AHL and Europe: Who's Hot, Who's Not?

Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

A closer look at NHL players and prospects who've been over-performing or underachieving during the NHL lockout.

If you have drafts coming up this week, or need to make some decisions down on the farm, hopefully this info can be of some use to you. Also worth checking out is CBC's European stat leaders.

AHL - HOT

Let's leave out the obvious: Justin Schultz, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have been lights out in the AHL and are going to rip it up this year. Here's a look at some other AHL notables:

Cody Hodgson, C - Buffalo Sabres: 5+14=19 in 19 games with the Rochester Americans and after being thrown under the bus by Mike Gillis last summer, Hodgson has a point to prove. Expect him to continue to play top six minutes for the Sabres and this could be a really nice breakout season for Hodgson.

Mikael Granlund: C - Minnesota Wild. For a lot of us, the first hint the lockout had ended was news that Granlund had been pulled from the Houston lineup last Saturday night. Harbinger! 8+13=21 n 21 AHL games, and Granlund will almost certainly make the Wild's roster and could challenge for the Calder. A stud in the making.

Zach Boychuk, C - Carolina Hurricanes. Drafted in 2008 (14th overall), Boychuk has been trying to find a home in the Hurricanes' top six for a couple of years now. Tuomo Ruutu's injury should help that cause, although the arrival of Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal complicates things again for Boychuk. Regardless, he's having a nice year in the A, 15+16=31 in 35 games.

Peter Holland, C - Anaheim Ducks. Another former first-rounder (2009, 15th overall), Holland has struggled with consistency in the past but is having a nice year so far, leading the Norfolk Admirals in scoring with 29 points in 31 games. But even if he earns a longer look with the Ducks, don't expect much fantasy value this year.

Brayden Schenn, C - Philadelphia Flyers. The 5th overall pick of the 2009 draft had a nice little breakout on the playoffs last year with nine points in 11 games. This season he's picked up right where he left off, with 13+20=33 in 33 games for the Flyers' affiliate in Adirondack, although his minus-14 is good for third-worst in the entire AHL. Probably nothing to worry about though. Schenn should see more quality minutes this year than the 14:07 TOI and 1:41 PP time he averaged in 2011-12 with the Flyers

Cam Atkinson, RW - Columbus Blue Jackets. You could see things starting to come together for him last year - after a shaky five game stint with Columbus, Atkinson was sent down to Springfield and rattled off 29 goals in 53 games. As a late season call-up to the Jackets, he was 5+4=9 over his last six games, including a hat trick against Colorado. In 32 AHL games this season, he has 19 goals and his 38 points are good for third overall in the A. He will be given plenty of opportunity to make an immediate top six impact for the Jackets.

Jakob Silfverberg, RW - Ottawa Senators. Here is a case of a prospect who is quite possibly a bit over-hyped in a rabid Canadian market, but that shouldn't take away from Silfverberg's impressive AHL numbers this year. 13+16=29 in 33 games, and the 22 year-old should be on Ottawa's opening night roster. Potential Calder candidate, although that may be too much to expect with such a strong rookie field this year.

Marcus Foligno, LW - Buffalo Sabres. 27 points in 33 AHL games with the Rochester Americans. He surprised the hell out of everyone last year with his late season call-up to the Sabres. 6+7=13 with 44 hits, in only 14 games. Those 44 hits prorate to 257 over an 82 game season. Or 150 hits over 48 games if we must, and apparently we must.

Jason Zucker:, LW - Minnesota Wild. Not a lock to make the Wild out of camp, but then again he continues to surprise. He leads all AHL rookie forwards in points (15+17=32 in 31 games), including the fastest overtime goal in AHL history. There is a nice piece on him here from our brothers at Hockey Wilderness, the SBNation Wild blog, .

Nino Niederreiter, LW - New York Islanders. Poor dude had possibly one of the worst ever NHL rookie seasons (statistically anyway) by a top ten draft pick. 55 games, ONE goal, and a minus-29. The horror. Fear not though, he was only playing ten minutes a game on the fourth line, and we all know power forwards take time anyway. Nino is back on track with 17+17=34 in 34 AHL games, although how the Islanders will use him this year is still up in the air.

Kyle Beach, LW - Chicago Blackhawks. Okay, maybe he's not exactly "hot", but I've always had a soft spot for Beach, having drafted him in a keeper league back in 2008. He may never turn into the Todd Bertuzzi I'd hoped he'd become, but he could still end up a nice depth roto asset. Not that this means much, but take his 30 games' worth of AHL stats this year (8+5=13, 113 PIM) and over an 82 game season he'd be on pace for 21 goals and 308 penalty minutes. That is some sweet roto goodness.

Gustav Nyquist, LW - Detroit Red Wings. Yet another later-round steal by Ken Holland and the Wings. Drafted 121st in 2006, Nyquist has since rocketed up the prospect rankings, and at 23 years old now, he is scheduled to start the season in Detroit. 11+20=31 in 33 AHL games this year.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D - Phoenix Coyotes. The kid is absolutely lighting up the AHL with 21 points in only 20 games. Here's a great article on his 2011-12 season, which includes this amazing stat: "Since the first puck was dropped in an NHL rink only 33 defensemen 20 or younger have scored 13+ goals. Phil Housely, Scott Stevens, Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and Larry Murphy all did it twice. Paul Coffey, Brian Leetch, Dion Phaneuf, Glen Wesley, Denis Potvin, Drew Doughty, Craig Hartsburg, and Erik Karlsson also accomplished the feat. Since the lockout only Doughty, Karlsson, Phaneuf, and Ekman-Larsson have been able to pull it off". That should be all you need to hear. Great later-round sleeper pick in single season leagues, should be owned already in all keeper leagues.

Justin Faulk, D - Carolina Hurricanes.: He should already be on your radar - 22 points in 66 games last year as a 19-year old rookie for the 'canes. All-Rookie team honors. A point-per-game performance for USA at the World Hockey Championship last spring. This season he has 24 points in 31 games for the Charlotte Checkers, but expect the rest of his 2013 points to come in a Hurricanes uniform. The somewhat puzzling signing of Joe Corvo clouds the powerplay situation a bit in Carolina, but Faulk will get plenty of prime minutes regardless.

Adam Clendening, D - Chicago Blackhawks. FHS CEO Cam Collingwood has been high on Clendening's fantasy potential for some time now, and the kid is making Cam look pretty good so far this year with 22 points in 32 games for the Rockford IceHogs. We probably won't see Clendening play for the Blackhawks this year, but get the kid on your radar and/or your farm team. Another great SBNation piece here on Clendening and whether he will make Nick Leddy expendable.

Petr Mrazek, G - Detroit Red Wings. Jimmy Howard may be looking over his shoulder just a bit more here. Recall that Ken Holland went sniffing around for Brodeur last year before he re-signed with the Devils. Not exactly a vote of confidence for Howard. Meanwhile Mrazek has been on fire in the A, going 12-3-1 for Grand Rapids while posting a more than solid 2.10 GAA and .921 SV%. But at only 20 years old he's still a few years off from making any kind of fantasy impact.

Niklas Svedberg, G - Boston Bruins - a relative late bloomer who went undrafted, Svedberg signed a two year deal with the Bruins last May after leading Brynas to the Swedish Elite League championship. In 21 games fr the Providence Bruins this year, he is 13-6-1 with 2.45 / .921 peripherals. If Anton Khudobin falters or he or Tuukka Rask are injured, it is possible Svedberg could see a few games for Boston this year.

Robin Lehner, G - Ottawa Senators. Lehner has been absolutely dominating for the Binghampton Sens, winning 14 of 20 starts with ridiculous 1.90 and /945 peripherals. He dropped a bunch of weight over the summer and it is fairly obvious now that his poor AHL stats last year were probably a result of boredom and frustration, more than anything. He'll be competing with Ben Bishop for the backup role behind Craig Anderson, but a couple of twists of fate and I could see a Lehner takeover as soon as this season, despite his two-way deal vs. Bishop's one-way.

AHL - COLD

Luke Adam, C - Buffalo Sabres (30 GP, 7+7=14) Showed some promise last year but probably a third-liner at best.

Chris Kreider, C - New York Rangers (33 GP, 5+7=12) Uninspiring stats but is expected to compete for a top-six spot with the Rangers.

Mika Zibanejad, C - Ottawa Senators (16 GP, 1+6=7, minus-3) Battling neck issues and may not even attend camp in Ottawa.

Zemgus Girgensons, C - Buffalo Sabres (29 GP, 3+4=7, 12 PIM) Only 12 PIM? Sounds like too much Zemgus and not enough Girgensons.

Adam Henrique, C - New Jersey Devils (16 GP, 5+3=8) Tore ligaments in his thumb and hasn't played since September. Apparently the thumb injury is not related to hitching a ride with Ilya Kovalchuk last year.

Scott Glennie, C - Dallas Stars (16 GP, 2+3=5) For an 8th overall pick, it's safe to say things haven't unfolded as planned for Glennie. So far.

Alexander Burmistrov, C - Winnipeg Jets (22 GP, 2+9=11) Only 21 with plenty of time left to break out, but Burmistrov has a tendency to underwhelm.

Tomas Jurco, RW - Detroit Red Wings (32 GP, 4+5=9) The way Ken Holland and the Wings do things, Jurco won't see NHL action for a decade or two, so whatever.

Brandon Saad, LW - Chicago Blackhawks (28 GP, 6+8=14) Thought to have a good shot to make Chicago's lineup this year, but his AHL performance has only been so-so. Still a great power forward prospect.

Stefan Elliott, D - Colorado Avalanche (33 GP, 8 points, minus-5) Was laying a serious egg but has picked it up lately.

Eddie Lack, G - Vancouver Canucks (7-4-1, 3.00 GAA .899 SV%) Unless the Canucks get a goalie (Reimer? Theodore?) back for Luongo, expect Lack to back up Cory Schneider in Vancouver this year.

Jack Campbell, G - Dallas Stars (5-4-2, 3.13 GAA, .893 SV%) Campbell is a great example of why we shouldn't put too much stock int World Junior Championship performances. As if Justin Pogge didn't already hammer the point home. Campbell has since been passed in the Dallas depth chart by Richard Bachman and now Christopher Nihlstorp, Sucks to be Jack.

Europe - HOT

No surprise to see top-flight guys like Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Alex Ovechkin ripping up the KHL, or John Tavares and Patrice Bergeron tearing the Swiss league a new one, but here are some other notables excelling in Europe and the KHL:

Damien Brunner, C - Detroit Red Wings. Slated to start the season on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, with whom he has shown amazing chemistry in the Swiss-A League. Brunner leads all Swiss-A scorers with 57 points in only 33 games. Could be a very nice late-round pick in your draft.

Tyler Seguin, C - Boston Bruins. Ah, Switzerland. The land of artisan chocolate, precision watches, and now, Tyler Seguin goals. 25 of them in only 29 games. Do not be surprised to see Seguin finish top ten in NHL scoring this year, but he's still a player you can grab/steal in the third or fourth round in most leagues.

Nail Yakupov, RW - Edmonton Oilers. Yaks has a solid 8+10=18 in 22 games for Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, which is either a hockey team or an industrial band from the late 80s.

Vladimir Tarasenko, RW - St. Louis Blues. Ken Hitchcock has the depth to break in Tarasenko slowly in St. Louis, but it wil be tough to deny Tara's elite sniping, especially on the powerplay. My pick for rookie of the year, although that's not much of a stretch. 14+17=31 in 31 KHL games this year. No big surprise as he was almost a PPG player last year too.

Nikolai Kulemin, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs. Two years ago, Kulemin ruled! Last year, Kulemin suuuuucked. The KHL seems to agree with him though, as he's posted 14+24=38 in 36 games there this year. I predict he'll be great, or horrible, or somewhere in between.

Victor Hedman, D - Tampa Bay Lightning. In 26 KHL games, Hedman is 1+19=20 along with 70 PIM and a plus-18. Matt Carle's signing may prevent Hedman from assuming the alpha D role in Tampa this year, but make no mistake, that is where he is headed.

Sergei Gonchar, D - Ottawa Senators. Gonch had a decent rebound year for Ottawa in 2011-12, but he really seems to have rediscovered his game in the KHL. 3+26=29 and plus-20 in 37 games for the awesomely named Magnitogorsk Metallurg.

Raphael Diaz, D - Montreal Canadiens. An obvious beneficiary of the Zetterberg/Brunner connection, Diaz has 29 points in 32 Swiss-A games and will look to improve on a respectable 16 points in 59 games for the Habs last year.

Sergei Bobrovsky, G - Columbus Blue Jackets. After a breakout season with the Flyers in 2010-11, Bobrovsky faltered last year and was traded to the lowly Blue Jackets. where he will no doubt be hung out to dry on many nights this season. But his KHL stats are eye-opening: 18-3-2 with a 1.94 GAA and.932 SV%. If your league counts saves, he could be among the league leaders this year.

Semyon Varlamov, G - Colorado Avalanche. Still only 24, Varly has been through some growing pains with the Avalanche, but he seems to have really found his game in his KHL stint, with a 8-4-3 record (1,74 GAA, .946 SV%) over 15 starts. Ready to hit the ground running for the Avs.

Europe - COLD

Ondrej Pavelec, G - Winnipeg Jets. Really shitty off-season for the big Czech. A drunk driving bust and some really, really shitty stats. How shitty? How does a 4-10 record and a shitty.896 SV% and 3.50 GAA sound? Super shitty is how it sounds. Super, super shitty.

Evander Kane, C - Winnipeg Jets. How did Kane spend his off-season? Tweeting ill-timed photos of himself posing with stacks of $100 bills, and scoring one goal in 12 KHL games before bolting in a fit of arrogance, entitlement and douchebaggery. Or maybe he had a sore back. Who can tell?

Andrei Markov, D - Montreal Canadiens. He's notched five points and a plus-3 rating in 20 games for Vityaz Chekhov this year.. Although this sounds like a cold start, the fact that he's been relatively healthy and claims to be a go for the new season means he's actually hotter than he's been in a long time.

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