The AHL season is about a quarter of the way to completion, more or less with the unbalanced schedules. Some young players have put themselves on the radar of their parent clubs with strong starts in the AHL and perhaps entering the conversation for call-ups to either shake up the lines or to fill in for injuries.
Brandon Montour – San Diego Gulls (Anaheim)
Montour tied for the Gulls lead in points last year which was his first professional campaign with 14 goals and 45 assists in 68 AHL contests. Production like that should firmly place the young right-handed defender on the radar for both the Ducks and your dynasty squad. The
6’ 192-pound right-hander picked up where he left off already registering four goals and ten assists in just 16 games already for the Gulls.
The Ducks have a log jam on the blueline and do not seem to be in much of a hurry to solve it. Shea Theodore has carved out a roster spot despite starting the year in San Diego, and once another spot opens, the offensive Montour should see his number called. Montour will have a defensive miscue but what he offers as a puck moving defender outweighs them.
Jakub Vrana – Hershey Bears (Washington)
Vrana was called up and skated in his first NHL game with the Capitals receiving 10:10 of ice time in a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders. Vrana is an electric skater that can beat defenders with his feet to create space. The Capitals 2014 first round pick is highly creative offensively and has an excellent passing ability to go with a quickly released shot.
Opportunity could be coming for the youngster. For his second game is listed on Capitals second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky. Time on ice will be something to track for the talented Czech winger, but skating in Washington’s top-six will help see just how ready for regular action he is. His time in the SHL time points to a professional ability as he had 24 points 44 games played as a 19-year-old. He’s a risk taker, but better to tame a tiger.
Tim Heed – San Jose Barracuda (San Jose)
The oldest player on the list, Heed was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks but never signed with the club. Heed was signed this past spring by the Sharks out of the SHL where he skated for Skellefteå AIK registering 11 goals and 21 assists in 68 regular and postseason games. His transition to the smaller ice surface has looked seamless. He is an above average skater and has a cannon for a shot and is at nearly at a point-per-game clip with 14 points in 15 matches.
While the Sharks have the deepest defensive corps the organization has ever seen, Heed is a play for both this year and the future. His play has put him in line for a call-up should injuries hit the parent club. Looking out even further, the Sharks will most likely lose a defender in the expansion draft when the Vegas Golden Knights come into the league. Coupled with Brent Burns $64 million extension signed last week, a bargain puck-moving defenseman like Heed could be necessary on many levels.
Rasmus Andersson – Stockton Heat (Calgary)
Two years of 60 or more points for the Barrie Colts in the OHL have apparently well prepared the Swedish defender for the professional game. Andersson is the definition of a two-way defender with solid, responsible defensive play, excellent puck moving ability, reasonably sized and a good skater. Andersson has skated with countryman Oliver Kylington to form a dynamic duo who are both dangerous defenders who can jump up into the play or even carry the puck into the offensive zone on their own.
The Flames have not settled on their bottom defensive pairs, and an injury call-up could allow Andersson to show his wares on hockey’s largest stage. 20-year-old defenders are still a bit of a rarity in the NHL, so Andersson is more of a long-term play, but spot duty is entirely possible.
Brendan Perlini – Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona)
The native of Guildford, UK is in his first professional season in the AHL with the surprising Tucson Roadrunners and making good on what was a disappointing season last year. The Coyotes 12th overall pick in 2014 recorded a mediocre 45 points in 57 OHL games for the Niagara IceDogs and never found his way onto the scoresheet at the World Junior Championship for Team Canada. This year, he leads the Roadrunners with 11 goals in 16 games and added five assists as well and is tied for second on the squad in points with fellow rookie Kyle Wood. The Coyotes have a youth throughout the organization and have not been bashful about shuffling players the four hours between the two desert towns. With Anthony Duclair struggling, sometime in the NHL could be a serious consideration for a look with the Desert Dogs.
Timo Meier – San Jose Barracuda (San Jose)
The San Jose Sharks recently sent down Kevin Labanc and Ryan Carpenter due to the teams five-day layoff. The player they call back up to augment the roster could be the 2015 ninth overall pick. Meier looks to be fully recovered from his bout with mononucleosis that cost his the vast majority of training camp a year after he nearly made the team in 2015.
I think Meier is making a good case for a post break call up this weekend. Only real issue now is stupid retaliatory penalties.— Ian Reid (@IReidPucknology) December 4, 2016
Meier potted four goals in this weekend’s series against the San Antonio Rampage and the undisciplined penalties he was taking with frequency once he returned from his illness appear to be out of his system. The Sharks are still putting their forward lines through the blender as head coach Peter DeBoer looks to get four consistent lines going and Meier’s skill set could be added to the mix in the foreseeable future.
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