September 15, 2012

Region's AHL teams receive a ton of NHL talent

By Jesse Connolly

NHL GMs have been sending players by bulk to their AHL affiliates in order to make them eligible to play for their top farm teams during the impending lockout.

Here’s a few of the big names that have been sent down to the seven American Hockey League squads located in New England:

Bridgeport Sound Tigers (N.Y. Islanders)

The Isles have assigned at least 24 players to their AHL affiliate thus far, a few of which have already carved out roles in the National Hockey League.

The chief of which is defenseman Travis Hamonic (pictured right), who has racked up 50 points in his first two seasons with the Isles. The former WHL standout played in 19 games for Bridgeport during the 2010-11 campaign.

Nino Niederreiter will also join the Sound Tigers. He’s appeared in 64 NHL games to date for the Isles, during which he has 2-1-3 totals. He played in six games for the Sound Tigers last year, scoring three goals.

David Ullstrom, who led Bridgeport with 24 goals last year, will also be back. The Swedish pivot appeared in 29 games for the Isles in 2011-12, posting 4-4-8 totals.

For more on the Isles’ moves, head here.

Connecticut Whale (New York Rangers)

Speaking of the Whale, the Rangers’ top AHL affiliate only received eight players.

Kris Newbury, 30, has appeared in 66 games for the Leafs, Wings and Rangers. He had career-highs with 25 goals and 64 points in 65 for the Whale in 2011-12.

Chad Kolarik, who missed all of last season due to knee surgery, will begin the year in Connecticut. Acquired in a trade with the Blue Jackets two years ago, the 26-year-old forward has appeared in six NHL games. In 2010-11, he had 31 points in 36 tilts for the Wolf Pack/Whale.

Enforcer Micheal Haley, most recently of the Islanders, will be racking up more PIM in the AHL to start the season. In his last 101 games for the Isles, the 26-year-old forward spent 269 minutes in the sin bin. Haley has appeared in 43 NHL games (three points, 151 penalty minutes).

For the full list of players headed to the Whale, click here.

Manchester Monarchs (L.A. Kings)

At least two players who played roles in the Kings’ Cup run will be coming to Manchester.

Jordan Nolan, son of former NHL coach Ted Nolan, made his NHL debut in 2011-12 after spending parts of two seasons with the Monarchs (39 points in 115 games). The 23-year-old winger chipped in 1-1-2 totals in 20 postseason contests.

Center Andrei Loktionov, who has appeared in 59 regular-season tilts for the Kings over three seasons, is also bound for Manchester. He has 7-7-14 totals at the NHL level. Loktionov appeared in two playoff games for the Kings.

Los Angeles also sent their first-round pick from June, Tanner Pearson, to the AHL. Pearson, picked 30th overall, had 37-54-91 totals for the OHL’s Barrie Colts. It was his second year with the team.

Head to the Monarchs’ official site for more news and the full list of assignments.

Portland Pirates (Phoenix Coyotes)

The Coyotes announced Saturday that 29 players were heading to Portland. Here are a few standouts:

David Rundblad, acquired in the deal that saw Kyle Turris sent to Ottawa, appeared in six tilts for the Coyotes last season (three points). In 30 games for Portland, he had 7-9-16 totals. Rundblad will turn 22 in October.

Michael Stone spent 80 percent of his second pro season in Portland. In 2011-12, he appeared 13 regular season games and two playoff contests for Phoenix. With the Pirates, he had 9-13-22 totals in 51 games.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a superb year with 32 points in 82 games for the ‘Yotes last season. Ekman-Larsson appeared in 15 games for San Antonio in 2010-11 when the Rampage were still Phoenix’ AHL affiliate.

Here's the full list.

Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins)

The list of players Boston will send to Providence was recapped yesterday. Check it out here.

Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets)

Columbus has shipped 25 players to the Falcons thus far.

Cam Atkinson (pictured right), Springfield’s leading goal scorer in 2011-12, will be back in the Bay State to start the season. The Riverside, Conn., native racked up 44 points in 51 games for the Falcons and fared quite well with the big club. Atkinson, a former star at Boston College, had 7-7-14 totals as a rookie in 27 games for Columbus.

Winger Matt Calvert, who has appeared in 55 games with Columbus (23 points), was also assigned to the AHL. In 2011-12, he had 17-19-36 totals for the Falcons.

Cody Bass, a veteran of 48 NHL games (Ottawa, Columbus) was also sent down. He had 11 points in 23 games for the Falcons last season. Ryan Russell, like Bass, also cleared waivers. The 25-year-old center scored two goals in 41 games for the Jackets last year.

Allen York was the only goaltender sent down. He has appeared nine career game sfor the Falcons. York, 23, performed well for the Blue Jackets last season, going 3-2-0 in 11 games with a 2.30 goals-against average.

Tim Erixon, acquired in the deal that sent Rick Nash to New York, will patrol the Falcons’ blue line to start the year. In his first pro season, he had 33 points for the Connecticut Whale. In 18 games for the Rangers, he chipped in two assists.

For more on the Falcons’ moves, click here.

Worcester Sharks (San Jose Sharks)

The Sharks have also yet to announce their list of AHL assignments. Barring some special exemption, it’s hard to envision any players that have solidified spots in the NHL being sent down, as the likes of Logan Couture, Jason Demers and T.J. Galiardi have all exceeded the 160-game cutoff, and would thus be required to pass through waivers – something the Sharks would never consider risking.

Keep an eye on Worcester's website for breaking news.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.