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AHL Update

Graovac rewarding Wild with breakout AHL season

Friday, 03.13.2015 / 12:20 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Tyler Graovac is hard to miss.

But all 30 NHL teams did just that, bypassing Graovac 190 times until the Minnesota Wild finally selected him at No. 191 with their last pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

"I knew when it came down to [draft weekend], I wasn't really expected to go high," Graovac said. "Getting picked seventh round by Minnesota was a little bit of a shock because I had had a lot of interviews with teams that year and Minnesota was the only one who didn't interview me. But it's been going great. They've been very patient with me."

That patience has paid dividends, as the 21-year-old center has excelled in his second season with their American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild. Fifty-eight games into the 2014-15 season, Graovac has nearly doubled his offensive output from last season, leading Iowa in goals (19), points (40), power-play goals (eight), and shots on goal (163). He's had 10 multipoint games.

Sabres prospect McCabe blossoming in Rochester

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 1:04 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

When Chadd Cassidy first met Jake McCabe, the defenseman was 16 years old.

Holding down the blue line for the U.S. National Development Team, McCabe instantly stuck out as a physical player, ready and willing not only to defend the puck, but to go one step further and create offense for his fellow teammates.

As his coach that first season, Cassidy helped start molding the tools McCabe would eventually use to make his way to the highest level of hockey.

Now together again with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, McCabe's development continues to thrive under Cassidy's watch.

Lindberg earns first call-up amid strong AHL season

Friday, 02.27.2015 / 12:32 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

On Feb. 24, at just around 7 p.m., Hartford Wolf Pack center Oscar Lindberg had a date at Madison Square Garden with a dream he'd been chasing since childhood.

In 8:18 of ice time spread over 16 shifts, the Skelleftea, Sweden, native was on the ice for his first career NHL game with the New York Rangers, one that will linger in his memory forever, regardless of how many more come after it.

"I was kind of nervous the first couple of shifts, but I think as the game went on, I felt more comfortable," Lindberg said. "I'll remember that day for the rest of my life, that's for sure."

Canucks' Markstrom getting help from countryman

Friday, 02.20.2015 / 12:37 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

After being selected by the Florida Panthers in the second round (No. 31) of the 2008 NHL Draft, Jacob Markstrom's North American adjustment had a microscope on it from the moment he left his native Sweden in 2010.

Spending three and a half years bouncing between the Panthers and their American Hockey League affiliates in Rochester and San Antonio, Markstrom seemed unable to live up to the expectations the hockey world had for him.

Martinook set to go after second recall by Coyotes

Friday, 02.13.2015 / 11:06 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Jordan Martinook usually leaves his practices with the Portland Pirates in a car, homeward bound.

On Wednesday, all was about to go according to plan until coach Ray Edwards shook it up. Martinook was going to go home, sure, but only to pack. He was headed to the airport, booked on the next flight out to Glendale, Ariz.

In his third year with the American Hockey League affiliate for the Arizona Coyotes, the 22-year-old native of Brandon, Manitoba had already made his NHL debut on Dec. 6, playing in two games at Gila River Arena before boarding a plane back to Portland.

"It’s pretty surreal. You dream of that moment your entire life. It took me a couple years to get that call," Martinook, a center, said of his first experience. "It’s something you can’t even really describe in words how much it means to you."

Maple Leafs prospect Brown leads Marlies in scoring

Friday, 02.06.2015 / 12:42 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

In another life, Connor Brown might have had a successful career in the financial world. Maybe on the front lines of Wall Street, or tucked away somewhere in a private firm. Math was kind of his thing in high school.

But hockey, like it does for many, had other ideas. Taken in the sixth round (No. 156) of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Etobicoke, Ontario, native got a chance to realize a dream every little kid playing hockey has: throwing on your hometown sweater.

"My whole family are pretty big Leafs fans so getting drafted here was just an added bonus to a special feeling on draft day," Brown said. "A couple buddies of mine that were there texted me first, and then I eventually saw my name on the ticker. We just watched it on TV."

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."


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.

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:

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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It's obviously not fun to not know, but on the other hand, I'm not in a rush. I'm going to be back to 100 percent before I start playing. I'm not going to play on 90 percent.

— Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom in an interview with Washington Post about whether he will be able to play in 2015-16 opener
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