Every season the American Hockey League throws up a surprise when it comes to those rookies who impress.
Before this past season I’d never paid as much attention as I should to the rookie scoring race as Toronto has never really featured in the category. Until that is, Connor Brown came to the party.
It’s never quite the players you imagine dominating the rookie category with the higher NHL draft picks often not producing in their first professional year..
The 2014/15 season was no different with the top twenty scorers almost evenly split between rookies drafted 1-7, although five undrafted rookies would dominate if you were to divide into categories.
The now defunct Calgary Flames AHL affiliate, Adirondack Flames, had the highest number of top twenty rookie scorers with four, although none of those were in the top ten.
The top twenty scorers combined for 37 games in the NHL when receiving the call, with three of those during the post-season.
Toronto’s 2012 sixth round pick Connor Brown led the way with 61 points and was tied for the most assists (40) with Brendan Leipsic who would join the Marlies via a trade with Nashville and finish fourth in the scoring charts. Considering Toronto’s torrid start to the season, allied with the stigma of “only good in junior because of namesake McDavid, Brown’s season was a remarkable achievement by the right winger
Leipsic’s former team-mate in Milwaukee, Viktor Arvidsson was the third highest scorer and ended the season second in rookie goal scoring. Arvidsson would also dress in six games for Nashville.
Montreal’s Charles Hudon ended four points behind Brown for the scoring title, having set the pace most of the year, in a Hamilton Bulldogs season that ended in failure to make the playoffs despite his efforts
Rounding out the top five was T.J. Tynan of the Springfield Falcons, who led his teams in assists and points. The first time since 2010/11 that the franchise had a rookie in the top twenty when Tomas Kubalik finished with 24 goals and 53 points.
1) Connor Brown (2012 6th round) Toronto Marlies 61pts
2) Charles Hudon (2012 5th round) Hamilton Bulldogs 57pts
3) Viktor Arvidsson (2014 4th round) Milwaukee Admirals 55pts
4) Brendan Leipsic (2012 3rd round) Toronto Marlies 54pts
5) T.J. Tynan (2011 3rd round) Springfield Falcons 48pts
6) Connor Brickley (2010 2nd round) San Antonio Rampage 47pts
7) Michael Mersch (2011 4th round) Manchester Monarchs 45pts
8) Conor Sheary (Undrafted) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 45pts
The highest undrafted rookie, Sheary amassed his points tally in just 58 games and could have easily been in the top five. Twelve points in eight playoffs games sealed a terrific season and has now signed a two year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
9) Derek Hulak (Undrafted) Texas Stars 44pts
10) Chase Balisy (2011 6th round) St. John’s IceCaps 44pts
11) Ken Agostino (2010 5th round) Adirondack Flames 43pts
12) Emile Poirier (2013 1st round) Adirondack Flames 42pts
13) Rocco Grimaldi (2011 2nd round) San Antonio Rampage 42pts
14) Scott Wilson (2011 7th round) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 41pts
The highest selection in this group (209th overall), Wilson made the step up from college hockey and would finish the season in the NHL. Making one regular season start and three in the post-season for Pittsburgh.
15) Nic Dowd (2009 7th round) Manchester Monarchs 41pts
16) Henrik Samuelsson(2012 1st round) Portland Pirates 40pts
17) Evan Trupp (Undrafted) Worcester Sharks 40pts
By far the oldest rookie at 27, Trupp was an ECHL regular until 17 starts for Abbotsford in 2013/14.
Still a rookie (under 25 games played) heading into this season for the San Jose affiliate, Trupp produced sufficiently for the Chicago Wolves to offer him a contract for the 15/16 season
18) Daniel Carr (Undrafted) Hamilton Bulldogs 39pts
The left winger and NCAA graduate, surprised the AHL by ending as the top rookie goal scorer.
As an undrafted free agent, Carr signed a entry level contract with the Montreal Canadiens in April.
19) David Wolf (Undrafted) Adirondack Flames 38pts
Calgary took a punt in signing this 25yo winger and it certainly paid dividends as Wold hit the twenty goal mark. Also a physical presence, the Düsseldorf native racked up 168 penalty minutes in 59 games.
Would play four games in the NHL for the Calgary Flames but his future at the time of writing is not set for next season
20) Bill Arnold (2010 4th round) Adirondack Flames 38pts
Although not featuring in the top twenty scorers, also worthy of mention are the following two gentlemen.
33) William Nylander (2014 1st round) Toronto Marlies 32pts
Nylander joined the Marlies from Modo despite clamour from media and fans alike to have him up with the Leafs. Played on the wing and after finding his feet put up his points tally in 37 games, finishing the season on a real tear. The 8th overall pick is to stay with the Marlies and play at centre in 15/16.
45) Chris Tierney (2012 2nd round) Worcester Sharks 29pts
A product of the CHL’s London Knights, Tierney wasted little time in impressing San Jose and was rewarded by starting the season in the NHL before being sent down to Worcester in November. A point per game producer in 29 AHL starts, the centreman deservedly garnered more NHL starts (43) than AHL, putting up six goals and 15 assists in the process.