Pittsburgh Penguins Minor League Report: Depth Is Gone


Last night the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (21-12-2) went on the road and took on their rival the Hershey Bears (20-12-1). Overall, it was a hard fought defensive battle and both goaltenders played extremely well. The Penguins had netminder Jeff Zatkoff starting while the Bears started Pheonix Copley.

Unfortunately the Penguins lost in a shootout to the Bears 2-1, however the WBS Penguins are maintaining a high level of play despite the injuries on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Most of the notable prospects/players have been called up and were (are) up with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The only players who have significant NHL experience who played last night were Taylor Chorney, Brian Dumoulin, Jayson Megna and Jeff Zatkoff. 

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Based on their play last night let’s do some individual performance review:

Taylor Chorney:

What really is there to say? He has and always will be a fringe NHL/AHL level player. Chorney is a valuable addition at the AHL level with Wilkes-Barre but when he was called up to the Pittsburgh Penguins (briefly) he struggled and failed to show anything special. Not to count out Chorney but I suspect he will remain with the WBS Penguins and continue to hold down their defense. Not because he cannot play at the NHL level but Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin and Derrick Pouliot simply have more talent than he does.

Last night Chorney did his job as a shutdown defender, nothing flashy. One thing that really surprised me about his play was how well he worked with Dumoulin and I’ll elaborate further while evaluating Dumoulin.

Brian Dumoulin:

Pittsburgh Penguins’ fans know this name very well and he is the most polarizing prospect currently in the system. In his limited NHL exposure, opinions of his play are mixed to say the least. Some argue he struggles in various aspects of playing on the big stage and others think he is what the Pittsburgh Penguins need and he needs to grow by playing more at the NHL level. I personally believe Dumoulin’s case is the later of the two opinions, but however his play last night was outstanding.

Sep 25, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin (8) at the face-off circle against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Dumoulin obviously has seen players go up and down between the two Penguin teams but he was the first defender to come back down. He has a chip on his shoulder because of that and it showed big time last night. Dumoulin spent the night playing aside Chorney and was the more active of the duo. He has realized that offense has been hard to come by with so many notable prospects with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last night Dumoulin was doing everything whether it was killing penalties, quarterbacking the powerplay or doing his best impression of Kris Letang. Multiple times last night during line changes Dumoulin would take the puck down low through all five Hershey Bears and do his best to try and generate chances. He was flying all over the ice, but surprisingly was never a defensive liability.

The only issue with Dumoulin’s play last night was his failure to capitalize on chances. A few times he carried the puck into the high slot and had a perfect chance to shoot but deferred multiple times. Overall, Brian Dumoulin is caught in the awkward phase of his career where he is better than almost all AHL players but not quite ready for consistent NHL action.

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  • Jayson Megna:

    He was on the ice last night? That should tell you how much of an impact Megna was last night. Despite his pedigree and just coming down from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Megna was invisible last night.

    The only time you could see him making any plays was on one penalty kill shift. Maybe he was tired from being up at the NHL but last night was anything but impressive.

    Jeff Zatkoff:

    I can already hear the negative comments brewing.

    Last night Jeff Zatkoff have a phenomenal game, he kept the WBS Penguins in the game. He stopped 29/30 shots and only faltered in the fifth round of the shootout after a seven minute overtime period. Many shots that the Bears took I thought would easily have been in the twine but Zatkoff proved me wrong, time and time again. The only goal he let up in regulation Hershey was on the powerplay and Zatkoff was perfectly screened, he had no chance on the shot.

    Watching a game like this really makes me question why the Pittsburgh Penguins decided to sign Thomas Greiss. Since joining the team Greiss has been average and has not inspired confidence. Not only has he not played well but he is on pace to play in less games than Zatkoff did last season.

    Jan 2, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save against Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    From the play we have seen Greiss has not proven to be a significant upgrade over Jeff Zatkoff. It begs the question of why did the Pittsburgh Penguins sign Greiss? He costs more than Zatkoff and makes his money by sitting on the bench. The biggest question is why did the Penguins feel they needed Greiss if they were going to play Fleury for about 65-70 games like he is on pace to now.

    Numbers don’t lie Jeff Zatkoff this season has played in 19 games posted a .932 save percentage and a 1.69 GAA with the WBS Penguins this season. I know that I am in the minority but his play last night and his statistics show that he is not an AHL caliber goalie.