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AHL Notebook: Bouchard, Elvenes among top NHL prospects at Classic

Keane, Nedeljkovic, Rafferty also hoping to go from All-Star Game to strong second half

by Patrick Williams / Independent Correspondent

ONTARIO, Calif. -- The two-day American Hockey League All-Star Classic wrapped up Monday.

After a skills competition and 3-on-3 round-robin tournament hosted by Ontario (Los Angeles Kings), the NHL's top prospects will return to their respective AHL teams to take on the grind of the second-half schedule.

Here is a look at some of the top prospects who participated in the AHL All-Star Classic:


Evan Bouchard, D, Bakersfield (Edmonton Oilers)

Bouchard (6-foot-3, 194 pounds) is an AHL All-Star as a 20-year-old rookie.

The No. 10 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, Bouchard has 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 42 games, second among AHL rookie defenseman. He owns a powerful shot, which he displayed with a 103-mph blast during the AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday.

Last season Bouchard joined Bakersfield during the Calder Cup Playoffs from London of the Ontario Hockey League and had eight points (three goals, five assists) in eight postseason games.

Video: WSH@EDM: Bouchard scores first NHL goal


Lucas Elvenes, F, Chicago (Vegas Golden Knights)

Elvenes (6-1, 173) has been made a strong impression in his first AHL season after playing for Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League the previous two seasons.

A fifth-round pick (No. 127) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Elvenes had a goal and three assists in his first AHL game, Oct. 5, and leads Chicago with 35 points (eight goals, 27 assists) through 45 games.

The 20-year-old was the CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month in October and is fourth in scoring among AHL rookies. While his offensive game adapted quickly, he has worked closely with coach Rocky Thompson to round out the rest of his game.

"I love playing for [Thompson]," Elvenes said. "He's an awesome coach. He is very precise in what he wants us to do."


Joey Keane, D, Hartford (New York Rangers)

Goalie Igor Shesterkin has taken most of the headlines with Eastern Conference-leading Hartford, but the 20-year-old Keane has quietly had a strong rookie season.

Keane (6-0, 187) was a third-round pick (No. 88) in the 2018 Draft. He has 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) in 42 games for Hartford, and is fourth in scoring among AHL rookie defensemen.

He also has worked closely with veteran Hartford defenseman Vincent LoVerde, a two-time Calder Cup champion.

"[LoVerde] knows what it takes," Keane said. "It has been an honor to be able to play with a guy like that."


Alex Nedeljkovic, G, Charlotte (Carolina Hurricanes)

Nedeljkovic, a second-round pick (No. 37) by Carolina in the 2014 NHL Draft, has bounced back after a tough start to the season.

The 24-year-old goalie (6-0, 189) won four of his first 12 games (4-7-1) but is 8-2-0 in his past 10, and in 22 games this season he's 12-9-1 with a 2.52 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage and three shutouts.

Last season Nedeljkovic was named to the AHL First All-Star Team and won Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding goaltender and helped Charlotte win the Calder Cup.


Brogan Rafferty, D, Utica (Vancouver Canucks)

Rafferty (6-0, 195) signed with the Canucks as an unrestricted free agent April 1, 2019 after three seasons at Quinnipiac University. He played two NHL gams in 2018-19 and the 24-year-old signed a two-year, two-way contract July 9, 2019.

This season Rafferty leads AHL defensemen and is third among all AHL rookies with 38 points (six goals, 32 assists) in 42 games.

He offered up an apt scouting report on himself.

"I think I'm a puck-moving defenseman," Rafferty said. "I make a good first pass, I can jump up into the rush, play some offense and be pretty reliable on the defensive end. I think overall I'm a well-rounded defenseman who is still working on all assets and facets of [my] game."

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