📝 by Patrick Williams
Several American Hockey League stars have spoken out in favor of promotion over the past season. And sometimes several seasons before.
Now they’re back, fighting for full-time positions in the National Hockey League as training camp resumes this week.
Here’s a look at some accomplished AHL veterans trying to position themselves for a move to the NHL.
MICHAEL DAL COLLE – OTTAWA SENATORS
This fall is a fresh start for the fifth overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft.
When the New York Islanders made that choice eight years ago, expectations were high, and Dal Colle seemed well on his way to becoming a regular in their lineup. In 2018-19, Dal Colle had 34 points (18 goals, 16 assists) in 34 AHL games and was an AHL All-Star while also playing in 28 contests with New York. And by 2019/20 Dal Colle had seemingly broken through, playing 53 games with the Islanders before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted that season.
However, he was limited to one stint with the Islanders last season and spent 39 games with their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Islanders, where he had 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists).
Now, after six full seasons with the Islanders organization and turning 26 this summer, Dal Colle is on probation in Ottawa. He’s applying for the head coach DJ Smithwho was also his head coach at Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League.
TROY GROSENICK-PHILADELPHIA FLYER
Another year, another fight for Grosenick.
The veteran AHL goaltender made one of his strongest showings last season with the Providence Bruins, earning a spot as a Second Team AHL All-Star. Grosenick’s 2.00 goals against averages and .933 percent saves led the AHL, along with his 16-6-4 record and three shutouts in 30 games.
These efforts earned Grosenick a new one-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. Grosenick is 149-91-30 with a 2.50 GAA, .914 save percentage and 19 shutouts in 288 AHL career games, and won the 2016-17 Baz Bastien Memorial Award for Outstanding Goaltender of the AHL. But he has only appeared in four NHL games — two with San Jose in 2014-15 and two with Los Angeles in 2020-21.
Now that his 10th pro season is unfolding, Grosenick is stepping in with a view Felix Sandstromwho spent most of last season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for an opportunity to share the Flyers crease with Carter Hart.
JOSH LEIVO-ST. LOUIS BLUE
The Blues and their AHL affiliate Springfield Thunderbirds have seen more than enough of Leivo during the 2022 Calder Cup Finals.
Leivo accumulated nine points (four goals, five assists) in the five-game series against Springfield and led the Chicago Wolves to the championship. After a regular season with 46 points (22 goals, 24 assists in 54 games), Leivo had a league-best 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 18 postseason games and won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy for Most Valuable Player of the Calder Cup Playoffs .
A little over two weeks later, Leivo had a contract in hand with the Blues.
Last season was a step back to a primary AHL role for Leivo, who has 214 NHL competitions under his belt. Now he’s locked in a St. Louis roster spot fight with several of those Springfield players he faced in June.
The Blues take a long look at Leivo and dress him up for two of their first three preseason games. His three-point night (two goals, one assist) led the Blues to a 4-0 win in Dallas earlier this week, and his 17:54 ice time that night ranked third among the team’s forwards.
CHARLIE LINDGREN – WASHINGTON CAPITAL
One well-known AHL name that can breathe a sigh of relief is Lindgren, who has secured a three-year, $3.3 million deal Darcy Kumper in Washington’s network.
After stints in five AHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens organization, Lindgren made a major career change prior to last season and signed with St. Louis. In 34 games with Springfield, Lindgren went 24-7-1 with a 2.21 GAA and a .925 save percentage and also won five NHL games with the Blues, finishing 5-0-0 with a 1.22 GAA and a .958 save percentage in of the regular season before backing up Ville Huso during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
When the Blues’ postseason run ended, Lindgren returned to Springfield to work with him Joel Hofer and take the Thunderbirds to the Calder Cup Finals.
ANDREW POTURALSKI – SEATTLE KRAKEN
In six pro seasons, Poturalski has held his own at the AHL level, winning two Calder Cup championships and two league titles.
Last season as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes organization, Poturalski’s 101 points (28 goals, 73 assists) in 71 games earned him his second straight John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL’s top scorer, making him only the fifth player in history the league makes you do this. Then, when the Calder Cup playoffs came around, the Chicago Wolves captain had 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 18 competitions.
But with just four NHL games to his tally — including two with Carolina last season — it was time for another move for Poturalski, who signed a two-year deal with Seattle in July. Poturalski has made improving his skating an offseason priority and thrived as a center leading Chicago’s attack.
In a struggle to make another impression on Seattle’s management and coaching staff, Poturalski registered 12:30 ice time, skated on the power play and scored an empty goal in the Kraken’s 3-0 preseason win over Calgary on Tuesday night.
UP NEXT: A look at some of the 2021-22 AHL’s brightest prospects, who continue to compete for NHL jobs in training camp this week.
Patrick Williams has been in the American Hockey League for nearly two decades on media such as NHL.com, Sportsnet, TSN, The Hockey News, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and SLAM! Sports. He received the AHL’s James H. Ellery Memorial Award for his outstanding coverage of the league in 2016.