73rd season begins tonight

ahl06_200.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League begins its 73rd season tonight as 29 teams start down the road to the 2009 Calder Cup championship. The 2008-09 campaign gets underway at 7:05 p.m. (ET) with a pair of games, as the Providence Bruins play host to the Lowell Devils and the defending Eastern Conference champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins entertain the Hershey Bears.

The 2008 Calder Cup champion Chicago Wolves kick off their title defense on Saturday evening, Oct. 11, when they visit Houston to take on the Aeros. The Wolves will then celebrate their second AHL championship in seven years at their home opener when in-state rival Peoria visits the Allstate Arena on Saturday, Oct. 18.

The Iowa Chops make their AHL debut as the top affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks when Peoria visits the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Friday, Oct. 10.

After an offseason that saw eight AHL head coaches promoted to the National Hockey League, 2008-09 opens with 10 bench bosses making their AHL debuts: Albany’s Jeff Daniels, Grand Rapids’ Curt Fraser, Iowa’s Gord Dineen, Norfolk’s Darren Rumble, Peoria’s Davis Payne, Providence’s Rob Murray, Rochester’s Benoit Groulx, Rockford’s Bill Peters, Springfield’s Jeff Truitt and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Dan Bylsma. Other coaches behind new benches include former Pieri Award winners Don Granato in Chicago and John Paddock in Philadelphia.

The regular season comprises 1,160 games leading up to the start of the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs in April. On Jan. 25-26, the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications will be held at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., featuring the top talent in the AHL competing in both the Skills Competition and the All-Star Game.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 84 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the seventh year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2007-08.

2008-09 Rules Changes
The American Hockey League has implemented the following rules changes for the 2008-09 season:

  • Playing rosters during the regular season have been increased to a maximum of 18 skaters and two goaltenders (up from 17 and two).
  • At the request of NHL general managers, the AHL has implemented one-minute minor penalties during overtime in the regular season. Carry-over time on minor penalties from the third period will be halved.
  • In order to bring the AHL rule book closer in line to the NHL’s, the AHL Board approved the following:
    • Rule 60.3 ("High-Sticking") now calls for a double-minor penalty (rather than a major) in the event of a high-sticking infraction that causes injury, whether accidental or careless, in the opinion of the referee.
    • Rule 63.2 ("Delaying the Game") now calls for an automatic minor penalty when any player or goalkeeper, while in his defending zone, shoots the puck directly out of the playing surface, except where there is no glass.
    • A change to Rule 81.1 ("Icing") states that "Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player."
    • A change to Rule 85.5 ("Face-Off Location") provides that if a puck is shot off the goal frame, goal post or crossbar, the subsequent face-off will remain in the end zone where the puck went out of play.
    • TV and promotional timeouts will not be permitted immediately following an icing violation.


2008-09 Team Capsules

Atlantic Division

Hartford Wolf Pack (NHL Affiliate: New York Rangers)
12th season
Home Rink: XL Center (cap. 9,801)
2007-08 Record: 50-20-2-8, 110 pts. (2nd in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Portland, 4-1
Power Play: 21.0% (2nd)
Penalty Kill: 83.7% (12th)
Head Coach: Ken Gernander (2nd year in AHL/Hartford, 50-22-8)
Notable Alumni: Nigel Dawes, Marc Savard, Derek Armstrong
What to watch: RW Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau tallied a career-high 81 points (34g, 47a) to lead the Wolf Pack in 2007-08… D Bobby Sanguinetti, another Rangers first-rounder (21st overall in 2006), led OHL defensemen with 29 goals and ranked second with 70 points for Brampton last season… G Miika Wiikman was 21-8-3 with a 2.30 GAA in his first AHL season last year… D Corey Potter recorded 32 points and a plus-33 rating in 80 games for Hartford in 2007-08.

Lowell Devils (NHL Affiliate: New Jersey Devils)
3rd season
Home Rink: Paul E. Tsongas Arena (cap. 6,400)
2007-08 Record: 25-43-7-5, 62 pts. (7th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 18.3% (T-8th)
Penalty Kill: 78.3% (29th)
Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst (3rd year in AHL/Lowell, 63-86-11)
Notable Alumni: Mike Mottau, David Clarkson, Aaron Voros
What to watch: C Rod Pelley spent most of last season in the NHL, appearing in 58 games for New Jersey… C Pascal Rheaume sports 377 points (163g, 214a) in 531 career AHL games and has won both the Calder Cup (Albany, 1995) and the Stanley Cup (New Jersey, 2003)… Rookie LW Bradley Snetsinger ranked second on Windsor (OHL) in goals (37), assists (52) and points (89) last season… D Matt Corrente was drafted in the first round (30th overall) by New Jersey in 2006.

Manchester Monarchs (NHL Affiliate: Los Angeles Kings)
8th season
Home Rink: Verizon Wireless Arena (cap. 9,932)
2007-08 Record: 39-31-5-5, 88 pts. (4th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Providence, 4-0
Power Play: 23.8% (1st)
Penalty Kill: 79.6% (26th)
Head Coach: Mark Morris (3rd year in AHL/Manchester, 90-64-6)
Notable Alumni: Mike Cammalleri, Cristobal Huet, Joe Corvo
What to watch: RW Teddy Purcell led AHL rookies and ranked third overall with 83 points (25g, 58a) for Manchester last season en route to being named AHL Rookie of the Year… C Trevor Lewis, a first-round draft pick (17th overall) by Los Angeles in 2006, registered 28 points (12g, 16a) in his rookie year for Manchester last season… 20-year-old G Jonathan Bernier (11th overall in 2006) posted a 1.63 GAA in three regular-season games for Manchester at the end of last season.

Portland Pirates (NHL Affiliate: Buffalo Sabres)
16th season
Home Rink: Cumberland County Civic Center (cap. 6,733)
2007-08 Record: 45-26-5-4, 99 pts. (3rd in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Conference Final to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-3
Power Play: 18.3% (T-8th)
Penalty Kill: 83.4% (T-15th)
Head Coach: Kevin Dineen (4th year in AHL/Portland, 135-89-16)
Notable Alumni: Andrew Brunette, Olaf Kolzig, Sergei Gonchar, Dustin Penner
What to watch: C Nathan Gerbe led the nation with 68 points (35g, 33a), including eight points (5g, 3a) in the two-game Frozen Four, for NCAA champion Boston College in 2007-08 and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist… D/LW Marc-Andre Gragnani ranked third among AHL rookies with 52 points (14-38-52) skating in Rochester in 2007-08… LW Mathieu Darche played 73 games in the NHL with Tampa Bay in 2007-08 and registered 22 points (7g, 15a) in 73 games.

Providence Bruins (NHL Affiliate: Boston Bruins)
17th season
Home Rink: Dunkin’ Donuts Center (cap. 11,075)
2007-08 Record: 55-18-3-4, 117 pts. (1st in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Portland, 4-2
Power Play: 16.8% (T-15th)
Penalty Kill: 84.4% (T-6th)
Head Coach: Rob Murray (1st year in AHL/Providence)
Notable Alumni: Jozef Stumpel, Brad Boyes, David Krejci
What to watch: C Martin St. Pierre has finished second in the AHL scoring race each of the past two seasons, including an 88-point campaign (21g, 67a) for Rockford in 2007-08… C Zach Hamill, the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, had five assists in seven regular-season games and four points in nine playoff games for the Bruins in his pro debut last season… Rookie G Kevin Regan went 70-29-10 with a 2.31 GAA during a four-year career at the University of New Hampshire and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist last season.

Springfield Falcons (NHL Affiliate: Edmonton Oilers)
15th season
Home Rink: MassMutual Center (cap. 6,815)
2007-08 Record: 35-35-5-5, 80 pts. (5th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 17.5% (12th)
Penalty Kill: 80.6% (T-21st)
Head Coach: Jeff Truitt (1st year in AHL/Springfield)
Notable Alumni: Daniel Briere, Shane Doan, Nikolai Khabibulin
What to watch: C Viacheslav Trukhno recorded 19 points (9g, 10a) over the last 21 games of his rookie campaign for Springfield in 2007-08… LW Liam Reddox was the Falcons’ leading rookie scorer last season with 44 points (16g, 28a), and he paced the team with a plus-10 rating… Newcomer RW Carl Corazzini is coming off three straight 20-goal seasons and led Grand Rapids with 60 points (24g, 36a) in 80 games in 2007-08… C Ryan Potulny recorded 47 points (21g, 26a) in 58 AHL games for Philadelphia last season.

Worcester Sharks (NHL Affiliate: San Jose Sharks)
3rd season
Home Rink: DCU Center (cap. 6,800)
2007-08 Record: 32-37-5-6, 75 pts. (6th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 16.5% (17th)
Penalty Kill: 78.7% (28th)
Head Coach: Roy Sommer (11th year in AHL, 351-378-71; 3rd year in Worcester, 73-73-14)
Notable Alumni: Joe Pavelski, Torrey Mitchell, Devin Setoguchi
What to watch: Rookie LW Jamie McGinn, a second-round draft pick by San Jose in 2006, led the Ottawa 67’s (OHL) in scoring each of the past two seasons… Rookie C Steven Zalewski posted six points (2g, 4a) in just seven games with Worcester at the end of last season after concluding his collegiate career at Clarkson… An injury limited former first-round draft pick Mike Morris (27th overall by San Jose in 2002) to nine games for Worcester during his rookie season in 2007-08… C Cory Larose sports 334 points (120g, 214a) in 372 career AHL games.

East Division
Albany River Rats (NHL Affiliate: Carolina Hurricanes)
16th season
Home Rink: Times Union Center (cap. 6,982)
2007-08 Record: 43-30-3-4, 93 pts. (3rd in East Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Philadelphia, 4-3
Power Play: 14.6% (23rd)
Penalty Kill: 82.3% (20th)
Head Coach: Jeff Daniels (1st year in AHL/Albany)
Notable Alumni: Steve Sullivan, Patrik Elias, John Madden
What to watch: G Justin Peters, a second-round draft pick (38th overall) by Carolina in 2004, went 7-3-0 with a 2.57 GAA in 10 games down the stretch for Albany last season… LW Matt Murley returns to Albany after leading San Antonio with 41 assists and 62 points in 2007-08… RW Jakub Petruzalek ranked third on the Rats with 45 points (14g, 31a) as a second-year pro last season… Second-year D Bryan Rodney led the River Rats with six points (3g, 3a) in the 2008 playoffs.

Binghamton Senators (NHL Affiliate: Ottawa Senators)
7th season
Home Rink: Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena (cap. 4,710)
2007-08 Record: 34-32-9-5, 82 pts. (6th in East Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 17.8% (T-10th)
Penalty Kill: 82.4% (19th)
Head Coach: Cory Clouston (2nd year in AHL/Binghamton, 34-41-5)
Notable Alumni: Jason Spezza, Antoine Vermette, Anton Volchenkov
What to watch: C Cody Bass played 21 games in Ottawa as a rookie in 2007-08… C Josh Hennessy has recorded three straight 20-goal seasons to begin his pro career… Rookie C Zack Smith led Swift Current (WHL) with 70 points (22g, 48a) in 2007-08… LW Denis Hamel enters the season with 243 goals and 454 points in 574 career AHL games… G Brian Elliott was 5-1 in shootouts as a rookie last year.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NHL Affiliate: New York Islanders)
8th season
Home Rink: Bridgeport’s Arena at Harbor Yard (cap. 8,412)
2007-08 Record: 40-36-1-3, 84 pts. (5th in East Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 16.8% (T-15th)
Penalty Kill: 83.4% (T-15th)
Head Coach: Jack Capuano (2nd year in AHL/Bridgeport, 40-37-3)
Notable Alumni: Rick DiPietro, Raffi Torres, Trent Hunter
What to watch: C Trevor Smith racked up 35 points (18g, 17a) over the final 36 games of his rookie season with Bridgeport in 2007-08… C Kurtis McLean tallied career highs in goals (22), assists (32) and points (54) for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season and added 19 points (4g, 15a) during the Penguins’ run to the Finals… C Mike Iggulden has increased his point output by nine in each of his first three seasons, including his 66-point effort (29g, 37a) for Worcester last year.

Hershey Bears (NHL Affiliate: Washington Capitals)
71st season
Home Rink: Giant Center (cap. 10,500)
2007-08 Record: 42-30-2-6, 92 pts. (4th in East Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-1
Power Play: 19.9% (6th)
Penalty Kill: 80.6% (T-21st)
Head Coach: Bob Woods (2nd year in AHL/Hershey, 34-25-6)
Notable Alumni: Frank Mathers, Willie Marshall, Mike Nykoluk, Ron Hextall, Mike Green
What to watch: Rookie D Karl Alzner was the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft by Washington… Rookie G Michal Neuvirth went 43-15-12 during a two-year junior career in the OHL, while G Daren Machesney posted a 22-10-2 mark with a 2.55 GAA for Hershey in 2007-08, his first pro campaign… RW Francois Bouchard led Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) in scoring each of the past three seasons, including a pair of 92-point showing (36g, 56a) in 2007-08.

Norfolk Admirals (NHL Affiliate: Tampa Bay Lightning)
9th season
Home Rink: Norfolk Scope (cap. 8,759)
2007-08 Record: 29-44-2-5, 65 pts. (7th in East Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 14.1% (26th)
Penalty Kill: 80.3% (24th)
Head Coach: Darren Rumble (1st year in AHL/Norfolk)
Notable Alumni: Kyle Calder, Rene Bourque, Dustin Byfuglien
What to watch: Rookie D Ty Wishart was drafted 16th overall by San Jose in 2006 and led all WHL defensemen with 67 points (16g, 51a) for Moose Jaw last season… C Zenon Konopka ranked second on Syracuse with 55 points in 2007-08, including a career-high 24 goals… D Andrew Hutchinson won the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s top blueliner after tallying 64 points and a plus-28 rating for Hartford last season… Second-year pro LW Paul Szczechura tallied 26 points (14g, 12a) and a plus-10 rating in 24 games for Norfolk in 2007-08 after arriving mid-season.

Philadelphia Phantoms (NHL Affiliate: Philadelphia Flyers)
13th season
Home Rink: Wachovia Spectrum (cap. 17,380)
2007-08 Record: 46-27-4-3, 99 pts. (2nd in East Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-1
Power Play: 20.8% (T-3rd)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (T-10th)
Head Coach: John Paddock (15th year in AHL, 542-392-93; 1st year in Philadelphia)
Notable Alumni: Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Vaclav Prospal
What to watch: RW Claude Giroux, Philadelphia’s first-round draft pick (22nd overall) in 2006, tallied three 100- point seasons at Gatineau (QMJHL) and racked up 51 points (17g, 34a) in just 19 playoff games last spring… D Michael Ratchuk led all Michigan State defensemen with 25 points (6g, 19a) in 2007-08 and tallied three points (1g, 2a) in three games with the Phantoms… Second-year pro C Jonathan Matsumoto registered 44 points (20g, 24a) as a rookie last season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (NHL Affiliate: Pittsburgh Penguins)
10th season
Home Rink: Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza (cap. 8,143)
2007-08 Record: 47-26-3-4, 101 pts. (1st in East Division)
Playoffs: Lost Calder Cup Final to Chicago, 4-2
Power Play: 15.2% (20th)
Penalty Kill: 84.7% (5th)
Head Coach: Dan Bylsma (1st year in AHL/Wilkes-Barre)
Notable Alumni: Marc-Andre Fleury, Andrew Ference, Tom Kostopoulos, Tyler Kennedy
What to watch: 2008 AHL All-Rookie G John Curry was 24-12-3 with a 2.23 GAA last season… LW Luca Caputi finished fourth in the OHL last season with 111 points (51g, 60a) for Niagara before chipping in eight points (4g, 4a) during Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s run to the Calder Cup Finals… C Dustin Jeffrey led Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) with 97 points (38g, 59a) in 2007-08 and also made his pro debut for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the playoffs… LW Chris Minard has scored 57 goals over his last two AHL seasons.

North Division
Grand Rapids Griffins (NHL Affiliate: Detroit Red Wings)
8th AHL season
Home Rink: Van Andel Arena (cap. 10,834)
2007-08 Record: 31-41-2-6, 70 pts. (5th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 16.4% (18th)
Penalty Kill: 82.5% (18th)
Head Coach: Curt Fraser (1st year in AHL/Grand Rapids)
Notable Alumni: Niklas Kronwall, Jason Williams, Jiri Hudler
What to watch: Two-time Calder Cup champion Darren Haydar joins the Griffins after becoming the AHL’s all-time leading playoff scorer (124 pts.) for Chicago last season… LW Darren Helm led all Grand Rapids rookies with 31 points (16g, 15a) in 2007-08 and then won the Stanley Cup with Detroit… C Francis Pare led Chicoutimi and ranked third in the QMJHL with 102 points (54g, 48a) last season.

Hamilton Bulldogs (NHL Affiliate: Montreal Canadiens)
13th season
Home Rink: Copps Coliseum (cap. 8,819)
2007-08 Record: 36-34-3-7, 82 pts. (4th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 14.5% (24th)
Penalty Kill: 83.4% (T-15th)
Head Coach: Don Lever (6th year in AHL, 196-166-38; 4th year in Hamilton, 114-109-17)
Notable Alumni: Carey Price, Andrei Kostitsyn, Jarret Stoll
What to watch: LW Max Pacioretty, a first-round pick (22nd overall) by Montreal in 2007, tallied 39 points in 37 games as a freshman at Michigan last season… RW Mike Glumac has scored 20-plus goals each of the last three years… C Ryan White combined for 161 points (62g, 99a) over his last two years of juniors with Calgary (WHL)… D Yannick Weber led all Kitchener (OHL) blueliners with 55 points (20g, 35a) last season.

Lake Erie Monsters (NHL Affiliate: Colorado Avalanche)
2nd season
Home Rink: Quicken Loans Arena (cap. 10,025)
2007-08 Record: 26-41-6-7, 65 pts. (6th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 17.3% (13th)
Penalty Kill: 80.2% (25th)
Head Coach: Joe Sacco (2nd year in AHL/Lake Erie, 26-47-7)
What to watch: RW T.J. Hensick posted 45 points (12g, 33a) in 50 AHL games for Lake Erie last season and added 11 points (6g, 5a) in 31 NHL games with Colorado… C Nathan Smith registered a career-high 50 points (22g, 28a) last season for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… C Marty Sertich led Iowa with 27 goals and 52 points as a second-year pro in 2007-08… Rookie LW Tom Fritsche is a Cleveland-area native (Parma) and is coming off a four-year career at Ohio State.

Manitoba Moose (NHL Affiliate: Vancouver Canucks)
8th AHL season
Home Rink: MTS Centre (cap. 8,800)
2007-08 Record: 46-27-3-4, 99 pts. (3rd in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Syracuse, 4-2
Power Play: 17.8% (T-10th)
Penalty Kill: 83.6% (T-13th)
Head Coach: Scott Arniel (3rd year in AHL/Manitoba, 91-60-9)
Notable Alumni: Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler
What to watch: RW Michael Grabner, Vancouver’s first-round draft pick (14th overall) in 2006, posted 44 points (22g, 22a) as a rookie for Manitoba in 2007-08… Former AHL All-Star and Calder Cup champion Michel Ouellet has played 187 NHL games over the last three seasons… G Cory Schneider went 13-2-1 over his last 16 starts for the Moose in 2007-08 and finished 21-12-3 with a 2.28 GAA for the year… Rookie RW Raymond Sawada had nine points (2g, 7a) in 10 games with Iowa at the end of last season.

Rochester Americans (NHL Affiliate: Florida Panthers)
53rd season
Home Rink: Blue Cross Arena (cap. 11,200)
2007-08 Record: 24-46-6-4, 58 pts. (7th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 14.2% (25th)
Penalty Kill: 79.3% (27th)
Head Coach: Benoit Groulx (1st year in AHL/Rochester)
Notable Alumni: Al Arbour, Don Cherry, Gerry Cheevers, Derek Roy, Ryan Miller, Kamil Kreps
What to watch: Fourth-year pro LW Stefan Meyer tallied a career-high 40 points (21g, 19a) for Rochester last season, tops among returnees… D Keaton Ellerby was selected 10th overall by Florida in the 2007 NHL draft… D Mike Caruso increased his point output in each of his four years of juniors with Guelph (OHL), finishing with 34 points (10g, 24a) in 2007-08… Rookie RW Brady Calla posted four points (2-2-4) in a six-game stint with the Amerks to close the 2007-08 campaign.

Syracuse Crunch (NHL Affiliate: Columbus Blue Jackets)
15th season
Home Rink: Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter (cap. 6,230)
2007-08 Record: 46-26-2-6, 100 pts. (2nd in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Toronto, 4-3
Power Play: 20.6% (5th)
Penalty Kill: 86.0% (4th)
Head Coach: Ross Yates (3rd year in AHL/Syracuse, 80-66-14)
Notable Alumni: Pascal Leclaire, Michael Peca, Adrian Aucoin, Scott Walker
What to watch: The Crunch finished the 2007-08 regular season with 15 consecutive wins, two shy of the AHL record… D Clay Wilson finished last year tied for fifth among AHL defensemen with 47 points (14g, 33a) in 71 games and played in the AHL All-Star Classic… D Nick Holden ranked third among WHL defensemen with 60 points (22g, 38a) for Chilliwack in 2007-08… RW Adam Pineault, a second-round draft pick by Columbus in 2004, tallied 48 points (21g, 27a) for the Crunch last season, a 20-point improvement over his rookie campaign.

Toronto Marlies (NHL Affiliate: Toronto Maple Leafs)
4th season
Home Rink: Ricoh Coliseum (cap. 7,851)
2007-08 Record: 50-21-3-6, 109 pts. (1st in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Conference Final to Chicago, 4-1
Power Play: 15.0% (21st)
Penalty Kill: 87.4% (1st)
Head coach: Greg Gilbert (7th year in AHL, 229-203-48; 3rd year in Toronto, 84-65-11)
Notable Alumni: Ian White, Jiri Tlusty, Andy Wozniewski
What to watch: G Justin Pogge is coming off a 26-10-4 season with a 2.34 GAA as a second-year pro for the Marlies in 2007-08… LW Stefano Giliati led Lewiston (QMJHL) with 87 points (40g, 47a) last season before skating in 13 Calder Cup Playoff games with Toronto… D Josef Boumedienne posted 42 points (7g, 35a) in 52 games for Hershey in 2007-08, including a league-high 16-game scoring streak… C Darryl Boyce tallied 24 points (8g, 16a) in 41 games with the Marlies in 2007-08 before suffering a season-ending injury during his NHL debut for the Maple Leafs.

West Division
Chicago Wolves (NHL Affiliate: Atlanta Thrashers)
8th AHL season
Home Rink: Allstate Arena (cap. 16,692)
2007-08 Record: 53-22-2-3, 111 pts. (1st in West Division)
Playoffs: Won Calder Cup; defeated Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Finals, 4-2
Power Play: 20.8% (T-3rd)
Penalty Kill: 84.4% (T-6th)
Head Coach: Don Granato (6th year in AHL, 192-144-46; 1st year in Chicago)
Notable Alumni: Kari Lehtonen, Braydon Coburn, Kurtis Foster
What to watch: Atlanta’s second-round draft pick in 2006, rookie C Riley Holzapfel recorded 208 points (91g, 117a) in 248 games over a four-year junior career with Moose Jaw (WHL)… RW Spencer Machacek led Vancouver (WHL) with a career-high 33 goals and 78 points in 70 games last season… D Arturs Kulda was a plus-12 in 22 playoff games last spring… The defending champs have added RW Jeff Hamilton, a former AHL All-Star and goal-scoring champion.

Houston Aeros (NHL Affiliate: Minnesota Wild)
8th AHL season
Home Rink: Toyota Center (cap. 8,939)
2007-08 Record: 45-29-2-4, 96 pts. (3rd in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Rockford, 4-1
Power Play: 13.6% (28th)
Penalty Kill: 87.0% (2nd)
Head Coach: Kevin Constantine (2nd year in AHL/Houston, 45-31-4)
Notable Alumni: Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Josh Harding
What to watch: C Corey Locke is coming off a 2007-08 season in which he tallied career highs in goals (30), assists (42) and points (72) in 78 games for Hamilton… RW Jesse Schultz registered 66 points (26g, 40a) in 80 games and won the Calder Cup with Chicago last season… C Krys Kolanos notched a career-high 30 goals and 63 points in 65 games for Quad City last season… G Nolan Schaefer (19-13-0, 2.06, .924) helped the Aeros allow the fewest goals in the AHL in 2007-08.

Iowa Chops (NHL Affiliate: Anaheim Ducks)
1st season
Home Rink: Wells Fargo Arena (cap. 7,475)
2007-08 Record: 1st year in AHL (Anaheim’s prospects played in Portland in 2007-08)
Head Coach: Gord Dineen (1st year in AHL/Iowa)
What to watch: RW Bobby Ryan, drafted second overall by Anaheim in 2005, tallied 49 points in 48 AHL games with Portland last season en route to a spot on the AHL All-Rookie Team, and he also chipped in 10 points in 23 NHL games with Anaheim… D Brian Salcido ranked second among AHL defensemen with 53 points (11g, 42a) for Portland last season… Former AHL MVP Eric Boguniecki has registered three 30-goal seasons in the league and also sports 76 points in 178 career NHL games.

Milwaukee Admirals (NHL Affiliate: Nashville Predators)
8th AHL season
Home Rink: Bradley Center (cap. 17,845)
2007-08 Record: 44-29-4-3, 95 pts. (4th in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Chicago, 4-2
Power Play: 17.2% (14th)
Penalty Kill: 84.4% (T-6th)
Head Coach: Lane Lambert (2nd year in AHL/Milwaukee, 44-33-3)
Notable Alumni: Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Jordin Tootoo, Ville Koistinen
What to watch: LW Mark Santorelli led the WHL with 101 points (27g, 74a) in 72 games last season for Chilliwack… Mark’s brother C Mike Santorelli tallied 42 points (21g, 21a) as a rookie for Milwaukee in 2007-08… G Drew MacIntyre went 49-30-2 with a 2.25 GAA for Manitoba over the last two seasons and was selected for the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic… C Cal O’Reilly paced the Admirals and ranked fifth in the league with 79 points (16g, 63a) in 80 games in 2007-08, a 14-point improvement on his rookie year.

Peoria Rivermen (NHL Affiliate: St. Louis Blues)
4th season
Home Rink: Peoria Civic Center Carver Arena (cap. 9,919)
2007-08 Record: 38-33-4-5, 85 pts. (7th in West Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 14.0% (27th)
Penalty Kill: 83.6% (T-13th)
Head Coach: Davis Payne (1st year in AHL/Peoria)
Notable Alumni: Lee Stempniak, David Backes, D.J. King
What to watch: C Julian Talbot finished tied for fifth among AHL rookies last season with 50 points (24g, 26a), including a pair of hat tricks… LW Charles Linglet returns after tying Talbot for the team lead in goals (24) and raking second in points (66) while playing all 80 games… Six-foot-seven rookie G Ben Bishop went 55-34-7 with a 2.29 GAA in three years at the University of Maine, ranking fifth all-time in wins and fourth in GAA.

Quad City Flames (NHL Affiliate: Calgary Flames)
2nd season
Home Rink: I Wireless Center (cap. 9,435)
2007-08 Record: 38-32-3-7, 86 pts. (6th in West Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 15.4% (19th)
Penalty Kill: 86.6% (3rd)
Head Coach: Ryan McGill (7th year in AHL, 249-185-46; 2nd year in Quad City, 38-35-7)
What to watch: LW Kyle Greentree ranked third on the Philadelphia Phantoms with 48 points (24g, 24a) last season… G Leland Irving, Calgary’s first-round pick (26th overall) in 2006, won 98 games over his last three junior seasons at Everett (WHL)… RW Kris Chucko and RW David Van der Gulik have both played all 160 games over their first two pro seasons… Rookie D Ryan Wilson led all OHL defensemen in scoring each of the last two years, including a 71-point showing (7g, 64a) for Sarnia in 2007-08.

Rockford IceHogs (NHL Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks)
2nd season
Home Rink: Rockford MetroCentre (cap. 6,633)
2007-08 Record: 44-26-4-6, 98 pts. (2nd in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Chicago, 4-3
Power Play: 18.6% (7th)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (T-10th)
Head Coach: Bill Peters (1st year in AHL/Rockford)
What to watch: LW Pascal Pelletier led Providence in goals (37) and points (75) in 2007-08 and played in the AHL All-Star Classic… C Tim Brent paced Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 61 points (18g, 43a) last season and finished third in the league with 27 points in 23 playoff games… C Petri Kontiola ranked second on Rockford with 68 points (18g, 50a) in 66 games last season, his first in North America… LW Bryan Bickell, Chicago’s second-round draft pick in 2004, had 39 points (19g, 20a) as a second-year pro with the IceHogs in 2007-08.

San Antonio Rampage (NHL Affiliate: Phoenix Coyotes)
7th season
Home Rink: AT&T Center (cap. 7,035)
2007-08 Record: 42-28-3-7, 94 pts. (5th in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Toronto, 4-3
Power Play: 14.8% (22nd)
Penalty Kill: 84.1% (9th)
Head Coach: Greg Ireland (5th year in AHL, 151-104-17; 2nd year in San Antonio, 42-31-7)
Notable Alumni: Jay Bouwmeester, Stephen Weiss, Daniel Winnik
What to watch: RW Chad Kolarik tallied six points (4g, 2a) in seven playoff games for the Rampage last spring after joining from the University of Michigan, where he posted 56 points (30g, 26a) in 39 games and reached the Frozen Four… LW Jeff Hoggan registered career highs in all three offensive categories for Providence last year and led the AHL with a plus-39 rating in 71 games… G Al Montoya shows a record of 74-40-4 over his first three pro seasons.