Jordan Eberle has seven goals and 21 points in 16 games this AHL season. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
Starving for hockey, but your NHL team just isn’t playing right now for some reason? Welcome to the Excitement List, a countdown of some very active hockey teams that can get your blood pumping. Often these are elite squads, but they’re also teams that are fun to watch – usually because they score a lot or boast marquee names. Let’s get to it.
The highest-scoring team in the Kontinental League by a wide margin, St. Petersburg has cashed in 102 times already, while no other squad has broken 90. Led by New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk up front and Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky in net, SKA also features one of Russia’s best young talents in St. Louis Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko, who is also tearing it up offensively.
As pointed out by THN’s Rory Boylen on Twitter, the last time Halifax scored less than four goals in one game was Sept. 29. Yikes. The top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Stefan Fournier has run roughshod over the competition and on the power play they’re often joined by a fourth forward on the point in Detroit Red Wings prospect Martin Frk and he can bomb it from the blueline. With Zach Fucale in net, the Herd has three players (with MacKinnon and Drouin) who will go in the first round of the draft.
MacKinnon’s competition for first overall in the draft comes from Portland rookie Seth Jones, the do-everything defenseman who also happens to be nearly 6-foot-5 and mobile. Jones has been great for the Hawks, but so have draft eligible Nic Petan and St. Louis Blues pick Ty Rattie on the offensive side. Goaltender and Chicago prospect Mac Carruth has been devastating since returning from AHL Rockford. All that helps explain why Portland has an 18-4-1 record and has outscored opponents 104-49.
Though the Barons have a goal differential of just plus-2, it’s safe to say that will increase with every extra game Taylor Hall plays. He’s been in eight so far and notched nine points, while fellow ringers Justin Schultz, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins make OKC the hottest draw in hockey right now.
The Aeros are basically Oklahoma City, but two years behind. Most of their youth brigade hasn’t played in the NHL yet, but the lineup is sinister. Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund, Zach Phillips, Jonas Brodin and Johan Larsson are all names to watch, though Granlund and Brodin have been sidelined with injuries of late. Zucker and Coyle are tied for the team lead with seven goals apiece.
The Cats are dueling it out with pre-season fave Boston College atop the conference standings and while the Eagles will get their due, how about UNH’s commitment to defense? Through 10 games, New Hampshire has surrendered just 13 goals against. Netminder Casey DeSmith has been the catalyst, boasting a ridiculous .961 save percentage.
If you’re not familiar with the Alberta Jr. A League’s Bandits, familiarize yourself with this: The team just had a 20-game winning streak snapped, which started on opening night. Now 22-1-0, Brooks hogs the puck, with starting goaltender Michael Fredrick facing just 21 shots a night. UMass commit Patrick Lee is eligible for this year’s draft.
It’s like the Washington Capitals at their best, but way, way East! Headlined by Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom, Dynamo has rang up 29 more goals than it has given up through 27 games and has made a habit of giving the fans a little extra by going 6-1 in games that go beyond 60 minutes.
The Black Hawks are the Show Time team in the United States League, scoring almost a goal more per game than anyone else. Waterloo boasts several potential draft picks for this summer, including blueliner Ian McCoshen, playmaker Taylor Cammarata and goalie Eamon McAdam. Zach Stepan has already been picked by Nashville, while Vince Hinostroza is a Chicago prospect.
Led by Kings pick Nick Shore up front and Edmonton selection Joey LaLeggia on the back end, the Pios have jumped out to a 9-1 start while playing in a conference that is far from a soft touch. Denver has rotated three goalies and still outscored opponents by a two-to-one margin.