The Top 50 Non-NHL Players of 2012
The current lockout has delayed dozens of debuts and forced fans to summon their emergency preparation kits, whether those would consist of the AHL, ECHL, CHL, NCAA, USHL, IIHF or any given overseas league.
With that said, each of those circuits have offered their share of appreciable hockey, as they always do. Now is the time to take a diverting, year-end world tour and review a variety of players who have stood out in those leagues which have continued on schedule without seeing significant NHL action in 2012.
The top 50 are as follows in alphabetical order.
The Hobey Baker finalist went on a 10-23-33 romp in his final 21 games with Maine. As ill luck would have it, the only game he missed as a senior was the Hockey East championship, which his Black Bears lost to Boston College.
Upon his program’s elimination from the first round of the NCAA tournament, Abbott turned pro with the Toronto Marlies. Through 11 regular-season AHL appearances so far, he has tallied nine assists and 10 points.
Bourque had as many assists in the second half of the 2011-12 AHL season as he did in the first half to finish with a league-leading 66 (33 in this calendar year).
He added four points in five playoff games for the Hershey Bears before switching ursine crests and rolling up 16 helpers through his first 22 appearances with the Providence Bruins.
In all, Bourque has charged up exactly one point per game in 67 total games since Jan. 1.
In his second season with the Waterloo Blackhawks, Cammarata is averaging nearly two points per night (35 total in 18 ventures) this fall.
He had 16 points in 15 postseason contests last spring and, in the 35 games between New Year’s and the conclusion of the preceding regular season, he accumulated 15 goals and 41 points.
Of those on this list who have shifted from the amateurs to the pros in 2012, Chaput has hardly had the most radiant start in the AHL with only five points through 20 games for the Springfield Falcons.
With that said, one would be remiss not to acknowledge his home cooking at the Memorial Cup. His 12 points in six games led all individual participants and gave the host Shawinigan Cataractes the title.
Beforehand, he had tallied another 12 points in 11 Quebec League playoff appearances, all on the heels of chalking up 13 goals and 27 points over 26 games to polish off the regular season.
In the defining moment of the Norfolk Admirals’ otherworldly campaign and his MVP season, Conacher assisted on the icebreaker, the eventual clincher and two insurance tallies in a 6-1 victory over the Toronto Marlies, sealing the Calder Cup.
With his major-junior eligibility evaporating, Coyle bolted Boston University over last season's holiday break and hit the ice sprinting with his new mates on the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Coyle’s time with the Dogs would last all of 40 games, but he played a substantive role in extending his stint. He was held pointless only three times and started the postseason with back-to-back hat tricks and five-point nights en route to tournament MVP accolades.
With the summer came another fresh sheet and a transition to another new level. Since then, the Minnesota Wild prospect has notched an irreproachable eight goals and 12 points for the AHL’s Houston Aeros.
The Minnesota-Duluth freshman trails only senior Mike Seidel for the team lead with seven goals and 16 points through his first 15 collegiate games.
It was a fairly smooth transition out of the USHL, where he finished his preparatory days earlier this year by going on a 10-15-25 run in the last 24 regular-season games and topping the Fargo Force scoring chart.
Before he was selected in the first round by the Washington Capitals, Forsberg stood out among his age group with seven points for Team Sweden in the World U18 Championship and a cumulative 26 points in other competitions.
After his selection, Forsberg went back to his home country’s most mature circuit, where he has had a sophomore surge. Already, through 22 games, he has tallied a 9-10-19 scoring transcript to surpass his 43-game totals of 8-9-17 from the year prior.
He has swollen his production rate this autumn and is one of only two regulars on the team with a positive rating, his plus-eight the best among Saint John defensemen.
A freshman earned the Hockey East tournament MVP laurel for only the fifth time in the league’s 28-season history when Gaudreau scorched Maine with two goals and an assist, giving Boston College a 4-1 win.
An additional five points in four national tournament games highlighted BC’s run to another Frozen Four title.
Gaudreau is now off to a sophomore surge with a team-best 11 goals and 23 points. In total, the Flames farmhand had tallied a 25-27-52 transcript in 38 games with two more to come this calendar year.
Granlund, who turned 20 on Feb. 26, concluded his last season in the top league in his native Finland by leading HIFK with 51 points and tying Tomas Zaborsky for a league-best average of 1.13 points per outing.
Though relatively limited so far in his North American endeavors, Granlund has four goals and a solid nine assists in as many games played for the Houston Aeros.
For at least the last 12 months, the London Knights have not stepped away from the throne of the Ontario Hockey League, winning the playoff championship and fostering the best record around the halfway mark of their defense campaign.
All the while, Griffith has not relinquished his spot at the top of London’s scoring leaderboard. He was first in that category at the end of the 2011-12 regular season, throughout the 2012 tournament and is still there this season.
The towering Russian power forward and Buffalo Sabres draftee has stepped up in his first post-draft season with 29 goals and 50 points in 30 games for the Quebec Remparts already.
Perhaps, but that does nothing to negate what Hamilton was up to last season, which was not much different from what he has done this autumn.
The presumptive first or second overall NHL draft pick, Jones has tallied 28 points from the point as a rookie on the Portland Winterhawks and will likely wear the familiar Team USA uniform at the World Junior tournament.
Earlier this year, he co-piloted the 18-and-under Americans to gold in their global dance with a 3-5-8 scoring log in six games.
Almost exactly 13 months ago, Lee was prematurely declared done due to injury for the 2011-12 campaign, his third at St. Cloud State, after only five appearances.
As it happened, he returned to the Huskies crease on Jan. 27 after barely a three-month hiatus and finished the season with a 2.23 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 16 games.
He then checked out in favor of professional pursuits and has since nailed down the pegs with the Gwinnett Gladiators.
To date, Lee holds the ECHL’s second-best set of goalie stats with a .926 save percentage and 1.87 goals-against average. He is 15-9-2 overall after he was initially expected to have played less this calendar year.
MacKinnon, a projected top-echelon draft choice for 2013, has accelerated his production rate as 2012 has progressed. He started with 12 goals and 17 assists in 27 games to finish the last regular season, continued with 13 goals and 15 assists in 17 playoff outings and now boasts a 22-30-52 log in 30 games this season.
In between, he took leave for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and spent a portion of his summer scoring roughly one goal and one assist per game at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament.
The veteran Russian defenseman transferred from Metallurg to Neftekhimik in the middle of the last KHL season and chipped in seven assists in 18 games. So far in 2012-13, he is retaining a precise point-per-night median with 32 in 32, including 26 helpers.
He followed up with a BCHL-best 18 points in the playoffs and now leads the Vees so far this season with 38 points in 25 games.
To start this season, without Baertschi around, he has matched his 2012 postseason output of 19 goals and thrown in 28 assists through 30 games.
All of that adds up to a calendar-year collection (so far) of 58-75-133 in 84 extramural engagements.
The New York Islanders’ top draft pick of the year, Reinhart was the Edmonton Oil Kings’ plus/minus leader in their run to the Western League playoff title and is on top in that category once again at plus-nine.
He is now in a position to close out the calendar year as the leading freshman scorer in Hockey East with seven strikes and 13 points for Northeastern.
Although he had some cold spells to conclude his college career, namely a troika of three-game scoreless skids, Schultz has rekindled upon turning pro, joining the Oilers organization and starting with the Oklahoma City Barons.
Sgarbossa went on a 19-game scoring streak with the Sudbury Wolves from Jan. 27 to March 6 and had a 25-36-61 hot streak over the final 35 games of the OHL regular season.
As a rookie with the Lake Erie Monsters, he is presently tied for second on the AHL’s freshman scoring leaderboard with 20 points.
Although he has struggled with the AHL’s Texas Stars, Smith has sandwiched that false start with a strong finish to his career at Colgate and a substantive impact on the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads.
Michael St. Croix
Like Hamilton, this gale-force Niagara scorer and 2011 draftee would probably be with the Islanders if a 2012 training camp happened. But since this is not to be based on hypothetical events, we shall evaluate the full scope of Strome’s performance in major junior between January and December.
Only the OHL champion Knights have had an answer for Strome, who other than the last three games of the playoff championship has not had consecutive scoreless outings in recent memory.
In 74 games with the Ice Dogs over the past 340 days, he has percolated 43 goals and 77 assists for 120 points.
In his follow-up fall of 2012, Tarasenko has gone into the depths of the regular season with an average better than a point per game for the first time in his career. He is tied for third on SKA St. Petersberg with 11 goals and 24 points despite having missed nine contests.
Much like the aforementioned Forsberg, Teravainen has radiantly represented his homeland this year, scoring 12 goals and 14 assists for various Finnish 18-and-under and 20-and-under teams.
Like Forsberg, he has since been chosen in the first round of the 2012 NHL draft and gone back for another crack at his country’s top professional league.
There, Teravainen has comparably approached or eclipsed his rookie numbers from 2010-11 in roughly half the time.
Currently tied for 11th in the KHL with 29 points while bearing an irreproachable plus-10 rating, Thoresen turned heads this past spring while representing Norway in the World Championship.
In that tournament, only Evgeni Malkin bested Thoresen’s seven goals and 18 points, while only Henrik Zetterberg eclipsed his 11 helpers.
His final 50 OHL games, regular season and playoffs combined, saw him charge up 29 goals and 27 assists. Just as Niagara’s Strome met his match in London, those same Ice Dogs finally halted Toffoli and his Ottawa 67s the preceding round.
The Minnesotan blue-liner and first-round Winnipeg draft choice totaled 55 points with various U.S. teams last season and is off to a 14-point start through 18 games as a freshman at the University of Michigan.
The Dynamo Moscow netminder retained a 1.56 goals-against average and .943 save percentage through a 21-game playoff run. He is currently holding a .936 save percentage and 1.76 GAA this regular season.
The Denver defector cut off his college career at the halfway point after tying Drew Shore for the Pioneers’ lead with 22 goals in his sophomore campaign, including 11 along with 11 assists in 20 games between mid-January and late March.
Right now, Zucker is first among AHL freshmen with 12 goals and second only to Schultz with 20 points. In addition, he has games in hand on Schultz and the majority of his trailers.