6th year defenseman Dylan Reese(2) had a homecoming with his offseason signing on the first day of free agency, when he was picked up by team he watched growing up, Pittsburgh Penguins.
Signed to a one-year two-way deal, he had to wait for the NHL lockout to thaw until he got his chance to play in front of the hometown crowd, suiting up for 3 games with the parent club but registering no points.
He has been on reassignment with their minor league affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins since the start of the 2012/2013 season and a career high 8 goals.
The 6’1″ 205 lbs. d-man is currently skating in the Calder Cup playoffs for as long as that lasts and if they are exited will likely be brought up as one of the “black aces” practice squad.
It seems like an easy fit to bring the 28-year old back into the fold for another season but he could also have other suitors out there wanting to bring him up to the show on a more regular basis.
He’s played 77 NHL games with 3 goals and 14 assists to his credit. He was originally a New York Rangers‘ 7th round pick in the 2003 draft (#209 overall) but only played as part of their system with Hartford Wolf Pack for four games when his college career at Harvard University was finished.
He signed his first contract with San Antonio Rampage and spent his first two pro seasons with the team. He’s appeared in 326 AHL games scoring 21 goals with 100 assists to his credit.
See related: 1/30-11, 9/24-11, 12/4-11
5th year center Chad Kolarik(42) had his best pro season yet in 2012/2013.
He finished the AHL scoring race in tied for third in goals and third overall in points with 31 markers and 37 assists, while playing in full 76-game schedule split between Connecticut Whale and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The feisty 5′ 11″ 185 lbs. forward was involved in his second mid-season trade that brought him into Pittsburgh Penguins‘ system, where he continued to light it up.
He has never quite received a look in the show having only skated in 6 NHL games (1 assist), first with Columbus Blue Jackets and then New York Rangers.
The 27-year old was sidelined for the full 2011/2012 campaign suffering a season-ending injury in training camp.
He made up for lost time in a big way putting up career highs.
Entering just his third postseason, he is finding his way to the net yet again.
He’s a prolific scorer with 9 goals and 4 assists in 12 games, including a pair in the first game of the AHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, one of them being the game-winning tally in overtime.
Originally a Phoenix Coyotes‘ 7th round pick in the 2007 draft (#199 overall), he played for almost two years in the organization.
As of July 1, he is set to become an unrestricted free agent. It looks promising for him to be re-upped for a full season in a Penguins‘ jersey but he also may have a look as to what else might be out there.
See related: 12/5-10, 7/4-11
Hershey Bears‘ 11th year, veteran center was originally a St. Louis Blues‘ 1st round pick in the 2000 draft (#30 overall) but was traded before ever playing with the team.
He signed his first AHL only contract since the last lockout in 2004/2005, when he was a member of Utah Grizzlies for a partial campaign.
Despite only appearing in 180 NHL games, the almost 31-year old forward has managed appearances in each of his pro years. He has 21 goals and 25 assists to his credit, skating with 6 different teams.
In the minors though, he’s amassed a hearty 533 games, scoring 185 goals with 244 helpers.
At 6’3″ 209 lbs. he’s always a big presence to contend with in front of the net and is the consummate team guy.
What the future holds for him is anyone’s guess but with 9 strikes and 29 assists in 43 contests, he leads the Bears . in scoring.
He’s good to have around if a team needs some points and has five 20 goal seasons and 8 years of 20+ assists (with one year where he hit the 50 mark).
He was selected to appear in the 2013 AHL All-Star Game when a teammate was on call-up.
Originally a Carolina Hurricanes‘ 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft (#51 overall), rookie defenseman Brian Dumoulin(8) signed a three-year entry level contract with the team but was traded to Pittsburgh Penguins in the Jordan Staal in a draft day deal.
The 6’3″ 210 lbs. blue liner won an NCAA Championship last season with BC Eagles before deciding to turn pro after three years.
With no NHL in sight at the start of his rookie season, he was reassigned with every eligible player to their AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barres/Scranton Penguins. In 31 games he has a pair of goals and 7 assists.
For a big guy d-man he did show an offensive upside at the college level and would be quite the asset if he can parlay that talent consistently in the big leagues.
It’s quite possible that he’ll get a quick look at Penguins‘ training camp when it starts up next weekend.
Diminutive, undrafted 7th year right wing Chris Conner(14) has played NHL games with three different teams through the first six seasons of his pro career. The 5’7″ 180 lbs. forward has skated in 147 games with Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings‘ last season amassing a total of 17 goals and 26 assists.
He has also appeared in 297 AHL games scoring 88 goals and 147 assists in regular season action.
For the 2012/2013 season, the free agent signed a one-year, two-way deal with Phoenix Coyotes and has been reassigned to their affiliate Portland Pirates. Through 23 games with the team, he’s definitely been a leader on and off the ice, is on pace to put up career highs in all categories and has helped the club into solo possession of 1st place in the Atlantic Division through the Christmas break.
With the NHL lockout in effect, the 29-year old could have found himself a bit of a home for at least another campaign and should get continued big league looks from the parent club once they start playing hockey again.
Undrafted, 4th year left wing Ryan Schnell(38) is one of those players that has seemingly still yet to realize most of the potential he could bring to the table.
He spent his first three seasons in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins‘ system, playing the majority of his games in the ECHL with affiliate Wheeling Nailers. Through 114 contests he’s only managed a meager 5 goals and 10 assists.
On the other hand, the 6’3″ 225 lbs. forward has amassed over 400 penalty minutes, which gives more of an indication what style of a game he plays.
Going into the 2012/2013 the unrestricted free agent, the 23-year old signed a deal pretty quickly to change up his scenery, inking a one-year, two-way AHL deal with St. John’s IceCaps.
He was reassigned after the opening month on the sidelines to Colorado Eagles. Although he may be first in pims for the lower league, he’s on for career points, already scoring a career high 4 goals and 7 points through only 12 games, and he’s a +5 plus/minus.
With the right coaching to help direct his abilities, we see a burgeoning power forward in the making. He was recently recalled to the IceCaps and in a pair of games has zero points and one fighting major to his credit. Old habits are slow to fade.
Pittsburgh Penguins‘ 1st round pick in the 2010 draft (#20 overall), left wing Beau Bennett(13) decided to turn pro after only a couple of years of college hockey, signing a three year entry level deal that keeps him with the organization through 2015.
The 21-year old has on his first two levels shown to be prolific on the scoresheet and in 18 AHL games to start his rookie season, he’s already struck for 4 goals and 9 assists.
At 6’1″ 195 lbs. the forward already has size and works it to gain position for scoring chances.
He might just be the first player ever to be born in Gardena, CA to play in the NHL. We’re projected that obviously.
Fully ensconced in his 8th pro year, left wing Chris Bourque(17) now sports a spoked emblem on the front of his jersey similar to the one his dad wore for 21 seasons.
The first son wears a “P” for Providence on his sweater, whereas his dad proudly wore the “B” for Boston Bruins.
Temporarily with no place to move up the ladder, the AHL veteran forward is right at home playing his games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, a building he skated many a contests for opposing teams, instead of up the highway at the TD Garden.
The still only 26-year old is off the scoring pace that made him the top point getter in the league last season with 93, but 14 games in he has a pair of goals and 8 assists, which is very respectable.
If things stayed stalled with the NHL talks, he may not be a league leader in 2012/2013 with the talent pool the way it is but he’ll almost certainly for a fourth start year end the campaign as a point per game performer.
Few players have been bitten by the injury bug more than Pittsburgh Penguins‘ 2nd round pick in the 2007 draft (#51 overall), right wing Keven Vellieux(44).
He’s only skated almost one complete season over the course of a 3-year pro career in 2010/2011 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. But even then, skating in 66 games he missed over a dozen contests.
The 6’5″ 218 lbs. forward did put up some decently impressive numbers potting 12 goals and 24 assists, while going a +17 plus/minus on what was a very good team that year, and added another 4 points in the postseason.
2011/2012 however got scrapped entirely due to a blown out knee in preseason play that required surgery setting him back yet another full campaign, when he was diligently looking to continue to prove himself.
Penguins‘ brass still have hopes for the 23-year old though as they qualified him for another go in 2012/2013.
Still not full recovered from his injury 9 match-ups into the new season, he has been reassigned to ECHL affiliate Wheeling Nailers for the first time to get his game on. He should light the lamp and pound some fists consistently in the lower league quickly leading him back up to the AHL.
Originally a Pittsburgh Penguins‘ 4th round pick in the 2009 draft (#121 overall), right wing Nick Petersen(8) was bought out the final year of his 3-year entry level contract by the team.
He appeared in a career high 52 AHL games with their farm team, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins scoring a best 11 goals and 16 assists, 27 points with a +15 plus/minus.
The kind of lanky 6’2″ 185 lbs. forward started his pro career in the ECHL with Wheeling Nailers, where he lit the lamp with ease clocking in at just shy of a 1.5 points per game player and was reassigned and recalled from on a couple of occasions during his rookie season.
There were some minor rumors floating that he was a difficult player in the system.
He signed a training camp tryout agreement with Houston Aeros to start the third campaign of his pro career and although he failed to make the opening night roster, he was kept on and sent to their affiliate Orlando Solar Bears.
In 6 ECHL games he has 6 goals and 8 assists with a +4 rating and has been quickly called-up to Houston. Turns out he was a healthy scratch for one game and sent back. When he gets his chance, you can pretty much bet he’ll produced on the scoresheet.
Nice black eye in the pic, right?