Michael Finewax

The AHL Report

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Nugent-Hopkins & Johnny Bower

Monday, November 26, 2012

Congratulations to Abbotsford Heat goaltender Barry Brust who set an AHL record as he went 268:17 minutes of shutout hockey to break Johnny Bower’s record set in 1957 of 249:51.  At age 34, Bower went on the next season to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs and led them to four Stanley Cup wins in the next 10 years before retiring at the age of 46 in 1970.


Brust is 29 and has played in 11 NHL games for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2006-07 season when he replaced an injured Dan Cloutier and Mathieu Garon. He started on January 13, 2007 and was pulled in a 6-5 loss to St. Louis. The goaltender who replaced him, Yutaka Fukufuji, became the first native of Japan to play in the NHL.


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Nazem Kadri – Kadri has mostly been a disappointment for Toronto fans since his selection with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 Draft.  Everyone picked before him, John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene, Evander Kane, Brayden Schenn and Oliver Ekman-Larsson have made a dent in their NHL careers, as have some selected below him such as Dmitry Kulikov, Chris Kreider and Nick Leddy, Kadri has struggled at the NHL level despite his sublime offensive talent. However Kadri has taken a leap ahead this season with the AHL Marlies as he has 13 points in his last six games after a slow start in which he had only three assists in his first nine games. He was the player of the week for the week ending November 18. Look for Kadri to get a proper look as a top-six forward once the NHL season gets underway.


Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – The first overall pick in the 2011 Draft showed why he deserved that exalted spot with his outstanding play for the Oilers last season (18 goals and 54 points) despite missing 20 games with shoulder woes.  He has picked up right where he left off with the Oklahoma City Barons as he has eight goals and 20 points in 17 games thus far. Nugent-Hopkins will continue to improve, especially centering a line with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. A 100 point season is within his grasp and could be in his sights in a couple of years.


Tyler Johnson – Tampa Bay may have struck gold when they signed undrafted free agent Tyler Johnson to a three year deal in 2011. He potted 53 goals and 115 points as an overage junior for the Spokane Chiefs of the AHL in 2010-11 and continued his stellar play in his first pro season last year when he had 31 goals and 68 points for Norfolk.  The Lightning switched their allegiance to Syracuse this season and Johnson has not missed a beat with 13 goals and 20 points in 17 games to go with a plus-11 rating. His size may hinder him as he is only five feet, 10 inches but look for Johnson to get a look see at training camp in 2013 for the Lightning.


Marcus Foligno –  Foligno has been a pleasant surprise for the Sabres as their fourth round pick of the 2009 Draft stunned the NHL with 13 points in 13 games after being called up to the NHL after the trade deadline. His play in the minors impressed the Sabres so much that dealing Zack Kassian to the Canucks for Cody Hodgson was an easy move for the Sabres to make a week earlier. Foligno got a taste of the NHL in December when he was held scoreless in one game but was called up for good on March 3 and settled in as a top-six forward alongside Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. While it is highly unlikely that he will remain a point-per-game player, Foligno should hit the 50-plus point mark in a full season and will spend some time in the penalty box which will make him valuable in pools that reward stints in the sin bin.


Brian Flynn – Another undrafted player, Flynn signed on with the Sabres after a four year career at the University of Maine where he had 18 goals and 48 points in 40 games in his senior year finishing ninth in the nation in Division 1 scoring. He played five games for Rochester upon leaving Maine where he had a solitary assist. This season he has exploded out of the gate with eight goals and 15 points in 15 games. Flynn will benefit from a couple of seasons of honing his skills in the minors before getting an opportunity to crack the Sabres lineup.

Michael Finewax is entering his 10th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
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