The acquisition of Curtis McElhinney means Robin Lehner will help Binghamton in their playoff push. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
While you’re waiting for the big blockbuster on trade deadline day you may not be thinking of the ramifications the wheeling and dealing has on the American League; but it just might have as much impact on the AHL playoff race as it does on the NHL chase.
A number of prospects and AHL/NHL bubble players changed addresses in the past week, with more moves possibly to come before the AHL Clear Day roster deadline Monday March 7.
Clear Day is the date on which AHL clubs must finalize their rosters for the remainder of the season and the playoffs, though additions from the Canadian League and NCAA are allowed after the deadline.
The NHL deadline has more potential to harm an AHL roster than help it, but most AHL teams made it through the period relatively unscathed. Several teams even benefited and the Clear Day deadline, when deals are made with only the AHL club in mind, could benefit several others.
Here is a look at some AHL contenders whose rosters changed significantly in the past week:
The addition of goaltender Curtis McElhinney off waivers to the Ottawa roster figures to stabilize Binghamton’s goalie situation, as rookie Robin Lehner will no longer have to ride the Binghamton-Ottawa shuttle. A Lehner-Barry Brust combination will provide the Senators, one of the AHL’s hottest teams of late (7-2-0-1 in their past 10 games), with a very solid net presence. Center Ryan Potulny, acquired in the Chris Campoli deal, is an 18-goal scorer for the playoffs.
No team benefited as much from the NHL trade deadline as coach Randy Cunneyworth’s Bulldogs. When No. 1 goaltender Curtis Sanford went down with an injury last Saturday night at Syracuse, the parent Canadiens went right to work. Less than two days later, the Bulldogs had established veteran Drew MacIntyre in net after the Habs acquired him from Atlanta. Whenever Sanford returns, a MacIntyre-Sanford combination will provide the Bulldogs with as good a one-two pairing as any in the AHL. Moreover, the Bulldogs added sniper Nigel Dawes, though it cost them a solid player in Ben Maxwell.
The Houston net will be rookie Matt Hackett’s after Anton Khudobin was shipped to the Boston organization. Khudobin’s departure clears the way for Josh Tordjman, a solid AHL-caliber goaltender, to back up Hackett. Defenseman Jeff Penner came the other way in the deal and will help replenish a Houston blueline that lost rookie top prospect Tyler Cuma to a season-ending injury last month.
The Moose were expected to contend for the Calder Cup, but have struggled of late as injuries and recalls to the parent Vancouver Canucks have battered coach Claude Noel’s roster. However, the Canucks - and the Anaheim Ducks - repaid the favor this week. Vancouver swapped Moose center Joel Perrault in the Maxim Lapierre deal, but the Canucks and Ducks struck a deal to keep Perrault with the Moose rather than ship him to Anaheim’s’ AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Center MacGregor Sharp came to Vancouver in the Lapierre swap and will provide further depth down the middle. The Moose are also expected to have the services of another injured Ducks farmhand, Jason Jaffray, at some point this season. Finally, Vancouver returned Cody Hodgson and Victor Oreskovich to the Moose earlier this week, leaving Manitoba in a much-improved situation from a week ago.
OKLAHOMA CITY BARONS
The Dustin Penner deal paid dividends for the Barons, who are engaged in a brutally tight Western Conference playoff race. Heading to the Barons from the Manchester Monarchs is rookie Colten Teubert, a 2008 first round selection of the Los Angeles Kings. Teubert will be joined on the Barons blueline by another deadline-day acquisition, youngster Kevin Montgomery. However, Oklahoma City will miss the services of steady veteran D-man Shawn Belle, who went to the Colorado organization for Montgomery.
The Amerks’ playoff hopes are flickering, but a hot February run pulled Rochester back into the Western Conference playoff race. Aiding the chase will be new additions Tim Kennedy at center and Patrick Rissmiller on left wing. Both have scored 12 goals this season and were added in separate deals at the deadline. Big right winger Hugh Jessiman is another recent addition to the Rochester roster and Evan Oberg provides a solid presence on the blueline. For better or worse, injuries and general roster upheaval in Florida are something to monitor from a Rochester standpoint.
SAN ANTONIO RAMPAGE
Big left winger Dane Byers is now on his third AHL team of the season after being shipped from Springfield in the Scottie Upshall–Rostislav Klesla deal with Columbus. Byers will provide the Rampage with a big body and he’ll chip in some offense.
THIS & THAT
• Rochester’s Tyler Plante earned weekly honors for a 4-0-1 week that included a shutout.
• Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Brad Thiessen (8-2-0, 1.28 goals-against average) picked up AHL monthly goaltending honors. Houston’s Patrick O’Sullivan earned monthly player honors for a nine-goal, 18-point effort in 12 games. Brandon Kozun of Manchester received monthly rookie honors - he had eight goals and 15 points.
From THN.com American League correspondent Patrick Williams, Around The AHL keeps tabs on the world's second best circuit, details all the news and notes and profiles prospects destined for the next level. It appears every Thursday only on TheHockeyNews.com.