The real battle for Clayton Keller is about to begin

Ryan Kennedy
Clayton Keller (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BUFFALO – Last night was huge for center Clayton Keller. The dazzling NTDP product went seventh overall to Arizona, giving the Coyotes a player with a Patrick Kane-like skill set. It was also a victory for smaller players, as Keller is one of the few top-10 picks in recent years to come in at 5-foot-10 or less.

But Keller can’t rest too much on his accomplishments in Buffalo; he’s got a big decision on his hands. Will he play for Boston University next season, or the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires? Is the AHL a possibility? There’s a lot of intrigue involved.

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Coyotes bring back Roadrunners name, unveil logo for AHL team

Jared Clinton
(via Arizona Coyotes/NHL)

The Coyotes’ purchase and subsequent relocation of the Springfield Falcons to Tucson brought Arizona’s AHL affiliate closer to home, and it has also brought a longtime minor league moniker back from the grave.

Tucson’s new AHL club was officially dubbed the Roadrunners, harkening back to the minor league teams that have used the name over the past 50 years.

“We are very proud to name our AHL affiliate the Tucson Roadrunners,” Coyotes president Anthony LeBlanc said in a release. “The Tucson Roadrunners will build on the great traditions of hockey in Arizona dating back to 1967. Roadrunners was the overwhelming fan favorite during our ‘Name the Team’ contest, and we thank the thousands of fans who helped us select a great name that creates a strong connection to the City of Tucson, reflects our state pride, and extends the reach of the Coyotes brand.” Read more

The Springfield Thunderbirds are the newest AHL team, unveil sharp logo

Jared Clinton
Springfield Thunderbirds logo (via YouTube)

The off-season AHL shuffle began in April when the Springfield Falcons were purchased by the Arizona Coyotes, their parent club, and relocated to Tucson. One month later, Springfield once again had AHL hockey when the Portland Pirates were sold and subsequent moved to Massachusetts. And less than one month after the Pirates relocation was announced, the new Springfield franchise has a name.

It was formally announced Wednesday that Springfield’s AHL club will be called the Thunderbirds and fans were given a first glimpse at the logo in a short video that displayed the rich AHL history in Springfield, which dates back to the league’s first season in 1936. The Springfield Indians, Kings and Falcons have all been part of the city’s AHL history, the latter of which played in the city for the past 22 seasons. Read more

Monsters’ Calder Cup title blessing for Cleveland, perhaps Columbus Blue Jackets

Daniel Nugent-Bowman
Lake Erie Monsters logo (via SportsLogos/Chris Creamer)

Cleveland, at last, can lay claim to a professional sports championship. And, no, it’s not the NBA’s Cavaliers – at least, not yet.

The Lake Erie Monsters won the AHL’s Calder Cup on Saturday night as they swept aside the Hershey Bears thanks to a 1-0 overtime victory. Right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand jammed a loose puck past Bears goaltender Justin Peters with 1.9 seconds left in the first extra period to secure the historic win.

Bjorkstrand’s championship-winning goal was scored in front of 19,665 fans at Quicken Loans Arena – home of the Cavaliers, who trail the Golden State Warriors 3-1 in the NBA Finals. According to the AHL, it was the largest crowd to see a pro hockey game in Ohio and the second-largest post-season attendance total in AHL history.

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Schultz gets new lease on hockey life with Penguins

Justin Schultz (Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

SAN JOSE – Things got so bad for Justin Schultz that he had to set up a fake Twitter account to keep up with the news of the day and read links to stories that interested him. That’s because his real Twitter account was so filled with vitriol and hate that he couldn’t stand looking at it.

So when a player tells you that he doesn’t read anything that’s written about him or that he’s impervious to the criticism, it isn’t always true. Some players can dismiss it, but others take it to heart. One win away from winning the Stanley Cup, Schultz can laugh about it now. But when he played with the Edmonton Oilers, he was hardly living the dream he’d spent so much of his life anticipating.

“It’s not a lot of fun getting booed in front of your home fans,” Schultz said. “It’s pretty tough to enjoy yourself when that’s happening.”

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Max Reinhart forgoes NHL free agency, signs deal with German club

Jared Clinton
Max Reinhart last saw NHL action with the Flames (Brad Watson/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the four seasons since he began his professional career, Max Reinhart hasn’t been able to find himself a steady role in the NHL. And after spending the entirety of the 2015-16 campaign in the AHL, Reinhart has decided to take his game overseas.

The DEL’s Kolner Haie announced they have signed Reinhart to a contract for the 2016-17 season. Reinhart’s deal comes following what was arguably the most disappointing campaign of the 24-year-old’s career. In 73 games with the Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate, Reinhart managed 23 goals and 38 points in 73 games, but that made for his lowest-scoring season since his rookie campaign. That didn’t scare the German club off, though.

“Max Reinhart is a young, dynamic player who can be used on both the center and on the outside position. He is strong on the offensive and has a good shot,” said Kolner sports director Mark Mahon. Read more

Capitals’ prospect Madison Bowey ejected for questionable hit

Dhiren Mahiban
(Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Hershey Bears may have to play Game 5 of their Calder Cup playoff series on Sunday without the services of defenceman Madison Bowey.

Bowey was ejected from Game 4 on Friday night after catching Toronto Marlies forward Kasperi Kapanen with an elbow to the head.

The 21-year-old Washington Capitals prospect was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct.

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