- Joe Vitale has cemented his spot on the 4th line for the Penguins. He has played in 42 of 49 games for Pittsburgh this season, posting a 2-7-9 line. He is averaging just under 11 minutes of ice time per game, but his 55.7% win percentage on faceoffs leads the team. Last night, Vitale got to play in front of friends and family as the Penguins traveled to his hometown of St. Louis. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma even let Vitale take the game’s opening faceoff, which he won. While he may not be lighting up the stat sheet, Vitale has proven that he can be a reliable 4th liner in the NHL and he looks like he will be sticking around.
- Wade MacLeod has returned from injury for Springfield. He is having a quiet season with a 3-11-14 line in 31 games.
- Tyler McNeely is playing on the first line for Bridgeport, but he has just 11 points in 39 games.
- Jake Newton’s change of scenery hasn’t really done much for him. He is a +2 after 29 games, but has just 3 points to his credit. Since leaving Northeastern after his freshman season, Newton has played 77 AHL games. He is a -16, with just 3 goals and 9 assists. Cronin said at the time that he wasn’t ready and it looks like he was right. Definitely a cautionary tale for guys thinking about making the jump.
- On the hand, Brodie Reid has proven Cronin wrong. Reid put together a great second half to his freshman season and parlayed it into a pro deal. In his first year of professional hockey, Reid is 7th on his team with 18 points (7 g, 11 a). It will be interesting to see if Reid can keep it up through the entire season. Regardless, he has proven that he can at least hold his own in the AHL.
- Michael Ryan was supposed to finally return this week from an extended absence to due to lingering headaches, but it doesn’t appear he that has happened. They are not sure whether it is a concussion or just neck problems, but either way they aren’t taking any chances. The 7th year veteran has been out of the lineup since the first week of the season. Hopefully it is not the end of a career that he has seen Ryan play 83 NHL games between the Sabres and the Hurricanes.
- Brad Thiessen is having a tough year for Wilkes Barre Scranton. He has started 29 out 46 games, posting 2.81 GAA and .890% save percentage. But Thiessen has somewhere to turn to off the ice, thanks to the voluntary chapel program he has set up for the team. Thiessen has turned it around of late with wins in his last 4 starts. The quickest path to the NHL is probably still going to be through a trade, but his play this year may have diminished that. Definitely a situation to watch with just 1 month until the trading deadline.
- Its been a tough season for the 2 Reading boys. Both have missed time due to injuries. Louis Liotti is a -13 and has just 5 points in 32 games. The Pride of Billerica, Dennis McCauley is 8-8-16 through 31 games, with 4 fights this season.
- Trenton is struggling as well but Steve Silva is enjoying his first season as a pro with 13 points in just 11 games. Silva missed the early part of the season with an injury but he returned just before Christmas and has been enjoying a nice run. Just like he did at Northeastern, Silva has put up great numbers in two categories: assists (10) and penalty minutes (33). Being 3rd on the team in PIMs despite missing half the team’s game is quite an accomplishment.
- Its been an interesting year for Dave Strathman who know finds himself on his third ECHL team of the season. He was picked up by Gwinnett after Reading let him go at the beginning of the year. He played 18 games with them before being traded to Utah this week. Strathman’s former teammate at Northeastern, Chris Donovan, is also on Utah. Donovan had 25 points last year, but has been unable to replicate that in his second season. In 16 games, he has just 2 assists to his name. He has not put up a point in the 5 games he has played since returning to the lineup in late December after an injury.
- Its not all bad for NU alums in the ECHL, Kyle Kraemer is putting together a good year for Ontario. The team is in 2nd place and Kraemer has played a big part in that. After missing the beginning of the year with an injury, he has put up 18 points in 25 games. In 9 games this month, Kraemer has 4 goals and 7 assists.
- Chad Costello is having a another great year for Colorado. He is tied for second in the league with 22 goals, and he leads the league with 57 points, thanks to a league leading 37 assists. For the second time in two weeks, he has earned a call-up to the AHL. In his 2 previous call-ups, Costello has managed just 1 point from 12 games. But through 2 games with the Worcester Sharks, he already has 2 assists. Since leaving Nu after his sophomore season, Costello has dominated the lower league, but so far been unable to find success in the AHL. Hopefully this chance will be his breakthrough.
- Ryan Ginand made the move across the pond this season and is paying dividends. Ginand has 39 points through 32 games in the Italian league and he is a +40. He was also featured in the Globe recently.
- Jared Mudryk has an insane line of 22-41-63 in just 31 games for his German team. He is second on the team in goals, assists, and points.
- Jamie Oleksiak has played in just 6 games since being traded to the Niagra Ice Dogs, but he already has 4 assists and earned a +4 rating. The trade saw him go from the bottom of the standings to the top, where as joined Bruins 1st round pick Dougie Hamilton on a very talented team. The Ice Dogs will be looking to make a run for the Memorial Cup it could be just another big moment for Oleksiak who has already got to be a part of the NHL Draft (where he was picked 14th by Dallas) and the World Junior Championships (where he played for Team Canada) this year.
- The Maple Leafs find themselves just outside the playoffs in Greg Cronin‘s first year as an assistant there.
- The Houston Aeros have the second most points in the AHL’s Western Conference. Sebastien LaPlante is in his first year as an assistant with the team.
- Rob Rassey is an assistant with Youngstown who find themselves in the middle of the pack in the USHL.
- Jason Guerriero and Holy Cross are in 8th of 12 in Atlantic Hockey. There hasn’t much chatter about a move to Hockey East in a while, but Guerriero has been traveling all over North America on recruiting trips in his first year as an assistant.