AHL Eastern Conference Notebook, April 2016: Rookies could make a difference in Eastern playoffs

by Tony Androckitis
Frank Vatrano - Providence Bruins

Photo: Providence Bruins forward and Boston Bruins prospect Frank Vatrano led the AHL in goals in 2015-16 with 36 in 36 games (courtesy of Jerome Davis/Icon Sportswire)



The field is set for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, and eight teams in the Eastern Conference are ready to battle it out for the AHL’s ultimate prize – the beloved Calder Cup.

While teams like Toronto, Albany, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton cruised into the postseason in the final months, the other half of the conference’s playoff teams had some work to do to get where they are now as the AHL’s ‘second’ season gets underway. Read more»

Share of AHL rookie award in hand, Rampage’s Rantanen sets sights on NHL

by Sean Shapiro
Mikko Rantanen - San Antonio Rampage

Photo: San Antonio Rampage forward and Colorado Avalanche prospect Mikko Rantanen finished second in AHL rookie scoring behind the Providence Bruins’ Austin Czarnik, scoring 24 goals and 60 points in 52 games (courtesy of Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)



Mikko Rantanen didn’t plan on or expect to win the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the American Hockey League’s outstanding rookie.

The 19-year-old Finland native and Colorado Avalanche prospect knew he had a strong season, but looking across the league he knew the goal-per-game rate (albeit in less games) of the Providence Bruins’ Frank Vatrano would be tough to beat. Read more»

Prospect Impressions: Athanasiou, Parayko, Larkin notch playoff firsts, Mason’s gaffe, Skelleftea’s creative routine

by David Hahn
Nikita Popugaev - Moose Jaw Warriors

Photo: Moose Jaw Warriors forward and 2017 prospect Nikita Popugaev (#71) finished ninth in rookie scoring in the WHL this season, posting 16 goals and 47 points in 70 games (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)



In this week’s Prospect Impressions, a trio of rookies notched their first NHL playoff goals this week, continuing to contribute right where they left off from the regular season. Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason is going to want a half-ice deflection back, and his teammate might want to join him in hiding for a pretty funny reason. There are a number of draft-eligible forwards who created some fantastic highlights this week, and a must-see, pregame presentation from Europe that unites the worlds of hockey and video games. Read more»

Last-minute recall a successful one for Stars’ Dickinson

by Sean Shapiro
Jason Dickinson - Dallas Stars

Photo: Texas Stars forward and Dallas Stars prospect Jason Dickinson holds the puck that he fired into the net for his first NHL goal in last Thursday’s game vs. the Colorado Avalanche (courtesy of Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)



Jason Dickinson had one of the more memorable “three-in-threes” of his life last week.

Three-in-threes are typically synonymous with a grinding stretch of three games, often with travel included, in the minor leagues. They are physically taxing on the body, and in the NHL, three games in three nights are against the collective bargaining agreement. Read more»

Prospect Impressions: Laine vs. Puljujarvi, Frozen Four highlights, Marner makes more magic in London

by David Hahn
Drake Caggiula - University of North Dakota - 2016 NCAA Frozen Four

Photo: University of North Dakota senior forward Drake Caggiula was the scoring star for the Fighting Hawks at the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four, helping him earn the Most Outstanding Player award for the tournament (courtesy of Richard T. Gagnon/Getty Images)



There is a battle for the ages going on in Finland’s top tier of professional hockey. The Liiga playoffs have reached a semi-final impasse, as Tappara and Karpat have played six games and still haven’t decided their best-of-seven series. Read more»

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