No Classic, but still plenty of stars around AHL this season

Dustin Wolf (Photo: Abbotsford Canucks)

📝 by Patrick Williams

What if?

That question has been asked endlessly for nearly two years around the hockey world.

The 2022 AHL All-Star Classic had been scheduled to be held tonight and Monday at Place Bell, the home of the Laval Rocket, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the event for a second consecutive winter.

That means that the league’s coaches, along with the AHL office in Springfield, Mass., did not make picks for an annual Skills Competition and 3-on-3 All-Star Challenge. Nevertheless, we can still play the what-if game with the thoughts of one AHL writer. In this exercise, a team for each of the AHL’s four divisions will feature the standard two goaltenders, four defensemen, and six forwards with every AHL club represented by at least one player.


G – Keith Kinkaid, Hartford Wolf Pack (16-2-2, 2.58gaa, .912sv%, 1so)
Kinkaid’s work in net has the Wolf Pack in contention for an Atlantic Division title despite a crush of player movement.

G – Jakub Skarek, Bridgeport Islanders (12-8-4, 2.76gaa, .911sv%, 1so)
The 22-year-old Skarek has been a workhorse in Bridgeport and put himself in contention for a future job with the New York Islanders.

D – Jack Ahcan, Providence Bruins (31gp, 5+14=19pts., 3 PPG)
Providence has long had a knack for developing blueliners, and Ahcan is the latest such example.

D – Adam Clendening, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (37gp, 5+19=24pts., 3 GWG)
Clendening has long been a top AHL offensive defenseman, and his work has helped the Phantoms to work out of a tough start.

D – Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (32gp, 6+15=21pts., 1 PPG)
The 23rd pick in the 2017 NHL Draft continues to develop in his third pro season, and has earned 20 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

D – Tarmo Reunanen, Hartford Wolf Pack (27gp, 1+15=16pts., +12)
The New York Rangers have amassed an impressive collection of young defensemen in Hartford. Braden Schneider is already in New York, and Reunanen does not look to be far behind.

Pierre-Olivier Joseph (Photo: KDP Studio)

F – Jonny Brodzinski, Hartford Wolf Pack (29gp, 16+17=33pts., 5 PPG, 3 SHG)
Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblauch raves about his captain, who does it all both on and off the ice.

F – Logan Hutsko, Charlotte Checkers (41gp, 8+18=26pts., 2 PPG)
The Boston College product and 2018 third-round draft pick has made a smooth transition to the pro game in his rookie season.

F – Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Hershey Bears (34gp, 13+16=29pts., 4 PPG)
The Washington Capitals lost Jonsson-Fjallby on waivers to the Buffalo Sabres before eventually reclaiming him, and the move has benefited Hershey.

F – Matthew Peca, Springfield Thunderbirds (36gp, 14+20=34pts., 6 PPG)
One of the top organizational depth signings by the parent St. Louis Blues, Peca is a dominant two-way forward.

F – Joe Snively, Hershey Bears (35gp, 15+23=38pts., 4 PPG, 3 SHG, +22)
Hershey lost some firepower up front early in the season, but Snively’s work has compensated for those losses.

F – Nathan Walker, Springfield Thunderbirds (31gp, 16+18=34pts., 8 PPG)
Walker has a hat trick in both the NHL and AHL this season and is a force every night.


G – Erik Källgren, Toronto Marlies (12-6-0, 2.82gaa, .912sv%)
After playing the bulk of his pro career in Europe, Källgren has made a smooth shift to North America.

G – Akira Schmid, Utica Comets (11-0-2, 1.54gaa, .947sv%, 2so)
Just last season Schmid was in the junior United States Hockey League. Now Schmid and Niko Daws, who helped to make the Comets a force in the fall, could very well do so this spring.

D – Jake Christiansen, Cleveland Monsters (32gp, 6+16=22pts., 1 PPG)
Christiansen went undrafted and had to play his overage season in the Western Hockey League. Now he is pushing for a full-time NHL job.

D – Filip Král, Toronto Marlies (34gp, 3+14=17pts., 1 PPG)
Král excelled in the fall coming out of training camp. Marlies head coach Greg Moore has marveled how Král overcame the AHL schedule grind to turn it on in January.

D – Ethan Prow, Rochester Americans (36gp, 4+20=24pts., 1 PPG)
With ample talent up front, the Amerks need someone who can distribute the puck to those talented forwards. Prow does that.

D – Reilly Walsh, Utica Comets (38gp, 6+24=30pts., 2 PPG, +15)
Last season’s challenges for New Jersey Devils prospects has paid off this season, and Walsh’s strides in his second pro season have been considerable.

Reilly Walsh (Photo: Jeff Pexton)

F – Gabriel Dumont, Syracuse Crunch (37gp, 16+15=31pts., 6 PPG)
Long a heart-and-soul player, Dumont is back in Syracuse for a second stint and has been a force for the Crunch as their captain.

F – Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Laval Rocket (30gp, 6+10=16pts., 1 PPG, +10)
A 2019 seventh-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens, Harvey-Pinard attracted notice last season as a rookie. His play this season has cemented his status as a top prospect in the organization.

F – Alexander Holtz, Utica Comets (24gp, 13+15=28pts., 3 PPG)
The seventh overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, it is only a matter of time before Holtz is a New Jersey full-timer.

F – Michael Mersch, Rochester Americans (40gp, 19+20=39pts., 5 PPG)
Head coach Seth Appert can’t rave enough about his captain, nor can his teammates. A long-time power forward, he has complemented the Amerks’ up-tempo young forwards perfectly with his net-front work.

F – JJ Peterka, Rochester Americans (34gp, 10+24=34pts.)
One of Rochester’s young guns along with Peyton Krebs and the injured Jack Quinn, Peterka only turned 20 years old last month. His motor never stops on the forecheck.

F – Egor Sokolov, Belleville Senators (30gp, 10+15=25pts., 1 PPG)
Sokolov completely overhauled his skating, and that hard work continues to pay off in his second pro season.


G – Connor Ingram, Milwaukee Admirals (18-11-3, 2.53gaa, .922sv%, 5so)
Even a league-leading five shutouts does not adequately demonstrate how dominant Ingram has been this season. He can carry a team.

G – Calvin Pickard, Grand Rapids Griffins (13-10-5, 2.55gaa, .922sv%, 1so)
Pickard has played 50 games in a season at both the NHL and AHL levels, and he is on track to hit 50 games again.

D – Leon Gawanke, Manitoba Moose (32gp, 5+14=19pts., 2 PPG, +14)
The Moose may have the AHL’s best blue line. The offensive touch that Gawanke showed in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has carried into the pro game.

D – Joe Hicketts, Iowa Wild (34gp, 7+14=21pts., 2 PPG)
Long reliable in Grand Rapids, Hicketts has carried that standard with him to Iowa.

D – Johnathan Kovacevic, Manitoba Moose (32gp, 7+7=14pts., +11)
Kovacevic built his career around his responsible defensive play. Now he has unlocked an offensive side to his game as well.

D – Alec Regula, Rockford IceHogs (22gp, 2+12=14pts.)
Just 21, Regula is a second-year pro who already can anchor a blue line.

Marco Rossi (Photo: Tim Garland)

F – Riley Damiani, Texas Stars (24gp, 7+11=18pts., 4 PPG)
Damiani made everyone forget that he was a fifth-round pick last season, winning the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding rookie. The energetic forward is a force again.

F – Stefan Noesen, Chicago Wolves (35gp, 20+21=41pts., 6 PPG, 2 SHG)
Noesen is part of an unrelenting offense that has the Wolves contending for the AHL lead.

F – Andrew Poturalski, Chicago Wolves (37gp, 20+33=53pts., 8 PPG)
A magician with and without the puck, Poturalski is on course to lead the AHL in scoring for a second consecutive season.

F – Lukas Reichel, Rockford IceHogs (29gp, 13+16=29pts., 3 PPG)
The 17th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft is averaging a point per game as a 19-year-old in Rockford.

F – Marco Rossi, Iowa Wild (32gp, 12+22=34pts., 4 PPG)
After going ninth in the 2020 NHL Draft, Rossi endured a trying season, health-wise. He is more than making up for that lost time.

F – C.J. Smith, Chicago Wolves (36gp, 14+28=42pts., 4 PPG)
Stop Noesen and Poturalski, and you still have to deal with Smith, in his first season in the Carolina Hurricanes organization.


G – Logan Thompson, Henderson Silver Knights (13-7-3, 2.65gaa, .926sv%, 2so)
After winning the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender last season, could Thompson win it again?

G – Dustin Wolf, Stockton Heat (19-2-3, 2.01gaa, .934sv%)
Wolf has transitioned from a dominant junior goaltender into a dominant AHL netminder with nary a hiccup.

D – Nikolas Brouillard, San Diego Gulls (34gp, 8+13=21pts., 1 PPG)
Brouillard, who played one season pro before three seasons at McGill University, has blossomed at age 26. His eight goals lead all AHL defensemen.

D – Jordan Gross, Colorado Eagles (33gp, 7+25=32pts., 2 PPG)
Gross, the AHL’s top-scoring defenseman, logs heavy minutes for head coach Greg Cronin and can carry a blue line.

D – Noah Juulsen, Abbotsford Canucks (27gp, 2+8=10pts.)
Juulsen endured a frustrating start to his career because of injuries. Playing close to home, he has become the backbone of the Abbotsford defense corps.

D – Jordan Spence, Ontario Reign (34gp, 2+26=28pts., 2 PPG, +15)
As a fourth-round pick, Spence might have been overlooked in the talent-rich Los Angeles Kings system. No longer.

Jordan Gross (Photo: Zak Krill)

F – Martin Frk, Ontario Reign (32gp, 20+20=40pts., 10 PPG)
Armed with his much-heralded shot, Frk helps to key Ontario’s ruthless power play.

F – Seth Griffith, Bakersfield Condors (30gp, 15+25=40pts., 6 PPG)
There may not be a more consistent playmaker in the AHL for the past decade than Griffith.

F – Matias Maccelli, Tucson Roadrunners (34gp, 11+30=41pts., 4 PPG)
The Finnish-born Maccelli, who is in his first North American pro season, can distribute the puck all game long.

F – Jakob Pelletier, Stockton Heat (36gp, 14+22=36pts., 4 PPG, +13)
Calgary’s first-round draft pick in 2019, Pelletier can control a game already as a rookie.

F – Scott Reedy, San Jose Barracuda (34gp, 18+9=27pts., 10 PPG)
The sturdy rookie out of the University of Minnesota has become a power-play force.

F – T.J. Tynan, Ontario Reign (31gp, 8+40=48pts., 1 PPG)
A coach’s dream and last season’s Les Cunningham Award winner as the AHL’s most valuable player, Tynan looks to be in that discussion again this season.