Thoughts on the *AHL* All-Star Skills Competition…

I never had any intention of doing an AHL version of this and then FoxSports Detroit went and replayed the Skills Competition for the AHL All-Stars late last night and I found myself devouring it as well. This is fun because you get to see a lot of upcoming NHL prospects for the first time and judge them for yourself.

(By the way, the actual All-Star Game is to be held tonight at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI).

And so here we go, here are some of my thoughts upon seeing the AHL All-Star Skills Competition:

And so here we go, here are some of my thoughts upon seeing the AHL All-Star Skills Competition:

1). Holy crap, Anton Babchuk (Norfolk) is huge. He’s only 19 years old?! And, not surprisingly, with a hard shot too. What happens if this kid grows some more?! The Blackhawks might have a good one there…

2). Watching Nathan Robinson (Grand Rapids) pull a groin in the Fastest Skater competition and go hard into the boards nearly made me sick. You really, really don’t want to see that happen to anyone in an All-Star setting. And the more of a shame it had to happen to him in front of his home crowd.

3). Oy, Jeff Hamilton (Bridgeport Sound) has a HARD and impressive wrist shot. A wrist shot in a different class than anyone else I saw at the event.

4). Ryan Miller (Rochester) really does look dominant at the AHL level. I’m unsure what it is that’s keeping him from making the leap to the NHL level easily (I think it might be helped if Buffalo would deal Noronen or Biron already), but it really only does look like a matter of “When” now, not “If” he’ll be an NHL starter. As someone who watched him play at Michigan State, he looks even better now than he did in the CCHA…

5). It never ceases to amuse me that the AHL still has two teams nicknamed the “Admirals” after bringing Milwaukee in from the IHL, and having Norfolk. It’s just too bad Milwaukee’s newer uniforms suck — I liked their old-school IHL colors and sweaters better (and I never dreamed I’d ever say that, believe me). I’m also curious at to how the Toronto Roadrunners ended up with the exact same logo and colors as the old Phoenix Roadrunners from the IHL days…

6). Someone sign up the Bantam kid that was representing PlanetUSA already!!! The kid went 4 out of 6 in the Shooting Accuracy competition (basically upstaging every actual AHL All-Star), and showed some wheels in the Fastest Skater!

7). All in all I had a lot more fun watching it than I thought I might. Kudos to the AHL for putting on possibly a better Skills Competition than the NHL if you take into consideration that the AHL uses some older and different variations of some of the events. Props to the AHL for putting on a good event, and having the good sense to start bringing the All-Star weekend to some of the ex-IHL cities.

8). It’s becoming really clear that the Canada vs PlanetUSA format is a bad idea though. The demographics of the league changes too-rapidly to make it work. They may need to switch to a East vs West format by next season…

I hope people got a chance to see this though, or at least get a chance to see the All-Star Game tonight. There are a number of guys in it that you’ll probably see in the NHL solidly next season…

— Primis.

9 Responses to Thoughts on the *AHL* All-Star Skills Competition…

  1. Jack_Laviolette says:

    6) I figure you’re talking about Montreal/Hamilton’s Benoit Gratton? I don’t think he’s available. This guy is the Bulldogs’ captain.

  2. kidhenry1 says:

    I was surprised that Jeff Hamilton didn’t stick with the Isles during his brief call up because of the Yashin injury. Players like Mattias Wienhandl, Justin Mapletoft, Trent Hunter, and Radek Martinek have all become regulars after stints like that. Hamilton’s only lasted a day. But he’s one hell of a hockey player.

    Kudos to Crow (Greg Cronin, head coach of the Sound Tigers) on making a good team better despite the dissapointment of not getting the Isles head coaching job this summer. It’s just a matter of time before he gets a head coaching job somewhere in the NHL.

  3. flyersfan10897 says:

    i think a big problem with the NHL all star skills competition was the breakaway constest. almost none of the players tried anything fancy. this is usually the only time of the year we get to see the pros flaunt their skills, but they didnt do anything. most didnt even deke, or drop a shoulder, they just put a weak wrist shot on net. i was very disappointed, that is the main reason i watched. players like pavel datsyuk shouldnt do better moves in the regular season compared to the all star game. they are supposed to have fun and show the skills they have.

  4. Kashin says:

    Just because a guy is good at the AHL level that doesnt make him good at the NHL level.

    – The guy went undrafted tells something.

    – The guy is 26.

    – Cronin will eventually be an NHL head coach. How about the Islanders? will eventualy get that job. Goes out of his way to make young players better.

  5. Primis says:

    6) I figure you’re talking about Montreal/Hamilton’s Benoit Gratton? I don’t think he’s available. This guy is the Bulldogs’ captain.

    No, the league assigned one local (meaning from Grand Rapids) bantam-level player to help represent each side. These kids’ performances COUNTED towards the team point totals. A neat program, and the one kid representing PlanetUSA put on more of a show than a lot of the actual All-Stars.

    — Primis.

  6. Primis says:

    – The guy went undrafted tells something.

    Actually I have to disagree on that one.

    A perfect example of this is Jason Williams, who went undrafted but keeps finding his way up and playing for the Detroit Red Wings.

    And if you look over player records I think you’d be surprised at some of the guys who have gone undrafted in the last 5 to 7 years…

    The NHL Entry Draft is as much a crap-shoot as the MLB Amateur Draft.

    — Primis.

  7. kidhenry1 says:

    26 isn’t too old yet. Trent Hunter’s 24, and he should win the Calder.

    Plus, with enough game-changing ability, he can always find a spot on the NHL team.

    I hope Cronin gets the isles job, but at the same time I hope that he doesn’t. He’s a great coach, and he’d be perfect for the isles, but I don’t think he’ll wait around long enough for Steve Stirling to retire. Hopefully Mad Mike won’t recycle Stirling so quickly that Crow will have the job within the next 3 years, at least.

  8. kidhenry1 says:

    How about Wade Dubielewicz? I only watched the first period of the all-star game, but he looked sharp. Ricky DiPietro better watch his back, or he could have some competition down the line.

    By the way, Kashin, Dubielewicz is another undrafted AHL all-star…

  9. Kashin says:

    He has a shot. Maybe not as a starter because of who is in front of him right now but if he is there 2 years from now he can be the backup in the NHL. I see the potential in him that i do not see in Hamilton.

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