AHL All-Stars – Making the Grade

Like it’s NHL equivalent, the AHL All-Star weekend is an event to showcase the best talent of the league and show appreciation for those players having a particularly good season.

The AHL broke new ground by naming just one All-Star team incorporating players from both conferences to take on top Swedish team Färjestad BK.

The team was named in January and despite some inevitable changes due to availability or lack thereof, I thought I’d take a look at how the original selections have fared since.

***Teams listed by the players, were the clubs they were playing for when selected.***

14allstar_1000

Goaltenders

Jake Allen, Chicago Wolves (St. Louis)

Martin Jones, Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles)

Jake Allen had a rough end to the season as the Toronto Marlies had his number and the best of the Chicago Wolves during their playoff encounter. Pleasing for Jake though is that he’s made the step up to the NHL and is currently backing up Brian Elliot. A record of 2-1, allowing just four goals and recording a shutout in his lasting outing

Last season was a fantastic one for Martin Jones as he made a real impact at the NHL level with L.A’s number one Jonathan Quick, out with injury. With Scrivens gone, Jones is now the Kings number two this season and is 1-1 early on, having been impressive in the win against Winnipeg.

Defensemen

Chad Billings, Abbotsford Heat (Calgary)

T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies (Toronto)

Cody Goloubef, Springfield Falcons (Columbus)

Alexey Marchenko, Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit)

Brayden McNabb, Rochester Americans (Buffalo)

Frederic St. Denis, Springfield Falcons (Columbus)

Chad Billings played for the now defunct Abbotsford Heat. Last season saw him break into the NHL for ten starts. Despite a very promising second year as a professional, he decided to sign for CSKA Moscow of the KHL, though he was tendered a qualifying offer by the Flames to retain his NHL rights.

The T.J. Brennan story is perhaps the best know from last season. He made a huge impression in the AHL, with frankly incredibly offensive numbers for a defenseman. Despite his improved play all over the ice, Toronto refused to give him NHL time and he ended up signing for NYI. The signs were he might crack the NHL line-up but just before the season he was traded to Chicago as part of a bigger deal and after clearing waivers has now joined Rockford in the AHL.

Cody Goloubef was part of a Springfield team last season, who certainly surprised a few pundits but were unable to carry that form into the post-season. He spent the entire season with Springfield after splitting the year before between the AHL/NHL. It seems to have worked the oracle for Cody as he’s back with Columbus Blue Jackets and started every game as I write this.

Alexey Marchenko made a terrific start to his professional career with the Griffins, scoring four points in three games and carried similar form up until the New Year, making his debut with the Red Wings in the process. His form tailed off and sadly he sustained a horrible injury after careering into the boards. He’s started 2014/15 with the Griffins but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him called up during the season.

It seems like Brayden McNabb has been around a long time, but in reality, the 23 year old has just been bouncing between leagues. Last season saw him yet again being one of the better guys on the blueline for Rochester and no surprise to see he once again stepped up to play for Buffalo. Traded to the Kings, he finished the season with Manchester Monarchs and signed a two year contract with L.A. The injury to Jake Muzzin has given McNabb the chance to start the year with the Kings.

Montreal Canadiens v Buffalo Sabres

Frederic St. Denis is the definition of a career AHL’er, and at 28 years of age has passed the 300 game barrier. He’s still with the Springfield Falcons after signing an extension and despite 17 games with the Montreal Canadiens two season ago, I was doubtful about his chances of a call-up to the show again. Columbus called the defenseman up this week to cover their ongoing injury crisis.

Forwards

Brett Connolly, Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay)

Brian Gibbons, W-B/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh)

Mike Hoffman, Binghamton Senators (Ottawa)

Jason Jaffray, St. John’s IceCaps (Winnipeg)

Travis Morin, Texas Stars (Dallas)

Brandon Pirri, Rockford IceHogs (Chicago)

Colton Sceviour, Texas Stars (Dallas)

Colton Sissons, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville)

Ryan Spooner, Providence Bruins (Boston)

Ben Street, Abbotsford Heat (Calgary)

Ryan Strome, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (N.Y. Islanders)

Linden Vey, Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles)

Brett Connolly was once more a force in the AHL in 2013/14, his second season in the league after spending the first year of his ELC in the NHL with Tampa. That led to the RFA signing a one year deal for this season, apparently for less money but it’s been well worth it as the former round one pick looks like he’s cracked their NHL line-up.

Brian Gibbons was better than a PPG player with W-B/Scranton Penguins last season and that earned him his first real shot at the NHL, where he dressed 41 times. A free agent in the summer, he signed for the Columbus Blue Jackets but sustained an injury before the season. Coming off the injury reserve list, Columbus sent him down to the AHL where he’s played one game for Springfield.

Mike Hoffman was given the captaincy of the Binghamton Senators in 13/14, which can be a curse as it often indicates the organisation doesn’t see you as worthy of a call-up. This wasn’t the case however as he dressed 25 times for Ottawa and was an offensive monster in the AHL, racking up 30 goals for 67 points. This season has begun well for him, sticking with Ottawa after signing a one year deal and has already registered a game winning goal.

Jason Jaffray is in his fourth season of captaining the St. Johns IceCaps and is the all-time scoring franchise leader. He led his team to the Calder Cup final last season but this year has not begun well for him. Forced out of the home opener in the first period after a collision with Providence defenseman Zach Trotman and has not been seen on the ice since.

Travis Morin, “the” dominant force in the AHL last season, took the award for most assists and points while picking up the AHL Most Valuable Player “Les Cunningham Award” during the regular season and the equivalent during the post season. Was unable to crack the Dallas Star but has once more dominated the AHL. Scored the 100th goal of his AHL and Texas Stars career against Utica, and recorded the 200th assist and 300th point of his AHL career on Oct. 24 at Oklahoma City. Has five goals including a hat-trick, and thirteen points in eight games as I write.

Travis Morin

Brandon Pirri spent the majority of last season split between both Chicago teams. A point per game player in the AHL, he was traded to Florida and he spent the remainder of the year in the NHL. Started with three goals in four games with the Panthers but is sadly now injured after a promising beginning.

At 25 years of age now, Colton Sceviour has bounced between the AHL and NHL, never quite being able to stick for varying reason. Passed the thirty mark in goals and assists last season as part of the Calder Cup Championship team, while adding eight goals in 26 games for the Dallas Stars. He’s been with Dallas from the start of this season, though he’s found production a little harder to find at this point.

Colton Sissons had very good rookie season with Milwaukee Admirals. The former 50th overall pick hit the 25 goal mark with the Admirals while also suiting up 17 times for Nashville. Back with Milwaukee and wearing an “A” Sissons might be showing signs of having a cursed sophomore season with just a single goal in seven games, although the team has a record of 6-1.

Ryan Spooner had his first real shot at the NHL last season and registered eleven assists in 23 games for Boston. The Centreman started this season in the NHL but was sent down after five games. Back with Providence he’ll be looking to replicate his excellent numbers from last year where he was basically a PPG player and even better in the post-season.. The predominately playmaking forward has five points through as many games in the AHL.

Ben Street was a PPG game last season for the now defunct Abbotsford Heat. Despite getting some time in the NHL, Calgary failed to offer him a contract and he signed a two year deal with Colorado. Street has sadly been injured since camp and when he recovers, he’ll be starting with the Lake Erie Monsters who doubtless would like his talent in their top six.

Ryan Strome was a real force in his rookie AHL season, with one shy of 50 points in 37 games. He played as many games last season with the Islanders, putting up a respectable 18 points. Not really a surprise to see him in the NHL for 2014/15 where he should stay for the rest of his career. The young man has seven assist in eleven games.

The Manchester Monarchs continue to produce players ready for the NHL and Linden Vey has proved no different. Although L.A did not sign him after his entry level contract expired last season, Vey signed a one year deal with the Vancouver Canucks and has not looked back. In twelve NHL starts, the 23 year old had tallied 4 four goals and two assists in twelve games, including a game winner which was scored on the power play.

 

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