AHL set to kick off 75th anniversary season

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League begins its historic 75th anniversary season tonight as an all-time high of 30 teams start down the road to the 2011 Calder Cup championship. The puck drops on the 2010-11 campaign with 28 games over the holiday weekend, including six tonight and 12 more on Saturday.

Highlighting the season-opening festivities will be a special set of throwback home-and-home series featuring the league’s six senior-most cities. The Springfield Falcons battle the Providence Bruins and the Lake Erie Monsters tangle with the Syracuse Crunch on Friday and Saturday night, while the Hershey Bears will take on the Rochester Americans this Sunday and next Saturday, Oct. 16. Each team will wear throwback uniforms harkening back to the AHL’s earliest days; Providence, Springfield, Cleveland, and Syracuse were among the league’s charter cities in 1936, with Hershey hitting the ice in 1938 and Rochester coming aboard in 1956.

After winning the Calder Cup in both 2009 and 2010, Hershey is looking to become the first team to capture three consecutive AHL championships since the Springfield Indians did so from 1960-62. The Bears open their title defense at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday prior to battling the Americans on Sunday.

Also Saturday, AHL action comes to Oklahoma City for the first time as the Barons kick off their inaugural season by hosting division rival Houston at the Cox Convention Center, while the Albany Devils take on rival Adirondack in their first game at the Times Union Center. The AHL’s other new entry for 2010-11, the Charlotte Checkers, begin their first season as the top affiliate of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes with a three-game road trip before their home opener at Time Warner Cable Arena on Oct. 15 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The 2010-11 season will feature nine head coaches making their AHL debuts: Albany’s Rick Kowalsky, Houston’s Mike Yeo, Norfolk’s Jon Cooper, Oklahoma City’s Todd Nelson, Peoria’s Jared Bednar, Rochester’s Chuck Weber, Springfield’s Rob Riley, Syracuse’s Mark Holick, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s John Hynes. In addition to the nine rookies, former AHL coaches of the year Randy Cunneyworth (Hamilton) and Claude Noel (Manitoba) return to the AHL ranks this year following stints as assistant coaches in the National Hockey League.

The upcoming regular season comprises 1,200 games leading up to the start of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs in April. On Jan. 30-31, the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital Blue Cross will be held at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., featuring the top talent in the American Hockey League competing in both the Skills Competition and the All-Star Game. A new format for the 2011 event will pit Eastern Conference All-Stars against their Western Conference counterparts.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of last season’s NHL players were American Hockey League graduates, and for the ninth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2009-10.

2010-11 Team Capsules

Atlantic Division

(NHL Affiliate: New York Islanders)
10th season
Home Rink: Bridgeport’s Arena at Harbor Yard (cap. 8,412)
2009-10 Record: 38-32-4-6, 86 pts. (5th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Hershey, 4-1
Power Play: 15.0% (25th)
Penalty Kill: 82.7% (15th)
Head Coach: Jack Capuano (4th year in AHL/Bridgeport, 127-99-14)
Notable Alumni: Rick DiPietro, Raffi Torres, Trent Hunter, Kyle Okposo
What to watch: LW Jesse Joensuu improved from 39 points as a rookie in 2008-09 to a 48-point showing (14-34-48) in 70 games for Bridgeport last season, and the former second-round pick also appeared in 11 games for the Islanders… Rookie G Mikko Koskinen, a second-round pick (31st overall) by the Islanders in 2009, looks to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2009-10 campaign… D Dylan Reese finished with 24 points (5-19-24) and a plus-12 rating in 52 AHL games last season.

(NHL Affiliate: New York Rangers)

14th season
Home Rink: XL Center (cap. 9,801)
2009-10 Record: 36-33-6-5, 83 pts. (6th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 17.4% (14th)
Penalty Kill: 79.6% (28th)
Head Coach: Ken Gernander (4th year in AHL/Hartford, 132-91-17)
Notable Alumni: Marc Savard, Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan
What to watch: G Chad Johnson went 24-18-2 (2.54, .911) with three shutouts as a rookie with Hartford in 2009-10, while the Wolf Pack’s other goaltenders were a combined 12-21-3… RW Jeremy Williams racked up career highs in goals (32) and points (63) in 77 games for Grand Rapids last season… Returning RW Dane Byers put up career highs in goals (25) and points (52) in 74 games for Hartford last year… Former 12th overall draft pick D Ryan McDonagh turns pro after increasing his point total all three years at the University of Wisconsin (WCHA).

(NHL Affiliate: Los Angeles Kings)

10th season
Home Rink: Verizon Wireless Arena (cap. 9,852)
2009-10 Record: 43-28-3-6, 95 pts. (3rd in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Conference Final to Hershey, 4-2
Power Play: 19.7% (6th)
Penalty Kill: 85.7% (5th)
Head Coach: Mark Morris (5th year in AHL/Manchester, 170-130-20)
Notable Alumni: Mike Cammalleri, Joe Corvo, Dustin Brown, Matt Moulson
What to watch: Rookie RW Brandon Kozun led the entire WHL in scoring last year with 107 points (32-75-107) in 65 games for Calgary, a year after ranking second in the circuit with 108 points (40-68-108) in 72 outings… C Corey Elkins looks to build off his rookie-year showing, when he led the Monarchs with 21 goals (21-22-43) in 73 contests… LW Bud Holloway had a team-best 47 points (19-28-47) in 2009-10, his first full AHL campaign… G Erik Ersberg begins the year in Manchester after spending the past two seasons with Los Angeles.

(NHL Affiliate: Buffalo Sabres)
18th season
Home Rink: Cumberland County Civic Center (cap. 6,733)
2009-10 Record: 45-24-7-4, 101 pts. (2nd in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Manchester, 4-0
Power Play: 20.2% (5th)
Penalty Kill: 83.2% (11th)
Head Coach: Kevin Dineen (6th year in AHL/Portland, 219-154-27)
Notable Alumni: Andrew Brunette, Sergei Gonchar, Dustin Penner, Bobby Ryan, Tyler Ennis
What to watch: RW Mark Mancari, who has topped the 20-goal mark each of the last four seasons, registered a career-high 73 points (28-45-73) for Portland in 2009-10… Rookie C Luke Adam, a second-round draft pick by Buffalo in 2008, led Cape Breton (QMJHL) with 49 goals and 90 points last season… RW Corey Tropp put up 20 goals and 42 points for Michigan State University (CCHA) in 2009-10 after totaling nine goals and 28 points in his previous two seasons combined.

(NHL Affiliate: Boston Bruins)
19th season
Home Rink: Dunkin’ Donuts Center (cap. 11,075)
2009-10 Record: 36-38-5-1, 78 pts. (7th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 15.4% (21st)
Penalty Kill: 80.8% (21st)
Head Coach: Rob Murray (3rd year in AHL/Providence, 79-74-7)
Notable Alumni: Brad Boyes, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask
What to watch: Drafted 16th overall by Boston in 2008, C Joe Colborne led the University of Denver (WCHA) with 22 goals in 39 games last season… C Zach Hamill, the eighth overall pick in 2007, upped his production from 26 points as a rookie to 44 points (14-30-44) with Providence in 2009-10… D Steven Kampfer turns pro following a collegiate season in which he paced Michigan (CCHA) defensemen with 26 points (3-23-26) in 45 games… C Jamie Arniel is looking to build on a 28-point (12-16-28) rookie campaign for the B’s.

(NHL Affiliate: Columbus Blue Jackets)
17th season
Home Rink: MassMutual Center (cap. 6,789)
2009-10 Record: 25-39-12-4, 66 pts. (8th in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 17.4% (15th)
Penalty Kill: 80.0% (27th)
Head Coach: Rob Riley (1st year in AHL/Springfield)
Notable Alumni: Daniel Briere, Olli Jokinen, Shane Doan, Jordan Eberle
What to watch: Rookie LW Matt Calvert tied for fourth in the entire WHL in 2009-10 with 99 points (47-52-99) in 68 games for Brandon… C Chad Kolarik averaged nearly a point per game (9-6-15 in 17 GP) after joining the Syracuse Crunch, Columbus’ previous affiliate, via trade late last season… 19-year-old D David Savard recorded 121 points (22-99-121) in 132 games over his last two junior seasons with Moncton (QMJHL)… A nine-point effort in the closing week allowed RW Maksim Mayorov to top his rookie total with 32 points (17-15-32) for Syracuse last season.

(NHL Affiliate: San Jose Sharks)
5th season
Home Rink: DCU Center (cap. 6,800)
2009-10 Record: 49-25-3-3, 104 pts. (1st in Atlantic Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Manchester, 4-2
Power Play: 18.6% (11th)
Penalty Kill: 81.8% (17th)
Head Coach: Roy Sommer (13th year in AHL, 442-442-76; 5th year in Worcester, 164-137-19)
Notable Alumni: Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, Logan Couture, Jason Demers
What to watch: G Alex Stalock set an AHL rookie record in 2009-10 with 39 wins (39-19-2, 2.63, .908, 4 SO) while appearing in 61 of Worcester’s 80 regular-season games… C Steven Zalewski, also a rookie last year, was the Sharks’ top-scoring forward (22-40-62 in 78 GP)… C Benn Ferriero put up 50 points (19-31-50) in 58 AHL games after being assigned by parent-club San Jose… D Justin Braun was named Hockey East’s Best Defensive Defenseman in 2009-10 and also contributed 31 points (8-23-31), tops among UMass rearguards.

East Division

(NHL Affiliate: Philadelphia Flyers)
15th season (2nd in Adirondack)
Home Rink: Glens Falls Civic Center (cap. 4,816)
2009-10 Record: 32-41-3-4, 71 pts. (7th in East Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 14.4% (26th)
Penalty Kill: 83.1% (12th)
Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (9th year in AHL, 300-281-59; 2nd year in Adirondack, 32-44-4)
Notable Alumni: Vaclav Prospal, Antero Niittymaki, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux
What to watch: Rookie forward Luke Pither is coming off a prolific junior season to join a Phantoms squad which ranked 28th in offense in 2009-10; Pither paced Barrie (OHL) with 94 points (36-58-94) in 67 games… RW Stefan Legein ranked second on the Phantoms with 26 goals (26-11-37) a season ago… Newcomer C Greg Moore is a two-time former 20-goal scorer in the AHL and notched 19 goals (19-22-41) in 78 games for Bridgeport and Syracuse last season… D Dan Jancevski, a former Calder Cup champion, bolsters the Phantoms’ blue line after helping Texas to the 2010 Calder Cup Finals.

(NHL Affiliate: New Jersey Devils)
5th season (1st in Albany)
Home Rink: Times Union Center (cap. 6,691)
2009-10 Record: 39-31-4-6, 88 pts. (4th in Atlantic Division; played in Lowell)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Worcester, 4-1
Power Play: 20.2% (4th)
Penalty Kill: 81.6 % (20th)
Head Coach: Rick Kowalsky (1st year in AHL/Albany)
Notable Alumni: Nicklas Bergfors, Rod Pelley, David Clarkson
What to watch: Former first-round draft picks C Jacob Josefson (20th overall in 2009) and LW Mattias Tedenby (24th overall in 2008) join Albany from their native Sweden to begin their first North American campaign… Third-year pro RW Vladimir Zharkov spent much of 2009-10 with New Jersey but posted 21 points (6-15-21) in just 23 games with AHL Lowell… C Michael Swift doubled his rookie-year production in all offensive categories for Lowell last season, finishing second on the team with 55 points (24-31-55) in 76 games.

(NHL Affiliate: Ottawa Senators)
9th season
Home Rink: Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena (cap. 4,710)
2009-10 Record: 36-35-6-3, 81 pts. (5th in East Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 19.4% (7th)
Penalty Kill: 84.2% (8th)
Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst (4th year in AHL, 98-124-18; 1st year in Binghamton)
Notable Alumni: Jason Spezza, Brian Pothier, Antoine Vermette, Brian Elliott
What to watch: Hobey Baker finalist F Bobby Butler ranked second in Hockey East with 29 goals and 53 points in 39 games for the University of New Hampshire (HE) in 2009-10… RW Ryan Keller enjoyed a breakout 34-goal and 68-point season – both team highs – for the B-Sens last year… Four-time AHL All-Star Corey Locke is coming off a career-best 31-goal and 85-point effort for Hartford and boasts 236 points in 231 AHL games over the past three year… Rookie C Mike Hoffman put up 85 and 94 points during his last two junior seasons in the QMJHL for Saint John (2009-10) and Drummondville (2008-09).

(NHL Affiliate: Carolina Hurricanes)
1st season
Home Rink: Time Warner Cable Arena (cap. 6,800)
2009-10 Record: 1st year in AHL (Carolina’s prospects played in Albany in 2009-10)
Head Coach: Jeff Daniels (3rd year in AHL, 76-75-9; 1st year in Charlotte)
What to watch: RW Jared Staal, a second-round pick in 2008 and younger brother of current NHLers Eric, Marc, and Jordan, turns pro after four years of juniors at Sudbury (OHL)… C Zach Boychuk, drafted 14th overall by Carolina in 2008, will begin the year in Charlotte after splitting his rookie season between the Hurricanes and AHL Albany… In 2009-10, RW Jerome Samson tied for second in the AHL in goals (37) and tied for fourth in points (78) in 74 games for Albany… Newcomer C Jon Matsumoto has topped the 20-goal plateau in each of his first three AHL seasons and scored a career-best 30 markers (30-32-62) in 80 games for Adirondack last season.

(NHL Affiliate: Washington Capitals)
73rd season
Home Rink: Giant Center (cap. 10,500)
2009-10 Record: 60-17-0-3, 123 pts. (1st in East Division)
Playoffs: Won Calder Cup; Defeated Texas in Finals, 4-2
Power Play: 20.7% (1st)
Penalty Kill: 87.4% (1st)
Head Coach: Mark French (2nd year in AHL/Hershey, 60-17-3)
Notable Alumni: Mike Green, Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Fehr, John Carlson
What to watch: Returnee C Keith Aucoin, the reigning AHL MVP, leads all active players with 635 career AHL points (194g, 441a) in 577 games… LW Kyle Greentree joins the two-time defending Calder Cup champs after posting three straight 20-plus goal AHL seasons to begin his AHL career… Second-year G Braden Holtby looks to build on a rookie campaign that saw him go 24-8-2 (2.32, .917) in 37 outings for the Bears… Former second-round draft pick RW Dmitri Kugryshev totaled 161 points (63-98-161) in 123 games over a two-year junior career at Quebec (QMJHL).

(NHL Affiliate: Tampa Bay Lightning)
11th season
Home Rink: Norfolk Scope (cap. 8,725)
2009-10 Record: 39-35-3-3, 84 pts. (4th in East Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 12.6% (29th)
Penalty Kill: 86.2% (3rd)
Head Coach: Jon Cooper (1st year in AHL/Norfolk)
Notable Alumni: Rene Bourque, Dustin Byfuglien, Dave Bolland, Zenon Konopka
What to watch: Rookie D Marc Barberio racked up 151 points (43-108-151) over his last three years of juniors with Moncton (QMJHL)… LW Juraj Simek more than doubled his career-high in goals with 21 for Norfolk last season and also posted career-best totals in assists (15) and points (36)… As a rookie in 2009-10, G Dustin Tokarski ranked fourth in the AHL in minutes played and went 27-25-3 while tying for 13th with a 2.51 goals-against average.

(NHL Affiliate: Anaheim Ducks)
17th season
Home Rink: Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter (cap. 6,159)
2009-10 Record: 34-39-4-3, 75 pts. (6th in East Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 17.0% (18th)
Penalty Kill: 83.0% (13th)
Head Coach: Mark Holick (1st year in AHL/Syracuse)
Notable Alumni: Adrian Aucoin, Scott Walker, Pascal Leclaire, Derick Brassard
What to watch: Newcomer LW Trevor Smith put up three-straight 20-plus goal seasons for Bridgeport to begin his professional career… D Danny Syvret was plagued by injuries last season but registered a career-high 57 points for AHL Philadelphia in 2008-09… Rookie LW Brandon MacMillan tied for the Kelowna (WHL) team lead with 25 goals and ranked third with 67 points in just 55 games a season ago… 19-year-old D Mat Clark put up 46 points (10-36-46) and a plus-22 rating over the last two years at Brampton (OHL).

(NHL Affiliate: Pittsburgh Penguins)
12th season
Home Rink: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza (cap. 8,050)
2009-10 Record: 41-34-2-3, 87 pts. (3rd in East Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Albany, 4-0
Power Play: 16.6% (20th)
Penalty Kill: 81.7% (18th)
Head Coach: John Hynes (1st year in AHL/Wilkes-Barre)
Notable Alumni: Marc-Andre Fleury, Andrew Ference, Ryan Whitney, Alex Goligoski
What to watch: Three-time AHL All-Star LW Brett Sterling joins the Pens after recording 144 goals and 263 points in 254 AHL games with Chicago over the past four years… C Dustin Jeffrey went from 11-26-37 totals as an AHL rookie in 2008-09 to a 24-47-71 showing in 2009-10, leading Wilkes-Barre in scoring… Rookie RW Nick Petersen totaled 169 points (76-93-169) in 127 games over his past two junior seasons with Shawinigan and Saint John (QMJHL)… D Carl Sneep had 28 points (11-17-28) for NCAA champion Boston College last year, tops among team rearguards. 

North Division

(NHL Affiliate: Calgary Flames)
2nd season
Home Rink: Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre (cap. 7,046)
2009-10 Record: 39-29-5-7, 90 pts. (3rd in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Hamilton, 4-2
Power Play: 15.3% (22nd)
Penalty Kill: 80.1% (25th)
Head Coach: Jim Playfair (5th year in AHL, 122-121-29; 2nd year in Abbotsford, 39-34-7)
What to watch: A first-round draft pick (25th overall) by Calgary in 2010, 20-year-old C Greg Nemisz joins the Heat after turning in three straight 30-plus goal junior seasons for Windsor (OHL)… Fellow 20-year-olds C Mitch Wahl (96 points for WHL Spokane in 2009-10) and C Lance Bouma prepare for their first full pro season after coming aboard for Abbotsford’s 2010 playoff run… G Leland Irving, a former first-round pick, looks to bounce back following a 14-17-2 (2.76, .905) showing for the Heat in 2009-10, which came after a rookie 2008-09 AHL campaign in which he went 24-18-2 (2.23, .912).

(NHL Affiliate: Detroit Red Wings)
10th AHL season
Home Rink: Van Andel Arena (cap. 10,834)
2009-10 Record: 34-39-3-4, 75 pts. (7th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 17.1% (17th)
Penalty Kill: 80.1% (26th)
Head Coach: Curt Fraser (3rd year in AHL/Grand Rapids, 77-73-10)
Notable Alumni: Niklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard
What to watch: 22-year-old RW Jan Mursak ranked second on the Griffins with 24 goals while adding 18 assists and a plus-12 rating in 79 games as a second-year pro in 2009-10… 19-year-old RW Willie Coetzee turns pro following a team-best 81-point season (29-52-81) for Red Deer (WHL), nearly doubling his offensive output from 2008-09… F Ilari Filppula, making his North American debut, is the brother of ex-Griffin and current Detroit Red Wing Valtteri Filppula.

(NHL Affiliate: Montreal Canadiens)
14th season
Home Rink: Copps Coliseum (cap. 8,819)
2009-10 Record: 52-17-3-8, 115 pts. (1st in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Conference Final to Texas, 4-3
Power Play: 17.6% (13th)
Penalty Kill: 85.4% (6th)
Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth (9th season in AHL, 306-273-61; 1st year in Hamilton)
Notable Alumni: Michael Ryder, Jarret Stoll, Tomas Plekanec, Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, P.K. Subban
What to watch: Returning C David Desharnais tied for fourth in the AHL last year with 78 points (27-51-78), his second straight 20-plus goal season for Hamilton… Rookie C Gabriel Dumont racked up 51 goals and 93 points in 62 games last season for Drummondville (QMJHL) after combining for 39 goals and 74 points in his previous two campaigns… Top goaltending prospect Robert Mayer joins Hamilton following a 19-10-1 season at Cincinnatti (ECHL) in 2009-10.

(NHL Affiliate: Colorado Avalanche)
4th season
Home Rink: Quicken Loans Arena (cap. 10,025)
2009-10 Record: 34-37-1-8, 77 pts. (6th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 18.4% (12th)
Penalty Kill: 79.5% (29th)
Head Coach: David Quinn (2nd year in AHL/Lake Erie, 34-38-8)
Notable Alumni: Chris Stewart, T.J. Galiardi, Kyle Cumiskey
What to watch: Newcomer C Ben Walter has scored 20 or more goals in each of his last four AHL seasons, and he paced Lowell in 2009-10 with 58 points (22-36-58)… Selected in the first and second rounds of the 2007 draft, respectively, D Kevin Shattenkirk and D Colby Cohen each turn pro following impressive three-year careers as teammates at Boston University (HE)… D Mark Olver was a Hobey Baker finalist last year for Northern Michigan (CCHA)… Former second-round pick LW Ryan Stoa tied for second on Lake Erie with 23 goals (23-17-40) as a rookie in 2009-10.

(NHL Affiliate: Vancouver Canucks)
10th AHL season
Home Rink: MTS Centre (cap. 8,800)
2009-10 Record: 40-33-5-2, 87 pts. (4th in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Hamilton, 4-2
Power Play: 14.3% (27th)
Penalty Kill: 82.8% (14th)
Head Coach: Claude Noel (5th year in AHL, 183-111-26; 1st year in Manitoba)
Notable Alumni: Alex Auld, Ryan Kesler, Alexander Edler, Mason Raymond
What to watch: Rookie C Jordan Schroeder, drafted 22nd overall in 2009 by Vancouver, had nine points (4-5-9) in 11 regular-season games last season after joining from the University of Minnesota… C Marco Rosa achieved career highs in goals (22), assists (33), and points (55) while playing all 80 games for Manitoba in 2009-10… 20-year-old D Kevin Connauton racked up 72 points (24-48-72) in 69 junior games for Vancouver (WHL) last season… C Cody Hodgson, drafted 10th overall by Vancouver in 2008, starts with the Moose after an injury-plagued 2009-10 season in juniors; During 2007-08 and 2008-09, Hodgson combined for 83 goals and 177 points with Brampton (OHL).

(NHL Affiliate: Florida Panthers)
55th season
Home Rink: Blue Cross Arena (cap. 7,528)
2009-10 Record: 44-33-2-1, 91 pts. (2nd in North Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Abbotsford, 4-3
Power Play: 19.2% (8th)
Penalty Kill: 80.8% (22nd)
Head Coach: Chuck Weber (1st year in AHL/Rochester)
Notable Alumni: Derek Roy, Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Shawn Matthias
What to watch: Highly-touted rookie G Jacob Markstrom, a second-round draft pick by Florida in 2008, joins Rochester this season from his native Sweden… C Chris Taylor ranks seventh among active AHL players with 509 career points (157-352-509)… Third-year D Keaton Ellerby, drafted 10th overall by Florida in 2007, begins the year in Rochester after playing 22 NHL games with the Panthers in 2009-10… Rookie D Adam Comrie increased his point production in all three junior seasons with Saginaw and Guelph (OHL).

6th season
Home Rink: Ricoh Coliseum (cap. 7,851)
2009-10 Record: 33-35-6-6, 78 pts. (5th in North Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 13.1% (28th)
Penalty Kill: 81.7% (19th)
Head Coach: Dallas Eakins (2nd year in AHL/Toronto, 33-41-6)
Notable Alumni: Carlo Colaiacovo, John Mitchell, Jiri Tlusty, Tyler Bozak
What to watch: Drafted seventh overall by the Maple Leafs in 2009, C Nazem Kadri increased his point total all four years of juniors, finishing 2009-10 with 35 goals and 93 points in 56 games for London (OHL)… C Christian Hanson split his rookie year between the Maple Leafs and Marlies and totaled 31 points (12-19-31) in 38 AHL contests… 19-year-old RW Jerry D’Amigo put up 34 points (10-24-34) in 35 college games last year for R.P.I. (ECAC).

West Division

(NHL Affiliate: Atlanta Thrashers)
10th AHL season
Home Rink: Allstate Arena (cap. 16,692)
2009-10 Record: 49-24-1-6, 105 pts. (1st in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Final to Texas, 4-3
Power Play: 17.3% (16th)
Penalty Kill: 85.1% (7th)
Head Coach: Don Lever (8th year in AHL, 283-212-44; 2nd year in Chicago, 48-20-6)
Notable Alumni: Kari Lehtonen, Kurtis Foster, Bryan Little, Ondrej Pavelec
What to watch: D Arturs Kulda returns to Chicago after leading the entire AHL with a plus-47 rating last season and increasing his point total from 15 as a rookie in 2008-09 to 25 (6-19-15) in 66 contests in 2009-10… RW Spencer Machacek shows back-to-back 20-plus goal seasons for the Wolves to begin his pro career… G Peter Mannino went an impressive 26-5-1 and tied for third in the AHL with a .921 save percentage in 38 appearances for Chicago last season… 21-year-old RW Akim Aliu joins the Wolves after spending his rookie 2009-10 with rival Rockford, where he had 17 points (11-6-17) in 48 games.

(NHL Affiliate: Minnesota Wild)
10th AHL season
Home Rink: Toyota Center (cap. 8,939)
2009-10 Record: 34-34-7-5, 80 pts. (7th in West Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 15.3% (23rd)
Penalty Kill: 86.0% (4th)
Head Coach: Mike Yeo (1st year in AHL/Houston)
Notable Alumni: Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Josh Harding, Benoit Pouliot
What to watch: D Maxim Noreau was a Second Team AHL All-Star in 2009-10 after recording a career-best 18 goals and 52 points in 76 games for Houston… LW Jon DiSalvatore has scored between 20 and 22 goals in each of his first seven AHL seasons… G Josh Tordjman joins the Aeros following three straight 20-plus win seasons with rival San Antonio… RW Jean-Michel Daoust led Houston last year with an AHL career-high 55 points (21-34-55) in 78 outings… Rookie D Tyler Cuma was a first-round draft pick (23rd overall) by Minnesota in 2008.

(NHL Affiliate: Nashville Predators)
10th AHL season
Home Rink: Bradley Center (cap. 17,845)
2009-10 Record: 41-30-2-7, 91 pts. (4th in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Chicago, 4-3
Power Play: 19.0% (10th)
Penalty Kill: 80.5% (23rd)
Head Coach: Lane Lambert (4th year in AHL/Milwaukee, 134-90-16)
Notable Alumni: Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Ville Koistinen, Pekka Rinne, Rich Peverley
What to watch: A second-round draft pick (56th overall) by Nashville in 2006, LW Blake Geoffrion won the 2010 Hobey Baker Award after totaling 50 points (28-22-50) in 40 games for Wisconsin (WCHA)… As a rookie in 2009-10, former first-round draft pick D Jonathon Blum played all 80 games and finished fourth overall on Milwaukee with 41 points (11-30-41) to go with a plus-17 rating… G Mark Dekanich finished 2009-10 at 27-16-4 in 49 appearances for Milwaukee and ranked fifth in the AHL with a 2.33 goals-against average.

(NHL Affiliate: Edmonton Oilers)
1st season
Home Rink: Cox Convention Center (cap. 13,399)
2009-10 Record: 1st year in AHL (Edmonton’s prospects played in Springfield in 2009-10)
Head Coach: Todd Nelson (1st year in AHL/Oklahoma City)
What to watch: RW Alexandre Giroux racked up 110 goals and 200 points over the past two regular seasons with Hershey and won the Calder Cup both years… RW Ben Ondrus comes to the Barons after spending the first seven years of his pro career in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization… Former first-round draft pick C Ryan O’Marra looks to build off a 2009-10 campaign which saw him score a career-high 12 goals in the AHL and appear in his first three NHL tilts with Edmonton.

(NHL Affiliate: St. Louis Blues)
6th season
Home Rink: Peoria Civic Center – Carver Arena (cap. 9,919)
2009-10 Record: 38-33-2-7, 85 pts. (5th in West Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 20.4% (3rd)
Penalty Kill: 80.3% (24th)
Head Coach: Jared Bednar (1st year in AHL/Peoria)
Notable Alumni: David Backes, Jeff Woywitka, D.J. King, Jay McClement
What to watch: Newcomers RW Graham Mink and D Dean Arsene were teammates on Hershey’s 2006 and 2009 Calder Cup title teams… Fellow newcomer D Nathan Oystrick won the Calder Cup with Chicago in 2008, and two-time AHL All-Star C T.J. Hensick also joins the Rivermen this year after posting a team-best 70 points (20-50-70) in just 58 games for Lake Erie last season… C Nicholas Drazenovic, who notched a career-high and team-best 19 goals (19-20-39) in 2009-10, headlines Peoria’s returnees.

(NHL Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks)
4th season
Home Rink: Rockford MetroCentre (cap. 5,767)
2009-10 Record: 44-30-3-3, 94 pts. (3rd in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Division Semifinal to Texas, 4-0
Power Play: 15.2% (24th)
Penalty Kill: 83.3% (10th)
Head Coach: Bill Peters (3rd year in AHL/Rockford, 84-67-9)
Notable Alumni Kris Versteeg, Troy Brouwer, Cam Barker
What to watch: Drafted in the second round (45th overall) in 2009, LW Jeremy Morin put up 83 points (47-36-83) in just 58 games last year for Kitchener (OHL)… A four-time 20-goal scorer in the AHL, C Jeff Taffe comes to Rockford following a career-high 28-goal showing (28-28-56) in 61 games for Rochester last season… D Ivan Vishnevskiy, a first-round draft pick in 2006, was an AHL All-Star as a rookie in 2009-10 with 36 points (10-26-36) and a plus-8 rating in 79 games for Texas and Chicago… Former AHL All-Star C Ryan Potulny spent the bulk of 2009-10 in the NHL with Edmonton.

(NHL Affiliate: Phoenix Coyotes)
9th season
Home Rink: AT&T Center (cap. 6,374)
2009-10 Record: 36-32-5-7, 84 pts. (6th in West Division)
Playoffs: DNQ
Power Play: 20.7% (2nd)
Penalty Kill: 83.8% (9th)
Head Coach: Ray Edwards (2nd year in AHL/San Antonio, 30-26-6)
Notable Alumni: Jay Bouwmeester, Stephen Weiss, Daniel Winnik, Keith Yandle
What to watch: G Matt Climie shifts over to San Antonio after going 21-17-3 (2.46, .919) for Texas last season – his first full AHL campaign – and helping the Stars reach the Calder Cup Finals… 20-year-old Mikkel Boedker, drafted eighth overall in 2008, is already entering his third pro season and looks to build on a 38-point showing (11-27-38) in 64 outings for the Rampage last year… Newcomer RW Tim Stapleton shows 58 goals over his last two AHL seasons, including a career-high 30 (30-29-59) for Chicago in 2009-10… Rookie D Michael Stone totaled 126 points (40-86-126) in 138 games over his last two junior seasons at Calgary (WHL).

(NHL Affiliate: Dallas Stars)
2nd season
Home Rink: Cedar Park Center (cap. 6,863)
2009-10 Record: 46-27-3-4, 99 pts. (2nd in West Division)
Playoffs: Lost Calder Cup Final to Hershey, 4-2
Power Play: 19.1% (9th)
Penalty Kill: 86.4% (2nd)
Head Coach: Glen Gulutzan (2nd year in AHL/Texas, 46-30-4)
What to watch: 19-year-old C Tristan King turns pro following a 21-goal and 65-point junior season in Medicine Hat (WHL)… G Brent Krahn fought injury but finished an impressive 17-4-0 (1.83, .945) with five shutouts in 22 regular-season outings for Texas in 2009-10… C Aaron Gagnon returns after leading the Stars with 27 goals, 58 points, and a plus-19 rating in 78 games last season… Fellow returnee C Travis Morin played all 124 of Texas’ regular-season and playoff games last year and totaled 68 points (25-43-68) in those contests.