Cover Image: Blackout Dallas.
Since our last update in November, the AHL has been dominated by players from the West. Four out of the top five scorers in the league come from Western organizations. In this article, we will highlight a few of these prospects leading the way down in the minors.
Mavrik Bourque #22 – Texas Stars
After a promising first season in the AHL last year, Bourque has experienced early success while playing alongside Logan Stankoven. Named the Player of the Month for November, he demonstrates a strong hockey IQ, enabling him to easily connect with Stankoven again and again. This asset also contributes to his defensive capabilities, as he frequently intercepts the puck and isn’t hesitant to make controlled exits. Additionally, Bourque has earned the confidence of his coaches, as he not only plays a crucial role on the powerplay and first line but also contributes on the penalty kill.
Logan Stankoven #11 – Texas Stars
Stankoven is a noticeable impact player. His exceptional hands and accurate shot have allowed him to dominate in the AHL as early as his rookie season. On the power play, Stankoven is his team’s main chance generator, using his excellent skating and vision to create space between himself and the opponent, setting up his teammates. At even strength, he takes on more of a finisher role, strategically seeking space for prime scoring chances. With the instant chemistry he has developed with Mavrik Bourque, it will be interesting to see if Dallas decides to keep these two together when they are eventually called up.
Alex Turcotte #15 – Ontario Reign
Although he comes from college and is a high draft pick, Turcotte does not play a stereotypical game. He excels defensively, using his speed effectively to apply considerable pressure in his own zone, leading to numerous turnovers. In transition, he usually isn’t the player who carries the puck; instead, he prefers building up speed to receive a pass and then capitalizes on good opportunities against slower defensemen. Finally, in the offensive zone, you will practically always find him positioned in front of the net, attempting to deflect the puck or obstruct the view of the goaltender. When you add all of this to his impressive production this season, averaging almost a point per game with 17 points in 19 games, you have one of the more complete players in the AHL.
Victor Soderstrom #77 – Tucson Roadrunners
In his fourth season in the league, Soderstrom has been performing well for Tucson this year. The offensive defenseman possesses a great first pass on zone exits and a decent shot that can catch goaltenders off guard. However, in his own zone, Soderstrom is prone to turnovers. Whenever he has the puck in his own zone, there is a certain level of concern, but he compensates for this with other defensive qualities. Firstly, he adopts an aggressive style when defending zone entries, which has allowed his team to spend less time in their own zone. Additionally, his smooth skating abilities enable him to quickly regain his position even after a turnover. While there is room for improvement in his defensive play, Soderstrom’s overall contributions to the team have been a plus.
Brandt Clarke #92 – Ontario Reign
Clarke’s games perplex me. He certainly has great potential as a playmaking defenseman. Being tied for first in defenseman scoring in the AHL at just 20 years old is no small feat. However, in my viewings, he gave me the impression that he isn’t quite ready for the NHL. He makes a lot of bad turnovers, is often caught out of position, and despite his 6-2 frame, he gets overpowered physically way too often. In my opinion, the best course of action for him right now is to let him continue playing in the AHL, figuring out these aspects of his game before being considered for a call-up with the Kings.
Thank you for reading this month’s AHL Update on Dobber Prospects. For more analysis, you can follow me on Twitter: @cbturcotte17.