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AHL Notebook: Trade Deadline ripples felt across league

Brannstrom, Jurco among players on move who could reshape races for Calder Cup Playoffs

by Patrick Williams / Correspondent

American Hockey League talent played a major part in moves before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline passed Monday.

Not only did top players switch franchises, more than one NHL general manager also had an eye on shoring up the roster of his AHL affiliate to help set up young prospects for an extended run in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are among the NHL organizations in recent seasons that have had their prospects go through two months of high-pressure postseason hockey before graduating to the NHL.

Here is a look at five AHL organizations who shifted some of the balance of power across the 31-team AHL thanks to decisions made by their NHL affiliate on the way to the deadline.


Belleville, Ottawa Senators

Amid a massive rebuilding project, the Senators landed perhaps the AHL's most dynamic prospect to add to a growing pool of quality young prospects that already features forwards Drake Batherson, Logan Brown, Rudolfs Balcers, and defenseman Christian Wolanin among others.

Defenseman Erik Brannstrom is now part of that group, the prized prospect obtained in the trade that sent forward Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights. The trade also delivered forward Oscar Lindberg and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to Ottawa.

The 19-year-old defenseman (5-foot-10, 173 pounds) was selected by the Golden Knights in the first round (No. 15) in the 2017 NHL Draft. He had been with Chicago (AHL), where he had 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 41 AHL games.

Ottawa assigned him to Belleville, where he will join a team that has revived its season with a 15-game point streak (11-0-0-4). That run has put Belleville squarely into North Division contention, one point behind fourth-place Utica.

The trade capped a hectic stretch in Ottawa.

The Senators also acquired forwards Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft from the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Matt Duchene on Friday. Abramov (5-9, 171) was assigned to Belleville after starting the season in Cleveland. The 20-year-old has 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 53 games as an AHL rookie. Columbus chose him in the third round (No. 65) of the 2016 NHL Draft.

Ottawa also made forward Filip Chlapik eligible for the AHL postseason on Monday. Belleville's hot play will need to continue down the stretch, but building a winning environment in Belleville for their young prospects and getting those players into the Calder Cup Playoffs is the next step in the organizational rebuild.

Video: What the Senator's outlook is from the trade deadline


Charlotte, Carolina Hurricanes

Charlotte is first in the AHL standings, but the Hurricanes have several top prospects there who they want to experience as long a playoff run as possible.

The Hurricanes made an AHL trade Monday with the Florida Panthers, acquiring NHL veteran forward Tomas Jurco from Springfield.

The 26-year-old (6-2, 188) brings has played 201 NHL regular-season games. He signed an AHL contract with Springfield on Jan. 3 and had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 14 AHL games. He won a Calder Cup championship as a Detroit Red Wings prospect with Grand Rapids in 2013. He had 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 24 Calder Cup games.

Carolina also elected to make Hurricanes forwards Warren Foegele and Saku Maenalanen eligible to play for Charlotte in the postseason.


Rochester, Buffalo Sabres

North Division-leading Rochester took a hit at the deadline, but the Buffalo Sabres did provide additional help to ease the sting.

Buffalo traded Rochester defenseman Brendan Guhle and a first-round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Brandon Montour.

Guhle (6-2, 196), had played 50 games for Rochester and had 27 points (five goals, 22 assists). Buffalo took the 21-year-old in the second round (No. 51) of the 2015 NHL Draft, and he represented Rochester at the AHL All-Star Classic in January.

However, Buffalo earlier had returned defenseman Lawrence Pilut to Rochester. He had 22 points (three goals, 19 assists) in his fisrt stint with Rochester before being called up for 25 NHL games. The Sabres also made forwards Tage Thompson and Danny O'Regan eligible for the Calder Cup Playoffs.


Tucson, Arizona Coyotes 

Last season Arizona made readying Tucson for the Calder Cup Playoffs a priority and it largely paid off.

The injury-riddled Coyotes have had to rely on recalls from Tucson throughout the season, but their AHL affiliate remains in playoff contention in the powerful Pacific Division, four points ahead of fifth-place Colorado.

The Coyotes acquired forward Emil Petterson from the Nashville Predators for forwards Laurent Dauphin and Adam Helewka on Feb. 8 to boost Tucson. Between his time with Milwaukee and Tucson, the 25-year-old (6-2, 164) has 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 57 games.

On Monday, Arizona acquired forward Michael Chaput from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade for forward Jordan Weal and assigned the 26-year-old to Tucson. Chaput (6-2, 199) played 32 games for the Canadiens this season and had five assists. He had been with Laval, where he had 16 points (10 goals, six assists) in 24 games. He won a Calder Cup with Lake Erie (Columbus) in 2016 and had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 17 playoff games that season.


Iowa, Minnesota Wild

Minnesota did not acquire any outside help for Iowa, but the Wild did take care of their AHL affiliate for the postseason.

Minnesota made forwards Ryan Donato, Jordan Greenway, and Luke Kunin eligible to play for Iowa in the postseason. Iowa has missed the playoffs each of the past five seasons but is third in the Central Division and three points out of first place.

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