AHL Report, November 2019 Edition
By Kyle Stewart
Welcome back to the November edition of the AHL Report! As we delve into AHL news and notes a sliver shy of the quarter-mark of the regular season, we’ve already seen some noticeable up and down shifts, be it in the scoring races or the overall standings. While the focus will be primarily on the individual players who have stood out over the last several weeks, lately we have seen what appeared to be an early offensive juggernaut in the Utica Comets fall back down to Earth while the Central Division’s Admirals and Moose are on a 7-0 and 6-0 winning streaks respectively. While it is still very early in the season and we do not typically see many teams pull away in the standings, you cannot help but feel for the lost shine of the 3-12-0-2 Texas Stars who have struggled with an 11 game losing streak.
Before we introduce some new names to this season’s AHL Report, let us first begin by reviewing last month’s notables! Firstly, despite not filling the net much himself, Manitoba’s Jansen Harkins has continued his hot start and has utilized his playmaking acumen by shouldering the offensive load for the Moose with 20 points in 17 games. The two-way pivot known for his work ethic and team first play is already approaching his career high of 31 points and sits fourth in league scoring. One has to think his name will be thrown into the ring when injuries strike in Winnipeg. Lone wolf Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov (to the dismay of many) departed Hartford at the end of October to head back to Russia. While one would think the significant ice time (or at least the potential of…) and developing familiarity with the small ice surface would have encouraged Kravtsov to remain, it appears the AHL was never something he and his agent were keen on exploring.
Lucas Elvenes, C
Elvenes has had his fair share of press so far into the AHL season since bursting onto the first two months with a 1.28 points per game ratio. The Swedish rookie had only until very recently led the league in scoring through the first quarter has put up 23 points and been the leading offensive driver for the Wolves. The league’s leader in assists, Elvenes has displayed his prowess as a creative playmaker who excels at making tape to tape passes under coverage and through traffic. With his excellent skating abilities in both speed and agility, Elvenes is looking like a steal of a 5th rounder for the Vegas Golden Knights. Throughout the season, Elvenes has always been involved in the Wolves offense and is one of those players who simply ‘finds a way’ to be on the scoresheet, having been held pointless in only four contests.
Hartford Wolf Pack:
Joey Keane, D
The New York Rangers third-round pick from 2018 has acquitted himself at a torrid pace offensively in his rookie season with the Wolf Pack. Keane has not been a player who was overly heralded throughout his junior career even with fairly solid production with Barrie (and later London). However, so far in his rookie year with the Wolf Pack, Keane has arguably been their most important player. Leading his team in goals scored and third in overall points, Keane has been a legitimate threat at 5-on-5 with only one of his six goals coming from the man advantage. With only one game where he posted two points, Keane’s consistent offensive production has been another key aspect of his play. While still quite raw in terms of NHL upside, Keane’s hot start can only be seen as promising and indicative of his ability to read to the game and adjust accordingly – his hockey IQ is arguably one of his better assets for a defencemen that is more of a Jack Of All Trades.
Martin Fehervary, D
Fehervary was one defenceman who stood out to me personally while covering the SHL last year. His experience with HV71 has turned into a very solid start to his career in North America with Hershey and Washington. Not known as an offensive quarterback, Fehervary displays very good decision making and has a mind that pairs well with his willingness to be the fourth man in on the rush and to take advantage of his gifted skating abilities. Despite his history as a safer, two-way type defenceman, Fehervary has already put up eight points in 15 games for the Hershey Bears and been a key part of their top four. At 6’2 and 200 pounds, with Fehervary’s skating abilities it is only a matter of time before his makes the jump to the NHL on a more consistent basis. He’s already had a three game cup of coffee with the Capitals and while he wasn’t used much on special teams, he still averaged over 14 minutes of ice time. Depending how things shake down on the Capitals blue line, there is a chance Fehervary contends for a regular roster spot as early as next season, however my bets would be he won’t be a legitimate full-timer until 2021-22.
Leigh Valley Phantoms:
Morgan Frost, F
A highly intelligent, playmaking forward, Frost has adjusted well to life in the AHL after being one of the latter cuts in Flyers camp. A great skater who excels in his shiftiness with the puck, Frost has a spark to his quick paced game that bodes well for his future NHL success as a top six scorer. Despite currently going through a bit of a slow spell, from mid-October to mid-November Frost was on a tear, posting a seven game point streak and putting up 12 points in 10 games. As he becomes a player who will be targeted in the game plan of opposing defences, Frost will need to overcome some adversity with having less space in the offensive zone. All the same, if Frost continues his current scoring rate, it is a good bet to expect him in a Flyers jersey sooner than later.
Brogan Rafferty, D
A smooth skating defenceman who displays two-way awareness, Rafferty built upon a strong training camp with the Vancouver Canucks to emerge as one of Utica’s go-to rearguards. Even with the surrounding cast of the high flying Comets, Rafferty has posted nine points in 16 games so far in his rookie campaign – good for the top scoring defencemen and sixth overall for current Comets’ scorers. Compared to some of Utica’s other defencemen, it is not just Rafferty’s offensive production that stands out. While at times playing in a more sheltered role early on in the season, Rafferty has also emerged as very dependable in his own zone. Not the biggest of blue-liners, Rafferty uses his intelligence of evolving plays in conjunction with strategic box outs and always making an effort to get his stick on pucks to become one of Utica’s central pieces on the back end.
Jake Lucchini, LW
The 24 year old former offensive dynamo of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters has been acquitting himself nicely for the Penguins in his first full-time AHL season. Almost mirroring his brief stint to end off last season, the undrafted Lucchini has record six points (three goals) thus far and seems to only be getting more comfortable as the season goes on. Despite the low totals, it is worth mentioning three goals is good for the third highest of the Penguins offense. Used in a 3rd and sometimes 2nd line role, Lucchini has not had the greatest of opportunities to display his skillset, however still has some upside in developing as a pro. Unfortunately, at 24, most of his personal growth skill wise is likely completed, however gaining experience at the pro level takes time and can even out over the course of a career. With his success at Michigan Tech over the past few seasons, there should be enough offence in Lucchini for him to become a legitimate top six forward in the AHL and potentially enjoy his fair share of call-ups down the road for Pittsburgh.
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this month’s edition of the AHL Report! Have any questions or requests? Shoot me a follow and/or a DM on Twitter at @Kyle_AHL_Report !
Kyle Stewart is the author of Dobber Prospects ‘AHL Report’. Born and raised in Vancouver, B.C., in addition to prospect scouting, Kyle has a Masters’ in sport psychology and works with athletes of all levels as a Mental Performance Consultant in Ottawa, Ontario.