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NHL Trade Deadline affects AHL franchises

League-leading Marlies among those to gain, lose players

by Patrick Williams / Correspondent

The 2016 NHL Trade Deadline means upheaval for American Hockey League teams as well, as NHL roster shuffles can have big effects on AHL teams.

Several AHL teams have been impacted by the deadline, which passed Monday at 3 p.m. ET, with the AHL-leading Toronto Marlies the biggest beneficiary as they bid to become the first Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affiliate to win the Calder Cup since 1982.

Since Feb. 9 the Marlies have added rookie forward Tobias Lindberg and versatile center Colin Smith to supplement their lineup. At 88 points Toronto is on pace for 119 points; the 1992-93 Binghamton Rangers' 124 points is the AHL record for a season, but that team played an 80-game schedule. The AHL moved to a 76-game schedule in 2011.

The Maple Leafs added top defense prospect Connor Carrick from Hershey in a trade with the Washington Capitals. Carrick's arrival can allow the Maple Leafs to keep prospect Stuart Percy with the Marlies for the final six weeks of the regular season.

However, a trade with the San Jose Sharks did cost the Marlies forward Jeremy Morin, a January addition in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. Morin's tenure with the Marlies lasted 13 games.

Topping it off was the recall of five Marlies to the Maple Leafs on Monday, among them top prospect William Nylander, who has 18 goals and 27 points in 45 games. Going with Nylander to the NHL was another top forward prospect, Kasperi Kapanen, plus forwards Nikita Soshnikov (18 goals in 50 games) and Zach Hyman.

Another affiliate of a Canadian team lost its leading scorer when the Vancouver Canucks traded Hunter Shinkaruk to the Calgary Flames last week. Shinkaruk, who was with Utica, was assigned to Calgary's affiliate, the Stockton Heat.

The Heat are one of the best puck-possession teams in the AHL and lead the league with 35.6 shots on goal per game. With veteran scorer Derek Grant (23 goals in 30 games) out of the Stockton lineup, Shinkaruk and his 21 goals in 47 AHL games could boost a team trying to remain in the Pacific Division playoff race.

The Rockford IceHogs have been locked in a Central Division battle with the Milwaukee Admirals for much of the season. The Chicago Blackhawks stepped in to provide a boost for Rockford's playoff push in the competitive Central Division. Forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Jay Harrison arrived in the Andrew Ladd trade with the Winnipeg Jets.

Although the trade cost the IceHogs prospect Marko Dano, it did bring in a proven AHL scorer in Fraser. Manitoba is tied with the Iowa Wild with 43 points, the fewest in the AHL. Caught up in the problems with Manitoba as a shooter who lacked a proven set-up man, Fraser had five goals. However, he has been a 30-goal scorer twice with the Texas Stars.

Chicago also added veteran goaltender Drew MacIntyre from the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Dennis Robertson. MacIntyre has struggled with an inconsistent Charlotte Checkers team but he can provide support to No. 1 goaltender Michael Leighton. MacIntyre is a proven AHL playoff goaltender; his 42 playoff wins and 76 playoff games rank fifth in AHL history.

In Harrison, who has been held to 18 games because of a variety of injuries, if and when he is healthy Rockford will have an NHL veteran to solidify its defense and offset the loss of Robertson.

A New York Rangers trade with Washington will unite Chris Bourque, the leading scorer in the AHL with 61 points, and his younger brother, Ryan Bourque with Hershey. Going to the Hartford Wolf Pack is forward Chris Brown.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have stuck around the Atlantic Division race. But two points out of third place in the division, they lost 16-goal scorer Taylor Beck in a trade between the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche.

A rare all-AHL seven-player trade between the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators arrived too late for the Binghamton Senators, who have long been out of the North Division race.

But the trade could boost the Rochester Americans, who added proven AHL offensive talents Eric O'Dell and Cole Schneider. O'Dell's 18 goals led Binghamton and Schneider led them with 42 points. Rochester is 27th in the AHL in scoring at 2.56 goals per game and sits seven points out of a playoff spot in the North Division.

For players at the crossroads of their pro careers like Ryan Bourque and Schneider, who has spent the past five seasons with one AHL team, the moves offer them a chance at a fresh start.

With losses in 13 of their past 16 games, Charlotte will have Ontario Reign rookie Valentin Zykov. Carolina acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings, who selected him in the second round (No. 37) of the 2013 NHL Draft. Zykov has seven goals in 43 AHL games but could blossom with Checkers coach Mark Morris, one of the best teachers in the AHL.

The slumping Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins acquired two players from the Springfield Falcons in separate trades with the Arizona Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. Along with rookie Matthias Plachta, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton got center Dustin Jeffrey. The 28-year-old AHL veteran played the first three seasons of his pro career for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He is 10th in AHL scoring with 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 45 games for Springfield.

Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will renew their divisional rivalry with a home-and-home series this weekend. The Bears welcome the Penguins to Giant Center on Saturday, and the teams will play again Sunday afternoon. With losses in seven of the past eight games, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fell out of first place in the Atlantic Division this past Sunday. Hershey has won five of its past six games to take over first place in the division. The Bears' 74 points tie them for second-most in the AHL.

Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender Robbie Russo was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending this past Sunday. He had two goals and five assists in four games. The parent Detroit Red Wings signed him this past summer after he spent the past four seasons at Notre Dame.

Chris Bourque reclaimed the AHL scoring lead from Seth Griffith of the Providence Bruins with a four-point week. He has 61 points (24 goals, 37 points). … Albany Devils veteran forward Mike Sislo's eight-game goal streak ended this past week but he retains the AHL lead in goals with 26. … Ontario goaltender Peter Budaj's 1.60 goals-against average and 30 wins lead the league. His .934 save percentage, eight shutouts and 2,586 minutes also are first.

Providence rookie Frank Vatrano is second in the AHL with 25 goals in 25 games. He has 15 goals in 15 games since being assigned by the Boston Bruins in January. … Wilkes-Barre/Scranton allowed 29 first-period shots at Providence in a 3-2 loss Sunday. … The Marlies' 10 goals in a 10-5 home win against Rochester on Saturday were the most by a team in the AHL this season. … A 7-0-1-0 run has pushed Albany to a second-place tie in the league with 74 points. Their .685 point percentage is second-best in the league. … The San Diego Gulls' 7-2-1-0 record in their past 10 games has them in third place in the Pacific Division as they try to fend off challenges from the San Jose Barracuda and the Bakersfield Condors. … The Condors will have defensemen Darnell Nurse and Jordan Oesterle, goaltender Laurent Brossoit and forward Jujhar Khaira eligible for the Calder Cup playoffs. … The New Jersey Devils made defenseman Damon Severson eligible for the AHL postseason with Albany. … The Lake Erie Monsters, who have moved to within one point of first-place Rockford in the Central Division, will gain goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and left wing Kerby Rychel for the postseason. … Two AHL players made their NHL debut this past week, bringing the season total to 99 players.

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