Future Watch: 10 AHL gamers anticipated to battle for NHL jobs subsequent season
As days proceed to cross, we inch nearer and nearer to the fact of no extra skilled hockey in 2019-20. There are greater issues to fret about, in fact, but it surely’ll be disappointing to see such a improbable 12 months of AHL hockey – highlighted by a number of prime prospects making their marks on the league – finish on such an unlucky observe, particularly when this season may even be the final for longtime AHL president Dave Andrews.
On the very least, we will look again fondly on the expertise the league has produced this season. Whereas the AHL is usually dominated by veterans or bubble gamers whose shot at full-time NHL work is fading or slim to start with, lots of the league’s prime gamers this season have been both rookies or sophomores getting ready to make the leap to the NHL in 2020-21. That’s promising as a result of at a time the place groups typically wish to shoehorn gamers right into a lineup earlier than they’re prepared, we noticed many groups take a affected person method with their younger weapons.
A number of of the gamers listed under have already had a shot at NHL motion, however all of them have a reliable shot at turning into full-timers within the NHL subsequent season. Right here’s a have a look at 10 AHL standouts and NHL prospects who might be main gamers subsequent season:
Igor Shesterkin, G, 24 (NY Rangers)Shesterkin proved in a 12-game stretch why he’s been touted because the goalie of the longer term within the Large Apple for greater than half a decade. He posted a 10-2-Zero report in these dozen video games, and his .931 save share and three.95 goals-saved above common at 5-on-5 put him among the many greatest goaltenders since Jan. 1 regardless of sharing the online with Alexandar Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist. Since turning into a full-time professional in 2016-17, Shesterkin has misplaced simply 18 of his 121 contests between the NHL, AHL and KHL. No goaltending prospect has been as dominant in that span. Shesterkin has nothing left to show within the AHL and is able to dethrone ‘King Henrik’ within the Rangers’ crease.
Owen Tippett, RW, 21 (Florida)Tippett made the Panthers out of coaching camp in 2017-18 however failed to search out his footing in his seven-game stint. Two seasons later, Tippett lastly grew to become a full-time professional and was one of many AHL’s most electrifying rookies, scoring 19 targets and totalling 40 factors in 46 video games previous to the league shutdown – good for first on Springfield and eighth amongst all rookies. Tippett, a pure aim scorer, labored on a number of the deficiencies in his sport and has grow to be extra well-rounded. Tippett ought to get his probability to grab a top-six function as quickly as a spot opens up in Florida. And given there have been rumors surrounding Mike Hoffman and Evgeni Dadonov on the deadline, Tippett’s alternative might come quickly.
Henrik Borgstrom, C, 22 (Florida)Borgstrom performed 50 video games with the Panthers in 2018-19, which made him a shocking omission from the opening-night roster. However that’s nice, as a result of whereas a transfer to the AHL was a particular step down for a proficient participant, it allowed Borgstrom to work on different points of his sport. Accidents restricted his motion in Springfield and he couldn’t discover any consistency in a four-game run with the Panthers, however the workforce nonetheless has religion that he’ll be a contributor within the close to future. It might be do-or-die for Borgstrom if he’s critical about making a long-term influence on a workforce looking for a seat on the playoff desk, however he’s bought the expertise to be an on a regular basis NHLer.
Evan Bouchard, D, 20 (Edmonton)Bouchard was handed by Ethan Bear within the Oilers’ depth chart this season, leaving some questioning when Bouchard could be prepared for the large time after failing to crack the mother or father membership’s roster at any level throughout the season. Luckily, Bouchard’s standing as a prime prospect hasn’t modified: he’s nonetheless going to be a priceless defenseman, he simply wanted some further time. Bouchard, the highest scoring defenseman throughout his four-year run within the OHL, was third in scoring amongst rookie defensemen within the AHL this season and represented Bakersfield on the all-star sport in January. By way of on-ice play, Bouchard is corresponding to Tony DeAngelo, and given DeAngelo’s rise this season, that’s a superb factor.
Erik Brannstrom, D, 20 (Ottawa)Brannstrom received’t technically be a rookie subsequent season after spending 31 video games with the Senators this season, however he was despatched all the way down to the AHL on Jan. three and by no means made his method again up. The Senators preferred what they noticed from Brannstrom, however accidents and inconsistent play harm the explosion many anticipated this season. It’s a minor setback for Brannstrom, however the cell, two-way defender is prepared for the present subsequent 12 months.
Josh Norris, C, 20 (Ottawa)Sticking with the Senators, Norris wanted only one season to show he’s prepared for the NHL. On the time of the league lockdown, Norris was main all AHL rookies with 31 targets and 61 factors. The main candidate for the AHL’s rookie of the 12 months, Norris was acquired within the deal that despatched Erik Karlsson to San Jose and, early on, the previous NCAA ahead has appeared like a star within the making. Norris is a high-volume shooter, assaults each ends of the ice and could be relied upon to get the job accomplished with and with out the puck. Added bonus? Norris and Senators teammate Brady Tkachuk are good mates. There’s the likelihood for immediate chemistry.
Morgan Frost, C, 20 (Philadelphia)Frost had a pair of call-ups this season and even had a couple of pictures within the prime six, however he struggled to regulate to the NHL sport instantly. His big-league run began off with targets in his first two video games, however he failed to search out twine in his subsequent 16 video games and was demoted to the AHL within the last days of December. Frost, a two-time 100-point ahead within the OHL, altered his type because the season went on and confirmed he can deal with the professional transition. Relying on who you speak to, Frost may gain advantage from one other 12 months within the AHL, but it surely’s arduous to assume he’d final lengthy earlier than incomes one other shot in Philly.
Jack Studnicka, C, 21 (Boston)Windfall was probably the greatest groups within the AHL this season, and no different child Bruin had the influence that Studnicka did as a rookie. In 60 video games, Studnicka had 23 targets (fourth amongst all AHL freshmen) and 49 factors (third) and had a 10-point cushion over veteran Paul Carey for the Bruins’ workforce lead. Studnicka performed all conditions for Windfall this season and confronted a heavy workload every evening, so the large membership is aware of they’re getting a hard-working, two-way drive that may add depth within the center six for years to come back.
Jesper Boqvist, LW, 21 (New Jersey)The plan was for Boqvist to issue into New Jersey’s middle-six this season, however he struggled mightily, scoring simply 4 factors in 35 video games earlier than a demotion to AHL Binghamton. As soon as within the minors, Boqvist discovered his sport once more, recording eight targets and 11 factors in 19 video games as one of many child Devils’ greatest wingers throughout that span. New Jersey remains to be in full rebuild mode and losing a proficient goal-scorer’s potential by limiting his ice time wasn’t going to work, in order that style of AHL motion might be a giant profit for his profession.
Conor Timmins, D, 21 (Colorado)A 16-month battle with concussion signs, together with a whole misplaced season in 2018-19, put a damper on Timmins’ potential as a prime prospect, however the former OHL star rebounded in a giant method in 2019-20. He was nonetheless restricted to 40 video games with the Colorado Eagles, however Timmins had 27 factors after beginning the season within the NHL. The Eagles gave Timmins an opportunity to play heavy minutes and whereas a crowded blueline with the large membership means he received’t be thrust into a giant function within the NHL subsequent season, having a participant of his caliber, and one with one thing to show, additional down the lineup pays critical dividens.
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Tags: prospects, winnipeg jets, calgary flames, ahl, big apple islanders, boston bruins, ottawa senators, philadelphia flyers, edmonton oilers, colorado avalanche, big apple rangersConnect: Concerning the AuthorSteven EllisSteven Ellis is a Digital Content material Producer for The Hockey Information. He spends his free time listening to music you would not like and watches obnoxiously-long motor races.