Prospect Ramblings: Some youngsters shining in AHL playoffs (April 29)

Mark Allan


Carolina prospect Lucas Wallmark of the Charlotte Checkers is tied for the scoring lead so far in Calder Cup action.


There’s nothing like the crucible of playoff hockey to accelerate the development of young players.

This week, we examine a few prospects who are doing well early in the American Hockey League playoffs.

C Lucas Wallmark, Charlotte Checkers: Building on a promising North American debut that included 24 goals and 46 points in 67 league games, he is benefiting from the experience of three seasons in the highest tier of Swedish hockey. Blessed with tremendous hockey sense, good puckhandling ability and a strong work ethic, Wallmark has three goals and three assists in five games with the Charlotte Checkers for an early share of the AHL post-season scoring lead. If he can overcome so-so skating and modest (6-0, 176) size, the 2014 fourth-rounder might turn out to be a steal for the parent Hurricanes.

D Justin Holl, Toronto Marlies: A one-time second-round pick by the Blackhawks, the 25-year-old finished four undistinguished years at the U of Minnesota before getting into only two AHL games for Chicago’s AHL affiliate in Rockford and spending the rest of that season in the ECHL before the Leafs took a chance on him. After just 19 points in 72 games for the Marlies, the converted RW is showing signs of life in the Calder Cup playoffs with three goals and five points in five games for the Marlies. His most likely NHL path is as a steady if unexciting rearguard, although he still jumps into the play occasionally.

LW Samuel Blais, Chicago Wolves: One of three St. Louis Blues’ prospects tied for second place in Calder scoring with five points, the AHL first-timer is building on a solid 26-goal campaign that augmented his reputation as an offensive player. While his defensive play has needed work, he’s been adding muscle and the speedy winger could outperform his sixth-round draft status with proper AHL seasoning.

C Adam Musil, Chicago Wolves: The son of former NHL defender Frantisek Musil, brother of former (if just for four games) big-league blueliner David Musil and nephew of ex-NHL power forward Bobby Holik is carrying on the family’s hockey tradition. Most closely resembling Holik, Adam’s uses his size (6-3, 203) and strength to battle for pucks and take a toll on opposing blueliners. Joining the St. Louis organization after three seasons with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels, Musil had a point-less two-game AHL tuneup before using above-average puckhandling and playmaking skills for a big man to roll up three goals and two assists in five Calder tilts so far. With more minor-pro seasoning, he’s got a good shot at a top-nine role with Chicago.

LW Kenny Agostino, Chicago Wolves: With 17 NHL games with Calgary and St. Louis under his belt, Pittsburgh’s 2010 fifth-rounder has some valuable experience at 25. The Yale grad has posted good AHL numbers with 43- and 57-point campaigns leading to his 83-point 2016-17 breakout. This is the first post-season appearance of his pro career, and he’s making the most of it. Three points in seven league games for the Blues indicates he could have a solid NHL future, although St. Louis has a slew of good players with LW experience and/or potential.

G Kasimir Kaskisuo, Toronto Marlies: As if the Maple Leafs didn’t have sensational young talent up front, their free-agent signin