Penguins' Kobasew hopes to refine game in AHL
WILKES-BARRE — Chuck Kobasew, squeezed out of the Penguins' lineup by trade-deadline acquisitions, arrived in Wilkes-Barre and reported for duty with the Baby Pens last week.
A big-time AHL scorer in his younger days, the 31-year-old winger might put up great numbers for the Baby Pens. He might re-establish himself as a viable bottom-six NHL forward, too.
One thing he won't do is take a spot in the lineup away from the Penguins' younger prospects. AHL rules make sure of that.
To foster development, the league allows each team to dress only five players with more than 320 games of high-level pro experience for each game.
To get Kobasew into the lineup, coach John Hynes couldn't scratch a young player such as Jayson Megna, Dominik Uher, Adam Payerl or Anton Zlobin. He had to scratch one of his five veterans: wingers Tom Kostopoulos and Spencer Machacek, centers Andrew Ebbett and Nick Drazenovic and defenseman Brendan Mikkelson.
“It's difficult to have someone sit out, but it is the situation that we're in,” Hynes said.
Kobasew said he's treating the demotion as a chance to improve his game.
“I want to get the puck, have possession, be able to make plays,” he said. “I don't know what my role will be yet on this team, but yeah, just try to fine-tune those things and get my game back to where it should be.”
Year of the rat
Second-year pro Bobby Farnham, an accomplished agitator out of Brown, has rounded out his game lately. In 14 games since Feb. 1, he has more points (five) than fighting majors (four).
If he gets to the NHL, it will be because of his ability to irritate opponents and draw penalties, but he's making an effort to pick his spots better.
“Last year, a lot of times, I was thinking agitate first and play second,” Farnham said. “This year, I've gone in and played my game and played hard and played physical. Feel the temperature of the game, and when it calls for it, it calls for it.”
When it comes to situations like the cardiac incident that felled Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley last week, the AHL has safety regulations similar to those in place in the NHL.
Baby Pens athletic trainer Kyle Moore said he always has a defibrillator handy. A general practitioner and orthopedic doctor are rinkside at regular-season home games and all playoff games. For regular-season road games, the home team has an attending physician on duty.
A new face
The Baby Pens added an undrafted college free agent last week, signing 5-foot-9 forward Conor Sheary to an amateur tryout contract for the rest of this season and agreeing to terms on an AHL deal for next year.
Sheary averaged about 10 goals and 30 points in each of his last three seasons at UMass-Amherst and was a co-captain as a senior.
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.