The American Hockey League postseason has historically been a platform in which the future stars of the NHL have made their mark.
In this year's Calder Cup Playoffs, Winnipeg Jets prospect and St. John's IceCaps center Eric O'Dell is adding to that tradition.
"For every team at this point in the year, you need your best players to be just that, and he's done that for us," said Keith McCambridge, third-year coach of the IceCaps. "He's given us key goals at important times during games and has continued to just get better and better every single second here during the season."
Brendan Ranford has come a long way during his rookie season with the American Hockey League's Texas Stars.
After five seasons of junior hockey with the Kamloops Blazers in the Western Hockey League, Ranford, a forward originally drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 but never signed by the club, signed a professional tryout contract with Texas prior to the start of the 2013-14 season.
He's now leading the AHL in goals during the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League and their NHL affiliate in Pittsburgh, much more is shared than simply a synonymous mascot. The success of the Pittsburgh Penguins and their partners in Northeastern Pennsylvania has been actively intertwined since their affiliation began in 1999.
"The way we view it, it's really one team," said John Hynes, the AHL's 2011 Coach of the Year who is in his fourth season at the helm for Wilkes-Barre. "Between the management and coaches, we're on the same page as far as how we like to run the two teams and the values we want to have within our locker room."
If you're not familiar with Sam Carrick already, you will be soon.
The second-year center is turning heads in his first full American Hockey League season, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 62 games with the Toronto Marlies during the regular season. Six of his goals were game-winners, and he also led all Marlies forwards at plus-17.
Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round (No. 144) of the 2010 NHL Draft, Carrick spent four years in the Ontario Hockey League with Brampton before spending most of his first pro season in the ECHL.
He made his AHL debut with the Marlies on March 2, 2013, and had four points in 19 games down the stretch. He also appeared in five Calder Cup Playoff games last spring.
The Detroit Red Wings are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 23rd consecutive year despite a series of injuries that plagued them throughout the 2013-14 regular season. That accomplishment can be attributed in large part to the reinforcements provided by their American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Peruse the leading statistics lists for the American Hockey League and you'll see multiple mentions of 20-year-old forward Ty Rattie, whose 29 goals for the Chicago Wolves rank seventh in the league, third among AHL rookies and at the top of Chicago's roster in just his first professional season.
"Ty has always been that special guy that knows how to score goals," said Kevin McDonald, assistant general manager for the St. Louis Blues, the Wolves' NHL affiliate. "It's such a unique skill and he has so much creativity with the puck. There are times when he gets the puck in the offensive zone and it's just like watching magic happen."
Selected by St. Louis at No. 32 in the 2011 NHL Draft, Rattie starred for the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League and was named league playoff MVP in 2013. Advancing to the professional ranks this season, Rattie enters the final weekend of the AHL regular season with 46 points in 70 games for Chicago.
TJ Brennan of the Toronto Marlies has been voted the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the American Hockey League's outstanding defenseman for the 2013-14 season.
The award honors the late Eddie Shore, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and AHL Hall of Fame who won the Calder Cup five times. It is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the AHL's 30 cities.
Brennan is fifth in the AHL with 69 points (24 goals, 45 assists) in 73 games, the most by an AHL defenseman since 2005-06 and the most goals since 1999-2000. He leads the league in power-play points (42) and shots on goal (256) and defensemen in power-play goals (12) and game-winning goals (four, tied).
As left wing Matt Puempel of the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators continues to evolve as a hockey player, one thing has remained constant: his natural ability to create offense.
"He's been a goal scorer wherever he's gone, and that has definitely followed him here," said Senators coach Luke Richardson. "His ability to look for openings offensively and his shot -- it's a heavy, major-league shot -- those are just God-given talents that aren't teachable to some people."
The 21-year-old Puempel, selected by Ottawa at No. 24 in the 2011 NHL Draft, spent four years in the Ontario Hockey League with Peterborough and Kitchener from 2009-13. In his first season with Peterborough, he was named the Canadian Major Junior Rookie of the Year after recording 64 points in 69 games.
The American Hockey League on Thursday announced the 2013-14 AHL First and Second All-Star Teams as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league's 30 member cities. Each player will receive a custom-designed crystal award in recognition of his selection.
Throughout the course of this season, Oklahoma City Barons defenseman Brad Hunt has gone from an occasional healthy scratch to one of the most offensively productive defensemen in the American Hockey League.
Despite being out of the Barons lineup for a handful of games in October and November, the 25-year-old Hunt has 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists) in 60 games, ranking second on Oklahoma City's roster and fourth among all AHL defensemen.
Hunt's progression is due in large part to his infectious positive attitude, for which he has become well-known in the Barons locker room, according to coach Todd Nelson.
Introducing the new official NHL App, available for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tablets. A host of new features and improved functionality are available across all platforms, including a redesigned league-wide scoreboard, expanded news coverage, searchable video highlights, individual team experiences* and more. The new NHL App on your tablet also introduces new offerings such as 60fps video, Multitasking** and Picture-in-Picture.
*Available only for smartphones
** Available only for suported iPads