AHL stars still shining: Martin St. Louis

After leading the University of Vermont in scoring for four years, five-foot-nine Martin St. Louis remained undrafted.

Little did the National Hockey League and the rest of the hockey world know that St. Louis would in short order become a bona fide star, winning a scoring title, an MVP award and a Stanley Cup.

In 1998, St. Louis broke into the American Hockey League full force, registering 15 goals and 26 points in 25 regular-season games with Saint John and leading the Flames to the Calder Cup Finals, adding 20 points in 20 postseason matches.

The following season, St. Louis got two new places to showcase his talent: the 1999 AHL All-Star Classic, held at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, and the National Hockey League, where he made his debut with the Calgary Flames. St. Louis would go on to lead Saint John with 28 goals and 62 points in just 53 games and into its sixth consecutive postseason appearance.

St. Louis saw the last of the AHL in 1999-2000, when he put up 26 points in 17 games and finally earned a full-time job in the NHL.

After signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis blossomed into an NHL superstar, leading the Lightning to their first Stanley Cup championship in 2004. Heading into tonight’s game with the Maple Leafs, the Laval, Que., native continues to be one of the most dominant players in the NHL. He leads the league with 29 goals, on the verge of his fourth consecutive 30-goal season, and is tied for second with 62 points in 47 games. Next week, he is heading to his third NHL All-Star Game.

Of the 394 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 93 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, Jonathan Cheechoo, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Dwayne Roloson, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal, Steve Sullivan and Kyle Wellwood.

The 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic will take place at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, home of the AHL’s Marlies. The event features the 2007 CCM AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 28 (7:00 ET) and the 2007 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 29 (7:00 ET), and will be televised live on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and on a network of regional broadcast partners in the United States.

For ticket and event information, visit http://www.torontomarlies.com/news/07allstargame.asp