Monday, September 7, 2009

Top 5 Tuesday: AHL Rookies

The Pipeline Show will coming out with our rookie of the year list in the next few weeks, and you can be sure we'll feature a segment or two on the subject. Today though on 'Top 5 Tuesday' we look at some ROY candidates for the American Hockey League. Mostly it's 2007 draft picks with the odd 2008 choice with a late birthday thrown in. There are some guys who aren't on the list that might make you wonder, but we think players like Colin Wilson (08, Nashville) and Zack Boychuk (08, Carolina) will crack their NHL clubs. So below is a list of 5 AHL freshman to watch out for.

1-James Van Riemsdyk-Adirondack
It seems longer than 2 years since Van Riemsdyk was taken 2nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers. After a couple of seasons at New Hampshire where he scored 74 points in 66 games, JVR left school and played 11 AHL games (7 reg season, 4 playoff) at the end of last year netting 2 points. The powerful winger is the top prospect in the Flyers system, but there's no need for the club to rush him, so a season with new farm team Adirondack will keep his career moving along nicely. It's about time, 11 players from JVR's draft year have played atleast 30 NHL games.

2-Thomas Hickey-Manchester
The LA Kings shocked most people at the 2007 draft when they took Hickey 4th overall ahead of Karl Alzner. Since then he's captain Canada at the WJC and had back to back double digit goal seasons in Seattle. The Kings have promoted a lot of youth over the past few years, and barring injuries the blueline won't have room for Hickey. Some thought he struggled at the WJC championship while paired with fellow Kings prospect Colton Tuebert, but Hickey skates well enough and notched 7 points in 7 AHL games at the end of last year.

3-Tyler Ennis-Portland
At the time of writing this, Tyler Ennis doesn't have a signed contract with Buffalo. TPS talked to him a week ago and he told us he wasn't concerned with it getting done. So let's assume it happens and Ennis isn't coming back to the Medicine Hat Tigers. Some say he's to small at 5.09, but remember this is the same guy who scored 6 goals in a game against Prince Albert last year. To be small and succeed at the pro game you have to be ultra skilled, for me Ennis is and should have a great year in Portland, with an organization that hasn't had a problem promoting pint size stars.

4-Logan Couture-Worcester
I'm not sure how Logan Couture never made a WJC team in Canada, after all he averaged 34 goals a season for the Ottawa 67's, with 25 in his rookie season and 39 last year. The Sharks took him 9th overall in 2007 and are anxious to see him take the next step. San Jose is likely to deep for him to make a mark at the highest level, but for a Worcester team that had only 2 guys score 20 plus goals his nose for the net could come in handy.

5-Jonathan Blum-Milwaukee
The Nashville Predators are one of my favorite teams when it comes to their prospect pool. Colin Wilson has a spot to lose with the big club while Cody Franson should graduate to the big club this year. That will leave a spot on the blueline with the Admirals for Jonathan Blum. He was recently a guest on TPS and you can hear the interview here. The Long Beach product became the first California kid to be taken in the first round when the Preds grabbed him 23rd in 2007. Since then he set the Vancouver Giants assists record, was named the top blueliner in the CHL, and has captained both the Giants and team USA at the World Junior Championship. Blum isn't the biggest D-man, but is one of the smartest players and it should help him succeed in his first pro year.

There are a few other guys to watch for. Angelo Esposito-Chicago, Nick Petrecki-Worcester and Colten Tuebert-Manchester. The latter (pictured)isn't old enough to play in the AHL, but played 14 regular season games for Regina as a 15 year old, and 6 more in the playoffs, and might be eligible for the AHL because of that. TPS is checking into this a little more and hopes to have the answer in the coming days. Have we missed someone on your list, let us know.

As for tonight, we'll preview the QMJHL, talk to a Canuck rookie hoping to crack the line up and find out who's looking good at Oilers rookie camp. 7-9 PM MST on the TEAM 1260 in Edmonton, or online at


Anonymous said...

Isn't Tyler Ennis with Medicine Hat Tigers? Haven't heard that he was traded to Portland.

Dean Millard said...

That's Portland of the AHL. All the teams listed are where the players should be playing in the AHL not junior or college.