American Hockey League

College talent could impact AHL teams

The annual spring migration of new talent into the American Hockey League is underway.

Draft picks and free agents are heading to the AHL after junior, college, and European leagues finish their seasons, allowing for an up-close look at these players in the NHL’s top development league and potentially in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Here is a look at five college prospects who coulkd make an immediate impact in the AHL:

Jake Oettinger, G, Texas (Dallas Stars)

Texas No. 1 goalie, Landon Bow, is on recall to the Stars, so Oettinger’s arrival comes at a perfect time. Texas is in a five-team race for two Central Division playoff spots.

Dallas selected Oettinger (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) in the first round (No. 26) of the 2017 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old played three seasons at Boston University before signing a three-year entry-level contract with the Stars on March 25. This season, he was 16-16-4 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 36 games. His save percentage ranked 10th among NCAA goalies, and he also had four shutouts.

Last season, he helped lead BU to the Hockey East tournament championship. He also twice represented the United States at the World Junior Championship, winning a gold medal in 2017 and a bronze medal in 2018.

He made his pro debut this past Saturday at Iowa (Minnesota Wild) and had 23 saves in a 4-1 win that completed a sweep of the two-game series. Texas is three points behind Iowa for third place in the Central Division.

Along with Bow and Oettinger, Dallas has been replenishing its organizational depth chart at goalie. Philippe Desrosiers (6-1, 200) is 8-11-1 with a 2.54 GAA and .910 save percentage in 23 games with Texas. The 23-year old was a second-round pick (No. 54) in the 2013 NHL Draft. Colton Point (6-4, 235) is in his first pro season and has divided time between Texas and Idaho, the Stars’ ECHL affiliate. Dallas selected the 21-year-old in the fifth round (No. 128) of the 2016 NHL Draft.

Oliver Wahlstrom and Bobo Carpenter, Bridgeport (NY Islanders)

Bridgeport is on track for home-ice advantage in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, holding a six-point advantage on Hershey for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Wahlstrom, the Islanders first-round pick (No. 11) in the 2018 NHL Draft, could be a huge boost in the playoffs for Bridgeport, where he is playing on an amateur tryout agreement. The 18-year-old signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Islanders that will begin at the start of the 2019-20 season.  

Wahlstrom (6-1, 205) played one season at Boston College and had 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 36 games. He was a member of the United States team that won a silver medal at the 2019 World Junior Championship. He had four points (two goals, two assists) in seven games.

Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson inserted Wahlstrom into the lineup Tuesday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Pittsburgh Penguins) for his debut. He had one shot.

Bridgeport also added Carpenter, who signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Islanders that will begin next season. Carpenter (5-11, 200), the son of former NHL forward Bobby Carpenter, was the captain at Boston University and had 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in 27 games. Last season, the 22-year-old had a career-high 20 goals in 40 games.

Cayden Primeau, Laval (Montreal Canadiens)

Primeau is another AHL addition with a well-known father.

The son of NHL forward Keith Primeau, Cayden, a 19-year-old goalie, signed a three-year entry-level contract that starts next season with the Canadiens. Montreal assigned him to Laval for the remainder of the season.

Taken in the seventh round (No. 199) of the 2017 draft, Primeau (6-3, 191) has seen his stock has rise dramatically after two standout seasons with Northeastern. He was 25-10-1 with a 2.09 GAA and .933 save percentage in 36 games as a sophomore and was a finalist for the Mike Richter Award (most outstanding NCAA goaltender) for the second season in a row.

He was a teammate with Wahlstrom at the 2019 World Junior Championship. He went 4-1-0 with a 1.61 GAA and .936 save percentage.

Shane Bowers, Colorado (Colorado Avalanche)

Another Boston University talent has found a home in the AHL.

Bowers came to the Avalanche organization in the trade that sent forward Matt Duchene to the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 5, 2017. The 19-year-old forward was a first-round pick (No. 28) by Ottawa in the 2017 draft.

The Avalanche signed Bowers (6-2, 186) to a three-year entry-level contract that starts next season and assigned him to their AHL affiliate. He had 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in 37 NCAA games.

Last season he was a member of the Hockey East All-Rookie Team after he had 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) in 40 games. He also played at the 2019 World Junior Championship this season and had two assists in five games for Canada.

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