AHL Success Stories

Continuing my updates of undrafted success stories (post the 04/05 lockout), here are the players who made their way from being AHL professionals into the NHL.  The way I’ve separated out minor league pros from other undrafted players is the time they spent in the minors; logging either 200+ minor league games or at least spending three full seasons before seeing action at the NHL level (this is by necessity arbitrary, but seems like a reasonable way of making the macro decision on players en route to the highest level).

2005 (6)
Matt Carkner
(D) 184 NHL games
Spent an eternity in the AHL (246 games) before getting his shot; now a regular in the midst of a three-year deal with the Islanders
Keith Aucoin (C/RW) 143 NHL games
Played 310 minor league games (including the UHL and ECHL) before getting his shot with Carolina; he signed a one year, one-way deal with St. Louis
Jeff Hoggan
(W) 107 NHL games
Played 189 games (three seasons) in the AHL before getting his shot; he’s now retired
Mike Glumac (RW) 40 NHL
NCAA grad played 196 minor league games (ECHL included) over three seasons before seeing spot duty with St. Louis; after three years in Germany he’s playing in the KHL
Mark Cullen (C/LW) 38 NHL games
College grad played 189 AHL games through three seasons before getting the call; entering his second season in Austria
Rob Collins (C/RW) 8 NHL games
Played 231 AHL games before getting his shot with the Islanders; spent seven years in Germany before joining Brampton in the CHL
2006 (1)
Jesse Schultz (RW) 2 NHL games
Undrafted WHLer played 204 games in the minors before Vancouver gave him a shot; he’s begun his fourth season in the CHL
2008 (1)
Jared Ross (C/LW) 13 NHL games
208 games in the minors (including the UHL and ECHL) before getting a cup of coffee with Philadelphia; in his third season in Germany
2009 (2)
Maxim Noreau (D) 6 NHL games
QMJHLer played 205 games in the minors before getting the call; in his third season in Switzerland
Charles Linglet (LW) 5 NHL games
Undrafted QMJHLer played 331 AHL games before getting his cup of coffee with Edmonton.  He’s entering his fourth season in the KHL
2010 (2)
Andrew Desjardins (C/LW) 135 NHL games
Played 223 games in the minors before establishing himself with San Jose; signed a two-year, one-way deal with the Sharks
Stephen Gionta (C/W) 13 NHL games
Played 258 AHL games before seeing action; in the second year of a deal with Jersey which is two-way this season
2011 (4)
Pierre-Cedric Labrie (LW) 33 NHL games
QMJHLer played 255 minor league games before Tampa called him up; on a one-year, one-way deal with the Lightning
Mike Angelidis (C/LW) 7 NHL games
Played 339 games in the minors before getting his cup of coffee with Tampa; on a one-year, two-way with the Lightning
Bracken Kearns (C) 5 NHL games
CIS grad played over 400 minor league games before getting a call-up from Florida; he’s in the last year of a two-way deal with San Jose
Greg Rallo (C) 1 NHL game
Played over 300 AHL games before getting his one call-up with Florida; he remains with the Panthers organisation on a two-way deal
2012 (3)
Mike Kostka (D) 35 NHL games
College grad played 307 AHL games before seeing action with Toronto; on a two-way contract with Chicago
Steve Pinizzotto (RW) 12 NHL games
NCAA grad played over 260 games in the minors before the Canucks gave him a shot; now on a two-way deal with Florida
Matt Anderson (RW/C) 2 games
Played 312 minor league games before getting a call-up from Jersey; now in the KHL

That’s only 19 players over eight years (nearly a third of whom appeared in the aftermath of the lockout), which is the smallest group of undrafted players to reach the NHL outside the CIS.  Among these players only four are regular NHLers and all of them are of the depth, support variety.  While the road through the AHL to the NHL exists there are no diamonds in the rough above, just hard-working support players who eek out their existence on the margins of the league.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Senators News: September 16th

-As expected, Jared Cowen re-signed with Sens, inking a four-year deal with a 3.1 cap hit.  It’s a reasonable deal for both sides (I agree with Travis Yost that the money is largely based on projection rather than his body of work) and suits the Sens internal budget as his numbers essentially replace Chris Phillips’ once the Big Rig is gone.

-I missed yesterday’s pre-season game against Winnipeg (a 3-1 win for Ottawa; here are The Raaymaker‘s thoughts along with a few comments from Yost), but caught some of the post-game on The Team 1200 and was struck by a line Paul MacLean gave that Yost wound up Tweeting afterwards:

Smith and Condra very good .. Kassian didn’t hurt us at all

That’s the bar for Kassian–not that he helped the team, not that he was an asset, simply that he didn’t hurt the team.  That, folks, is the essence of a modern enforcer in today’s NHL.

Don Brennan adds to the off-season story of Andre Petersson (previous material is here) via Bryan Murray:

He [Petersson] indicated to me that watching the call-ups that came up and got a chance to play important roles here (last year) was a big message to him. “(He said) ‘I just want a chance to do that, too.” I said to him, injuries and your performance have really not allowed us to benefit from drafting you. He told me that he was going to do everything in his power to get ready for this year, come to camp and show us that he was a player. And he’s done that, for the most part. The other question I had was, what happens if you don’t make the team. Are you going to sulk? Are you going to go down there and complain about not getting a chance? He said ‘absolutely not.’ Whatever decision is made at the time, he will live with. but he wants to prove to us that he’s legitimate, and going to be an NHL player down the road. And he looks like an NHL player, there’s no doubt about it.

Petersson himself said:

I just want to get off to a good start this season, show my best to the management. I don’t know where I’m at right now. I feel on the ice I’m way better than I was last year, in the beginning. Now I know I can take a hit, and I can skate 100%. I’ll take it from there. I feel this is a new start for me, this year. I feel like I know what I’ve got to do, to be as skilled as I can be.

What’s interesting to me about all this (beyond the obvious) is how quickly management can sour on a player.  He was second on the team in scoring in 11-12 as a rookie and received an NHL call-up that season, but clearly there were some underlying issues that belied the numbers which made it easy for Murray to dismiss him after his injury-shortened year.  I think Petersson‘s main issues going forward are his defensive work and producing consistently–he’ll never be a fourth-line player so has to produce enough to play in the top-nine.

THN has slowly and painfully previewing the entire league and finally reached Ottawa, predicting them to finish third in their division.  Here’s their reasoning:

Despite serious injuries to cornerstone players Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, the Senators surprised much of the hockey world last season with a stellar performance. All three of those contributors have pronounced themselves healthy for this year – and they will get to play alongside former Ducks winger Bobby Ryan, Ottawa’s big summertime addition, as well as improving youngsters Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad. The Sens also signed former Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur to improve their depth on the wing, especially in the wake of Daniel Alfredsson’s shocking departure for Detroit. But perhaps the biggest reason to like Ottawa’s chances (other than their coach and last season’s Jack Adams winner Paul MacLean) is their quality of goaltending. With veteran Craig Anderson and youngster Robin Lehner patrolling their pipes, the Sens arguably have the best one-two punch in the league and could use one of them in a mid-season trade to improve their fortunes in another area.

The loss of former captain Alfredsson could lead to a leadership and/or emotional void in the Sens’ dressing room, but the bigger concern for Ottawa lies in the health of the stars who missed large amounts of time last season. Of the three, Spezza’s health is most worrisome; he’s missed at least 20 games in three of the past four seasons, is now 30 years old and coming off surgeries to his knee and back. Compounding that issue is the internal salary cap ceiling Sens owner Eugene Melnyk has placed on his franchise. If there’s ever a need for an injury replacement, GM Bryan Murray will be forced to look within the organization. And after the Ryan trade that sent Jacob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen to Anaheim, there’s less depth for him to lean on.

Last year, Ottawa excelled despite the fact all of its key players were hit with the injury bug. Because of this, it’s hard to say if the Sens would still have been a playoff team after 82 games. Surely they couldn’t deal as well with that much bad luck again – and in a different format that provides stiff intra-division competition no less. The big guys have to stay healthy, namely new captain Spezza. If they do, Ottawa could prove itself a force.

There’s not much analysis here (it’s mostly a summary of what’s happened), but THN echoes a common them that the Sens should benefit from coaching (something I think has limited value in terms of wins and losses) and goaltending.  I don’t think Anderson‘s goaltending numbers from last season are sustainable, but the position is a strength.  I put no stock at all in the Sens suffering from an “emotional void” in the absence of Alfredsson, but injuries are a major concern and anyone who thinks that either Spezza or Michalek are going to play full seasons are delusional (each has only managed one in their last four).  I disagree that Ottawa has shed too much depth in acquiring Ryan, but they don’t have a player of Silfverberg‘s caliber to call-up this season.

ESPN ranks goaltenders (via unnamed “experts” grading them from 1 to 10) and Craig Anderson is 7th, behind Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Tuukka Rask, Sergei Bobrovsky (!), Pekka Rinne, and Jimmy Howard.

-Ottawa named Jason Spezza as their new captain.  The captaincy is not something I get worked up about, but it provided a ton of fodder around the blogosphere.

Travis writes a long and engaging look at Marc Methot‘s Corsi numbers in the context of both a conversation with the player and the larger context of the numbers themselves (compared to a team’s overall numbers, his partners, and his matchups).

-Here’s my updated look at CHL and CIS NHL success stories.

JP Nikota does a great job of illustrating how simple stats (time of possession) correlate to Corsi and Fenwick (he’s doing it in a Leafs context, but it’s well worth reading).  He concludes:

it looks as though Fenwick and Corsi numbers mirror TOA so closely that it’s no longer really worth tracking

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)