 6-3-2 with a 1.76 GAA and 93.2 Sv%. He is 9th in GAA and 14th in Sv% out of 100 AHL goalies.

Emil Larmi has gone 1-2-3 with a 3.84 GAA and 87.5 Sv%. He is 32nd in GAA and 31st in Sv% out of 35 rookie goaltenders .

Tokarski has been the better goaltender overall, although he has not performed terribly well since the winter break. But DeSmith continues to get the majority of starts despite a poor performance throughout the season. Larmi was recently recalled from the ECHL and had a solid performance in his first game back. One has to wonder if the Pens are looking to make a move before the deadline, not only has DeSmith been displeased with getting sent back to the AHL after it was assumed he had graduated to a full time NHL backup but also up in the NHL the high paid Murray has been having a poor seasn and seems to have been surpassed by Jarry. I don’t expect them to trade Murray, although I’d be more than comfortable with a arry/DeSmith combo if they did, but maybe they could end up with a change of scenery move to get DeSmith a fresh start with a team that has room for him (like we were all expecting with Jarry over the summer).

 

Defensemen

There have been a lot of injuries that required some D to move up to Pittsburgh and others to come up from Wheeling, so they have had 11 different D throughout the season.

The top scorer is still David Warsofsky with 5G/17A in 31gp then Zach Trotman 3G/4A in 13gp and Kevin Czuczman 1G/7A in 21gp. Next is Jon Lizotte 11A in 38gp, Pierre-Olivier Joseph 1G/6A in 31gp, and Niclas Almari 1G/6A in 35gp. Bringing up the rear are Matt Abt 1G/3A in 27gp, Macoy Erkamps 4A in 33gp, and Michael Kim 2A in 21gp while John Nyberg is scoreless in 2 games. Reid McNeill was released shortly after out last update, he is now playing in Denmark. Warsofsky is 16th in D scoring while Lizotte is 16th amongst rookie D.

On the PP Warsofsky had 3G/9A, Trotman 2G, Joseph 2A, Almari 1G, and Lizotte 1A. Shorthanded Trotman had 1G while Joseph had 1A. If we look at just ES scoring (per game) the top D is actually Czuczman followed closely by Warsofky, Trotman, and Lizotte then Almari, Abt, Joseph, Erkamps, and Kim.

The best in plus/minus are Lizotte +10 and Czuczman +6 then Trotman, Almari, and Nyberg all at +1. At the other end of the spectrum we have Kim -3, both ospeh and Erkamps -4, Abt -8, and Warsofsky a massive -17.

Warsofksy is the main reason they have any sort of PP success and has proven himself as a solid offensive D but boy is he bad defensively, he gets scored on quite frequently. Lizotte and Czuczman have probably been the best overall D, at or near the top in ES scoring and leading the way in plus/minus as well. Lizotte is even more impressive since he is a rookie. Czuczman though is currently on recall in the NHL. Trotman spent a while in the NHL but has played rather well during his time in WBS and while not perfect it is hard to complain about Almari’s performance. Joseph could be better but he is a rookie and has been getting work on both the PP and PK so the experience helps him developmentally. Erkamps spent a brief time in Wheeling and has been about what is expected as a 3rd pairing D while Kim has been similar and decent enough for a rookie. Abt is a bit disappointing just because of how well he performed as a rookie last season and due to his poor plus/minus when the team needs better defensive effort. Nyberg hasn’t played enough to really say much about him yet.

 

Forwards

There have been a lot more injuries up front, causing call-ups to the NHL or recalls from the ECHL, as well as numerous trades than sent away forwards or brought in new ones. Because of this they have already used 25 different forwards this season.

The top scorer was Stefan Noesen with 14G/8A in 22gp then Adam Johnson 7G/17A in 27gp and Andrew Agozzino 14G/17A in 35gp followed by Sam Miletic 8G/19A in 41gp, Anthony Angello 15G/9A in 42gp, Joseph Blandisi 4G/4A in 16gp, Kevin Roy 3G/4A in 14gp, and Thomas Di Pauli 6G/7A in 28gp. Next is Jordy Bellerive 5G/8A in 36gp, Jake Lucchini 4G/7A in 42gp, Ryan Haggerty 3G/3A in 23gp, Jamie Devane 2G/2A in 17gp, Chase Berger 9A in 41gp, Oula Palve 1G/7A in 37gp, Jan Drozg 2G/1A in 16gp, Cole Cassels 1G in 7gp, and Andreas Martinsen 1G/2A in 23gp. Graham Knott and Christopher Brown were both scoreless in 3 games. The other 6 have the same stats as they had during out 1st Quarter update: Joseph Cramarossa was traded to Chicago; Kasper Borkqvist and Ben Sexton out with inuries; Sam Lafferty up in Pittsburgh; while Brandon Hawkins, Justin Almeida, and Ryan Scarfo are down with the Nailers.

On the PP Agozzino had 2G/8A, Johnson 9A, Noesen 6G/2A, Miletic 3G/4A, Bellerive 1G/5A, Palve 6A, Di Pauli 1G/4A, Angello 2G/2A, Blandisi and Roy both have 2G/1A, Devane, Drozg, and Cassels all with 1G, and Haggerty and Berger 1A each. Shorthanded Lucchini had 1G and Agozzino had 1A. If we look at just ES scoring then the top scorers are the same from Noesen all the way down to Roy, but Bellerive falls below Berger and Devane below him, followed by Martinsen, Drozg, Palve, and Cassels.

The best plus/minus is Noesen +8, both Agozzino and Berger +4, and Lucchini +1. Johnson, Miletic, and Knott broke even at +0. Then Di Pauli and Devane at -1, Martinsen and Brown -2, Blandisi -3, Cassels -5, Drozg -6, Angell and Haggerty -7 each, Bellerive -8, Roy -9, and Palve a massive -20.

Unfortunately the best forward, both ES and PP, was Noesen who was called up to the NHL and then lost to San Jose on waivers. The next best forward was Agozzino who is currently up in Pittsburgh. The next best are Johnson and Miletic who also do fairly well on the PP and are some of the few without a negative plus/minus. Angello also stands out as a top scorer but unfortunately has one of the worst plus/minus on the team. Per game (at ES) Hawkins and Cramarossa were better than the rest of the guys, so it is hard to find many positives with the remainder of the lineup. Berger and Lucchini were just average offensively but were amongst the better plus/minus so at least they are doing well in their own end and as both are rookies they do show promise developmentally. Blandisi and Di Pauli were fairly decent offensively but gave up more than they scored coming out slightly negative. Roy was acquired for Haggerty in December and thus far has been slightly better offensively and slightly worse defensively (the worst currently on the team), a little disappointing performance thus far but as he has been better on the PP we can still call it an upgrade. Bellerive and Devane had similar ES scoring, but Bellerive is a rookie who is strong on the PP and poor in his own end while Devane has been more defensively capable. Then the rest of the players fall below Bjorkqvist and Almeida. Martinsen has not accomplished a whole lot since joining the team although he is less negative than some players, whereas Drozg has not only struggled to score but also has a fairly highly negative plus/minus, although he is a rookie who spent half the year in Wheeling. Palve was perhaps the worst, not only did he barely score at ES (although decent PP numbers) but he had the worst plus/minus as well, getting scored on constantly, but he is with Dallas now so we don’t need to worry about him anymore. Everybody else was scoreless at ES: Lafferty up in Pittsburgh, Scarfo and Knott down in Wheeling, and Brown recently called up from the Nailers. The last recent addition Cassels has amongst the worst plus/minus on the team and I imagine in a healthy lineup would end up getting sent back down to the ECHL.

Author: TKNoodle

I write about hockey, mostly focused on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vegas Golden Knights. NHL, AHL (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Chicago Wolves), ECHL (Wheeling Nailers), and various prospects from my teams playing in Europe (SHL, Liiga, KHL, etc...), the Canadian Major Juniors (OHL, QMJHL, and WHL), and in the NCAA (and some in lower tier juniors prior to joining the NCAA).