Both the NHL and the AHL seasons are emerging from grinding part of the season and getting into the last period of player movement. Down in the AHL, players are stuck down in the minors for a variety of reasons. That does not mean they are not ready or deserving of time with their respective parent clubs.
Serviceable, valuable players are still to be had and below is a starting line-up of players that can be serviceable this year, ready for jobs next year or even be targets for the 31st NHL franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights. This list and the honorable mentions below are not exhaustive but give some pointers on what to look for to round out your roster or give ideas on potential trade targets.
Kenny Agostino – Chicago Wolves (RFA)
Agostino is a producer, plain and simple. After a four-year run at Yale University, the 6-foot, 200-pound winger has 120 points in 160 AHL games. He recently was called up to the St. Louis Blues, who lost Robbie Fabbri to a torn ACL over the weekend. Agostino could be a Mike Hoffman-type late bloomer and a player to stash on the bench. He could help your playoff push as a firesale in St. Louis is likely to begin. The nexus of opportunity, enough skill still on a St. Louis roster and a porous goaltending situation could lead to risky, high-scoring games.
Teddy Purcell – Ontario Reign (UFA)
A player that likely should be in the NHL and even the Reign’s coach Mike Stothers says so. “He’s too good for this league, and maybe this is what he needs to get back up to the NHL, but it’s almost like he’s a tweener,” the Reign bench boss told the AHL.com. Purcell is the type of player that will add depth to a playoff contender with physical play, decent skill and a track record of middle-six production. The same benefits he brings to the professional ranks, he could bring to your fantasy team with an open bench or minor slot to see how the trade deadline shakes out. Even if Purcell does not move this season, he will be a UFA this summer and the Vegas Golden Knights could be a very enticing destination.
Cory Conacher – Syracuse Crunch (UFA)
The diminutive winger is nearly a point-per-game player in the AHL with 189 points in 202 games. He is no stranger to NHL action as well with 148 games and registering 60 points split between four clubs. So far with the Crunch, Conacher has 36 points in as many games. The Lightning are a bubble team realistically but the Canisius College has been part of the call-up rotation and his offensive ability and versatility in a line-up could be attractive, either to the Lightning or a club looking for depth on the cheap. Factor in his UFA status, he could be a player this summer that has a chance to win an NHL job as the NHL expands to 31 teams. Conacher checks a lot of boxes in a deep dynasty league.
Mark Barberio – IceCaps (Under Contract)
Barberio is most recently of the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps but finds himself in Denver with the Avalanche following a waiver wire claim. Barberio will get gobs of ice time on a Colorado blueline that is hockey’s equivalent of a tire fire. In his first game with the Avs, the 2010 sixth rounder skated more than 20 minutes. While the offensive numbers have not materialized in 160 games for Barberio, the situation with the Avalanche calls for a good chance to see what he is capable of in the NHL. It is a boom or bust gamble, but a solid play with an NHL job the could have slid under the radar.
Brandon Montour – San Diego Gulls (RFA)
Seemingly every AHL article mentions the talented Montour and with good reason. He is back up with the Anaheim Ducks and recently scored his first NHL goal. The play for Montour is multi-faceted. First, he is better than Kevin Bieksa or Korbinian Holzer right now. The numbers game is keeping him down, and the sooner the Ducks come to grips with sitting one of these two for Montour the better. Second, if the Ducks make a trade to alleviate the defensive logjam, Montour is the beneficiary. And finally, if they Ducks don’t make a trade, they almost undoubtedly lose a defenseman in the expansion draft.
Troy Grosenick – San Jose Barracuda (UFA)
The resurgent Grosenick has been a key reason why the San Jose Barracuda are currently atop the Pacific Division. The former Union College netminder refocused on his game this past summer and is reaping the benefits this season. Grosenick leads the AHL in shutouts (6) is second in save percentage (.929) and is third in goals-against average (2.09). Add all this up and factor in his UFA status on July 1 and there could be opportunities for Grosenick in places other than San Jose come this summer. He’ll get a few looks from teams that either loses a goalie in the expansion draft or by Vegas if they aim for internal competition for the net.
A few other players to keep on your radar for deeper leagues:
Paul LaDue – RFA – Reign
The first year pro is already turning heads, and other teams have inquired about LaDue in trade talks with the Kings. Could be a piece to move on his own or slot into the line-up if Los Angeles makes a deal.
I'll say it again for those new to the party, the Kings haven't had a D prospect as good as Paul LaDue since Slava Voynov. #confirmed— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) January 19, 2017
Frank Corrado RFA – Marlies
He cleared waivers and will have a chance to showcase his skills with the Marlies. Corrado is a positive possession player, and at only 23 it is crazy no one plucked him off the wire.
Colin Greening & Milan Michalek – UFA – Marlies
Two NHLers that is not part of the “Shanaplan” we will group Greening and Michalek together here. Both are long-term plays as Vegas aims to build a roster or could be depth players for teams making a playoff push.
T.J. Brennan – 1 yr. $625k – Phantoms
The only defenseman in AHL history to have seven 10+ goal seasons, Brennan is a transition defender with fair play in his own zone. He’s enjoyed cups of coffee with Buffalo, Toronto, and Florida but someone should give him a shot to bring his offensive flair to the big show.
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