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AHL Update

Utica's Markstrom hopes for real chance with Canucks

Monday, 01.26.2015 / 8:22 PM / AHL Update

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

UTICA, N.Y. -- The past 12 months for Utica Comets goalie Jacob Markstrom have been, to put it politely, tumultuous.

Markstrom was once a top prospect for the Florida Panthers and started 38 games for them over parts of three-and-a-half seasons. But on March 4, 2014, he was sent to the Vancouver Canucks as part of the trade that brought Roberto Luongo back to Florida.

"It came up as a shock," Markstrom said. "I didn't know I was going to be traded, but I got traded and I didn't know what to expect. It was kind of weird, you know, leaving all your friends, leaving what you know to go to your new place, but Vancouver and the whole organization, all the guys were unbelievable."


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AHL's experiments with overtime get mixed reviews

Sunday, 01.25.2015 / 11:59 PM / AHL Update

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

UTICA, N.Y. -- The American Hockey League has been trying to find a way to have more games end in overtime rather than in the shootout. The reviews have been mixed from players.

Before the start of the 2014-15 season, the AHL changed how overtime periods would be handled by switching from a five-minute overtime played 4-on-4 to a seven-minute period with four of them played 4-on-4 and three minutes played 3-on-3.

Through Saturday, 74.8 percent of games that went to overtime were settled in the extra period. When compared to last season, it’s an increase of 39.5 percent when 64.7 percent of games that went to overtime ended in the shootout. For AHL players who have spent time in the NHL, that difference has been noticeable.

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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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Quote of the Day

The fans love it, and it looked like they were having fun. It was great to see this city [Columbus]. They had been waiting a couple years for this game. They did it right.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday