The All-Star break is here, which means the skills competition and the game are this Sunday, Jan. 31, and Monday, Feb. 1. Yeah, I have those days right. Because I'm not talking about that All-Star game. I mean the AHL All-Star game, the one with three Toronto Marlies in it along with a bunch of other top-quality players.
What, where, and when
The game itself is using a 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 format with four teams representing the four divisions of the AHL. The AHL has a full explanation of the format.
The skills competition on Sunday night is an East vs. West competition in seven events.
Note the promo code you need to use to watch is: ASC2016.
The event may be on TV in your area as well.
The event is in Syracuse this year, and you can hop in the car and drive to upstate New York if you like, but the AHL decided to livestream the event on www.ahllive.com for free.
Marlies at the AHL ASG
The three Marlies in Syracuse for the two days are:
William Nylander, who has just come back from injury and played his first game on Friday night.
Josh Leivo, who has just bean sent back down by the Leafs for the break so he can enjoy his all-star status and may see action later today in the Marlies last game before the break.
T.J. Brennan, who is the best defenceman in the AHL and has been flirting hard with the points lead in the AHL for a few weeks. Right now he's one point behind Seth Griffith.
Not present for the Marlies is one of only two guys in the top 10 in scoring who were not named as all-stars, Mark Arcobello. The other top ranked AHLer not named is from the powerhouse Texas Stars, who have the same problem as the Marlies. Only so many guys could go, even if two or three others might qualify.
But Toronto has two more representatives at the event, Marlies colour commentator Bob McGill will be doing that job for the game on Monday night. And Sheldon Keefe, Marlies head coach, is behind the bench for the Atlantic division team.
Scout your own AHL players
There are other players than just Marlies to watch out for over the two days. It pays to keep an eye on those prospects for other teams, since you never know who a trade might bring to the Marlies. We didn't know we had it in us to cheer so hard for Kasperi Kapanen until he was ours, after all.
Mikko Rantanen, teammate of Kapanen at the WJC, and the second youngest player in the AHL this year (Oliver Kylington is the youngest) has been scoring up a storm lately.
Manitoba Moose goaltender Eric Comrie, in as a replacement for Moose goalie Connor Hellebuyck, is not quite the equal of his former teammate who is busy being an NHL starter and can't make it to Syracuse.
Brandon Montour, a defenceman for the San Diego Gulls and second to Brennan in scoring by D-men, is one to watch too. He's 13 points behind Brennan, but he's a high shooting, offensive-minded guy with a lot of jump.
Vladislav Kamenev, the top centre on the Russian junior team and member of the Milwaukee Admirals, is also going to be there.
Cal O'Reilly of the Rochester Americans, whose brother is going to the NHL All-Star game is having a great year.
Chris Bourque, an AHL veteran and one of the guys who has been keeping William Nylander's seat warm and T.J. Brennan out of it atop the points standings, will be there from the Hershey Bears.
Seth Griffith from the Providence Bruins, the current points leader, is another young player to watch.
Lots of other guys will be there that are worth seeing, some rookies, some long-time AHLers, some hated rivals—I can't wait to see those Marlies make nice with Hunter Shinkaruk and Kristers Gudlevskis and play on the same team.
Check back here for a recap of the skills competition and Monday's All-Star Game.