The expected news didn’t land any softer as the American Hockey League canceled the remainder of their season on Monday. The league’s revenues are gate-driven, and the international ban on public events left the AHL with little choice. The effects are far-reaching and will not only affect the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins but the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well.
AHL CEO David Andrews explained the decision.
“After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions.
The league’s operational focus has turned toward actively preparing for the 2020-21 season…”
The AHL’s standings – sorted by points percentage – and statistics as of March 12, 2020, are considered final and official, and will serve as the basis for determining league awards for the 2019-20 season.
Even though Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was unlikely to advance to the playoffs, the cancelation ends the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season, which includes young defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Joseph, 20, was in his first professional season.
The end of the season will pause Joseph’s development, of which some team observers were very complimentary. The pause will delay Joseph’s ready date.
Another effect which will hurt the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect pool is the lack of professional ice time for 2019 first-round pick Sam Poulin. Last season, top defenseman prospect Calen Addison was able to play a couple of games before the WBS Penguins season ended. Poulin would have been in the same position this season.
Poulin has shredded defenders this season, including back-to-back QMJHL Player of the Week honors. Over those two weeks in January, Poulin had 19 points, including 10 goals in only five games for the Sherbrooke Phoenix.
You can see the detailed PHN scouting report, including video, here.
2019 third-round pick Nathan Legare would also be a candidate to finish the season with the WBS Penguins and gain valuable professional experience. Legare is the captain of Baie-Comeau Drakkar, which is the last of the East Division teams with a 24-29-7 record.
Poulin, especially, has a chance to make the Pittsburgh Penguins roster in 2020-21 (or whenever the season begins), and the new professional experience would have been a valuable teaching tool.