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AHL Notebook: Top forward prospects in Western Conference

Anas, Comtois, Mayhew, Trenin among those most ready for NHL

by Patrick Williams / Independent Correspondent

The American Hockey League canceled the remainder of its regular season and the Calder Cup Playoffs on Monday due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

However, there is still plenty of young talent to evaluate. As part of a series examining some of the top AHL prospects, looks at the top eight forwards from the Western Conference this season, ranked in order of NHL readiness.


[RELATED: Top forward prospects in East | Top D-man prospects | Top goalie prospects]


1. Sam Anas, Iowa (Minnesota Wild)

Signed by Minnesota as an undrafted free agent April 15, 2016, the 26-year-old led the AHL with career highs in points (70) and assists (50) in 63 games this season.

Anas (5-foot-8, 157 pounds) led the league with 42 power-play points (including an AHL-high 35 assists on the power play) and helped Iowa rank fifth with the man advantage (21.9 percent). Anas scored 16 more power-play points than teammate Brennan Merell, who was second in the league with 26.


2. Max Comtois, San Diego (Anaheim Ducks)

The 21-year-old has already made an impact after he was selected in the second round (No. 50) of the 2017 NHL Draft by the Ducks. 
In 2018-19, Comtois (6-2, 215) captained Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship, played in 10 games with Anaheim and had a productive second half with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before a deep run with San Diego in the Calder Cup Playoffs (five goals, four assists in 12 games).

He has scored 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 29 games with the Ducks this season and had 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 31 games with San Diego.

Video: ANA@MIN: Comtois wins shootout for Ducks


3. Brayden Burke, Tucson (Arizona Coyotes)

Signed by the Coyotes as an undrafted free agent March 1, 2018, the 23-year-old had his best season in the AHL in 2019-20.

Burke (5-10, 165) ranked eighth in the league with 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) in 51 games for Tucson, which was a strong Western Conference contender all season. He tied for second in the league with 13 power-play goals and had a shooting percentage of 19.4.


4. Lucas Elvenes, Chicago (Vegas Golden Knights)

The 20-year-old made the transition from the Swedish Hockey League to the AHL a smooth one leading Western Conference rookies in points with 48 (12 goals, 36 assists) in 59 games.

Selected by the Golden Knights in the fifth round (No. 127) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Elvenes (6-1, 173) had 22 power-play points to help Chicago rank 10th with the man advantage (19.5 percent).


5. Gerald Mayhew, Iowa (Minnesota Wild)

The 27-year-old lead the league with 39 goals in 49 games and was trying to become the first 50-goal scorer in the AHL since Alexandre Giroux of Hershey (Washington Capitals) did so in 2009-10.

An undrafted free agent signed by Minnesota on May 10, 2019, Mayhew (5-9, 166) tied for third in AHL scoring with 61 points and had 179 shots on goal (tied for sixth) and a 21.8 shooting percentage. He has two goals in 13 NHL games this season.


6. Matthew Phillips, Stockton (Calgary Flames)

A fractured kneecap didn't deter Phillips, who had 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 38 AHL games this season and helped Stockton compete for a playoff spot before the season was canceled.

Selected by the Flames in the sixth round (No. 166) of the 2016 NHL Draft, the 22-year-old has overcome questions about his size (5-7, 140) with his play and was on pace to surpass his AHL high in points (38) set last season.


7. Joel L'Esperance, Texas (Dallas Stars)

Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Stars on July 2, 2018, the 24-year-old had 40 points (25 goals, 15 assists) in 58 games with Texas and played in the AHL All-Star Classic for the second straight season.

L'Esperance (6-2, 215) has one goal in three games with Dallas this season and three goals in 21 NHL games.


8. Yakov Trenin, Milwaukee (Nashville Predators)

The 23-year-old broke through in his third AHL season with 35 points (20 goals, 14 assists) in 32 games to help Milwaukee to the best record in the league when the season was paused.

Selected by the Predators in the second round (No. 55) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Trenin (6-2, 201) led the AHL in shooting percentage (28.2) among players with at least five goals this season and scored six points (two goals, four assists) in 21 games with Nashville.

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