What the Day 1 Free Agent signings mean for WBS by @jfoo1654 - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

What the Day 1 Free Agent signings mean for WBS by @jfoo1654

Tough Guy Tom Sestito Returns
The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins made quite the splash during Day 1 of the Free Agent Frenzy. Pittsburgh appears to be making a strong push to duplicate the successes of the NHL club throughout the organization as they signed a handful of talented depth defenseman. Most of whom will likely begin the season in WBS. They also retained both Steve Oleksy and Tom Sestito who each played key leadership roles with the Baby Pens last season. Oleksy wore an "A" all season long and Sestito overcame some injury struggles to have a banner postseason. David Warsofsky, who was claimed on Waivers by New Jersey when Pittsburgh tried to sneak him through on deadline day, also returns and will provide some really important depth.

Stuart Percy

Stuart Percy is just 23 years old and was a first round pick of the Maple Leafs in 2011. He certainly has a high upside but has hit a few rough patches of late and wasn't able to stick in Toronto. GM Jim Rutherford seems to think that Percy is a classic case of a guy needing a fresh start. If that is true and Percy blossoms in his new surroundings this could be a great move for the organization. A good old Low-Risk, High-Reward type of signing. Even if he doesn't turn into an NHL player he will almost certainly be a positive cog on the WBS blue-line. Grade: B+

Chad Ruhwedel

Chad Ruhwedel is a 26 year old AHL Veteran who has played in 33 NHL Games during his pro career. He has played the last four season in the Buffalo organization and played 59 Games with Rochester last season. In 59 games played Ruhwedel registered 10 Goals, and 19 helpers. He is a coveted Right-Handed shooter who can bomb shots from the point, and is effective on the Power Play. Another Low Risk signing who has the potential to help the big club if the injury bug should rear it's ugly head yet again. Grade: B-

Cameron Gaunce

Cameron Gaunce is also 26 years of age and is coming off of a breakout season with Portland Pirates in the Florida organization. While wearing an "A" Gaunce had career high totals in Points with 37, and Assists with 35. The left-handed Gaunce had always played a solid game in his own end, but last season he showed a ton of improvement in his ability to move the puck and jump start the rush. With his newly found offensive prowess Gaunce has elevated himself into an elite AHL defenseman, and he represented the Atlantic Division in last season's All-Star Classic. He brings some valuable experience to the picture as well, he won the Calder Cup with Texas in 2014. A great move by Rutherford and Botterill to pounce on a guy who continues to get better with each passing season. Grade - A

Steve Oleksy Returns

Each of these players is capable of helping Pittsburgh if they should need, which makes it a banner day for both Pittsburgh and WBS. In Pittsburgh the roster is almost all set, so adding depth was the #1 priority. For WBS each of these players could be key pieces on what is sure to be a loaded blue line. Young Goalie Tristan Jarry may be the biggest winner of the day as he will get to play behind an elite AHL Defense Core. With Derrick Pouliot graduating to NHL Full-Time duty coupled with the losses of Scott Harrington and Philip Samuelsson over the past few seasons, the Pens were a little thin with Defensive depth. GMJR and Jason Botterill took care of that in a big way on Day 1 of the NHL Free Agent period, and WBS is sure to benefit from it. Fans of the AHL club should be quite happy with how their roster is shaping up. There is still a bit of work to be done as they could use a bit of offensive firepower to go with the stingy defense. They also will need a Goalie to give Jarry a night off here and there. Casey DeSmith who made a name for himself during WBS' playoff run is still on the market and would be a good fit to return to the team. Time will tell but for now there is much to rejoice. All you can ask for is to make the playoffs and have a shot at the Calder Cup, the Penguins took a mammoth step in the right direction on Day 1. 

Thanks for reading! I'll be back with updates and a look around the Atlantic Division later in the weekend. Until then check me out on Twitter @jfoo1654 and as always you can find me on Pens Initiative.

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