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Rudderless: Finding a Captain for the WBS Penguins

Rudderless: Finding a Captain for the WBS Penguins

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Last month in part of the trade that returned Kaspari Kapanen to Pittsburgh, David Warosofsky was sent to Toronto. Warsofsky served as captain of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins since Ocotober 3, 2019 .  He was named captain by then Penguins coach Mike Vellucci (who has since been replaced by former WBS assistant coach J.D. Forrest after Vellucci was promoted to Pittsburgh as an assistant coach).

It’s September 2020. Assuming that the AHL is indeed planning on resuming some level of play in December, a team will need to be fleshed out in WB and a captain will need to be named for the 2020-2021 season. There are a handful of logical candidates for the job.

Last season, forward Andrew Agozzino and defenseman Kevin Czuczman were named alternate captains. Agozzino is no longer with the organization after he was claimed on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks in February 2020, so he is out. Czuczman is an ideal candidate for captain of the Pens. He is 29 and will be one of the older guys on the team. Czuczman has been with the Pens since the 2017-2018 season and played in most of the teams games each season (71 in 2017-2018 and 65 in 2018-2019). It makes sense that the captain in WBS should be a guy that is expected to stick around in the league for most of the season and not be called up to Pittsburgh for most games.

Other candidates for the captaincy in WBS might be defensive prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph or Zach Trotman. Joseph is not ideal for a leadership role in WBS. He only has one season in the AHL, and the Pens generally go for a veteran captain. There is not going to be 19-year-old Sidney Crosby type player captaining this AHL team anytime soon. Joseph is a much better candidate for an alternate captain spot in WBS.  He is signed with the Pens through the 2021-2022 season, giving him an opportunity to develop as a player and still leave WBS with a captain if he gets called up to Pittsburgh.

Trotman also meets some of the critera for being a possible captain in WBS. He is an AHL vet and has been in the league since 2011-2012. The problem with Trotman is that he seems to generally spend too much time as a seventh defenseman in Pittsburgh to be given a letter in WBS.  In 2018-2019, he spent just 24 games in the AHL, largely because he was a scratched defenseman for Pittsburgh. Hopefully a yet-to-be signed veteran forward that can help fill out the Pens offensive lines will be named the other alternate. Riley Barber, who is currently an restricted free agent and played over 120 games for Hershey from 2017-2019, would be ideal here.

Czuczman clearly should be named the 20th captain in team history for the 2020-2021 season, assuming that that the season is actually being played. Hopefully Joseph and Barber are both able to spend some time in WBS as alternates to round out the leadership core.

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