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AHL Notebook: Western Conference affiliates with deep prospect pools

Schuldt highlights rookie class in Chicago; Kupari star of growing pipeline in Ontario

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Top selections from several different NHL Drafts populate the rosters of American Hockey League teams, but the talent runs much deeper than those blue-chip prospects.

Here is a look at five AHL affiliates of NHL Western Conference teams that have deep prospect pools:

 

Chicago (Vegas Golden Knights)

For an NHL team with three draft classes, the Golden Knights already have leaned heavily on their AHL team.

Jimmy Schuldt (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) signed with Vegas on April 3, 2019 after a standout NCAA career at St. Cloud State. In his senior season, the defenseman had 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) in 39 games and was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's player of the year. He was also a Hobey Baker Award finalist. The 24-year-old made the Vegas roster to start the season before being assigned to Chicago on Oct. 11.

Jonas Rondbjerg (6-2, 187), a 20-year-old defenseman from Vaxjo of the Swedish Hockey League, was chosen in the third round (No. 65) of the 2017 NHL Draft and had six points (two goals, four assists) in 45 regular-season SHL games last season.

Forward Lucas Alvenes (6-1, 173) might be another find after Vegas selected him in the fifth round (No. 127) of the 2017 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old has five points (two goals, three assists) in three AHL games. He had 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) in 42 games with Rogle of the SHL last season.

Another member of the 2017 class, forward Ben Jones (6-0, 187), has turned pro with Chicago. The Golden Knights chose him in the seventh round (No. 189) that year. The 20-year-old wrapped up his Ontario Hockey League career in 2018-19 with Niagara and had 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists) in 68 games.

 

Ontario (Los Angeles Kings)

The Kings' rebuilding plan starts with forward Rasmus Kupari (6-1, 183), the 20th pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. He spent last season in Finland with Karpat of Liiga, scoring 33 points (12 goals, 21 assists) in 43 games. The 19-year-old also won a gold medal with Finland at the IIHF World Junior Championship with five points (one goal, four assists) in seven games.

Defenseman Sean Durzi (6-0, 185) came to the Los Angeles organization in the trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Jake Muzzin on Jan. 28, 2019. Toronto drafted the 20-year-old in the second round (No. 52) of the 2018 NHL Draft. He went to the Memorial Cup with Guelph of the OHL and was named to the tournament all-star team. 

Another rookie, forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan (5-11, 188) played five games with the Kings last season and had one assist. Los Angeles chose the 20-year-old in the second round (No. 41) of the 2017 NHL raft. After his stint with the Kings, he had 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 32 games with Spokane of the Western Hockey League and added 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 15 postseason games.

 

San Jose (San Jose Sharks)

The Sharks have made a habit of finding hidden talent late in the NHL Draft or via free agency.

Rookie forward Alexander Chmelevski (6-0, 180) went to the Sharks in the sixth round (No. 185) of the 2017 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old broke loose with 75 points (35 goals, 40 assists) in 56 regular-season games for Ottawa of the OHL last season and had seven points (four goals, three assists) in seven games for the United States at the World Junior Championship.

The Sharks found forward Ivan Chekhovich (5-10, 185) in the seventh round (No. 212) of the 2017 NHL Draft. Like Chmelevski, he is also a 20-year-old rookie. Last season was his third with Baie-Comeau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League; he had 105 points (43 goals, 62 assists) in 66 games. That earned him an AHL postseason look with San Jose, where he had three points (two goals, one assist) in four Calder Cup playoff games.

 

Stockton (Calgary Flames)

Calgary won a battle for goalie Artyom Zagidulin (6-2, 180), who played last season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. The undrafted 24-year-old signed a one-year contract with the Flames on April 9. He was 12-7-3 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in 25 KHL games.

The Flames also have 21-year-old forward Eetu Tuulola (6-2, 224) with Stockton. He won the Finnish Liiga championship last season with HPK and had 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 60 games and added six points (three goals, three assists) in 18 playoff games. Calgary selected him in the sixth round (No. 156) of the 2016 NHL Draft.

 

Texas (Dallas Stars)

Forward Jason Robertson (6-3, 210) was chosen by Dallas in the second round (No. 39) of the 2017 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old had an OHL-leading 117 points (48 goals, 69 assists) in 62 games for Kingston and Niagara last season.

Undrafted forward Tye Felhaber (5-11, 180) finished second in the Canadian Hockey League with 109 points (59 goals, 50 assists) in 68 games as an overage player for Ottawa of the OHL. He added 28 points (17 goals, 11 assists) in 18 playoff games. Dallas signed the 21-year-old on March 1.

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