We’re already knee-deep into NHL playoffs, but this week the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs began as each affiliate franchise battles it out. 16 teams made the post-season, and the first round series are all best-of-five. Let’s take a look at each match-up, and which prospects will be featured front and center:
Charlotte vs Providence
- Lots of notable prospects to watch on both side in this one. The Checkers (all property of CAR) to watch include Martin Necas, Julien Gauthier, and Nicolas Roy.
- Alex Nedeljkovic led the league in GAA entering playoffs and could steal a series.
- Aleksi Saarela would be on the list if he hadn’t just been called up to the Hurricanes.
- Haydn Fleury and Jake Bean could both see huge fantasy value jumps should they play well enough to be considered NHL-ready for the fall.
- On Providence (all property of BOS), fans can continue to monitor middle-six prospects Zach Senyshyn, Trent Frederic, and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.
- Like the d-men on Charlotte, Bruins fans are getting antsy to see what Jakub Zboril can bring to the table when games matter most.
Bridgeport vs Hershey
- The usual suspects in Bridgeport (all property of NYI) are all still trying to prove themselves to be NHL-ready; Josh Ho-Sang, Michael Dal Colle, and Sebastian Aho will carry the offensive load for the Tigers.
- Rookie winger Otto Koivula continues to rise up fantasy lists and warrants a watch, and first-year pro Kieffer Bellows will also get a chance to score some clutch goals like he has throughout his career (he tallied 2 in Game 1 of this series).
- The top name to watch on the Bears is goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who didn’t have the strongest regular season but put up 49 saves on 52 shots in the Game 1 loss.
Syracuse vs Cleveland
- Carter Verhaeghe dominated the regular season and (unlike the Lightning) didn’t stop in Game 1, putting up 3 points.
- Alex Barre-Boulet, Alex Volkov, Taylor Raddysh, and Mitch Stephens will all be trying to prove they are NHL ready for the fall. Its an embarrassment of riches up front, but that didn’t exactly pan out for the NHL affiliate…
- Not much to discuss prospect-wise on Cleveland, but Kole Sherwood did manage a point in the Game 1 victory
Rochester vs Toronto
- Rasmus Sandin seems to look better every single week. He put up 3 assists in Game 1.
- Regular-season mainstays Jeremy Bracco, Pierre Engvall, and Adam Brooks will all continue to be leaned on for offense, and all hit the scoresheet in the opener. There will be a ton of names competing for 4th-line spots this fall, and this playoff may very well help determine who gets an edge in camp.
- From Buffalo, Tage Thompson got returned to Rochester for the playoff run, so he should be expected to dominate given his NHL experience…
- Victor Olofsson could make a strong case for an NHL spot in the fall if he can contribute well down the stretch.
Chicago vs Grand Rapids
- All eyes will be on Cody Glass on the Wolves (property of VGK) now that his junior career has finished. He put up a an assist in Game 1.
- With Erik Brannstrom out of the picture, Nic Hague will have a bigger chance to be the dominant d-man in his stead.
- In Grand Rapids (DET assets), Filip Zadina is the top name to watch, while former first-rounder Michael Rasmussen has also joined the squad from junior.
Milwaukee vs Iowa
- Eeli Tolvanen (NSH) finished the season hot and will hope to keep that going into the post-season as he (hopefully) evolves into the top scorer we expect him to be.
- For the Wild, youngsters Luke Kunin, Ryan Donato, Jordan Greenway, and Joel Eriksson Ek will prove to management that they can be part of the solution in Minnesota (Iowa benefited A LOT more than most when the NHL affiliate missed the playoffs).
Bakersfield vs Colorado
- In Bakersfield (Edmonton property), names like Tyler Benson, Ethan Bear, and Cooper Marody will try to appease a fan base desperate for something to cheer for. All could push for an NHL position in 2019-20.
- Goaltender Shane Starett had a rock-solid regular season and will raise a lot of hopes if he stays steady.
- In Colorado, perennial bubble power-forward AJ Greer will look to build upon his career-best season and earn yet another 4th-line tryout in the fall.
- Former 1st-round-pick Shane Bowers signed his ELC and will join the Eagles for the playoffs and is definitely a name worth watching.
- Goaltender Pavel Francouz had an outstanding first year in North America and is very much playing himself into contention for a backup gig next year. NHL clubs will surely be scouting him and your fantasy team should too.
San Jose vs San Diego
- San Jose boasts more rookies than most playoffs squads, which means we get to see even more of Dylan Gambrell (3 points in the first 2 games of this series).
- Ryan Merkley has joined the squad since his elimination in the OHL, so keep an eye on him.
- Ivan Chekhovich and Francis Perron had fantastic campaigns and should keep on scoring into the spring.
- In San Diego (Anaheim assets), good luck keeping up with Sam Steel and Max Jones, who have NHL spots waiting for them but will want more than an average middle-six role.
FIRST NHL GOALS TIME!
Ryan Poehling loves my list so much that he wanted to be on it 4 times. He earned it:
Dante Fabbro follows up the play and goes post-in for a beauty:
Cale Makar didn’t want to be outdone by his former defense partner and had a preeeettty good debut in Game 3:
Alex Texier is making a name for himself on a steamroller Columbus squad right now:
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the back half of Round 1!
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