The Pittsburgh Penguins added more depth to their lineup this afternoon by adding three more players via two-way contracts.
The most little known, Bill Thomas, is actually a Pittsburgh native.
The graduate of Fox Chapel High School has played most recently in Phoenix. Thomas has not had much time in the National Hockey League thus far in his career, but his American Hockey league numbers look like his time might be coming sooner rather than later.
Bill Thomas (RW) – 6’1″, 185 pounds
2007-2008: 75 GP – 24 G – 28 A – 52 Pts. With the San Antonio Rampage (AHL)
2007-2008: 7 GP – 0 A – 0 A – 0 Pts. With the Phoenix Coyotes
Unfortunately for Thomas, he is signing to a team with capable depth on the right wing. Don’t expect to see him next season, but time in Wilkes-Barre should definitely help him in becoming a future right winger for the Penguins.
From what I’ve read his downside is his play away from the puck. To make it with a team like the Penguins, Thomas will have to improve in that area considering the offensively gifted players he would be alongside.
Kris Beech is better-known throughout the fanbase, yet he has done little to be so well-recognized.
The center has bounced back and forth between teams eight times since 2000. In that time, Beech has played for the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Vancouver Canucks. Four different American Hockey League teams have also received Beech’s services.
A picture of Kris Beech should be placed next to the word ‘Journeyman’ in Webster’s New World Dictionary. His travels have been warranted though.
In 198 NHL games, Beech has recorded 67 points (25 G – 42 A). His most productive season came just two years ago as a Capital. In 64 games he scored eight goals and added another 18 assists.
Kris Beech (C) – 6’2″, 209 pounds
2007-2008: 16 GP – 5 G – 4 A – 9 Pts. With the Columbus Blue Jackets
2007-2008: 4 GP – 1 A – 1 A – 2 Pts. With the Vancouver Canucks
2007-2008: 5 GP – 0 A – 0 A – 0 Pts. With the Pittsburgh Penguins
His inability to be consistent in the NHL has made General Managers crazy because of his consistency as a player in the AHL.
In 245 games in the minors, Beech has averaged nearly a point a game with 229 points.
If Jordan Staal is moved to the left wing Beech will likely get a chance on the fourth line. What he makes of that time is a total toss up. Banking on his inconsistency is the better way to prepare, though it would be great to see Beech finally make it in the NHL.
Finally, the Penguins signed Ryan Stone.
Stone has been a center in Wilkes-Barre for the last three seasons, totaling 108 points (32 G, 76 A) in 181 games. He also added five goals and 17 assists in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Ryan Stone (C) – 6’2″, 199 pounds
2007-2008: 65 GP – 11 G – 28 A – 39 Pts. With the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins
2007-2008: 6 GP – 0 G – 1 A – 1 Pt. With the Pittsburgh Penguins
His biggest headlines came in last April when he was arrested for public drunkenness (ESPN.com).
Last season he appeared in six games for the Penguins, assisting on one goal.
He plays a gritty game, but just flat out hasn’t impressed in his short stints in the NHL.
Of the three, Beech probably has the best chance to play for the Penguins next season. The center position looks as if it will be ever-changing as the season progresses and Beech seems to the first in line for the fourth line spot.
The most encouraging of the three is Bill Thomas in my mind. He is young, only 25, and is producing well at the AHL level. He should progress even faster in Wilkes-Barre.
As always, this is just my opinion on the three new signings.