The best is yet to come for Quinn

Photo: Micheline V

📝 by Suzie Cool | AHL On The Beat

The other day, Rochester Americans head coach Seth Appert brought up a good point: You don’t know what you don’t know.

This rings extremely true when looking at the season that Rochester Americans forward Jack Quinn is stringing together.

If we were to rewind all the way back to March of 2020, and if, a big one at that, COVID-19 never happened, then Quinn would never have made his professional debut with the Amerks just 10 months ago. At 19 years old, Quinn would have returned to the Ontario Hockey League for the 2020-21 season. As fate would have it, though, the OHL season was canceled, thereby giving him the unique opportunity to jump-start his pro career.

Appert truly feels that this little taste of the American Hockey League, even if it was for only 15 games, was exactly what Quinn needed to figure out what it takes to play at this level.

“I think what we’re seeing is a product of the work he’s put in, more than just with us even before he got here, but I think his time with us last year gave him a real mission this offseason,” said Appert, whose team is off to an 11-6-0-0 start to the season and has the best power play in the league.

Looking at Quinn’s stats from his condensed 2020-21 campaign, the young forward appeared in 15 games with Amerks, notching nine points. After getting an assist in his first game with Rochester on Feb. 18, Quinn didn’t get another point for almost an entire month while finally scoring a goal seven games into his pro career and recording just two multi-point efforts on the season.

“If he was in the OHL scoring 60 goals last year, it’s hard to know what you don’t know,” said Appert, “So if you’re scoring 60 goals, then you think you’re doing the things you need to do to become a great player. When you’re with us last year, and you go through some adversity in the American League, it points a few things out.”

While Quinn didn’t exactly perform how he wanted to in his first professional season, to top it off it ended quite abruptly as he underwent season-ending hernia surgery. But the surgery ensured that he’d be ready to go and back to 100 percent for the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

With Quinn having ample time to rehab and work on the little things needed to up his game in this league, Appert had no worries that he would come back better than before, now knowing what he needed to focus on.

“The beauty of Jack is once you have a conversation with him and you talk through things, he just goes and does it. There’s no babysitting. I don’t need to hold his hand. It’s just go and attack these things this summer and he went and attacked them.”

Photo: Scott Thomas

“Last year, obviously, I struggled a little bit and was nowhere near where I wanted to be,” Quinn admitted. “In the 15 games I think I learned a lot about the league and was able to have a lot better of a mindset this year.”

Coming into this year, Quinn has stated time and time again that he has unfinished business he wanted to settle. Just a month and a half into the 2021-22 campaign, we know what he meant.

Still considered an AHL rookie in 2021-22, Quinn was named the AHL’s Rookie of the Month in October. In his first six games to begin the year, he had already surpassed his offensive output from his 2020-21 campaign, and was the first AHL player to reach the 10-point mark this season.

Quinn’s strategy? He’s just trying to get back to scoring like he did in juniors.

“What I’m trying to do is kind of get back to how I scored in juniors by getting to the dirty areas and all that stuff, all the little habits.”

Quinn fared just as well in November, scoring his team-leading 11th goal of the year while adding an assist in Rochester’s 4-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch on Nov. 27. He also became the first AHL rookie since Frank Vatrano in 2015-16 to score eight goals through his first 10 games of the season.

Quinn currently leads the entire AHL in scoring with 24 points, on 11 goals and 13 assists, and has a team-best 11 points on the power play. He has only been held scoreless three times through his first 17 games, and has recorded eight multi-point performances this year — in which the Amerks are 8-0-0-0.

Although we can pull some impressive stats from Quinn’s season already, both he and Appert agree on one thing – there’s still more to come.

“I think there’s still better, and so does he, and that’s the exciting thing for me,” said Appert of the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. “He’s doing a lot of great things, he’s always looking for ways to get better, he’s always curious, and as good as he’s playing now, I do believe there’s still better inside of him.”

It’s a good thing Quinn now knows what he knows because this he’s been incredibly fun to watch and it seems the best is yet to come.