📝 by Patrick Williams
Several American Hockey League stars made their respective cases for a promotion last season. And several seasons before that as well, in some cases.
Now they are back for more, competing for National Hockey League full-time roles as training camp continues this week.
Here is a look at some accomplished AHL veterans who are attempting to position themselves for a move to the NHL.
MICHAEL DAL COLLE – OTTAWA SENATORS
This fall is a fresh start for the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
When the New York Islanders made that pick eight years ago, expectations were high, and Dal Colle appeared to be on his way toward becoming a regular in their lineup. In 2018-19, Dal Colle notched 34 points (18 goals, 16 assists) in 34 AHL games and was an AHL All-Star, while also playing 28 contests with New York. And by 2019-20, Dal Colle seemingly had broken through, playing 53 games with the Islanders before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted that season.
But last season he was limited to one appearance with the Islanders and spent 39 games with their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Islanders, where he put up 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists).
Now after six full seasons the Islanders organization and having turned 26 this summer, Dal Colle is in Ottawa on a tryout. He is auditioning for head coach D.J. Smith, who was also his head coach with Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League.
TROY GROSENICK – PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Another year, another battle for Grosenick.
The tried-and-true AHL goaltending hand put forth one of his strongest statements last season with the Providence Bruins, securing a spot as a Second Team AHL All-Star. Grosenick’s 2.00 goals-against average and .933 save percentage each led the AHL and went along with his 16-6-4 record and three shutouts in 30 outings.
That effort won Grosenick a new one-year, one-way contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. Grosenick is 149-91-30 with a 2.50 GAA, a .914 save percentage and 19 shutouts in 288 career AHL appearances, and won the Baz Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender in 2016-17. But he has gotten into just four NHL games ― two with San Jose in 2014-15 and two with Los Angeles in 2020-21.
Now as his 10th pro season unfolds, Grosenick is competing with prospect Felix Sandstrom, who spent most of last season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, for a chance to share the Flyers crease with Carter Hart.
JOSH LEIVO – ST. LOUIS BLUES
The Blues and their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, saw more than enough of Leivo during the 2022 Calder Cup Finals.
Leivo piled up nine points (four goals, five assists) in the five-game series against Springfield, leading the Chicago Wolves to the championship. After a 46-point regular season (22 goals, 24 assists in 54 games), Leivo amassed a league-best 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 18 postseason games to win the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
A little more than two weeks later, Leivo had a contract in hand from the Blues.
Last season was a step back to a primarily AHL role for Leivo, who has 214 NHL contests on his ledger. Now he is locked in a battle for a St. Louis roster spot with several of those Springfield players he opposed in June.
The Blues are giving Leivo a long look, dressing him for two of their first three preseason games. His three-point night (two goals, one assist) led the Blues to 4-0 win at Dallas earlier this week, and his 17:54 of ice time that night ranked third among the team’s forwards.
CHARLIE LINDGREN – WASHINGTON CAPITALS
One familiar AHL name who can exhale a bit is Lindgren, who secured himself a three-year contract worth $3.3 million to pair with Darcy Kuemper in Washington’s net.
Following parts of five AHL seasons in the Montreal Canadiens organization, Lindgren made a major career switch before last season and signed with St. Louis. In 34 games with Springfield, Lindgren went 24-7-1 with a 2.21 GAA and .925 save percentage, and also ended up getting five NHL games with the Blues, finishing 5-0-0 with a 1.22 GAA and .958 save percentage in the regular season before backing up Ville Husso during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
When the Blues’ postseason run ended, Lindgren returned to Springfield to team with Joel Hofer and take the Thunderbirds to the Calder Cup Finals.
ANDREW POTURALSKI – SEATTLE KRAKEN
Over six pro seasons, Poturalski has made a strong case for himself at the AHL level, winning two Calder Cup championships and two league scoring titles.
Last season as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes organization, Poturalski’s 101 points (28 goals, 73 assists) in 71 games earned him his second straight John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL’s leading scorer, making him only the fifth player in league history to do so. Then when the Calder Cup Playoffs arrived, the Chicago Wolves captain finished with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 18 contests.
But with only four NHL games to his credit ― including two with Carolina last season ― it was time for another change for Poturalski, who signed a two-year contract with Seattle in July. Poturalski has made improving his skating an offseason priority and thrived as a center leading the Chicago attack.
In a battle to make a further impression on Seattle’s management and coaching staff, Poturalski registered 12:30 of ice time, skated on the power play, and picked up an empty-net goal in the Kraken’s 3-0 preseason win against Calgary on Tuesday night.
UP NEXT: A look at some of the AHL’s 2021-22 top prospects who continue to battle for NHL jobs this week at training camp.
Patrick Williams has been on the American Hockey League beat for nearly two decades for outlets including NHL.com, Sportsnet, TSN, The Hockey News, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and SLAM! Sports, and is currently the co-host of The Hockey News On The ‘A’ podcast. He was the recipient of the AHL’s James H. Ellery Memorial Award for his outstanding coverage of the league in 2016.