A fair number of players in the AHL will find themselves on the roster of a NHL metropolitan division team for the post season. These guys can be the addition each team needs to make a deep playoff run.
Fans look forward to the trade deadline to watch their teams beef up their roster, possibly adding a strong defenseman or a goal scorer. Minnesota locked up the best rental center available, paying a big price to land Martin Hanzal. They now have a group of forwards that may be the deepest in the league. Teams like the Washington Capitals made their power move by picking up former St. Louis Blues star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Other teams opt to wait until trade frenzy 2.0 in the summer and only make minor moves picking up multiple depth players rather than eating up cap space to catch only one big name at the deadline. Although the deadline is all said and done, that doesn’t mean we are done seeing additions to rosters.
We see it every NHL post season; a couple players come out of nowhere and make an impact. Take the New York Rangers for example. In the 2011-2012 season they called up left-winger Chris Kreider from The Hartford Wolfpack, In his NHL post- season debut he added an insane amount of speed and totaled 5 goals in his short post season stint. Last season as well, we saw it with the 2015-16 Pittsburg Penguins who then went on to win the Stanley Cup. With long time starter goalie Marc- Andre Fleury no longer in the crease due to an injury, the team looked to 21-year-old fresh talent Matt Murray. Murray stepped in and took over the starting position for the rest of the playoffs which resulted in a Stanley Cup win, making it the 4th in franchise history.
These star players are absolutely not a coincidence though. They are products of the AHL whom the NHL teams keep their eyes on all season and calls them up just in time for the playoffs when they know they need the talent the most. But without any more delay here are three players who could light a spark and contribute to a playoff run.
1) Nicklas Jensen, New York Rangers
In 50 games with the Wolf Pack Jensen has recorded 23 goals and 40 plus points. Jensen has already been on NHL ice for seven games with the Rangers this season. His first appearance was a four-game stint, which ended in mid-December. However he made another appearance again in January. He averaged a little more than nine minutes of ice time per game. The 23-year-old knows what to do with the puck and proved to the team the talent he had that made him a first-round pick in the 2011 draft. Ranger fans would love to see him play with the same skill he’s shown down in the AHL. Jensen stands 6-foot-3, 203 pounds and has speed to him. He’s great to watch.
2) Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins
It is no secret that Pittsburgh is a cup contender every season. With that being said, any addition they make is just icing on the cake. Guentzel has been up with the big leagues regularly since the New Year and he’s really seem to have found his fit. In 25 games played, he has recorded seven goals and 15 points and is skating right in the middle of the lineup. Only standing at 5’11 the 22 year old definitely is not the biggest guy out on the ice but he knows how to move on the ice and Pittsburgh can use that to their advantage. They now are sitting 3rd in the metropolitan division, with the Rangers placed a little to close for comfort looking to make a push a big push ahead before April arrives.
3) Joshua Ho-Sang, New York Islanders
The Islanders have had a rough go this season. From being dead last in the standings, star players not performing and firing long time head coach Jack Capuano things haven’t been easy over in Brooklyn. They now sit in a wild card spot when we look at the playoff picture. Controversial winger Ho-Sang was just recently called up from Bridgeport for his NHL debut where he was a healthy scratch early in the season. In his 48 AHL games this season he has 36 points (10 goals and 26 assists) Although he has had a slow start Ho-Sang is a promising winger and while this may only be temporary the Islanders are looking to strengthen their roster for the rest of the season. If he plays his cards right Ho-Sang may get the chance to see some playoff action.
And the end of the day there is only one reason for post-season craziness…. “Because it’s the cup”.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 2, 2017