The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have re-signed forwards Renars Krastenbergs and Ryan Scarfo to AHL contracts for the 2019-20 season, the team announced Thursday.
Krastenbergs, who is only 20 years old, was one of the few Nailers last season who previously attended Pittsburgh camps. The 6-feet, 185-pound Latvian winger was one of the free agents first invited to Pittsburgh’s annual prospect development camp last summer. Then, in early September, Krastenbergs was one of only two unsigned players the Penguins brought back to play in the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. After continuing to impress in the tournament, he was the only one of those players to receive an invite to Wilkes-Barre’s training camp.
Krastenbergs earned an AHL contract out of Wilkes-Barre’s camp but didn’t play any games in the AHL last season. He finished the season third on Wheeling in scoring with 19 goals and 25 assists in 62 games.
Krastenbergs is fast and definitely skilled offensively. He worked on growing his overall game this season in Wheeling and showed no aversion to backchecking or throwing his body in front of a shot.
“(The NHL) is every hockey player’s dream back home," Krastenbergs told me. "Even playing in North America, that’s the dream for everyone there. It’s a big opportunity for me to be playing here.”
Scarfo, 25, was acquired in a mid-season AHL-level trade with the Belleville Senators in exchange for future considerations at the same time last season Pittsburgh acquiredMacoy Erkamps and Ben Sexton from Ottawa.
Prior to the trade, Scarfo had been splitting the season between the Senators' AHL and ECHL teams. Scarfo spent the remainder of the season in Wilkes-Barre after the trade, recording one goal and six assists in 25 games.
Scarfo, who stands 6-feet and 190 pounds, previously played college hockey at Union College, where he was teammates with Penguins prospect defenseman Jeff Taylor for three of four years.
Krastenbergs and Scarfo are the fifth and sixth players Wilkes-Barre has signed to AHL deals this week after signing defensemen Macoy Erkamps and Blake Siebenaler on Monday and defensemen Jon Lizotte and Matt Abt on Wednesday.