Although the AHL season is not even 10 games deep yet, it is never too early to take a look at some of the scoring leaders down on the farm. You made the right move by coming to this site to get a leg up on your pool competition – but the work never stops! Want to find out about the next Rich Peverley? How about an update on a blue-chip prospect? Many of the top AHL scorers are veterans and career minor leaguers (like Jason Krog), but there are also some intriguing players (like 28 year-old Alexandre Giroux, who has scored 65 goals over his past 75 regular season AHL games), as well as promising youngsters being groomed for NHL stardom (like Kyle Turris).
Alexandre Giroux – Hershey Bears. Giroux has been scoring goals at a Bret Hull-like clip over the past two AHL seasons, with 65 goals in Hershey’s last 75 regular season games. He has only had a few brief cups of coffee in the NHL, scoring three goals in 22 games, all but one coming with the Capitals. He has good size (6’3”), and obviously possesses elite goal scoring ability. He notched 60 goals in 2008-09 (and was absolutely white-hot during the Bears Calder Cup-winning run, scoring 15 goals in 22 games), and already has five through six games this season. I am sure there are knocks on him – skating, intensity, grit, and defensive play are the usual negative aspects of failed AHL-to-NHL scoring stars (Giroux’s plodding skating is his biggest weakness). However, he has never really been given a fair sniff at an NHL gig. I know that for every Alex Burrows or Peverley there are dozens similar to Fedor Fedorov and Josef Balej, but Giroux deserves a shot. He is definitely on my radar in all keeper leagues, and should be on yours too. He was passed over this off-season and opted to re-sign with Washington, but he is a UFA next summer.
Kyle Turris – San Antonio Rampage. There probably isn’t another blue-chip prospect that is as undervalued as Kyle Turris is right now. The Coyotes made a mistake pulling him out of college after only one year, but spending some time on the farm isn’t the end of the world. Want a decent comparison? Eric Staal scored 31 points in 81 games during his rookie season with Carolina, but was forced to play in the AHL the next season due to the lockout. He probably would have been in the NHL otherwise (unlike Turris), but the extra year of development definitely didn’t hurt for Staal, as he came back in 2006-07 with Carolina and had a 100-point regular season followed by a 28-point playoff performance (and a cup ring to boot). Turris wasn’t and isn’t as NHL-ready as Staal was at the time, but Turris still possesses elite, high-end offensive upside. There was a reason GM’s were flying in from all around North America to catch a glimpse of him shredding apart competition in the BCHL in his draft year.
Turris has done exactly what the Coyotes wanted him to do so far with the Rampage, scoring four goals and assisting on five more in only eight games. The Rampage roster is impressive, as it also features Brett MacLean and Kevin Porter, who are both matching Turris’ point-per-game production. In addition, Mikkel Boedker was recently demoted. If I were in a city with AHL hockey, I’d pay good money to see these guys play! I expect Turris to be among the scoring leaders in the AHL, and come in to camp next season ready to be an effective NHL player. Buy low candidate in every sense of the word.
Brad Marchand – Providence Bruins. It was obvious to anyone who tuned in during the Canada/Russia prospect series back in 2007 that there was something special about Marchand. His combination of speed, skill, and tenacity was unmatched at that tournament, and it has been through six games so far in the AHL this season as well. He had a very solid 59-point rookie season with Providence in 2008-09, and has earned a call-up to the Bruins with six goals in his first six games this season. Vladimir Sobotka (just named AHL player of the week) is worthy of a mention as well, but I think most of our readers are aware of him by now. Both Marchand and Sobotka should be full-time Bruins by the end of the season, and Marchand should fill in seamlessly for the gritty and recently-departed Chuck Kobasew in the long-term (at a third of the price).
Andrei Loktionov – Manchester Monarchs. The Kings 2008 draft is looking very, very good right now, although it is much too early to give it a complete grade. Future All-Star Drew Doughty was a no-brainer pick at second overall, and several of the Kings later-round picks are looking very shrewd at the moment as well. Vyacheslav Voynov (32nd overall) should be on the roster next season, and Loktionov (123rd overall) has been extremely impressive so far in his North American debut with Manchester. He was on a stacked Windsor team last season, where he contributed 66 regular season points, and 33 more in the playoffs. So far in Manchester, he has four goals and eight points in seven games.
There isn’t room for him right now in Los Angeles, and his game is still extremely raw. However, with Alexander Frolov probably leaving this season (either through trade or free agency), the Kings will have an opening at wing for 2010-11. Loktionov doesn’t fit under the traditional European stereotype of being soft, as he plays with an edge and goes to high-traffic areas to get his points. The Kings are looking like they are the next team to build your keeper team around, as they have stability at all three positions. Time to stock up on their prospects!