The lockout takes on a different complexion tonight as the AHL kicks off their 77th season – all 30 teams brimming with current and future NHL talent.
Here are some of the more intriguing newcomers sorted by NHL affiliate (click on the player’s name to access their full profile):
Hampus Lindholm (Norfolk Admirals, Ana) – Shot to prominence helping Rogle earn promotion to Sweden’s Elitserien – after making his A-team debut in December .. asssumed increasing duties in the playoffs (6-0-0-0) – and relegation phase (10-1-4-5, plus-5) that knocked Djurgardens to the Allsvenskan .. the Helsingborg native then joined the U-18 World Juniors, winning silver and being named a top-three performer by coaches (6-0-4-4) ..
Mark Pysyk (Rochester Americans, Buf) – Oil Kings captain was a subtle steady force in his fourth WHL season – and a prime factor behind Edmonton’s first-ever league championship .. handled the toughest assignments and was the backbone of a young blueline that carried three 17-year-olds .. fired a vital game-winner in Game 5 of the WHL finals (20-3-8-11, plus-9), while contributing a team-high three assists (tied) at the Memorial Cup ..
Sven Bartschi (Abbotsford Heat, Cgy) – Swiss import teamed up with Ty Rattie to terrorize the WHL – finishing with a career-best 94 points in 47 games – and the league’s highest points-per-game average .. led all playoff scorers with 34 points (22-14-20-34, plus-11) featuring a six-game goal streak (6-8-2-10) .. a standout at Calgary’s training camp – and again during a five-game NHL debut in March, scoring in three consecutive games ..
Jeremy Welsh (Charlotte Checkers, Car) – Drew heavy NHL interest with a school-record 27 goals as a junior leading underling Union College to a first-ever Frozen Four appearance .. undrafted Bayfield, Ontario native was named a second-team All-American – and ‘Most Outstanding Player’ at the NCAA regionals .. made a respectable NHL debut in the season finale, days after losing in the Frozen Four semi-finals ..
Joey Hishon (Lake Erie Monsters, Col) – Sat out the `11-12 season recovering from a concussion related to a wicked hit in the opening game of the 2011 Memorial Cup .. previously rebounded from an injury-plagued `09-10 campaign to lead Owen Sound to an OHL title, finishing second in playoff scoring (22-5-19-24) .. finally cleared for takeoff in May, tweeting his successful recovery via ‘hyperbaric oxygen therapy’ ..
Jamie Oleksiak (Texas Stars, Dal) – Overcame a tentative OHL start to make sizeable gains – especially after moving to Niagara in a January trade .. propelled the IceDogs to a 25-4 finish (28-6-15-21, plus-27) .. played more conservatively in the playoffs (20-0-4-4) .. won World Junior bronze with Team Canada .. naturally strong and thick – already an imposing 245 pounds and counting ..
Justin Schultz (Oklahoma City Barons, Edm) – Built on a sophomore breakout with 16 goals as a junior to become the first defenseman in Wisconsin school history to lead the team in goals .. led all NCAA blueliners in scoring for a second straight year, while also repeating as first-team All-American and WCHA ‘Defensive Player of the Year‘ .. spurned Anaheim to become a free agent in July ..
Tyler Toffoli (Manchester Monarchs, LA) – Ottawa captain led the OHL in goals for a second straight time – finishing runnerup in league scoring with 100 points – after sharing the crown in `10-11 .. paced the 67′s in playoff scoring (18-11-7-18) – though silenced by Niagara in the conference finals (5-1-1-2, minus-6) .. an OHL First-Team All-Star for a second time .. enters the pro ranks riding back-to-back 50-goal seasons ..
Mikael Granlund (Houston Aeros, Min) – Blitzed the SM-Liiga (10-10-4-14) leading up to the World Juniors, where he tied for second in tournament scoring and was a media all-star (7-2-9-11) .. not as vibrant thereafter as a lingering flu-like illness cost him the final eight regular-season games and contributed to a mediocre playoff and World Championship .. posted the league’s second-best points-per-game average (1.13) ..
Nathan Beaulieu (Hamilton Bulldogs, Mtl) – Tied for fifth in scoring among QMJHL defensemen with a career-best 52 points – winning a third straight regular-season title – and nearly a second straight Memorial Cup crown (4-0-4-4) .. did hit some rough moments – highlighted by coverage breakdowns in the semi-final loss to Shawinigan in which he posted a minus-4 rating .. won a World Junior bronze medal with Team Canada (6-0-1-1) ..
Brock Nelson (Bridgeport Sound Tigers, NYI) – Enjoyed a sensational sophomore emergence to rank third in the nation with 28 goals, including a league-best 20 in WCHA conference play (28-20-13-33) .. the nephew of former NHLer Dave Christian .. tall, poised forward with soft hands and a large wingspan .. led North Dakota with a plus-18 rating ..
J.T. Miller (Connecticut Whale, NYR) – Left North Dakota holding the bag last summer after suddenly reneging on a commitment and joining a strong Plymouth club .. impressed early (31-13-26-39) – prior to representing Team USA at the World Juniors (6-2-2-4) – but tapered off in the second half – and in a disappointment playoff (13-2-8-10) ..
Jakob Silfverberg (Binghamton Senators, Ott) – Reached historic heights in his third full Elitserien season – capturing MVP in both the regular season and playoffs .. caught fire over the second half, ending the regular season on a 15-game points streak (15-11-13-24) .. fired a record 13 playoff goals, breaking Daniel Alfredsson’s mark, including the game-winner that secured his hometown Brynas club their first title in 13 years (17-13-7-20, plus-17) ..
Brandon Gormley (Portland Pirates, Phx) – Acquired in January for a player and six draft picks – and proved to be worth every penny .. joined Shawinigan after winning World Junior bronze with Team Canada – earning ‘Top Defenseman’ honours (6-3-3-6) .. missed the final 16 games to a foot injury (Feb) – but returned for the playoffs (7-5-2-7) – and then led the Cataractes to a first-ever Memorial Cup title ..
Joe Morrow (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Pit) – Soared to a breakout 17 goals and finishing second in scoring among WHL blueliners with a career-high 64 points .. tied for the playoff scoring lead among defensemen – helping Portland reach the finals (22-4-13-17) .. named to the WHL First All-Star Team .. drew a two-game February suspension for a hitting-from-behind major – and also took a number of aggression penalties in the playoffs ..
Jaden Schwartz (Peoria Rivermen, StL) – Turned pro at the conclusion of his sophomore year and fit right into the Blues’ lineup (7-2-1-3) – firing a game-winning goal in his first-ever NHL game .. led Colorado College in scoring for a second consecutive season – missing six games over Christmas captaining Canada to World Junior bronze (6-2-3-5) – adding to a silver medal from 2011 ..
Vladislav Namestnikov (Syracuse Crunch, TB) – Perked up in time to make vital contributions in London’s trek to an OHL crown and Memorial Cup final .. fired four playoff goals – all game-winners (19-4-14-18, +10) – and scored twice in Shawinigan (4-2-0-2) including a masterful spinning tip .. cooled in the second half, hampered by a hip-pelvis injury that cost him a spot with Russia’s World Juniors .. nephew of former NHLer Slava Kozlov ..