AHL hits the ice for 74th season

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League begins its 74th season on Friday night as 29 teams start down the road to the 2010 Calder Cup championship. The 2009-10 campaign gets underway with a pair of games, as the Texas Stars begin their inaugural season with a visit to the San Antonio Rampage, and the Manitoba Moose host the Houston Aeros in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference finals.

Texas and San Antonio meet again on Saturday in suburban Austin for the first-ever game at the Cedar Park Center. Also that night, the Adirondack Phantoms hit the ice in Glens Falls, N.Y., for the first time when they open their 2009-10 schedule against the Worcester Sharks, and the Hershey Bears begin defense of their 2009 Calder Cup championship at home against the Norfolk Admirals. The AHL’s third new entry for 2009-10, the Abbotsford Heat, kicks off its inaugural season as the top development club of the NHL’s Calgary Flames on Oct. 9 when San Antonio visits the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.

The 2009-10 season will feature seven head coaches making their AHL debuts: Binghamton’s Don Nachbaur, Hamilton’s Guy Boucher, Hershey’s Mark French, Lake Erie’s David Quinn, Lowell’s John MacLean, Texas’s Glen Gulutzan, and Toronto’s Dallas Eakins. Other coaches behind new benches include former Calder Cup champion Jim Playfair in Abbotsford and former Pieri Award winner Greg Gilbert in Adirondack, and Todd Reirden begins his first full season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after replacing Dan Bylsma, who went on to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup following his promotion in February.

The AHL implemented the following rules changes for the 2009-10 season. A modification has been made to the shootout procedures so that no player may shoot twice until all eligible players have gone once. (Previously, only five shooters per team were selected to participate in the entire shootout.) Also, in addition to players who have been assessed a game misconduct or match penalty, skaters who are serving a 10-minute misconduct are now ineligible to participate in the shootout. Finally, one-minute minor penalties during overtime, instituted at the request of NHL general managers in 2008-09, have been eliminated; penalties in overtime will be served in full.

The regular season comprises 1,160 games leading up to the start of the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs in April. On Jan. 18-19, the 2010 Time Warner Cable AHL All-Star Classic will be held at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine, 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 eighth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2008-09.

2009-10 Team Capsules

Atlantic Division

(NHL Affiliate: New York Islanders)
9th season
Home Rink: Bridgeport’s Arena at Harbor Yard (cap. 8,412)
2008-09 Record: 49-23-3-5, 106 pts. (2nd in East Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-1
Power Play: 18.0% (10th)
Penalty Kill: 83.5% (15th)
Head Coach: Jack Capuano (3rd year in AHL/Bridgeport, 89-63-8)
Notable Alumni: Rick DiPietro, Raffi Torres, Trent Hunter, Kyle Okposo
What to watch: C Trevor Smith led Bridgeport with 30 goals and ranked second with 62 points in 76 games last season… G Nathan Lawson made the 2008-09 AHL All-Rookie Team after going 19-9-2 (2.16, .927) in 31 appearances for Bridgeport… RW Greg Moore led the AHL with five shorthanded goals for Hartford last season… LW Justin DiBenedetto ranked third in the OHL with 93 points (45g, 48a) in 62 games for Sarnia last season.

(NHL Affiliate: New York Rangers)

13th season
Home Rink: XL Center (cap. 9,801)
2008-09 Record: 46-27-3-4, 99 pts. (1st in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Worcester, 4-2
Power Play: 17.5% (13th)
Penalty Kill: 82.0% (21st)
Head Coach: Ken Gernander (3rd year in AHL/Hartford, 96-52-12)
Notable Alumni: Marc Savard, Derek Armstrong, Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi
What to watch: D Bobby Sanguinetti led all Hartford rookies and defensemen with 42 points (6g, 36a) in 78 games last season… C Evgeny Grachev racked up 40 goals and 80 points in 60 games for Brampton (OHL) in 2008-09… Former second-round draft pick D Michael Sauer posted a team-best plus-29 rating for Hartford last season… RW P.A. Parenteau has finished top 10 in league scoring three straight seasons.

(NHL Affiliate: New Jersey Devils)
4th season
Home Rink: Paul E. Tsongas Arena (cap. 6,400)
2008-09 Record: 35-36-2-7, 79 pts. (6th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 15.3% (T-22nd)
Penalty Kill: 82.2% (T-18th)
Head Coach: John MacLean (1st year in AHL/Lowell)
Notable Alumni: Andy Greene, Mike Mottau, Rod Pelley
What to watch: RW Vladimir Zharkov led all Lowell rookies with 34 points (11g, 23a) last season and posted a team-best plus-23 rating in 69 games… G Jeff Frazee, a second-round draft pick by New Jersey in 2005, was 28-22-6 (2.62, .920) with four shutouts as a rookie last season… C Kory Nagy registered 55 points (17g, 38a) in 63 games for Oshawa (OHL) in 2008-09 after posting 17 points (5g, 12a) in 57 games the year before.

(NHL Affiliate: Los Angeles Kings)

9th season
Home Rink: Verizon Wireless Arena (cap. 9,852)
2008-09 Record: 37-35-0-8, 82 pts. (5th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 17.6% (T-11th)
Penalty Kill: 85.2% (5th)
Head Coach: Mark Morris (4th year in AHL/Manchester, 127-99-14)
Notable Alumni: Dustin Brown, Mike Cammalleri, Cristobal Huet
What to watch: C Justin Azevedo battled through injuries to record 36 points (12g, 24a) in 49 games last season, tops among Monarchs rookies… G Jonathan Bernier finished ninth overall with a 2.40 GAA in 54 appearances as a rookie in 2008-09… D Thomas Hickey, the fourth overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, had seven points in seven games after joining Manchester late last season… C Oscar Moller played 40 NHL games with Los Angeles last season, tallying seven goals and eight assists.

(NHL Affiliate: Buffalo Sabres)
17th season
Home Rink: Cumberland County Civic Center (cap. 6,733)
2008-09 Record: 39-31-3-7, 88 pts. (3rd in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Providence, 4-1
Power Play: 17.0% (14th)
Penalty Kill: 84.5% (8th)
Head Coach: Kevin Dineen (5th year in AHL/Portland, 174-123-23)
Notable Alumni: Sergei Gonchar, Andrew Brunette, Dustin Penner, Bobby Ryan
What to watch: LW Nathan Gerbe (57gp, 30-26-56) was the AHL’s rookie of the year last season… RW Mark Mancari is coming off three straight 20-goal seasons, including career-high totals in goals (29), assists (38) and points (67) in 2008-09… D Marc-Andre Gragnani had 51 points (9g, 42a) in 76 games last season… C Tyler Ennis, Buffalo’s first-round draft pick in 2008, recorded 112 goals and 226 points in 202 games over his last three years of juniors with Medicine Hat (WHL).

(NHL Affiliate: Boston Bruins)
18th season
Home Rink: Dunkin’ Donuts Center (cap. 11,075)
2008-09 Record: 43-29-2-6, 94 pts. (2nd in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Conference Final to Hershey, 4-1
Power Play: 15.3% (T-22nd)
Penalty Kill: 81.8% (22nd)
Head Coach: Rob Murray (2nd year in AHL/Providence, 43-31-6)
Notable Alumni: Brad Boyes, David Krejci, Nick Boynton, Peter Laviolette
What to watch: RW Brad Marchand placed second in AHL rookie scoring with 59 points in 79 games for Providence last year… Rookie LW Jeff LoVecchio missed last season due to the effects of a concussion suffered in July 2008… D Jeff Penner ranked second among AHL rookie blueliners with his plus-22 rating in 2008-09… Rookie C Jamie Arniel racked up 68 points (32g, 36a) in 63 games for Sarnia (OHL) last season, his second 30-goal and 60-point junior campaign.

(NHL Affiliate: Edmonton Oilers)
16th season
Home Rink: MassMutual Center (cap. 6,789)
2008-09 Record: 24-44-8-4, 60 pts. (7th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 15.5% (21st)
Penalty Kill: 81.3% (24th)
Head Coach: Rob Daum (4th year in AHL, 85-93-12; 2nd year in Springfield, 8-19-3)
Notable Alumni: Daniel Briere, Nikolai Khabibulin, Shane Doan
What to watch: Newcomer LW Chris Minard is coming off three straight 20-goal seasons in the AHL and posted career-high totals of 34 goals and 57 points for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2008-09… RW Ryan Potulny ranked third in the AHL last season with 38 goals in 70 games for Springfield… G Devan Dubnyk led the AHL in minutes played (3,635) and shots faced (1,910), appearing in 62 of the Falcons’ 80 games in 2008-09.

(NHL Affiliate: San Jose Sharks)
4th season
Home Rink: DCU Center (cap. 6,800)
2008-09 Record: 42-35-1-2, 87 pts. (4th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Providence, 4-2
Power Play: 15.8% (20th)
Penalty Kill: 83.0% (16th)
Head Coach: Roy Sommer (12th year in AHL, 393-414-73; 4th year in Worcester, 115-109-16)
Notable Alumni: Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi
What to watch: Two-time AHL All-Star RW Ryan Vesce paced Worcester with 24 goals and 71 points last season; no other Shark had more than 44 points… C Logan Couture, drafted ninth overall by San Jose in 2007, led Ottawa (OHL) with 39 goals, 48 assists and 87 points in 62 games during the 2008-09 campaign… G Tyson Sexsmith posted a 113-32-20 record over his last three junior seasons with Vancouver (WHL) and won the Memorial Cup in 2007.

East Division

(NHL Affiliate: Philadelphia Flyers)
14th season (1st in Adirondack)
Home Rink: Glens Falls Civic Center (cap. 4,816)
2008-09 Record: 43-30-2-5, 93 pts. (4th in East Division; played in Philadelphia)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Hershey, 4-0
Power Play: 18.4% (8th)
Penalty Kill: 84.1% (T-10th)
Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (8th year in AHL, 268-237-55; 1st year in Adirondack)
Notable Alumni: Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Vaclav Prospal, Claude Giroux
What to watch: Former second-round draft pick RW Andreas Nodl split his rookie season between the AHL and NHL, tallying 20 points (6g, 14a) in 39 AHL contests for the Phantoms… LW Patrick Maroon led all Philadelphia rookies with 54 points (23g, 31a) in 80 games in 2008-09… C Krys Kolanos has totaled 61 goals over the last two seasons in the AHL, including a career-high 31 in just 45 games for Houston in 2008-09.

(NHL Affiliate: Carolina Hurricanes)
17th season
Home Rink: Times Union Center (cap. 6,982)
2008-09 Record: 33-40-3-4, 73 pts. (7th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 14.6% (26th)
Penalty Kill: 83.7% (13th)
Head Coach: Jeff Daniels (2nd year in AHL/Albany, 33-43-4)
Notable Alumni: Steve Sullivan, Patrik Elias, John Madden, Michael Leighton
What to watch: RW Jerome Samson registered a point in 14 of his final 18 games last season and tied for the River Rats’ team lead with 54 points (22g, 32a) in 70 games overall… LW Zach Boychuk, the 14th overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft, recorded an assist in his AHL debut with Albany on Apr. 10, 2009… LW Chris Terry finished second among OHL scorers with 94 points (39g, 55a) for Plymouth in 2008-09.

(NHL Affiliate: Ottawa Senators)
8th season
Home Rink: Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena (cap. 4,710)
2008-09 Record: 41-30-5-4, 91 pts. (5th in East Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 22.7% (1st)
Penalty Kill: 82.1% (20th)
Head Coach: Don Nachbaur (1st year in AHL/Binghamton)
Notable Alumni: Jason Spezza, Ray Emery, Brian Pothier, Antoine Vermette
What to watch: G Mike Brodeur went 18-13-4 (2.45, .921) in 38 appearances for Rochester last season and was an AHL All-Star… C Martin St. Pierre has totaled 326 points (86g, 240a) in 272 games over his last four AHL campaigns and appeared in three AHL All-Star Games… D Brian Lee played 53 games in Ottawa last season… Rookie RW Erik Condra led Notre Dame (NCAA) in scoring each of his four years at the school.

(NHL Affiliate: Washington Capitals)
72nd season
Home Rink: Giant Center (cap. 10,500)
2008-09 Record: 49-23-2-6, 106 pts. (1st in East Division)
Playoffs: Won Calder Cup; Defeated Manitoba in Finals, 4-2
Power Play: 19.4% (5th)
Penalty Kill: 78.6% (29th)
Head Coach: Mark French (1st year in AHL/Hershey)
Notable Alumni: Frank Mathers, Willie Marshall, Mike Nykoluk, Ron Hextall, Mike Green
What to watch: Nineteen of the 27 players on Hershey’s opening-night roster were on last year’s Calder Cup championship team… D John Carlson, Washington’s first-round draft pick in 2008, put up 76 points (16g, 60a) in 59 games for London (OHL) last season… C Mathieu Perreault led Bears rookies with 50 points (11g, 39a) in 77 games in 2008-09… LW Alexandre Giroux (60g, 37a) and C Keith Aucoin (25g, 71a) finished first and second in the AHL scoring race last season.

(NHL Affiliate: Tampa Bay Lightning)
10th season
Home Rink: Norfolk Scope (cap. 8,725)
2008-09 Record: 33-38-4-5, 75 pts. (6th in East Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 17.6% (T-11th)
Penalty Kill: 82.3% (17th)
Head Coach: Darren Rumble (2nd year in AHL/Norfolk, 33-42-5)
Notable Alumni: Dustin Byfuglien, Kyle Calder, Rene Bourque
What to watch: C Blair Jones set career highs with 20 goals, 34 assists, and 54 points while appearing in all 80 games for Norfolk in 2008-09… An AHL All-Star last season with 41 points in 43 games for Providence, RW Martins Karsums had five points (1g, 4a) in 18 NHL games with Tampa Bay after arriving in a midseason trade… C Dana Tyrell, a second-round draft pick by the Lightning in 2007, had 40 points (19g, 21a) in just 30 games for Prince George (WHL) in 2008-09.

(NHL Affiliate: Columbus Blue Jackets)
16th season
Home Rink: Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter (cap. 6,230)
2008-09 Record: 40-32-5-3, 88 pts. (5th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 15.2% (24th)
Penalty Kill: 84.1% (T-10th)
Head Coach: Ross Yates (4th year in AHL/Syracuse, 120-103-17)
Notable Alumni: Michael Peca, Adrian Aucoin, Scott Walker, Pascal Leclaire
What to watch: Newcomer C Pascal Pelletier shows 130 points (66g, 64a) in 144 games over his last two AHL seasons… LW Alexandre Picard, Columbus’s first-round draft pick (eighth overall) in 2004, scored 20 goals over his final 22 games of the 2008-09 season for Syracuse… RW Maxim Mayorov notched 17 goals and 14 assists in 71 games as a 19-year-old rookie with the Crunch last season.

(NHL Affiliate: Pittsburgh Penguins)
11th season
Home Rink: Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza (cap. 8,143)
2008-09 Record: 49-25-3-3, 104 pts. (3rd in East Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Hershey, 4-3
Power Play: 19.3% (6th)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (12th)
Head Coach: Todd Reirden (2nd year in AHL/Wilkes-Barre, 14-11-1)
Notable Alumni: Marc-Andre Fleury, Tyler Kennedy, Alex Goligoski
What to watch: LW Luca Caputi led Penguins rookies with 45 points (18g, 27a) in 66 games last season and tallied his first career NHL goal in five contests with Pittsburgh… G John Curry is 57-27-4 over his first two AHL seasons… LW Casey Pierro-Zabotel led the WHL last season with 115 points (36g, 79a) in 72 games for Vancouver… LW Eric Tangradi paced Belleville (OHL) with 38 goals and 88 points during the 2008-09 campaign before adding 21 points (8g, 13a) in 16 playoff contests.

North Division

(NHL Affiliate: Calgary Flames)
1st season
Home Rink: Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre (cap. 7,046)
2008-09 Record: 1st year in AHL (Calgary’s prospects played in Quad City in 2008-09)
Head Coach: Jim Playfair (4th year in AHL, 83-87-22; 1st year in Abbotsford)
What to watch: RW Carsen Germyn registered 23 points (9g, 14a) in the final 23 games of last season for Quad City and tied a career high with 60 points overall (13g, 47a)… G Leland Irving went 24-18-2 for Quad City in 2008-09 and ranked third among AHL rookie netminders with a 2.23 GAA in 47 appearances… RW David Van der Gulik (17g, 19a in 73 games last year) is an Abbotsford native.

(NHL Affiliate: Detroit Red Wings)
9th AHL season
Home Rink: Van Andel Arena (cap. 10,834)
2008-09 Record: 43-25-6-6, 98 pts. (3rd in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Manitoba, 4-0
Power Play: 19.7% (4th)
Penalty Kill: 85.7% (3rd)
Head Coach: Curt Fraser (2nd year in AHL/Grand Rapids, 43-31-6)
Notable Alumni: Niklas Kronwall, Jason Williams, Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard
What to watch: RW Francis Pare ranked third on the Griffins with 48 points (24-24-48) and was a team-best plus-23 in 63 games as a rookie last season… D Jakub Kindl, a first-round draft pick by Detroit in 2005, increased his point total by 16 during his sophomore pro season for Grand Rapids in 2008-09, totaling 33 points (6g, 27a) in 78 games… Rookie D Sebastien Piche led all QMJHL defensemen with 23 goals and 72 points in 62 games for Rimouski.

(NHL Affiliate: Montreal Canadiens)
13th season
Home Rink: Copps Coliseum (cap. 8,819)
2008-09 Record: 49-27-4-0, 102 pts. (2nd in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Grand Rapids, 4-2
Power Play: 19.0% (7th)
Penalty Kill: 80.9% (T-25th)
Head Coach: Guy Boucher (1st year in AHL/Hamilton)
Notable Alumni: Michael Ryder, Jarret Stoll, Fernando Pisani, Andrei Kostitsyn, Carey Price
What to watch: C David Desharnais’s 58 points (24g, 34a) were tied for second on the Bulldogs last season… G Cedrick Desjardins went 8-2-0 (1.87, .938) over his final 10 appearances for Hamilton last season… LW Mathieu Darche enters the year with 196 goals and 418 points in 520 career AHL games… Former second-round draft pick D P.K. Subban placed second on Belleville (OHL) in 2008-09 with 76 points (14g, 62a) in 56 games.

(NHL Affiliate: Colorado Avalanche)
3rd season
Home Rink: Quicken Loans Arena (cap. 10,025)
2008-09 Record: 34-38-3-5, 76 pts. (6th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 11.4% (29th)
Penalty Kill: 84.2% (9th)
Head Coach: David Quinn (1st year in AHL/Lake Erie)
Notable Alumni: T.J. Hensick, Kyle Cumiskey, Johnny Boychuk
What to watch: RW Darren Haydar has 536 points (201g, 335a) in 496 career AHL games and has reached the 20-goal plateau in six of his seven seasons… C Philippe Dupuis had a breakout year with the Monsters in 2008-09, posting a team-high 46 points (17g, 29a) and plus-11 rating in 67 games… G Tyler Weiman paced the AHL with eight shutouts last year… C Ryan Stoa led the U. of Minnesota with 46 points (24g, 22a) in 2008-09, nearly doubling his previous high.

(NHL Affiliate: Vancouver Canucks)
9th AHL season
Home Rink: MTS Centre (cap. 8,800)
2008-09 Record: 50-23-1-6, 107 pts. (1st in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Calder Cup Final to Hershey, 4-2
Power Play: 16.4% (T-15th)
Penalty Kill: 85.6% (4th)
Head Coach: Scott Arniel (4th year in AHL/Manitoba, 141-84-15)
Notable Alumni: Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, Alexander Edler
What to watch: G Cory Schenider returns after leading the AHL in GAA (2.04) and save percentage (.928) in 40 appearances (28-10-1) last season en route to goaltender of the year honors… RW Michael Grabner bettered his 2007-08 rookie-year totals with 30 goals and 48 points in 66 games last season to rank third on the Moose in scoring… RW Matt Pope had six points in 12 playoff games during Manitoba’s run to the Finals last spring.

(NHL Affiliate: Florida Panthers)
54th season
Home Rink: Blue Cross Arena (cap. 11,200)
2008-09 Record: 29-43-0-8, 66 pts. (7th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 13.4% (28th)
Penalty Kill: 79.4% (28th)
Head Coach: Benoit Groulx (2nd year in AHL/Rochester, 29-43-8)
Notable Alumni: Al Arbour, Don Cherry, Gerry Cheevers, Derek Roy, Ryan Miller, David Booth
What to watch: Two-time Calder Cup champion RW Graham Mink has registered four straight 20-goal seasons and tallied a career-high 32 goals for Hershey last season… D Clay Wilson tallied career-best marks in goals (14) and points (45) in 70 AHL games last season for Syracuse and Chicago… LW Kenndal McArdle made his NHL debut with the Panthers in three games last year… RW Evgeny Dadonov was a third-round pick by Florida in 2007.

(NHL Affiliate: Toronto Maple Leafs)
5th season
Home Rink: Ricoh Coliseum (cap. 7,851)
2008-09 Record: 39-29-5-7, 90 pts. (4th in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Manitoba, 4-2
Power Play: 20.4% (2nd)
Penalty Kill: 82.2% (T-18th)
Head coach: Dallas Eakins (1st year in AHL/Toronto)
Notable Alumni: John Mitchell, Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo
What to watch: Former first-round draft pick LW Jiri Tlusty racked up 44 points (18g, 26a) in 31 games after the All-Star break for the Marlies last season… C Christian Hanson had a goal and an assist in five games with the Maple Leafs after finishing his college career at Notre Dame last spring… RW Dale Mitchell helped Windsor (OHL) to the 2009 Memorial Cup championship with 29 points (14g, 15a) in 20 postseason games.

West Division

(NHL Affiliate: Atlanta Thrashers)
9th AHL season
Home Rink: Allstate Arena (cap. 16,692)
2008-09 Record: 38-37-3-2, 81 pts. (6th in West Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 15.0% (25th)
Penalty Kill: 81.7% (23rd)
Head Coach: Don Granato (7th year in AHL, 230-184-48; 2nd year in Chicago, 38-40-2)
Notable Alumni: Kari Lehtonen, Bryan Little, Kurtis Foster
What to watch: RW Spencer Machacek ranked second on the Wolves in goals (23) and third in points (48) in 77 games as a rookie last season… C Tim Stapleton paced the Toronto Marlies with 79 points in 2008-09… D Paul Postma led all WHL defensemen with 84 points and paced the entire league with a plus-67 rating in 70 games for Calgary… C Jason Krog shows 278 points (95g, 183a) in 198 AHL games over the last three seasons.

(NHL Affiliate: Minnesota Wild)
9th AHL season
Home Rink: Toyota Center (cap. 8,939)
2008-09 Record: 38-31-2-9, 87 pts. (3rd in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Conference Final to Manitoba, 4-2
Power Play: 20.0% (3rd)
Penalty Kill: 85.1% (6th)
Head Coach: Kevin Constantine (3rd year in AHL/Houston, 83-64-13)
Notable Alumni: Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Josh Harding
What to watch: LW Jon DiSalvatore shows 317 points (129g, 188a) in 443 career AHL games and has notched at least 20 goals in each of his first six pro seasons… G Anton Khudobin led Houston to the 2009 Western Conference Finals with a 2.70 goals-against average in 17 appearances… RW Carson McMillan’s offensive output for Calgary (WHL) increased from 22 points in 2006-07 to 42 points in 2007-08 to 72 points (31g, 41a) in 68 games last season.

(NHL Affiliate: Nashville Predators)
9th AHL season
Home Rink: Bradley Center (cap. 17,845)
2008-09 Record: 49-22-3-6, 107 pts. (1st in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Houston, 4-3
Power Play: 18.1% (9th)
Penalty Kill: 87.0% (1st)
Head Coach: Lane Lambert (3rd year in AHL/Milwaukee, 93-58-9)
Notable Alumni: Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Jordin Tootoo, Pekka Rinne
What to watch: D Cody Franson improved from 36 points in 76 games as an AHL All-Rookie defenseman in 2007-08 to 52 points in 76 games (11g, 41a) as a Second Team AHL All-Star in 2008-09… C Cal O’Reilly has finished among Milwaukee’s top two scorers each of the last three seasons, amassing 213 points (47g, 166a) in 225 games over that span… G Mark Dekanich had a sparkling 2.09 GAA in 30 appearances for the Admirals last year.

(NHL Affiliate: St. Louis Blues)
5th season
Home Rink: Peoria Civic Center – Carver Arena (cap. 9,919)
2008-09 Record: 43-31-2-4, 92 pts. (2nd in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Houston, 4-3
Power Play: 16.4% (T-15th)
Penalty Kill: 83.6% (14th)
Head Coach: Davis Payne (2nd year in AHL/Peoria, 43-33-4)
Notable Alumni: David Backes, Jeff Woywitka, Lee Stempniak
What to watch: C Yan Stastny split last season between the NHL and AHL, registering 19 points (12g, 7a) in 30 games for Peoria… D Justin Fletcher led all Peoria defensemen with a career-high 32 points (8g, 24a) in 68 games and added a team-best plus-20 rating… C Brett Sonne ranked third in the entire WHL in 2008-09 with 100 points (48g, 52a) in 62 games for Calgary… Rookie C Lars Eller was drafted 13th overall by St. Louis in 2007.

(NHL Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks)
3rd season
Home Rink: Rockford MetroCentre (cap. 5,767)
2008-09 Record: 40-34-0-6, 86 pts. (4th in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Milwaukee, 4-0
Power Play: 14.1% (27th)
Penalty Kill: 80.9% (T-25th)
Head Coach: Bill Peters (2nd year in AHL/Rockford, 40-34-6)
Notable Alumni Kris Versteeg, Troy Brouwer, Cam Barker
What to watch: RW Jack Skille, drafted seventh overall in 2005, bettered his rookie totals in all three offensive categories with 20 goals, 25 assists and 45 points in 58 games for Rockford in 2008-09… C Mark Cullen joins Rockford after posting 39 points (14g, 25a) in 56 games for Calder Cup finalist Manitoba last season… C Maxime Tanguay paced Victoriaville (QMJHL) with 26 goals and 66 points in 62 games last season.

(NHL Affiliate: Phoenix Coyotes)
8th season
Home Rink: AT&T Center (cap. 6,374)
2008-09 Record: 36-38-2-4, 78 pts. (8th in West Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 16.4% (T-15th)
Penalty Kill: 85.9% (2nd)
Head Coach: Greg Ireland (6th year in AHL, 187-144-21; 2nd year in San Antonio, 78-71-11)
Notable Alumni: Jay Bouwmeester, Stephen Weiss, Keith Yandle
What to watch: Drafted third overall by Phoenix in 2007, C Kyle Turris posted 20 points in 63 NHL games last season… LW Viktor Tikhonov, a first-round draft pick by Phoenix in 2008, appeared in 61 games for the Coyotes as a rookie in 2008-09… C Justin Bernhardt paced Prince Albert and ranked fifth overall in the WHL with 92 points (35g, 57a) in 72 games in 2008-09, a 43-point jump from his 2007-08 showing.

(NHL Affiliate: Dallas Stars)
1st season
Home Rink: Cedar Park Center (cap. 6,712)
2008-09 Record: 1st year in AHL (Dallas’s prospects played for multiple AHL clubs in 2008-09)
Head Coach: Glen Gulutzan (1st year in AHL/Texas)
What to watch: RW Matt Beaudoin racked up 17 points (8g, 9a) in 20 Calder Cup Playoff games last spring for Houston… G Matt Climie had a 1.88 GAA in five playoff appearances for Houston last spring… Former first-round draft pick D Ivan Vishnevskiy registered 19 points (6g, 13a) in 67 games as a rookie with Peoria last season… D Maxime Fortunus, F Greg Rallo, and F Raymond Sawada all reached the 2009 Calder Cup Finals with Manitoba.