Philadelphia Flyers‘ 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft (#45 overall) gargantuan 6’6″ 232 lbs. goaltender Anthony Stolarz(41) is starting to grow into his game.
Taking a somewhat crazy but cool path through juniors first with Corpus Christi Ice Rays of the NAHL, followed by a year at University Of Nebraska-Omaha before settling in for a couple of seasons with London Knights, where he won the 2013 OHL Champinship and had a league best SV% at .926 in 2013/2014.
Reassigned to be the starting goalie with affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms, his workload looks to almost double from his rookie season, when he played in 31 AHL games.
He’s already tended the cage for 29 appearances in the current campaign giving his just over .500 team a chance to win every contest with a 15-10-3 record, 2.45 GAA and .915 SV%.
The just turned 22-year old has been recalled on numerous occasions without making his NHL debut but that moment can’t be too far off at this point.
Vancouver Canucks‘ 3rd year center Mike Zalewski(40) must have been a little nervous signing his most recent contract, the one-year minor league variety with his team of a couple seasons, Utica Comets.
Previous to this campaign though, the undrafted 6’2″ 205 forward was playing in the AHL on a two-year entry level deal with the ‘Nucks after only a pair of decent campaigns at Rensselaer Polytech Institute.
The first year of his deal was actually a couple of NHL games after leaving college that counted toward his term.
His official rookie year was 2014/2015. He skated 55 games scoring 3 goals and 9 assists with a -3 rating and then added another 23 contests heading all the way to the Calder Cup Finals and notched another tally and 2 helpers.
The still young 23-year old is off to a hot start this season, already matching his 9 assists mark and almost tripling his goal output with 8 in just 35 games.
It’s caught the attention of the parent club once again as they have inked him to a one-year two-way deal and immediately recalled him for a couple of appearances.
He played an average of 17 shifts for 12 minutes of ice time and got another assist, with two penalty minutes, 1 shot, 5 hits, 1 giveaway, was 50% in the face off circle and was reassigned back to the minor leagues with a +1 rating.
New York Rangers‘ 1st round pick in the 2012 draft (#28 overall) defenseman Brady Skjei(6) received his first recall from minor league affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack just over a couple months into his rookie season.
The fairly large 6’3″ 207 lbs. blue liner decided to turn pro after three years at University Of Minnesota and previously two campaigns of juniors in the USHL with the US National Development Team Program.
He joined the farm team on an ato late last season and skated in all 15 Calder Cup Playoff games scoring his first AHL goal and adding 2 assists.
Upon being reassigned, he’s appeared in 28 contests, affecting the score sheet unlike he’s ever done with 2 goals and 11 assists.
In his 2 NHL games he skated an average of 22 shifts for roughly 15 minutes of ice time with 2 shots on net, 2 hits, 4 break ups, 1 giveaway, 3 takeaways, 2 penalty minutes and 4:21 in short-handed situations.
The team went 1-1 while he was up.
The 21-year old is signed to a three year entry level contract and could spend the remainder 2015/2016 in Connecticut to continue his progress but he’s definitely being given a good look to see how he reacts, when given the opportunity with the big club.
New York Islanders‘ 3rd round pick in the 2012 draft (#65 overall) 2nd year defenseman Adam Pelech(50) has been consistently putting in the hard work to get noticed since he arrived on the pro scene with affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
On the second worst team in the AHL last season he managed to record 11 assists and owned only a -3 rating, while landing at least one shot on net in each contest.
This season the unassumingly large 6’3″ 210 lbs. blue liner already has his first two goals and a pair of assists in 11 games with a team defense leading +9 plus/minus.
In his NHL debut he skated 17 shifts for 13:19 of ice time and left the 4-1 win with a +1, 1 shot, 2 hits, 1 breakup and :13 on the power play.
There’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to put up some offensive numbers, especially helpers like he did in four campaigns with Erie Otters of the OHL.
The recently just turned 21-year old was a healthy scratch for his second game but there’s very little doubt with the current news surrounding the Isles‘ defensive core he’ll work his way into the lineup and may even never look back.
Washington Capitals‘ 3rd round pick in the 2012 draft (#77 overall) center Chandler Stephenson(18) played his first NHL game in just his second pro season.
He skated 9 shifts for 8:43 total ice time and was a great 83% in the face off dot with one takeaway and one giveaway in an impressive 4-1 victory.
In four years of junior hockey with Regina Pats he posted 30 goals and 59 assists with a +27 rating in 69 WHL games in his final campaign.
On reassignment to farm club Hershey Bears for his rookie season he played a tenacious style but seemed to be getting situated with 7 goals and 7 assists in 54 AHL contests but really came to life in 10 Calder Cup Playoff games getting 1 goal and 4 assists with a +4 rating through two rounds before exiting.
Heading into his sophomore season he had a strong training camp and was one of the last cuts before 2015/2016 started.
The super-young 21-year old may not stay with the parent club unless they keep winning but he’s off on a good skate to begin his time in the big league.
Boston Bruins‘ 6th round pick in the 2009 draft (#176 overall) fourth year right wing Tyler Randell(64) scored his first NHL goal in his debut, a 6-2 win over Colorado Avalanche for the team’s first win of the 2015/2016 season. His tally turned out to be the game-winner.
He had a great training camp and was on the opening night roster, despite being a healthy scratch for three games to start.
Last season with affiliate Providence Bruins he posted career highs in virtually every category: 74 AHL games, 11 goals, 9 assists, 20 points, a +4 rating, 107 shots on net and 120 penalty minutes with 14 fights.
He even dropped the mitts in three preseason games with the big club, which may have helped solidify his spot.
The 6’1″ 198 lbs. tough skating forward had a bit of a roundabout path to get to where he is.
Signed to his three-year entry level deal at the conclusion of his fourth OHL season mostly with Kitchener Rangers he was returned for an overage fifth campaign after starting 2011/2012 in the minors.
He would start his official rookie year 2012/2013 on reassignment to South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL but was called up and sent back on a couple of occasions.
The 24-year played his first full year with the farm team in 2013/2014 but only skated 43 games and was a healthy scratch more often that he would have liked.
With lots of hard work and perseverance he’s put himself into a good position with the parent club and they are seeing the results.
Montreal Canadiens‘ undrafted 3rd year goaltender Mike Condon(39) was stellar in his first NHL start only letting up one short-handed goal on 21 shots for a 3-1 team win.
He finished the game with a .952 SV% and of course 1.00 GAA.
The 6’2″ 195 lbs. net minder has definitely worked his way up to earn his time in the big league.
After 4 seasons playing goal for Princeton University he signed an ato fresh out of college with Ontario Reign but was loaned up to Houston Aeros after four games of impressive play posting a 1.48 GAA and .943 SV%.
He was quickly signed to a two-year entry level deal and started his rookie season with affiliate Wheeling Nailers. where he played 39 ECHL games posting a 23-12 record with more amazing numbers in between the pipes (2.18 GAA, .931 SV%).
He also took them through two rounds of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
In his the sophomore year of his contract, he was officially brought up to be the starting goalie for farm team Hamilton Bulldogs.
He guarded the cage for 48 AHL games with a 23-19-6 record on a non-playoff squad.
Even before the 2014/2015 regular season was over he was offer a 2-year contract extension to stay in the system.
Heading into the 2015 training camp, he was ready to make a big impression and did scoring the back-up job for the parent club as the 2015/2016 season started.
10th year veteran center Rob Schremp(10) signs a 2015/2016 contract to play with his fifth team in five years in five different countries. To his credit, in his travels he play in one league twice.
Currently inked for the new season with Portland Pirates after a successful training camp tryout, he returns to North American hockey for the first time since he left in 2011/2012.
The former Edmonton Oilers‘ 1st round pick in the 2004 draft (#25 overall) had just finish a second full season in the NHL mostly with New York Islanders before being claimed from the waiver wire late season by Atlanta Thrashers.
The 5’11” 205 lbs. forward actually had decent numbers in the show with 20 goals and 34 assists for 54 points in 114 games but never quite caught on before he decided to go elsewhere.
His first stop was the SHL for a year skating for MODO.
Next he decided to try his stick in the KHL agreeing to terms with Dinamo Riga but he failed to catch on. Mid-season he left to finish out his second year overseas in Erste Bank Eishockey Liga with EC Salzburg.
He had big success.
Continuing to move around he next landed in the Swiss NLA with EV Zug.
He had really good season scoring 9 goals and 27 assists with a +4 rating in 42 games.
But once again he refused to sit still agreeing next to return to Sweden with Skelleftea AIK for 2014/2015.
The now 29-year old, who will turn 30 mid-season, starts strong in his first AHL season since 2008/2009 with a goal and an assist in his opening game.
There’s no reason to believe he once again won’t be a top 10 scorer in the league.
Arizona Coyotes‘ 6th year Swedish-born defenseman prospect Klas Dahlbeck(34) starts the new season with the big club after being traded late last year from Chicago Blackhawks.
The former 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft (#79 overall) played his first three seasons in North America with affiliate Rockford IceHogs having his best season 2013/2014, where he skated a career high 75 AHL games and had all bests scoring 10 goals, 25 assists for 35 points with a +21 rating and a not so terrible 175 shots on net.
He plays in his first 4 big league games with the Blackhawks and got his first NHL goal before being dealt.
After the transaction he joined the Coyotes immediately playing another 19 games with three assists to add to his totals before being reassigned to Portland Pirates to help them with their playoff push.
The fairly big 6’3″ 207 lbs. blue liner played the final three games of the regular season registering an assist and then helped the team push their first round playoff series to a deciding fifth game with the eventual Calder Cup winner Manchester Monarchs.
Returning with a new one-year deal, the restricted free agent made sure he staked his claim to a full-time spot in the show as the 24-year old is ready to fill a bigger role.
Chicago Blackhawks‘ 2nd year, Finnish-born defenseman Ville Pokka(29) has yet to play his first NHL game but coming off a strong training camp he was on the opening night roster as the 2015/2016 season started.
The 5’11” 200 lbs. blue liner played his entire rookie season with affiliate Rockford IceHogs scoring a career high 8 goals and 22 assists for 30 points in 68 AHL games. He added 3 more helpers in 8 playoff contests.
Another outstanding stat on his score sheet was unloading a healthy 125 shots on net from the point.
Originally a New York Islanders‘ 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft (#34 overall), he was dealt in the Nick Leddy trade before the start of his first North American campaign.
The 21-year old had already skated in three Liiga seasons for Karpat and was the league’s plus/minus leader (+32) at the end of 2013/2014.
He’s definitely already proven his abilities in the minors and ready to show what he can achieve in the show. He’ll very likely be given that opportunity soon.