to me the AHL is nothing but a beer league. I prefer the OHL over the AHL because the OHL is just like the NHL but a much younger version. AHL is a league that will lul you to sleep. Having said that, when young players are sent down to play in the AHL it's simply just to toughen you up. So players like Colborne, Frattin, Ashton, Kadri and D'Amigo not tearing it up isn't a bad thing.
Tearing it up in the CHL or NCAA is good but it will not physically prepare you for the NHL. As young players get older they slowly develop the size and toughness needed to play in the NHL, that is why some players go from the CHL and NCAA straight into the NHL, much like Frattin did. if they are developing size and toughness slower than most average players than they are sent to the AHL that will ease them into the preparation for NHL toughness.
The AHL only consists of 2 types of players.
1. Players that will never make the NHL and/or bounce back and fourth from the AHL and playing on an NHL 4th line.
2. Young prospects just looking to add some toughness to help them adapt into the NHL.