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AHL Update

Top NHL prospects fill out AHL All-Star roster

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 11:32 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

The brightest stars in the American Hockey League will be at Utica Memorial Auditorium for the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Some of the best young players in professional hockey, representing all 30 National Hockey League organizations, will play in an East vs. West format. The 46 players heading to Utica include 18 first- and second-round NHL draft picks; 36 of this year's All-Stars already have NHL experience, including 14 who have skated in an NHL game in 2014-15.

Among them are:

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Jets prospect Hellebuyck carrying load for St. John's

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 12:36 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Winnipeg Jets goaltending prospect Connor Hellebuyck has logged a lot of miles on his road to professional hockey.

A native of the Detroit suburb of Commerce, Mich., Hellebuyck played a year of junior hockey in Odessa, Texas, then set up camp on the goal line at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

"I always wanted to go to college," Hellebuyck said. "[UMass Lowell] were the first people to come down to Odessa and see me. After I talked to their goalie coach, Cam Ellsworth, he kind of sold the school really well to me. I thought it was a perfect fit. If there was anywhere I would choose, I would choose there."

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Flames prospect Poirier having all-star season in AHL

Friday, 01.09.2015 / 12:16 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

As far as forward Emile Poirier was concerned, the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center in New Jersey was just a day where he may or may not have had a chance to become a draft pick of a NHL team.

Though he'd had a successful major junior career, and NHL Central Scouting had him consistently rising in their top-40 projections that year, Poirier simply didn't expect it.

"I was just thinking I was going there with all my family and my friends and it was just going to be a good weekend to enjoy," he said. "And then I end up going that high and so I was really happy; it ended up a good weekend."

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Islanders' Pulock asserting himself offensively in AHL

Friday, 01.02.2015 / 12:16 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Three months past his 20th birthday, Ryan Pulock is the youngest member of an already youthful Bridgeport Sound Tigers defensive corps.

Selected No. 15 by the New York Islanders at the 2013 NHL Draft, the Manitoba native came with a warning label: Highly offensive.

"You could see the potential [and] the upside," Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson said of Pulock prior to his arrival in Bridgeport. "And you definitely can see his shot and the weapon that it is."

Over four seasons with Brandon in the Western Hockey League, Pulock scored 210 points in 261 regular-season games and 15 points in 24 playoff games. He finished among the Wheat Kings' top 10 scorers all four years, concluding his final season in Brandon 19 points ahead of the Wheat Kings' next-best defenseman.

Now in his rookie season in the American Hockey League, Pulock is adjusting to the new demands of professional hockey.

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Panthers prospect Grimaldi fine-tuning game in AHL

Friday, 12.26.2014 / 12:07 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Before Rocco Grimaldi arrived under his tutelage, San Antonio Rampage coach Tom Rowe already knew a fair amount about what exactly the 5-foot-6 wing could do on the ice.

"I watched him on video quite a bit, and I'd watch him on TV, which sometimes isn't the best way to do it, but it gives you a good idea," Rowe said. "I loved the fact that he's quick, and he moved the puck well and could beat guys one-on-one. Those were the things that stood out to me."

Finding Grimaldi wasn't hard. A product of the U.S. National Team Development Program and the University of North Dakota, the California-born 21-year-old had already won three gold medals in international play before the Florida Panthers selected him No. 33 at the 2011 NHL Draft. He added a fourth gold medal with the United States at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships, scoring twice in a 3-1 win against Sweden in the final game.

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Penguins prospect Pouliot on path to NHL

Friday, 12.19.2014 / 12:20 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

For a 20-year-old, Derrick Pouliot has a pretty impressive resume.

The Saskatchewan native starred in the Western Hockey League with the powerhouse Portland Winterhawks after they drafted him first overall in the 2009 bantam draft. He put up 205 points over 247 games and was recognized as the top defenseman in the entire Canadian Hockey League last season.

He's won gold with Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and made four trips to the WHL finals, winning the league title in 2013. He played in the 2012 CHL Top Prospects Game, and was selected to both the 2013 Memorial Cup All-Star Team and the 2014 WHL First All-Star Team.

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Canadiens prospect Hudon shines in first AHL season

Friday, 12.12.2014 / 12:36 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

The Montreal Canadiens have made 50 fifth-round draft selections in their franchise history.

Mike Busniuk won a record five Calder Cups playing in the American Hockey League and a sixth as an assistant coach. Bill Nyrop won the Stanley Cup three years in a row during the Canadiens dynasty in the 1970s. Mikhail Grabovski was a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs' 2007 Calder Cup title team who has played more than 450 NHL games. And current Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher has become a rising star in the League.

Charles Hudon joined that impressively productive group as pick No. 122 in the 2012 NHL Draft, and after four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he is quickly making a mark as a professional rookie with Hamilton.

"It's tough to really follow [players after they're drafted], especially during the season, other than going on the Internet and see how they're doing. Maybe give their coach a call once in a while," Bulldogs coach Sylvain Lefebvre said. "But I knew of Charles, and I knew what he could do on the ice."

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Senators forward a Prince of a prospect

Friday, 12.05.2014 / 12:22 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Hockey is a game. A fun, fast-paced, emotional game. But at its core, it is also a way of life.

Early morning practices, long drives to tournaments across state lines, and giving up a lot in order to gain even more somewhere down the line. Shane Prince, the Ottawa Senators’ second round pick (No. 61) of the 2011 NHL Draft, especially knows this to be true.

“As a kid, I always envisioned [making it]. I wasn’t in hockey just for the fun of it,” Prince said. “My dad was very passionate about it, and he sacrificed a lot to make me as good of a player as I could possibly be, and I obviously sacrificed a lot, too. It ended up paying off, and it’s been awesome.”

The 22-year-old Spencerport, N.Y. native played major junior in the Ontario Hockey League with Kitchener and Ottawa. He put up 42 points in 128 games over his first two seasons, and then recorded a total of 178 points in 116 games during his final two years, finishing fourth in the OHL in scoring in 2011-12.

Now playing for the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., Prince says that hunger to produce still drives him each night on the ice.

“Everyone wants to score goals, but he’s really driven by scoring goals,” Binghamton Senators coach Luke Richardson said. “He’s a real competitor, and that’s a good thing. You can coach systems, and positions, and even a little technique, but you can’t coach emotion. He’s got it.”

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Blackhawks pick Hartman honing game in Rockford

Friday, 11.28.2014 / 12:32 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Ryan Hartman's name floated in the world of hockey long before he laced up for his first professional game eight months ago.

He was ranked 16th among North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings in his draft year, going on to fulfill expectations when the Chicago Blackhawks chose him No. 30 in the 2013 NHL Draft. Though the wing was born in South Carolina, he grew up in Chicago, making an already memorable day that much more surreal.

"It probably took until a couple weeks after [to sink in]," Hartman said. "After the draft, I went down to South Carolina for two weeks with my family to relax and get away from hockey and celebrate a little bit. When I got back to Chicago, it definitely sank in that I was drafted."

It's something every athlete dreams of: Spending their formative years idolizing the local team and molding their game after the greats, only to one day be able to have the chance to wear that same jersey. Hartman, 20, is hoping to join players like Chris Chelios and Ed Olczyk as Illinois natives given the chance to eventually skate for the Blackhawks rather than just cheering from the stands.

But before Hartman can officially introduce himself to the Madhouse on Madison, he is practicing the right steps that will lead him to the next level with Chicago's American Hockey League affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.

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Syracuse poised to set American attendance mark

Friday, 11.21.2014 / 12:17 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

The number 28,138 is an important one in the world of professional hockey.

On April 23, 1996, the fans who filled the building now known as Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., to watch the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals set a record for the largest indoor crowd ever to see a professional hockey game in the United States.

On Saturday that record likely will be eclipsed by the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, when they play their in-state rival, the Utica Comets, inside Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

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Quote of the Day

He scores 50 goals, they go in, they go in, and they go in. And I think, 'Why can't I do that?'

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on teammate Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 50th goal of the season Tuesday in a 4-2 win vs. the Hurricanes