With the AHL season around the corner, well known and highly touted prospects are getting shuffled around. Recent NHL Entry Drafts have been some of the best in recent memory regarding the abundance of raw talent, but the number of jobs opening up with some NHL clubs has remained in short supply. Below are three of notable returns to the top development league for NHL teams. The parent organizations will keep a close eye on these three prospects, taken 17th, 18th and 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, that head back to the A.
It’s been an odd couple of days for the Red Wings. Waiving both Martin Frk (claimed by the Carolina Hurricanes) and Teemu Pulkkinen (claimed by the Minnesota Wild) and now the reassigning of Anthony Mantha, has the magic worn out in Hockeytown? Mantha was always going to be a project even with back-to-back 50 goal season with the Val-d'Or Foreurs. The physical aspect of his game was missing despite standing 6’5” and coming in at over 210 pounds. The defensive responsibility was another red flag during his draft year, and the goals don’t come as easy when you’re shooting on professional goalies with tough defensemen in front of them that picking corners on Q goaltending. Mantha has a lethal shot and coming back to Grand Rapids for the third year, hopefully, with a chip on his shoulder, could finally see him fill the net like the Red Wings expected on draft night.
The Ottawa Senators likely put too much too soon on the two-way centerman from the Edmonton Oil Kings. Lazar was taken three spots ahead of Mantha but was an entirely different player. Lazar is already a veteran of 143 NHL games, so it’s no small sample size. His career Corsi-for percentage is only 46.5 and a modest 12 goals and 23 assists. Lazar has never played in the AHL, so heading down to the Binghamton Senators is something to monitor. He’ll get monster minutes and get a chance to refine his game, both offensively and defensively, and should be a huge shot in the arm for the newly relocated franchise.
Like Lazar, the Sharks put a lot on the young Swiss rearguard right out of juniors. In his 50 game NHL career, 39 of which were his rookie season, Mueller has been a decent possession player coming at just over 50 percent in Corsi-for. Offensively with just four points, he was never slated to be a big time point producer, but the decisions with the puck have not been where they needed to be. Mueller’s skating is well above average and is not carrying the puck up ice with nearly enough frequency. Defensively his game made improvements, but the recovery from a mostly wasted 19-year-old season in which he fermented on the bench instead of returning to Everett is showing. Mueller has just 53 AHL games over his career and needs a full-year with the Barracuda to try to find a spark with the puck. He should at least be slotted into the Barracuda’s top-four and get ample special team time as well. Confidence is a fickle thing, but hopefully, Mueller can find it in what should be a full AHL season.
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