NHL Lockout History - Futures in the AHL

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What should we look for from the upcoming AHL season based on the last time a lockout happened?

The 2004-05 "lockout enhanced" AHL season was an interesting one. The stars of tomorrow really did feature prominently that year, and the league scoring race provided insight into the dominant NHL talent of the next 5-10 years.

Jason Spezza, Michael Cammalleri, Tomas Vanek and Eric Staal all finished near the top of the AHL scoring races in goals, points, and/or assists. Then again, so were Kyle Wellwood and Peter Sarno, and it's not like we've seen them lighting up the NHL in recent years.

That being said, if we were to be truly fair to Wellwood, we should note that in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons with the Leafs, he posted 87 points in 129 gp (0.67 ppg) which would rank him at a comparable level to Ryan Getzlaf (0.70 ppg), Michael Ryder (0.69 ppg) and Michael Cammalleri (0.69 ppg) over the same 2 season stretch, and well ahead of Jussi Jokinen (0.63 ppg) and Milan Michalek (0.64 ppg). At the time, he looked to be a prolific scorer in the making.

An interesting mental exercise is exploring the AHL scoring ranks from that 2004-05 season for a prime age and production range to indicate future NHL success and/or impact. By making a quick perusal of AHL rosters the age cut off that stands out to me is 22 years or younger.

Below is a listing of all the AHL players that were 22 or younger in 2004-05, played 40 or more games that season, and finished with 0.50 or more points per game, with their age, team, position, games played, goals, assists, and ppg rates.

RK Player Team GP G A Pts PPG PIM NHL GP NHL PPG
1 Jason Spezza (C) Binghamton Senators 80 32 85 117 1.46 50 606 1.02
2 Mike Cammalleri (C/LW) Manchester Monarchs 79 46 63 109 1.38 60 562 0.76
3 Kyle Wellwood (C/RW) St. John's Maple Leafs 80 38 49 87 1.09 20 450 0.49
4 Eric Staal (C) Lowell Lock Monsters 77 26 51 77 1.00 88 642 0.89
5 Chuck Kobasew (RW/LW) Lowell Lock Monsters 79 38 37 75 0.95 110 531 0.37
6 Brad Boyes (C/RW) Providence Bruins 80 33 42 75 0.94 58 558 0.67
7 Dustin Brown (RW/LW) Manchester Monarchs 79 29 45 74 0.94 96 595 0.60
8 Antoine Vermette (C/LW) Binghamton Senators 78 28 45 73 0.94 36 622 0.53
9 Brandon Bochenski (RW/LW) Binghamton Senators 75 34 36 70 0.93 16 156 0.44
10 Thomas Vanek (LW) Rochester Americans 74 42 26 68 0.92 62 547 0.82
11 Derek Roy (C) Rochester Americans 67 16 45 61 0.91 60 549 0.78
12 Patrice Bergeron (C) Providence Bruins 68 21 40 61 0.90 59 537 0.75
13 Jason Pominville (RW) Rochester Americans 78 30 38 68 0.87 43 541 0.80
14 Joffrey Lupul (RW/LW) Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 65 30 26 56 0.86 58 515 0.63
15 Ryane Clowe (RW/LW) Cleveland Barons 74 27 35 62 0.84 101 395 0.66
16 Matt Stajan (C) St. John's Maple Leafs 80 23 43 66 0.83 43 609 0.47
17 Pierre-Marc Bouchard (RW) Houston Aeros 67 12 42 54 0.81 46 522 0.63
18 R.J. Umberger (W/C) Philadelphia Phantoms 80 21 44 65 0.81 36 551 0.57
19 Tomas Plekanec (C) Hamilton Bulldogs 80 29 35 64 0.80 68 551 0.66
20 Anton Volchenkov (D) Binghamton Senators 69 10 45 55 0.80 62 557 0.20
21 Zach Parise (LW) Albany River Rats 73 18 40 58 0.79 56 502 0.82
22 Michel Ouellet (RW) Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins 80 31 32 63 0.79 56 190 0.61
23 Rene Bourque (LW/RW) Norfolk Admirals 78 33 27 60 0.77 105 470 0.53
24 Ryan Kesler (C) Manitoba Moose 78 30 28 58 0.74 105 561 0.60
25 Scottie Upshall (LW/RW) Milwaukee Admirals 62 19 27 46 0.74 108 387 0.46
26 Mikko Koivu (C) Houston Aeros 67 20 28 48 0.72 47 488 0.74
27 Matt Ellison (W/C) Norfolk Admirals 71 14 37 51 0.72 44 43 0.33
28 Ahren Spylo (LW) Albany River Rats 50 25 11 36 0.72 18 0 0.00
29 Colby Armstrong (RW) Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins 80 18 37 55 0.69 89 439 0.46
30 Stephen Weiss (C) totals 80 22 32 54 0.68 50 637 0.61
31 Chris Higgins (LW/C) Hamilton Bulldogs 76 28 23 51 0.67 33 482 0.50
32 Dan Hamhuis (D) Milwaukee Admirals 76 13 38 51 0.67 85 629 0.35
33 Jiri Hudler (LW/RW) Grand Rapids Griffins 52 12 22 34 0.65 10 409 0.52
34 Denis Grebeshkov (D) Manchester Monarchs 75 5 44 49 0.65 87 227 0.37
35 Jay McClement (C) Worcester IceCats 79 17 34 51 0.65 45 553 0.32
36 Marek Svatos (RW) Hershey Bears 72 18 28 46 0.64 69 344 0.50
37 Chad Larose (RW/LW) Lowell Lock Monsters 66 20 22 42 0.64 32 473 0.37
38 Chris Campoli (D) Bridgeport Sound Tigers 79 15 34 49 0.62 78 440 0.33
39 Jozef Balej (RW) Hartford Wolf Pack 69 20 22 42 0.61 46 18 0.33
40 Alexander Svitov (C) Syracuse Crunch 69 19 23 42 0.61 200 179 0.21
41 Matt Keith (C/W) Norfolk Admirals 80 18 31 49 0.61 74 27 0.19
42 Jared Aulin (C) Portland Pirates 65 11 28 39 0.60 30 17 0.24
43 Jarret Stoll (C) Edmonton Road Runners 66 21 17 38 0.58 92 593 0.53
44 Steve Ott (LW/RW) Hamilton Bulldogs 67 18 21 39 0.58 279 566 0.39
45 Kyle Brodziak (C/RW) Edmonton Road Runners 56 6 26 32 0.57 49 419 0.41
46 Paul Gaustad (C) Rochester Americans 76 18 25 43 0.57 192 493 0.38
47 Eric Himelfarb (C/RW) Grand Rapids Griffins 76 19 24 43 0.57 59 0 0.00
48 Pavel Vorobyov (RW) Norfolk Admirals 79 19 25 44 0.56 48 57 0.44
49 Joël Perrault (C/RW) Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 51 9 19 28 0.55 40 96 0.27
50 Brian Sutherby (C/LW) Portland Pirates 53 10 19 29 0.55 115 460 0.20
51 Corey Locke (C) Hamilton Bulldogs 78 16 27 43 0.55 20 9 0.11
52 Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (RW) Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 76 17 24 41 0.54 58 188 0.69
53 Joni Pitkänen (D) Philadelphia Phantoms 76 6 35 41 0.54 105 513 0.53
54 Dennis Wideman (D) Worcester IceCats 79 13 30 43 0.54 65 535 0.47
55 Ryan Whitney (D) Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins 80 6 35 41 0.51 101 440 0.56
56 Timofei Shishkanov (LW) Milwaukee Admirals 70 20 15 35 0.50 31 24 0.21

If you look the list over - you'll quickly note that an astonishingly high percentage of the players listed have gone on to become "regular" NHL players - 45 of the 56, or 80%, of the players on the list have played over 164 NHL games - amounting to the equivalent of at least 2 full NHL seasons. Further, 41 of them, or 73% have made it past the 300 game mark.

28 of the 56 players, exactly half of them, have produced in the NHL at a rate of 0.50 ppg or better during their careers. This sounds relatively unimpressive until one considers the fact that last season the percentage of players to play 40 games and produce over 0.50 ppg was 32%. This is a group outperforming that level for their entire careers.

So what does this tell us? Well - it seems to me to make some sense to use this as a rough guideline for impact players down the line. Thus we should all be keeping our eyes trained on the players who are under the age of 23 this season, and looking out to see who can maintain an AHL ppg rate over 0.50 ppg.

For the Marlies specifically, that means we should keep an exceedingly close watch on the likes of Jesse Blacker (21), Jake Gardiner (22), Carter Ashton (21), Sam Carrick (20), Andrew Crescenzi (20), Jerry D'Amigo (21), Nicolas Deschamps (22), Nazem Kadri (22), Joe Colborne (22), Gregg McKegg (20), Brad Ross (20), and Kenny Ryan (21).

Obviously we were likely to keep close tabs on that group to begin with, but if any of them can finish this season near the top of the AHL scoring race, it certainly bodes well for their future based on the last go around we had with an NHL lockout. No matter how it pans out, it will definitely be an interesting year for the Leafs development plans.

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