Penguins' undrafted forward hits the rookie wall hard in AHL
A month into this season, the Penguins looked like they might have found an undrafted college free-agent steal — their own version of Toronto's Tyler Bozak or Philadelphia's Matt Read — in Brian Gibbons. The speedy, undersized forward from Boston College was playing in all situations and had five goals and 13 points in 16 AHL games.
Then, he hit the rookie wall and hit it hard.
Coming into this weekend, Gibbons was mired in a 19-game goal drought.
He already has played two more games than he did during his entire senior season with BC, but he said it's not the games that gave him problems.
"I think that's something I kind of struggled with, not being ready to practice every day," Gibbons said. "That's something coach (John) Hynes talked to me about a lot."
Hynes said he has seen improvement in Gibbons and had him skating on a scoring line with top-line center Bryan Lerg and veteran winger Jason Williams this week.
"He bottomed out a little bit, and now you're starting to see him with that slow, steady climb," Hynes said. "He's got his speed back. His overall demeanor and play is on the rise."
The Penguins career of 6-foot-7 defenseman Boris Valabik might be over before it really started.
Valabik signed with the Penguins in July and missed the first two and half months of the season recovering from knee surgery. In his third game with the Baby Pens on Dec. 27, he took a puck to the hand and is out long-term.
"He's not close to returning, but it doesn't mean he's not going to play the rest of the year," Hynes said. "It's just a thing where we've got to wait and see. He's going to see some doctors, a few more, and see how he feels and see if we can bring him back. It's completely undecided either way right now."
Baby Pens representative Colin McDonald had an assist, as the West beat the East, 8-7, in a shootout in the AHL all-star game last Monday night in Atlantic City, N.J.
Within 72 hours after the end of the game, seven all-stars, including McDonald, were called up to the NHL. Krys Kolanos (Calgary), Zack Kassian (Buffalo), Philippe Cornet (Oklahoma City), Kyle Palmieri (Anaheim), Tyson Sexsmith (San Jose) and Keith Aucoin (Washington) were the others.
At his annual state of the league address, AHL president Dave Andrews made an interesting point about pro hockey's concussion problem.
Andrews said eliminating head shots and eliminating concussions are not the same thing.
"We actually have had more concussions happen in practice than we have from head shots," he said.
The scouting report on Penguins 2011 third-rounder Dominik Uher says he's a gritty center who can complement top-end offensive players. That might be wrong. He might be the top-end offensive player himself.
Since returning from representing the Czech Republic in the World Junior Championships, Uher has erupted for 10 goals and 24 points in his past 15 games for the Western Hockey League's Spokane Chiefs. That's a marked improvement on his 10 goals and 24 points in the first 25 games of the season.
On Tuesday, Uher had a four-goal game as Spokane beat Seattle, 5-3.
Jonathan Bombulie has covered the Baby Pens for the Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre since the team's inception in 1999. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
ONE TO WATCH
Yale (NCAA), Left wing — 5-foot-11, 195 pounds
How acquired: Fifth-round pick, 140th overall, in the 2010 NHL draft
How he's doing: Agostino netted one of the biggest goals of his college career Jan. 28, scoring with 34 seconds left to lead Yale to 5-4 win over Dartmouth. Yale, which was on a four-game losing streak, trailed, 4-1, after the first period. Since being one of the last cuts from the U.S. team at the World Junior Championships, Agostino had five goals and nine points in his past 10 games coming into this weekend. The sophomore from New Jersey is third on the team with 18 points in 19 games. He made an impression on Penguins brass with a strong development camp last summer.
Why he might make it to the NHL: He has good hockey sense and can finish.
Why he might not: His skating is a concern.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Crosby, Malkin dazzle fellow All-Stars
- Fleury’s relay team struggles in NHL skills competition
- Injured Crosby, Malkin to miss NHL All-Star Game
- Fleury’s All-Star play has coincided with joy of being a father
- Penguins limp into All-Star break, welcome chance to recuperate
- Penguins’ Crosby receives injection for lower-body injury
- Penguins expect Bruins to bounce back
- Fleury’s All-Star snub rankles Penguins teammates
- Letang, Malkin miss game versus Blackhawks