This has been a weird year for the AHL but for fans of prospects and player development, it has been a treat. Typically. a rookie AHL standout is a specific type of player, they need to be good enough to be a point per game in a professional men’s league but also not such a prized and talented prospect that they go straight to the NHL. This of course is due to the CHL/NHL agreement that keeps players who are 18 or 19 in either the NHL or CHL. COVID caused more left turns than right turns, but in this case, it was an awesome opportunity to see how those 18 or 19-year-olds fared against AHL competition. This meant seeing prospects like Nick Robertson, Seth Jarvis, Philip Tomasino, and Connor McMichael in the AHL this year, where they would normally spend their season dominating the OHL if they were not in the NHL. This made for a quicker, fast-paced AHL season with no shortage of youth. This is not to say that the youth completely took over the league, as we sit right now the top 10 in the league scoring included only one rookie and that was 21 years old Riley Damiani, who likely would have been an AHL player this season, anyway.
In terms of prospects who could be making the jump, the AHL was the hot spot. Analyzing the AHL production this year is a great place to be checking out who could be next year’s NHL rookie standout on your fantasy team or a deeper league pick-up in your draft. So, let’s take a look at who held their own and found ways to produce as a rookie in the AHL.
The obvious place to start is with Riley Damiani, the former Kitchener Rangers captain who sits seventh in league scoring and first among rookies. The 2018 fifth-round pick is showing out as a rookie this