Part 7: New Faces In The AHL And ECHL
We take a look at the newly acquired players that will play all or most of the year in the minor leagues, and which players received AHL camp invites.
AHL Camp Invite
The 31-year-old overly aggressive pugilist from Plattsburgh, NY will be in Wilkes-Barre’s camp on a try-out only basis. He spent most of last year with the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) and played in two games for the Edmonton Oilers. Many remember him for his 25-game suspension in 2007 for cross-checking Ryan Kesler in the head. He also nearly killed a man with a stick to the face in 1998 playing in the OHL. He was given a lifetime ban from junior hockey. If a few situations occur, this right winger could be signed to an AHL-only contract to protect the young players down there this season. Depends if Paul Bissonnette makes the NHL team, or if Aaron Boogaard is finally exiled to Wheeling.
Another 31-year-old heavyweight fighter, Brookbank brings more coveted toughness into the system and is a very hard working player that won’t back down from many. Much like Bissonnette, he started his career as a defenseman but plays the forward position most of the time. Last season, he began the year with the Carolina Hurricanes, but was eventually demoted and found time with the Norfolk Admirals (AHL). This signing moves Boogaard down in the depth chart, and don’t be surprised if he gets a call-up here and there, especially for Philadelphia/Toronto type games.
At age 25, we still consider this new signing from the Dallas Stars a prospect, and he could turn some heads this upcoming season. He could see some ample time on Pittsburgh’s fourth line this season barring injuries and what not. Last season, when he was called up to the NHL he impressed a lot of people there with his agility, quickness, and ability to shield the puck and score despite his small stature. Oh yeah, and he’ll hit anything.
Another depth signing, at 32 years of his age he is expected to bring a veteran presence and some leadership in what will be a young AHL locker room. To reiterate, knowing the Penguins there will most likely be some injuries, and Smith could also see a bit of fourth line time in the NHL, granted he has a strong training camp. He’s known as more of a defensive forward but last year he was putting the puck in the net pretty efficiently for the San Antonio Rampage (AHL). His last NHL stint was in 2007-2008, where he played 61 games for theColorado Avalanche, tallying 6 points (3 G, 3 A).
This 26-year-old power forward was drafted in 4th round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by Colorado. He spent his last six seasons in the ECHL, UHL, and most recently the CHL. Fans from the area considered him exciting to watch as he is always jawing with somebody or scoring a big goal. In 61 games with the Rocky Mountain Rage last season he scored 68 points (28 G, 40 A) along with 168 PIM. One fan even considered him, “One of the hardest hitters Ive ever seen.”
Ray Shero has continued his quest to make sure a Pittsburgh native has been on the roster since Ryan Malone left town. Last year, it was Bill Thomas. This offseason, he brought in gritty defensive defenseman Nate Guenin from the Philadelphia organization. Most likely to be named Pittsburgh’s 7th or 8th D-man, the 26-year-old from Sewickley is considered another depth signing for the organization. Last season with the AHL Phantoms, he had 14 points in 62 games, along with 95 penalty minutes. Two of his assets are that he plays with a mean streak, and shoots right handed.
NHL Camp Invite
The 25-year-old Calgary native defenseman was brought in on a try-out basis and will be in Penguins training camp. If he doesn’t make the NHL squad, he will join the Chicago Wolves (AHL) because he already has a contract in place with them. Meaning he will not end up in Wilkes-Barre. He’s a smart, steady D-man who spent last year with the Augsburg Panthers (DEL). He played for the Hershey Bears in 2007-2008 and they considered him one of their most reliable guys on the blueline. Chances are doubtful he will make the Penguins team, and is mostly in camp for competition purposes.
This 28-year-old D-man played last season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) and scored 30 points in 66 games. A career AHL’er to this point in his career, it seems he will spend all of this upcoming year in Wilkes-Barre, showing the young defenseman the ins-and-outs of the professional game.
Minor League Contract
The Penguins announced that they had signed this 25-year-old undrafted rookie to a contract out of Quinnipiac (NCAA). He earned Team MVP honors there in his past two seasons, and was on a late season tryout basis with Lake Erie last season. He is considered an offensive defenseman, and its all but certain that he will play most, if not all of this season in Wheeling.
NHL Camp Invite
The younger brother of New Jersey Devil Zach Parise will be coming to camp. The 26-year-old hybrid goaltender started his career in the USHL, and went on to play four solid years at the University of North Dakota (NCAA). In 2006-07 with Lowell Devils (AHL), he posted a .915 sv% and a 2.68 GAA. The next year was different, as he struggled, with a .889 sv% and 3.55 GAA. If he impresses, he could end up in Wheeling this year.