AHL All-Star Rosters: 10 Selected Participants NHL Fans Need to Know About

Al DanielCorrespondent IIJanuary 18, 2013

AHL All-Star Rosters: 10 Selected Participants NHL Fans Need to Know About

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    For the first time in 18 years, the NHL is coming out of a lockout in a better-late-than-never fashion to commence a 48-game season in late January. By uncanny coincidence, January will also mark the first AHL All-Star Game to be played in Providence, R.I. in 18 years.

    As it was then, unlike in the 2004-05 NHL season that never was, the return of the parent circuit will mean trimming off a would-be extra layer of talent in the midseason minor league showcase. Nevertheless, there will still be a gratifying assortment of promising prospects on display.

    Past AHL All-Stars who played in the constellation exhibition alongside an active NHL season have included Danny Briere (1998), Ryan Miller (2004), Tuukka Rask (2008), Pekka Rinne (2008) and Bobby Ryan (2008).

    The 2013 Eastern and Western Conference rosters, released on Thursday, may still be subject to change depending on call-ups over the first week of the NHL season. But based on how they stand right now, here are 10 figures that NHL fans should make a point of following, if they have not already.

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault

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    Entering Friday’s action, the 22-year-old is the top AHL point getter other than Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz, who will both presumably be full-time Edmonton Oilers from here on out.

    Audy-Marchessault is coming off a hat trick for the Springfield Falcons on Tuesday, giving him his third multigoal and three-point performance in his last four outings. In all, he has tallied a point in 23 out of 36 games played for a total transcript of 16-24-40 on the cusp of the halfway mark of the regular season.

    This will be Audy-Marshessault’s second AHL All-Star outing, having previously tallied three points for the East last season in Atlantic City.

Mark Barberio

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    The reigning Eddie Shore Award winner (best blueliner in the league) figures to be available for his second AHL All-Star appearance after the Tampa Bay Lightning reassigned him to the Syracuse Crunch this week.

    While this summer will mark five years since he was drafted, Barberio can emulate other late bloomers who have previously stood out among AHL defensemen. Johnny Boychuk, the 2009 Shore Award recipient who was drafted in 2002, is the freshest example.

Adam Clendening

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    Only the aforementioned Schultz has been a more productive rookie defenseman than Clendening.

    The touted Chicago Blackhawks farmhand has 19 assists, which tie AHL journeyman and fellow All-Star Martin St. Pierre for the Rockford IceHogs' team lead.

Matt Fraser

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    The upper echelon of the Texas Stars' stats sheet is laden with X-marks to indicate the player in question is not on the team at this time.

    Fraser, the team’s leading goal scorer with 18, is a crucial exception.

    Fraser perked up this season after going pointless in his first six outings and has since garnered his second straight AHL All-Star selection.

Peter Holland

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    Holland’s availability is up in the air depending on who makes the cut at the Anaheim Ducks training camp.

    Then again, that ought to come as little surprise, seeing as he has been one of the bright spots on a struggling Norfolk Admirals squad with a team-best 19 helpers and 31 points.

Robin Lehner

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    The Binghamton backstop holds a league-high .945 save percentage and a 14-5-1 record through 21 appearances on the year. His individual game-night success rate has exceeded that .945 median in 12 of those 21 outings.

    Lehner is also the only AHL netminder other than the Abbotsford Heat tandem of Barry Brust and Danny Taylor to have kept his goals-against average under two.

    The parent Ottawa Senators are presently relying on Ben Bishop to back up Craig Anderson. But with Bishop due to hit restricted free agency this summer, the door is creaking open for Lehner, and he can nudge it wider with more of the same in the AHL.

Gustav Nyquist

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    Nyquist, who has appeared in 14 games with the Detroit Red Wings, is the league’s top scorer to date who has not worn a Springfield Falcons or Oklahoma City Barons uniform.

    The second-year professional is fostering an exact point-per-game pace with 38 through the midway point of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ schedule.

Drew Shore

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    The rookie pivot is tied with fifth-year AHL journeyman Jon Rheault for the San Antonio Rampage scoring lead with 29 points.

    After he turned pro immediately following his junior season at the University of Denver, one of Shore’s topmost question marks revolves around handling the rigors of a professional game schedule.

    So far, he has answered affirmatively enough with relatively consistent point production. If he maintains his pace, he should not look out of place if summoned to the Florida Panthers in 2013-14.

Tyler Toffoli

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    Toffoli has at times had a little trouble finding a consistent rhythm through the first half of his rookie season, enduring five- and nine-game goal-less droughts in November and December.

    But he still leads the Manchester Monarchs with 18 goals and a plus-13 rating and should be a go-to call-up whenever the Los Angeles Kings require reinforcement.

Jason Zucker

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    Assuming Schultz is bound for the NHL, Zucker can claim to be leading all AHL rookies with 33 points. In addition, he is tied with Fraser and Taylor Hall for the league lead with nine power-play conversions off his blade.

    Zucker’s productivity has played no small part in helping the Houston Aeros subsist through the brief injury-induced absence of Mikael Granlund. Zucker will doubtlessly be needed going forward as the touted Finnish forward moves up to the parent Minnesota Wild.

    Like the aforementioned Drew Shore, Zucker has transitioned smoothly straight out of the Denver Pioneers college program. Assuming he stays the course, he will be a testament to a deep stable of offensive prospects in the Wild’s system, opposite the likes of Charlie Coyle.