Lockout keeps Baby Pens 'D' from maturing
The NHL lockout has had an adverse effect on many people in the hockey world, and somewhere in the middle of that list — way below the vendors and business owners who have seen their livelihoods threatened — are the defensemen on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins roster.
The lockout has forced as many as three defensemen who would have started the season in the NHL — Brian Strait, Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres, perhaps — to the AHL.
That has led to a serious ice-time crunch.
Even top prospects such as Brian Dumoulin and Joe Morrow are not immune. Dumoulin, a key piece of the Jordan Staal trade, was a healthy scratch once. Morrow, a first-round pick in the 2011 draft, has watched three games from the press box.
The crunch is felt even harder among less-heralded prospects.
Alex Grant, a 2007 fourth-round pick who led Baby Pens defensemen in scoring last season, has been scratched 11 times. Philip Samuelsson, a 2009 second-rounder, has missed seven games.
It gets worse. Carl Sneep hasn't had the most distinguished two-year pro career, but he has an NHL body at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, and he played a game for the Penguins last season as an injury fill-in. Reid McNeill is a 6-6 rookie with the kind of frame general managers dream of. They're both playing for the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers.
“It's been tough,” Dumoulin said. “You gotta bring your ‘A' game, whether it's in practice or in games, to make sure you stay in the lineup.”
The team is increasing the individual instruction young defensemen are receiving in practice.
Last week, Penguins assistant Todd Reirden spent a half-hour working with Dumoulin to improve his wall play.
Sessions like that would occur in a non-lockout season, too, but with Reirden, Dan Bylsma, Tony Granato, Tom Fitzgerald, Bill Guerin and others making frequent trips to Wilkes-Barre, there are more hands on deck.
“We've put an emphasis on trying to acquire a number of NHL-caliber defensemen that need to play and need to be in situations where they can develop,” Reirden said.
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.
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.
- Penguins notebook: Bennett to miss about 2 weeks
- Comeau’s hat trick leads Penguins; Crosby reaches 800 career points
- Penguins’ Scuderi, Despres an odd couple on defense
- Penguins minor league notebook: Pouliot impresses early in season
- Starkey: Pens move on with, without Dupuis
- Penguins notebook: Fleury awaits word on when he’ll vie for 300th victory
- Ehrhoff finding his way with Penguins