Wrapping-up the state of the AHL playoffs in this Sunday's Ramblings…
The first round of the AHL playoffs is nearly complete, with seven-of-eight series finished with teams ready to roll into Division Finals. Our April 29th Ramblings by Dave McDonald took a good look at some high-profile players to keep an eye on; to keep this coverage going here's a quick summary of what's transpired and who should be popping-up on teams' radars as a result:
Grand Rapids 3 – Milwaukee 0
The Griffins swept the Admirals in an impressive fashion, allowing only three goals in three games. Anthony Mantha and Martin Frk led the way with four points each in the series, and both having three-point-games. Obviously in such a low-scoring series the goalie deserves a good chunk of the praise – Tom McCollum played all three games and finished the set with a fantastic .968 SV%, good for t-2nd in the playoffs. Mantha has been a top scorer most of his career and has always been considered a potential exception to Detroit's tendancy to expect mastery of the AHL before earning an NHL spot, time will tell if his strong performance will break this rule (he will become even more of a must-own in keeper leagues if this is the case).
Lake Erie 3 – Rockford 0
Another swept series, but this one done a little more offensively as the Monsters scored five goals in all three games. Naturally they have some players performing well and making an impact on the scoresheet – Josh Anderson tops the team with five points and the league with four goals, Oliver Bjorkstrand has tallied four points which ties him for 2nd among AHL rookies in the playoffs, and Alex Broadhurst has chipped in four points of his own. Newcomer defenseman Zach Werenski only played seven regular season AHL games, but has thrived so far and has been good for a point-per-game and over two SOG-per-game pace in the post-season. This kid is a stud and is proving so at a higher level every time we check in on him it seems.
Ontario 3 – San Jose 1
Not quite the historic rivalry that their parent teams have endured over the last few playoffs, but a good series nonetheless. Both sqauds clearly aimed at rolling all their lines and making a team effort, as despite a four-game series (among many sweeps), no players had particularly dominant offensive showings. The top scorer of the series was the Reign's Nic Dowd with four points and a more impressive 16 SOG over the series – someone is good at giving himself chances.
San Diego 3 – Texas 1
The Gulls' 20 goals in the series was the most scored by any team in one round so far. Five players cracked the poit-per-game threshold for the Ducks affiliate: Chris Mueller (5), Mike Sgarbarossa (5), Nick RItchie (4), rookie d-man Shea Theodore (4), and Stefan Noesen (4). Given the disappointing finale to the Ducks' season and the extreme promise seen in some of these youngsters, don't be surprised to see some of the aforementioned in the NHL lineup next year. Theodore and Ritchie are good bets to get permanent jobs, and both have significant upside (draft them asap in your keeper leagues is what I'm saying here). Texas defenseman Esa Lindell followed-up his excellent first AHL campaign with an even stronger four points in four playoff contests; he is another player you shouldn't be surprised to see get a good NHL lo