Top prospects eyeing NHL jobs as season approaches | TheAHL.com

📝 by Patrick Williams


They’re back for more.

The young elite talent, who played in the American Hockey League last season, is now fighting for roles in the National Hockey League at training camp.

Here’s a look at some of the AHL’s top candidates looking to make the next and final step into the NHL

JACK DRURY—CAROLINA HURRICANES

Last season, Drury just got better and better.

As the Calder Cup playoffs rolled in and the Chicago Wolves started their 14-4 championship run, the 22-year-old forward was poised for another step as a permanent fixture under the then-head coach Ryan Warsofsky‘s lineup. In the postseason, he finished third with 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 18 games. That performance followed a regular season with 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists in 68 games).

Drury, who was selected to the second round by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2018, now has two years of pro experience and scored in Carolina’s preseason win over Florida on Sept. 29.

MARTIN KAUT – COLORADO AVALANCHE

There are easier tasks than trying to break out as a forward with reigning Stanley Cup winners Avalanche.

But Kaut, who turned 23 on Oct. 2, has played chunks of four AHL seasons with the Colorado Eagles along with 20 NHL contests and is trying to make that leap. Last season, the 16th overall pick of the 2018 NHL draft had career-high 19 goals and 31 points in 46 AHL regular-season games, followed by five points (one goal, four assists) in nine playoff games. He also spent six games with the Avalanche.

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Kaut has a busy schedule, but the off-season move means he’s received a strong look from the Avalanche coaching staff so far. He scored one goal and one assist on his preseason debut on Sept. 27 against the Minnesota Wild and played 17:56 against Vegas the next night to lead all forwards.

JJ PETERKA – BUFFALO SABER

Peterka, a 20-year-old forward with a superb engine, knows how to deliver an encore.

His 28 goals and 68 points with Rochester led all AHL rookies last season while also earning him a selection for the AHL All-Rookie Team. He then finished second among the rookies with seven more playoff goals (while also finishing second with 12 points), though his postseason was limited to 10 games. Three of those goals came in a 4-3 overtime win in Game 2 of the Amerks’ North Division semi-final series against rivals Utica Comets.

Now, Buffalo’s 2020 second-round pick gets a long look at training camp with the Sabers, dressing for three of the team’s first four preseason competitions.

JACK QUINN—BUFFALO SABERS

The future of the Sabers also extends far beyond Peterka.

Quinn, the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, is an integral part of that picture for Buffalo, joining Peterka in last season’s AHL All-Rookie Team. The Sabers have taken a slow-paced approach with Quinn, who turned 21 on Sept. 19 but already has 60 AHL games under his belt. He averaged 61 points (26 goals, 35 assists) and finished fourth in rookie standings, and his 1.36 points per game last season led all full-time freshman skaters. During his time at Rochester he was able to play both center and wing at various positions.

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This fall brought Quinn’s latest foray, and he’s impressed many in the Sabers. His equalizer in the Sabers’ late preseason opener on September 25 ultimately helped the team to a 4-3 away win in overtime against the Washington Capitals. In three preseason games, Quinn has three points (two goals, one assist) as the team leader while playing in all situations and throwing in 13 shots.

JACK RATHBONE-VANCOUVER CANUCKS

The Canucks used Rathbone this preseason.

The 23-year-old defenseman played a team-high 25:45 against Calgary on September 25 and 21:05 against Seattle on September 29. A fourth-round pick by the Canucks in 2017, he has emerged as one of the organization’s top picks.

Rathbone was selected to the AHL All-Rookie Team last year when he finished second among the rookie blueliners with 40 points (10 goals, 30 assists) in just 39 games for Abbotsford. That effort, combined with nine games in the Vancouver lineup, earned him a new two-year contract with the team.

NHL Veteran Danny DeKeyser, a left-handed shooter like Rathbone, is on a tryout in training camp as additional competition. But depending on the direction the Canucks want to take with their blue line, there could be a spot for Rathbone on opening night.

NASHVILLE ROBBER

Four additional roster spots mean expanded opportunities for multiple Nashville prospects to make an impression.

With the Predators in Europe this week for the 2022 NHL Global Series, the team was allowed to take 27 players on the trip. After a preseason game on Monday in Switzerland against SC Bern, the Predators will open their regular season with two games against the San Jose Sharks in Prague.

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goalkeeper Connor Ingram, 25, will be one of three goalkeepers on the trip. His 54 games last season with the Milwaukee Admirals led all AHL goalies, and he finished the game 30-17-7 with a 2.21 clean sheet average, a .915 save and five shutouts.

After 62 points (14 goals, 14 assists) last season in Milwaukee, forward Cody glass attempting to make a permanent move to the NHL. Glass, 23, was drafted sixth overall to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL draft before Nashville picked him up in July 2021.

defender Jordan Big, last season’s Eddie Shore Award winner with Colorado as the AHL’s Outstanding Defenseman, signed a two-year deal with Nashville during the offseason and is on the road with the Predators this week. Join him are forward Markus Jankowski, who split between Buffalo and Rochester last season and played 272 NHL games; and further Pine Sherwoodwho finished fifth in the AHL with the Eagles last season with 75 points (36 goals, 39 assists) before joining Nashville this summer.

UP NEXT: A look at some of the returning talent assigned to AHL clubs.

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