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.