NHL Prospects

AHL Prospect Analysis (Pacific Division)

Jon Litterine   |  @JonLitterine  |  2/4/2021  |  

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NASHVILLE (The Draft Analyst) — The American Hockey League — the NHL’s premier development circuit — is beginning its season on Feb. 5 after an 11-month layoff due to the global pandemic. Twenty eight of the league’s 31 teams will participate, with three franchises — Springfield, Charlotte, and Milwaukee — opting to sit the season out due to health concerns.

Last season, the AHL was forced to shutdown on March 11 and was therefore no longer an option for NHL teams to stash their notable neophytes. The result was a mass exodus of players to European leagues, which resumed play last August.  Now that the AHL season is a go, training camps have begun in preparation for this week’s opener, meaning dozens of notable NHL prospects can converge on their team’s respective camp locations to allow the parent club visibility and oversight on their development.

Below is a season review and update on most of those aforementioned prospects, who have either not skated in an official hockey game at any level for 11 months, played in Europe, or are currently on an NHL roster. Each of the league’s four divisions from last season’s format will be covered.

Realignment for 2020-21

Atlantic North Canadian Central Pacific
Bridgeport (NYI) Binghamton (NJD) Belleville (OTT) Chicago (CAR/NAS) Bakersfield (EDM)
Hartford (NYR) Lehigh Valley (PHI) Laval (MTL) Cleveland (CBJ) Colorado (COL)
Providence (BOS) WB/Scranton (PIT) Manitoba (WIN) Grand Rapids (DET) Henderson (VGK)
Utica (VAN/STL) Stockton (CGY) Iowa (MIN) Ontario (LAK)
Rochester (BUF) Toronto (TOR) Rockford (CHI) Tucson (ARI)
Syracuse (TB/FLA) Texas (DAL) San Jose (SJS)
Hershey (WAS) San Diego (ANA)

Bakersfield (EDM)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Tyler Benson (LW, 6’0, 192 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {32nd overall} 2016): A former first-overall selection of the Vancouver Giants in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Benson is an above-average offensive talent who was held back by injuries early in his career. He appears to have shaken that bug and has gone on to post an impressive 105 points in his first 120 AHL games. He made a brief seven-game cameo for the Oilers a season ago, picking up an assist and averaging 10:23 of ice time on a squad that contended for the division title. Benson played with the GCK Lions in Switzerland during this offseason (13 points in 15 games) but did not make the taxi squad out of training camp. He looks like he’s ready for a full-time role in the NHL as a productive two-way, middle-six winger, but the reality is that he’s likely destined for his third full AHL season.

Evan Bouchard (D, 6’2, 198 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {10th overall} 2018): Bouchard (pictured) has yet to live up to expectations and some consider his development to be deliberate since being selected 10th overall in 2018. The Oilers have had issues on their blue line for several years since yet Bouchard came into 2020-21 with just seven NHL games  — all of which came in the 2018-19 season. He is an offensive defenseman, a position Edmonton addressed last offseason when they signed Tyson Barrie to a one-year deal. Bouchard’s long-term ceiling hasn’t changed much but I do wonder if the Oilers as an organization are down on him for one reason or another. He made the taxi squad out of training camp and later made his season debut on Feb. 2 against Ottawa, picking up an assist in nearly 17 minutes of ice time.

Ryan McLeod (C, 6’3, 200 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {40th overall} 2018): McLeod managed just five goals in 56 games in his first full AHL campaign, but I never expected him to generate all that much offense as a pro. McLeod is a terrific skater and should be able to carve out a career in a depth/checking role where he can lean on his speed to create havoc on the forecheck. He too went to Switzerland during the break in play, picking up four goals and seven assists in 15 games for Zug. Bakersfield looks like its icing an older forward group  so McLeod will be one of its handful of high-round draft picks with a legitimate shot at an NHL job.

Dmitri Samorukov (D, 6’3, 197 pounds, acquired: 3rd Rd {84th overall} 2017): Samorukov is a Russian import who became increasingly more offensive-minded as his OHL career progressed, including a staggering 10 goals and 28 points in 24 playoff games for Guelph in 2018-19. His two goals and 10 points in 42 AHL games a season ago seems underwhelming at first glance but they’re perfectly respectable numbers for a kid who played the entire year at age 20. It may come in a third-pairing role, but I continue to believe there is an outside shot Samorukov could develop into an NHL regular for Edmonton. He plays physical and has a booming shot, and for now Samorukov is back in Russia with CSKA, where he’s registered two goals and eight points in 17:38 a game for the KHL’s top defensive team.


Prospect to Watch

G Olivier Rodrigue

A second-round pick (62nd overall) in the 2018 draft, Rodrigue is one of the QMJHL’s winningest goalies in recent memory, compiling a sparkling 97-32-3 mark over his last three seasons. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, Rodrigue made his professional debut this offseason with the Graz99ers in the Austrian League, appearing in 23 games and seeing close to 32 shots a game with a leaky defense before him. He was summoned from Europe when Mike Smith was placed on long-term injured reserve, and it appears that Rodrigue and 2016 fifth-rounder Dylan Wells will share the Condors’ netminding duties this season.

Colorado (COL)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Shane Bowers (C, 6’2, 180 pounds, acquired: Trade with Ottawa): Originally a first-round pick (27th overall) of Ottawa back in 2017, Bowers (pictured) was acquired in the three-team Matt Duchene deal. I almost always advocate for a player turning pro instead of going back to school, but I felt Bowers could have used a third year at Boston University. Instead, he signed with Colorado and posted a respectable 27 points in 48 games in his first full AHL campaign. His potential as a point producer at the NHL level seems limited, but Bowers does possess decent hands, two-way play, and ideal size for a center. I’d be shocked if he developed into anything more than a third liner with the Avalanche, but he’s performed reasonably well thus far given his age. Bowers had a strong camp but has yet to appear in an NHL game. He’s bounced around from the taxi squad to the Avs and then back to the minors without ever seeing an NHL shift. You would think Tyson Jost’s struggles and recent bout with COVID would open the door for a similar center like Bowers to prove himself, but head coach Jared Bednar has opted to head in a different direction.

Martin Kaut (RW, 6’2, 180 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {16th overall} 2018): Kaut is a hard-working player with some playmaking abilities but the fact that he was a first-round pick doesn’t always mean there is a ton of upside here. He did show well in a nine-game trial with the Avalanche at the end of last season, posting two goals and an assist in just over 10 minutes a match. In his two seasons with the Eagles, Kaut increased his point production from 0.41 points per game in his first season to 0.53 in 2019-20, thus increasing the likelihood he’d grab a regular shift in the NHL. A native of the Czech Republic, Kaut split his offseason between Pardubice (1 goal in 4 games) and MODO in the Swedish Allsvenskan (5 points in 8 games) before joining the Avs for camp. He’s only appeared in one NHL game this season and like Bowers should be considered a prospect who likely shuffles between the Avs and Eagles throughout the campaign.

Conor Timmins (D, 6’2, 185 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {32nd overall} 2017): Timmins was one of the better prospect defensemen in the AHL last year thanks to 27 points in 40 games and reliable play in his own end. There’s little doubt he will develop into an NHL regular, with the lone concern at this point being the concussion issue that caused him to miss the entirety of the 2018-19 campaign. Timmins seems likely to spend the better part of this season as a defensive defenseman on a young Avs blue line. He’s already appeared in eight games and recently played a career-high 17:56 in a win over Minnesota on Jan. 30.


Prospect to Watch

C Jean-Luc Foudy

The COVID-related lifting of the age restriction levied on Canadian Hockey League prospects that normally prevents teenagers from playing in the AHL allowed the Eagles to invite this speedy two-way playmaker for the upcoming season. Foudy, whose brother Liam is a regular for the Columbus Blue Jackets, has the same impressive speed and agility but is more of a pass-first type with sharper vision. Selected in the third round of the 2020 draft following solid seasons with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, Foudy recently played in seven games (1 goal) for Mörrums GoIS IK in Sweden’s third-tier HockeyEttan before returning to North America.

Ontario (LAK)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Jaret Anderson-Dolan (C, 5’11, 195 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {41st overall} 2017): Anderson-Dolan is a coach’s dream, a leadership type who can play both center and wing and is responsible in all three zones. It may not result in gaudy numbers, but his style of play should be a welcomed fit for a Kings team with countless high-level skill prospects on the way. Anderson-Dolan already had brief NHL call-ups in each of the last two seasons (1 assist in 9 combined games) and last season led an improved Ontario squad with 20 assists in 53 games. He made the Kings’ taxi squad out of camp and was promoted to the active roster, scoring his first NHL goal in a Feb. 7 loss to Vegas. If he ever makes it back to the farm, consider Anderson-Dolan a strong candidate to be one of Ontario’s top scorers yet one who also earns a longer look with the Kings than in his previous two seasons.

Kale Clague (D, 6’0, 180 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {51st overall} 2016): Clague was a reliable point producer in his junior days with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings and that production carried over to his first two AHL seasons as he has posted 54 points in 101 games. Clague’s play away from the puck remains a work in progress but he never figures to be the type of player to log tough defensive minutes. He’s appeared in 11 NHL games between the last two seasons, but his contributions to the Kings’ blue line are far more noticeable in 2021 — Clague averages nearly 18 minutes a game through his first nine matches.

Mikey Anderson (D, 6’0, 197 pounds, acquired: 4th Rd {103rd overall} 2018): A hard-hitting Minnesotan who was one of Ontario’s most dependable defensive defensemen a season ago, Anderson did more than enough to play his way onto the Kings’ 2020-21 roster. Although he has a thick frame and can play physical, Anderson can skate fairly well and be a calming presence on the blue line. He’s played at least 20 minutes in eight of his 11 games through Feb. 7, so there’s basically no chance he’ll return to the AHL. The Kings hit a home run with this mid-round pick who won’t turn 22 until late May.

Carl Grundstrom (LW, 6’0, 201 pounds, acquired: Trade with Toronto): Grundstrom and defenseman Sean Durzi both arrived from Toronto in the Jake Muzzin deal from the 2019 trade deadline. Grundstrom plays a simple, direct game and is ready for a greater role, as proven by his 70 points in 97 AHL games, plus another 12 in 35 NHL contests. His ceiling is low, but his floor is extremely high. Grundstrom had a solid offseason playing with Bjorkloven in Sweden’s Allsvenskan, posting five goals and eight assists in 18 games. I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent the entirety of this coming season in Los Angeles, where he already has two goals in his first nine games. Expect Grundstrom to be a top-line option if he ever heads back to Ontario.

Rasmus Kupari (C, 6’1, 185 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {20th overall} 2018): Kupari has been one of my favorite prospects the last couple years but there’s no denying his stock had fallen in recent years. Some of that is his own doing and some is due to the fact he suffered a torn ACL in Finland’s opening game at the 2020 World Junior Championship. Kupari, however, is only 20 years old and his recent eye-opening performance in Kings’ training camp makes it seems like he’s a lot closer to the NHL than one may have thought earlier last year. Much like Anderson-Dolan, however, Kupari is caught behind a logjam at center that now includes 2019 first-rounder Alex Turcotte and last year’s No. 2 overall pick Quinton Byfield. He’s a playmaking center with a tricky shot who has top-six upside but the key to this coming season is simply proving he’s back to full health.

Tobias Bjornfot (D, 6’0, 202 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {22nd overall} 2019): Bjornfot had a strong enough training camp last season to not only make the club but also appear in three games before heading back to Ontario and producing six goals and 13 assists in 44 games. He went back to Sweden this offseason to play for Djugardens (3 points in 15 games) and was one of the top performers for Sweden’s under-20 squad at the world juniors. He returned to North America thereafter and made the taxi squad, and the aforementioned rash of injuries to the Kings’ blue line means he’s going to see NHL action one way or another. He’s got good size and strength, and Bjornfot’s mobility and crisp first pass are key facets to playing relatively mistake-free hockey.

Sean Durzi (D, 6’0, 185 pounds, acquired: Trade with Toronto): Essentially everything I said about Clague applies to Durzi, as well, minus the NHL experience portion. Although Durzi was drafted as an overager (52nd overall in 2018), it could have been argued a season or two ago that he had the higher ceiling than Clague since he is a big-time playmaker and is only 23. The graduations of Clague and Anderson didn’t bode well for Durzi’s shot at an NHL job, however, but recent long-term injuries to Matt Roy and Sean Walker may force the Kings to give him a look or two this season.


Prospects to Watch

C Alex Turcotte

An impressive under-20 world junior tournament after a brief stint at the University of Wisconsin primed this 2019 fifth-overall pick for his first taste of professional hockey. Although Turcotte (pictured) hasn’t played in league action in nearly a year since he left college, the Kings have high hopes for him to be an impact player with the Reign. It won’t be easy, however, as the Kings’ prospect depth at center is the best in the entire league. Still, his playmaking and vision are elite, plus he plays the tough grind-it-out style Los Angeles demands from all its forwards.

C Quinton Byfield

The second pick in the 2020 draft, Byfield is a mammoth 6-foot-5, two-way center who has drawn stylistic comparisons to Evegny Malkin. He hasn’t played much since his OHL season with Sudbury was shut down last March outside of his seven points in seven games for Canada at the last world juniors, but the Kings expect him to be in the AHL most of this season. One must consider that Byfield didn’t turn 18 until last August, meaning he’ll be one of the youngest forwards to play in the league in quite some time.

C Tyler Madden

As if the Kings needed more premier center prospects, they were able to snag this speedy two-way dynamo from Vancouver in last year’s Tyler Toffoli trade with Vancouver. Madden posted a pair of standout seasons with the Northeastern Huskies of Hockey East but is versatile enough to play the wing if necessary. Selected by the Canucks in the third round in the 2018 draft, Tyler is the son of John Madden, a three-time Stanley Cup winner who was one of the NHL’s top defensive forwards for over a decade.

San Diego (ANA)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Max Comtois (LW, 6’2, 215 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {50th overall} 2017): Comtois is the most NHL-ready prospect in the Anaheim system, having performed well a season ago with both the Ducks (11 points in 29 games) and in San Diego (24 points in 31 games). Comtois is a big body with an underrated offensive skill set. I had him pegged as more of a bottom-six type in his draft year, but his skating has improved, and his hockey sense is strong. Comtois has appeared in all 13 of Anaheim’s games through Sunday (5 goals, 1 assist) with an average of 14:09 per match. It’s safe to say Comtois is done with the AHL.

Jack Kopacka (LW, 6’3, 192 pounds, acquired: 4th Rd {93rd overall} 2016): Kopacka is no longer part of the organization as he was recently traded to San Jose for older minor-league defenseman Trevor Carrick. Kopacka once stood out as a potential late bloomer due to the fact he played a depth role on some loaded Sault Ste. Marie teams back in his OHL days, but it just hasn’t clicked for him at the professional level. He split last season between San Diego (15 points in 37 games) and Tulsa in the ECHL.

Isac Lundestrom (C, 6’0, 187 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {23rd overall} 2018): Lundestrom’s detractors heading into the draft pointed out a potential lack of long-term upside. I thought he could eventually fill a second-line role for Anaheim, but it appears I gave him too much credit. Lundestrom is still just 21 years old but he has shown nothing in his two seasons in North America to make me believe he’s anything other than a supporting piece. He has 1 goal and six assists in 36 career NHL games, and although he’s once again up with the parent club (1 goal in 6 games), the reality is that Lundestrom has never produced impressive numbers at any level since coming to North America. In fact, his 29 points in 69 career AHL games ranks him among the worst point-producing forwards from the AHL’s 21-and-under crowd. Still, he is a toolsy two-way center who is coachable, so there’s no reason to write him off just yet. A dominant wire-to-wire AHL season would be a welcomed change.

Josh Mahura (D, 6’0, 186 pounds, acquired: 3rd Rd {85th overall} 2016): I truly believe Mahura can run an effective NHL power-play, but I have doubts about his ability to handle defensive minutes at even-strength. The fact Anaheim felt the need to go out and sign soon-to-be 32-year-old Kevin Shattenkirk to a three-year deal when they already have Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm on their roster tells me a lot about what the Anaheim brass thinks of Mahura’s chances. In his second season with San Diego, Mahura posted a respectable 21 points (4 goals, 17 assists) in 44 games and was an NHL fill-in for 11 games (1 goal, 3 assists). He made the club out of training camp but has yet to dress, bouncing around from the taxi squad to the minors then back to Anaheim. The likelihood is that Mahura for a third straight year will spend most of his season in the minors.

Antoine Morand (C, 5’11, 184 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {60th overall} 2017): Morand is an extremely difficult player to get a read on. There were times in his QMJHL career when he looked like the best player on the ice and others in which he was totally invisible. Time is on his side considering he won’t turn 22 until later this month, but he didn’t exactly light the world on fire (16 points in 54 games) in his first AHL campaign. Still, Morand is a feisty player with good playmaking skills who could develop into a serviceable checker.


Prospects to Watch

C Trevor Zegras

A brilliant playmaker with exceptional vision and hockey sense, Zegras (pictured) is looking more and more like a steal after the Ducks grabbed him with the ninth pick in the 2019 NHL draft. Not only is the native New Yorker one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the under-20 world junior hockey championship (27 points in 12 games), but Zegras also crushed the NCAA circuit as a freshman for Boston University (36 points in 33 games). The AHL spotlight should be on him from start to finish, but the rebuilding Ducks have shown a willingness to quickly promote their youngsters during their ongoing rebuild.

RHD Jamie Drysdale

Like Zegras, Drysdale is a top-10 pick (sixth overall in 2020) who is extremely creative with the puck. He’s also an excellent skater with a hard wrist shot, but Drysdale is starting to increase his potential as a two-way type who can be counted on for good positional play in his own end. San Diego’s power play for this upcoming season should prominently feature both Drysdale and Zegras.

San Jose (SJS)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Joachim Blichfeld (RW, 6’2, 180 pounds, acquired: 7th Rd {210th overall} 2016): Blichfeld has won a WHL MVP award and an AHL All-Star (16 goals, 32 points in 44 games) since being the 210th overall pick in 2016. I’m not convinced it’s going to translate to NHL production, but he’s already outperformed even the most optimistic expectations and even earned a three-game promotion with the Sharks. Blichfeld is only 22 and owns one of the nastiest shot-release combinations you’ll find, but he needs to improve his play off the puck.

Ivan Chekhovich (LW, 5’10, 180 pounds, acquired: 7th Rd {212th overall} 2017): The Sharks have had a thin prospect pool for many years that forced them to rely on late round picks like Chekhovich to develop into potential NHL players. Although the Russian played well in brief periods with the Barracuda, his first full AHL season was rather nondescript (4 goals, 12 points in 42 games). He has since rebounded to post 14 goals and 31 points in 38 games while on loan to Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL where he’s likely to remain for the rest of the season. I’m interested to see if Chekhovich can carry that production over to the AHL’s smaller ice surfaces.

Sasha Chmelevski (C, 6’0, 185 pounds, acquired: 6th Rd {185th overall} 2017): I thought there was a pretty decent chance Chmelevski would have played NHL games last season, but it didn’t end up happening. He acquitted himself extremely well in his first AHL campaign, posting 27 points in 42 games. Chmelevski is an ideal middle-six center with the ability to slide up in the lineup should injuries strike. I remain a believer and think he’s an NHL regular, and it appears as if the Sharks wanted to give him a longer look by adding him to the taxi squad after training camp. Chmelevski played in his first NHL game in a win over the Ducks on Feb. 5 and picked up an assist in 6:11 of ice time.

Max Letunov (C, 6’4, 180 pounds, acquired: Trade with St. Louis): I’ve been higher on Letunov than most anyone since his days in the Blues system and he’s starting to put it all together. He was the Barracuda’s leading scorer a season ago (40 points in 50 games) and tallied his first NHL goal in a brief four-game trial with the Sharks. Many feel the organization would be wise to commit to a full rebuild and give guys like Letunov regular playing time, but they aren’t going that route this season.


Prospects to Watch

RHD Ryan Merkley

One of the most gifted puck movers we’ve seen from the Ontario Hockey League, Merkley (pictured) seems to have shed his label as a problem child by delivering a strong season with the London Knights and head coach Dale Hunter. His 61 assists led all defenseman and he placed second in scoring with 76 points, but it was Merkley’s improvement in his own end that has some of his harshest critics change their views on his potential. This will be Merkley’s first full AHL season after appearing in six games (zero points) in 2019-20.

RW Ozzy Wiesblatt

A prolific scoring winger with top-end speed who is one of the more dangerous prospects off the rush, Wiesblatt was selected 31st overall by the Sharks after a 70-point season with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. He won’t be handed a top-six role immediately but his hard work and ability to create his own scoring chances should make his case stronger on a game-to-game basis.

Stockton (CGY)

2020-21 Camp Roster (TBD)

*Stockton will play in Calgary this season in the realigned Canadian Division

Eetu Tuulola (RW, 6’2, 224 pounds, acquired: 6th Rd {156th overall} 2016): A power winger with soft hands who likes to throw his weight around, Tuulola had a fairly successful rookie AHL season after spending the previous two seasons in his native Finland, where he was one of the better point-producing youngsters in the league. He’s a dual threat who can fill a variety of roles, and last season Stockton used him on both the power play and the penalty kill. He spent this past offseason in Europe between Vasterviks in the Swedish Allsvenskan (2 goals, 2 assists in 11 games) and SaiPA in the elite SM-Liiga (0 points in 4 games). Tuulola came over for training camp but was quickly sent down to Stockton in early January to make room for others following the world juniors. He plays a North American style and should figure prominently in Stockton’s attack.

Glenn Gawdin (C, 6’1, 190 pounds, acquired: signed as free agent): Gawdin lead the WHL in plus/minus (+61) in addition to being named WHL playoff MVP in his final junior season back in 2017-18. He has since played in the AHL, posting 85 points in 117 games. Gawdin’s an average skater, but his hockey sense is excellent and he can play both an abrasive and physical brand of hockey. He might not be an NHL regular but Gawdin makes for an ideal depth piece for the Flames. He was signed to a two-way contract in October before he went to Europe to play for Visp in the Swiss NLA, albeit for just one game. He led Stockton in scoring a season ago and some feel his energy would be welcomed with the struggling Flames.

Adam Ruzicka (C/W, 6’4, 202 pounds, acquired: 4th Rd {109th overall} 2017): A towering 200-foot center from Slovakia, Ruzicka is developing a cult following within the fan base for the way his offense snuck up on everyone as an AHL rookie last season. Although 10 goals and 27 points in 54 games is nothing earth shattering, the belief was that Ruzicka was a limited prospect who was hampered by limitations is quickness and agility. How he makes up for this is by playing smart positional hockey where his anticipation and awareness can not only wrestle possession away from opponents but also keep the puck on his blade for long stretches. Ruzicka may never become a star in any league but he’s as versatile a center as you’ll find considering his size and experience.

Tyler Parsons (G, 6’1, 185 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {54th overall} 2015): Once considered a potential franchise goalie, Parsons posted a suboptimal 10-13-1 mark over two brief AHL seasons before spending all of 2019-20 with Kansas City in the ECHL (.911 save percentage in 25 games). Parsons got a vote of confidence from the Flames, however, when they signed him to a one-year deal in the offseason. Unfortunately, the Michigan native missed training camp with an ankle injury and was not added to the taxi squad. The most important thing for Parsons at this point is to get healthy and prove to the Flames that he still has the big-game reputation he once had in junior hockey. He better hurry, however, as Dustin Wolf has already jumped him in the depth chart and is considered one of the better goalie prospects in hockey.


Prospects to Watch

LW Jakob Pelletier

A hard-nosed winger who makes up for a lack of size with a ton of bite, snarl, and impressive shot creation, Pelletier was Calgary’s first-round pick in 2019 and at this point is their premier wing prospect. He’s played his entire pre-AHL career in the QMJHL, where he accumulated an impressive 248 points in 194 games between Moncton and Val-d’Or. Considering his solid play at the last world juniors plus the fact that the NHL Flames have a sputtering offense could make Pelletier’s rookie AHL season shorter than expected.

LW/C Emilio Pettersson

A prolific scorer with Denver University, Pettersson is a native Norwegian who has the scoring potential to make a lot of rival general managers and scouting directors regret letting him slide to the sixth round of the 2018 draft. he registered 65 points in 76 college games in two seasons before turning pro. His hard wrist shot and aggressive nature on the forecheck combine to make him one of the more opportunistic you’ll see in the league this year.

G Dustin Wolf

When it comes to smothering scoring chances, few goalie prospects make it look as easy and calculated as Wolf — Calgary’s seventh-round pick in 2019 who was the both the WHL and CHL Goalie of the Year in 2020 for his backstopping efforts with the Everett Silvertips. He’s a California native who isn’t big like most goalies, but his net presence is too advanced for some of the better shooters in junior hockey to exploit. He’ll probably have several eye-opening experiences as an AHL rookie, but Wolf has proven the doubters wrong for years.

Tucson (ARI)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Cam Dineen (D, 5’11, 184 pounds, acquired: 3rd Rd {68th overall} 2016): Dineen played well at times during his OHL days, but his offensive game hasn’t really translated to the professional ranks. He was used on special teams last season but not as the primary option, which makes him more of a middle-pairing Steady Eddie type. Dineen’s produced 26 points in his 117 career AHL games but the one thing that he should be acknowledged for is his versatility and consistency. He didn’t make the taxi squad out of training camp as the Coyotes have a bunch of 30-somethings already established on their blue line. He’s only 22 years old so another full season in Tucson is far from detrimental.

Ivan Prosvetov (G, 6’5, 176 pounds, acquired: 4th Rd {118th overall} 2018): A native of Moscow, Prosvetov has spent the last four seasons playing in North America. He began in the NAHL before moving to the USHL, OHL and finally, the AHL. He has elite size and finds himself in an organization that lacks goaltending depth. He’s still a way’s away from joining the ranks of the preeminent goalie prospects in hockey, but he’s certainly one to keep an eye on. He posted a respectable 14-10-1 mark and .909 save percentage, and he placed in the top-10 in shootout save percentage by stopping 18 of 20 attempts. Prosvetov should be Tucson’s No. 1 for most of this season.

Brayden Burke (LW, 5’10, 165 pounds, acquired: UDFA): Always known for his playmaking skills, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that Burke placed eighth in AHL scoring (52 points in 51 games) and was the Roadrunners’ focal point on offense a season ago. What did come as a bit of a shock was that he was one of the league’s top goal scorers on the power-play with 13 tallies. Burke rarely looks indecisive or lacks confidence when controlling the puck inside the offensive zone, and it was good to see him use his underrated shot more during the man advantage. A lot of big-time scorers in junior hockey flame out after a year or two against older and quicker professionals, but Burke proved he belongs. It’s just a matter of time until he makes his well-deserved NHL debut.

Kyle Capobianco (D, 6’1, 196 pounds, acquired: 3rd Rd {63rd overall} 2015): A ideal-sized puck mover from the left side who has been nothing short of productive in the AHL, Capobianco in 2019-20 posted his third consecutive season of 30 or more points, and his 0.88 points-per-game average led all defensemen. He’s appeared in at least one NHL game in each of the last four seasons but has only 14 appearances in that span, including two this season. His play with or without the puck is far from erratic and Capobianco is only 23 years old, so it could be a simple matter of depth that is keeping from an everyday NHL job (four of Arizona’s top-five minute eaters are veteran left-handed defensemen).

Tyler Steenbergen (LW, 5’10, 187 pounds, acquired: 5th Rd {127th overall} 2018): Steenbergen was an overage mid-round draft selection who turned 23 in January and is expected to spend a third full season with Tucson. He’s a dependable two-way type who can play center or wing and he’s refined his game since his days as a high-volume scorer in the WHL.  The point production has been average — 17 goals and 48 point in 120 career AHL games – but Steenbergen is very coachable and can handle any role while giving maximum effort. The highlight of his career up to this point was scoring the gold-medal winning goal for Canada at the 2018 world juniors, but his hard work and desire to go the net should help continue his climb towards an NHL gig.


Prospects to Watch

RHD Victor Soderstrom

Soderstrom was Arizona’s top pick (11th overall) in the 2019 draft and made the club out of camp, appearing in two games before being sent down to join the Roadrunners. He is one of the better puck managers among prospect defensemen and he’s been playing well against adult-age competition each of the last three seasons. His development into a potential No. 1 franchise defender likely starts with at least one year in Tucson, but Soderstrom’s heady defensive play plus his impressive skating and puck distribution shouldn’t keep him down on the farm for long.

C/W Jan Jenik

A big-bodied playmaker who missed a chunk of time following a knee injury at the 2020 world junior championship, Jenik is now healed and ready to challenge for an NHL roster spot. He was drafted 65th overall in 2018 and spent the last two seasons with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, where he ranked among the league’s top scorers before being sidelined. Jenik’s lengthy rehabilitation period is now complete and he looked solid in his few weeks in Finland’s adult-age Mestis league (5 goals, 3 assists in 7 games). It will be interesting to see him perform in a quicker circuit like the AHL, especially since his skating is quite average.

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