Baby Penguins Update: November 10, 2017 – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Baby Penguins Update: November 10, 2017

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, coached by Clark Donatelli, are presently in third place in the AHL Atlantic Division with a record of 8-2-1 and 17 points. The Baby Pens have scored 44 goals (fourth most in the league) and allowed 30 (eighth fewest).

Rookie right wing Daniel Sprong leads Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in scoring with eight goals and 12 points. He’s currently tied for second in the American Hockey League in goals. Ryan Haggerty has five goals; Jean-Sebastien Dea, Thomas DiPauli and Gage Quinney have four apiece.

Third-year pro Dominik Simon ranks second among the Baby Pens with 10 points. Simon and defenseman Lukas Bengtsson are tied for the club lead with eight assists, one ahead of defenseman Kevin Czuczman.

Haggerty and Czuczman pace the team in plus/minus (plus-7), followed by Zach Aston-Reese and defenseman Andrey Pedan (plus-6).  Reese and Pedan top the Baby Pens in penalty minutes with 17 and 16 respectively.

Casey DeSmith leads the team’s goalies in all major categories, including games (6), minutes (374), goals against average (1.92), save percentage (.934), shutouts (1) and wins (5).

Player Age Pos GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Daniel Sprong 20 RW 11 8 4 12 6 0
Dominik Simon 23 C 11 2 8 10 8 0
Lukas Bengtsson 23 D 11 0 8 8 4 4
Jean-Sebastien Dea 23 C 11 4 3 7 12 4
Christian Thomas 25 LW 9 3 4 7 4 -4
Kevin Czuczman 26 D 11 0 7 7 4 7
Thomas DiPauli 23 C 10 4 2 6 4 2
Gage Quinney 22 LW 7 4 2 6 0 2
Tom Sestito 29 LW 11 2 4 6 11 3
Garrett Wilson 26 LW 11 2 4 6 8 3
Ryan Haggerty 24 RW 4 5 0 5 2 7
Teddy Blueger 23 C 11 2 3 5 2 3
Adam Johnson 23 C 10 1 4 5 4 -2
Andrey Pedan 24 D 11 1 3 4 16 6
Zach Aston-Reese 23 RW 9 1 2 3 17 6
Tom Kostopoulos 38 RW 7 1 2 3 12 -1
Frank Corrado 24 D 6 1 1 2 4 4
Chris Summers 29 D 8 0 2 2 4 -1
Zach Trotman 27 D 5 0 2 2 2 1
Jarrett Burton 26 C 5 1 0 1 2 3
Casey DeSmith 26 G 6 0 1 1 0 0
Tristan Jarry 22 G 5 0 1 1 0 0
Colin Smith 24 C 2 0 1 1 2 2
Jarred Tinordi 25 D 2 0 1 1 2 1
Dylan Zink 24 D 5 0 1 1 2 1
Ethan Prow 24 D 4 0 0 0 2 -3
Frederik Tiffels 22 LW 3 0 0 0 2 0
Kevin Spinozzi 21 D 3 0 0 0 2 3
Casey DeSmith G 6 374 12 1 1.92 0.934 5-0-1
Tristan Jarry G 5 302 16 0 3.18 0.897 3-2-0


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  1. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    November 10, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    I have been really keeping an eye on the baby Pens. I doubt anyone here would be surprised to find out that I am, well, extremely disappointed that certain of these kids aren’t up in Pgh, especially considering how the big Pens are barely winning games, when they win. Unfortunately, right now, due to some bad financial planning, the team’s hands are tied in terms of who they can bring up right now. They need to wait for injuries and as displeased as I am in the performance of several “veterans” I wouldn’t wish injuries on them and have to hope against hope that they turn their games around, for the teams sake, since no help can come from below, despite several of these kids deserving a shot to push the under-performing “veterans”.

    At this point, I would have like to have seen the Pens give Sprong, Simon (as a LW not C), Bengtsson, Pedan, and Sestito get playing time and am interesting in seeing how Thomas, Aston-Reese (still think he is the real deal but since I haven’t seen him actually play like I did during the pre-season, I can only look at his stats), and Haggerty develop.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      November 10, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Hey Other Rick,

      You and I are of a slightly different mind set, my friend, when it comes to the kids. I, too, have hopes that some of them—including many of the ones you mentioned—will have an impact with the Pens in the not-too-distant future. But I’d be cautious about rushing them.

      Bryan Rust had a season-and-a-half to develop with the Baby Pens. Same with Conor Sheary. Tom Kuhnhackl, two-and-a-half years. Occasionally, you’ll get a special talent like Jake Guentzel, who you can fast-track. But they’re generally the exception rather than the rule.

      I fully understand the excitement over Daniel Sprong. But, again, I think we need to be guarded about viewing him as a cure-all. There’s no denying his pedigree as a scorer. But, based on the limited reports I’ve read, his overall game still needs work. If he comes up playing a one-dimensional game and doesn’t score, it could hinder his development.

      I do understand your overall concerns. The Pens aren’t a complete team by any stretch, although I personally liked the look of their most recent line combinations. In particular, I thought the Hagelin-Sheahan-Rust unit did a great job of applying pressure and creating chances.

      And, as much as we’ve struggled to score of late, I don’t think it’s a case of us not “playing the right way,” to coin a favorite Sully phrase. In fact, over the past 10 games a lot of the indicators are positive. Our nagging tendency to overpass aside, we’ve held a decided edge in total shot attempts (614-563) and shots on goal (369-294). We’re on the plus side during that span on faceoffs (327-308) and hits, too (208-204).

      While our record for those games (5-4-1) isn’t much to shout about, we need to keep in mind that 7 of ‘em were on the road and 6 involved back-to-backs.

      All things considered, I think we’ve weathered the storm at least reasonably well.


      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        November 10, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Hey Rick,

        We do see somethings the same but even though we share a first name we don’t see everything the same, and that is okay. I understand your position. Most people would rather not take risks on unknown quantities like rookies. Most people, when chasing something like a 3-peat would prefer to stick with the “devils that they know”.

        I was planning on writing a full piece on this, but I have planned on writing several pieces that that work has kept me from finding the time to flesh out so I might as well let it go now.

        We are nearing the 1/4 point of the season and Crosby is in the Midst of a protracted goaless streak, Conor Sheary’s CORSI numbers a pathetic, 46.7% but worse than that is his CA/60 is 70.19 shot attempts against in those 60min and his even strength goals against is worst on the team, even Letang has squeaked below him (4.93 and 4.84 respectively).

        So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Crosby can’t find the range, he is stuck with an absolute clunker of a line mate who is so small that even though he reads the plays well, he is unable to make the play. Yes, at one time he was making the play, but that may have been due to surprise rather than ability. When he first came up, he may have been making the plays he was making because he caught other teams of guard. Now that he has made his mark and other teams are aware of his ability to read the play, they have compensated and he isn’t catching anyone off guard. The are simply knocking him off of the puck because he is too small. He was bench in the playoffs because he couldn’t get the job done when teams focused on him, yet he got a fair contract and better ice time, dragging Crosby down like a millstone.

        I have read all of the excuses about keeping Sprong in the Minors including wanting him to play a complete game. So, why is Sheary exempt from a complete game?

        Speaking of Crosby’s woes, despite having picked up Sheahan, Crosby’s TOI is still over 20 minutes per game. Another factor more than likely bogging down Crosbby is he is being over-played and over-relied upon due to the fact that Sheahan hasn’t really been the boon that some would have us believe. Yes he is dominant in the face-off circle at even strength (58%) but McKegg is better SH (61% vs 41%), Rowney’s SH FOW% was better too before he was injured (55%). Yes, Sheahan does have good CORSI numbers but not that much better than McKegg and his offensive output is certainly not making that third line a threat, allowing opponents to bog down the top two lines with all of their best defensive players rather than splitting them throughout the lineup.

        And again to start on the Letang bashing; there is a reason why he is the worst in the NHL. Look at what he is doing to Maatta. Maatta was having a fairly good season until he was saddled with a Letang pairing.

        No there are many, many holes in this lineup, holes created by veteran, under-performing payers, holes reminiscent of the Bylsma/MJ era’s when veterans got a free pass because the team was afraid of playing the kids. Maybe, Sprong nor Bengtsson would not helped the Pens to a better record at this point, this is no way for us to know. The only thing we do know is that what the Penguins did choose to start the season with has not really gotten the job done. Yes the team is still floating near the top of the division on the strength of having played more games and in some cases many games more than their opponents. When the games played evens out, this team could easily be on the outside looking in.

        (I hate to pull a I told you so, but I did say that Jarry was better than Niemi and I would have rather seen the team play him or DeSmith, when they signed Niemi)

        All arguments, except that the team has no room under the cap to make any moves, to explain why players like Sprong or Bengtsson are still down in the Minors are equivocal.

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          November 10, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          Hey Other Rick,

          I guess a lot of it’s a matter of perspective. As much as I’d love for us to three-peat, I view this more as a transitional season. I’ve come to terms with the fact that we’re a work in progress, and in many ways, players are still getting used to each other and figuring out where and how they fit.

          I’m not saying changes won’t eventually need to be made. But I’d rather they be done in a reasonably well thought-out manner instead of knee-jerk spasms. Hence, I’m not quite as ready as some to start jettisoning players and turning to the kids.

          I think it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that when we first called up Tom Kuhnhackl, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson, they were basically just asked to go out, skate hard, and provide energy. When they began to score and have an impact, it was almost an unexpected bonus.

          In a way, I think we’re reaping the other end of that process now that they’re being counted on to produce on a consistent basis. I think we’re experiencing growing pains with each of them, which you’d certainly expect to a degree.

          You’ve noted Sheary’s defensive deficiencies. While I like Kuhnhackl’s instincts, defensive work and board play, he simply doesn’t score. It’s hard not to love “Rusty,” even when he struggles to find the net. But we need more from him than one goal.

          A long-winded way of saying just plugging kids in for the sake of making change isn’t always an answer. An extreme example? The God-forsaken ’83-84 Boys of Winter. Remember Dean DeFazio, Tim Hyrnewich, Mitch Lamoureux, Tom O’Regan and Grant Sasser?

          You wouldn’t be alone if you said no.


          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            November 10, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            Actually I do remember all of those players.

            Consider this then if you will; if as you say this is a transition season and you are reconciled to not 3-peating, why then would you not start jettisoning veteran players while their market value may be higher, for draft picks and prospects. If we are not a team that just needs some fine tuning, what need do we have for Rust, Kuhnhackl, or Hornqvist, all of whom are at the end of their contracts. And in that same breath why not give the kids a taste of the NHL to see if they are the real deal or just another name in a long laundry list of Defaios Hrynewichs, Lamoueauxs, O’Reagans, Sassers, Grahams, Wolfs, Feltrins, Schmidts or even Rusts Kuhnhackls, Wilsons, Pouliots, or Shearys.

            Again, the arguments get equivocal.

            Honestly Rick, I don’t think it impossible for this team to 3-peat and given how rare the opportunity to 3-peat arises I don’t think it unreasonable to give it a try when the opportunity presents itself.

            I also believe that the team would have been infinitely better off to let Sheary go RFA or trade him before the season began, while some teams may have thought the playoff slump could possibly have been reversible. I do think that trading for Reaves was a major mistake and would rather have kept the draft pick or used it for a legitimate 3rd line Center. I do believe that JR should have had his head examined for paying Vegas a draft pick to take MAF, there was no way in God’s green earth that they wouldn’t have, that was asinine. As I said above I didn’t want to sign Niemi. I thought that the team should have gone after Markov not Hunwick. After Bonino jumped, I did think the team should have upped their ante for Cullen.

            Although I would have loved to see Duchene in Pgh, I did agree with not paying the extortion prices Sakic eventually got. Duchene is a good Center not a generational player.

            Once the season started, I was against trading for Sheahan and despite his Even Strength FO dominance and solid Defensive work find that trade a major mistake, particularly from the financial perspective that I noted when we dealt for him. The team now has no maneuver room.

            I do think that if a trade could be worked out with say a Montreal for Galchunyuk – Letang and find someone to take on Sheary’s contract that the team should jump all over it and if in the process they free up enough money to go after Zaripov then do it. Even if it means Sprong and Bengtsson have to still wait a bit for their shot.

            And if the Penguins did do just that, the team would catapult back up to a major force instead of squeeking by game and barely beating the worst team in the league (Az) who was on the back end of back-to-back games on the road 3 – 1. That last win may not have been as embarrassing as a loss would have been, but it certainly wasn’t anything to write home to mother about. All the talk about Az being better than their record may assuage the ego a bit but it really is just smoke and mirrors to cover up a serious problem. Catching Az like they did, even considering not wanting to embarrass Tocchet, which I wouldn’t have done either, that game should have been a walk in the Park, particularly with the number of PPs the Pens had. Had they played that way against any other team that night, the Pens would have lost.

            Crosby needs a real winger and Maatta doesn’t need to be put in the position of having to clean up after a veteran who is wearing an “A” on his jersey.

            No, Sprong Bengtsson, Aston-Reese, Simon, Pedan, or any of those guys in WBS may not be the answer, but then again, neither are some of the players earning NHL pay checks right here, right now.

            • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
              November 10, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

              Hey Other Rick,

              I won’t dispute a lot of what you say, especially the part about Letang causing grave difficulties for his partners thus far. I’m hoping his game will settle down some now that Schultz is back.

              While I realize we were playing the Coyotes the other night–hardly the toughest of foes–I was encouraged by some of the things I saw. As I’d mentioned, I liked the look of our line combinations. I thought Letang appeared more settled…he made at least one terrific play to get back and artfully stick check a ‘Yote who was in on a partial breakaway. Schultz made a tremendous difference on the power play.

              I’m sure I’ll get some pushback on this one, but I feel Reaves has started to figure things out and has quietly become more effective. Same for Sheahan.

              I’d like to see how we do with the upcoming stretch of games…10 of 13 at home following this weekend’s back-to-backs. If the positives I see turn out to be smoke and mirrors, then perhaps it’s time to shake things up a bit. In the meantime, the kids get a little more seasoning in the minors.

              Oh, when I refer to this season as a transition year, I don’t necessarily mean I think we’re done competing for Cups. So I’m not advocating a fire sale and starting over from scratch.


            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              November 10, 2017 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

              Hey Rick,

              While I do agree that Reaves and Sheahan have shown some positives, if I could reverse those trades I still would. In both cases, their benefits do not out weigh the price the team has paid, at least at this point.

              No Reaves didn’t turn the team into a Slap Shotesque Circus or Hanson Brothers/Ogie Oglethorpe reprise but he really hasn’t added much. He has fit well off the ice but offensively he is on pace for what 8 or 9 points, all assists. And although some teams have backed off a little, as I wrote when they first traded for him, most hockey players have no fear, and there will be young guns willing to test themselves against the reigning tough guy. The difference in brining him to town and just letting Sestito play is negligible.

              In the end, I would have preferred to have drafted Hague, particularly for the future; I really like Murray and hate the thought of the team crumbling in the near future due to short-sighted knee-jerk trading. I did like what I saw in Lauzon, in the little ice time he saw during the prospects tournament I still would have preferred to have 6’6″ 214lb 18yr old Nicolas Hague to develop.

              AS for Sheahan, I have already chewed that one over. On the plus side, he has brought defensive responsibility and even strength FO, but he has been less than an effective offensive player like I had feared and the team’s pay roll jumped $2 mil in the exchange.

              If all things stay equal and no more deals take place, I really hope you get the chance to tell me I told you so. I really hope that Sheahan and Reaves work out, if the team refuses to adjust the roster; I would rather eat crow and celebrate a 3-peat but I do fear I will prove to be right on most of what I have written.

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            November 10, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

            Hey Rick

            I do apologize if I seem like a Pit-Bull who won’t let go but my vitriol is not directed at you or anyone on this site but the parade of excuses I am reading everywhere else and whose arguments at best are, as I have written, no better than the counter arguments and at times, well, far worse.

            • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
              November 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

              Hey TOR,

              Being a PenguinPoop contributor (and die-hard Pens fan) means never having to say you’re sorry.

              Yes, I lifted that from the movie “Love Story.” Which actually involved hockey … 🙂

              No need to apologize for your passionate beliefs, my friend. They’re an excellent counterpoint to my Cap’n Cautious views.

              Besides, a little vitriol never hurt anyone …. 🙂



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