Los Angeles Kings‘ 7th round pick in the 2009 draft rookie center Nic Dowd(26) was selected after his well-played 1st year of US junior hockey in the NAHL with Wenatchee Wild.
He virtually mirrored his debut performance in his next season of USHL with Indiana Ice before heading off to St. Cloud State University.
It took the 6’2″ 196 lbs. forward a couple of years to pick up the pace but by his last two campaigns, serving as team captain as a senior, he was back up to point-per-game production.
For his efforts he was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
Upon completion of his college playing days, he signed a one-year entry level deal and was assigned immediately to join affiliate Manchester Monarchs.
In 7 AHL games he posted three assists and added his first pro goal in 4 postseason contests.
After a strong showing in training camp he was one of the final cuts to be sent down and got right to work. Through 58 games he has 5 goals and a healthy 23 helpers.
The 24-year old from the unlikely hockey home of Huntsville, AL leads his team in rookie scoring with 28 points and assists.
He still awaits his first NHL recall but his tenacious playing style and good size probably put him in line sooner than later.
Winnipeg Jets‘ 5th round pick in the 2012 draft (#130 overall) rookie goalie Connor Hellebuyck(37) is doing everything, including standing on his head to make saves, trying to push farm club St. John’s IceCaps into a playoff berth after last year making it all the way to the 2014 Calder Cup Finals.
The 6’4″ 200 lbs. net minder has started 40 AHL games, more than any other, is tied with a league leading 22 wins and 14 losses to go along with a 2.36 GAA and .926 SV%.
He’s tied for the lead in shutouts with 5 and his goals against average is good enough for 5th among first year back stops.
After two seasons of outstanding numbers with UMass-Lowell Riverhawks including the 2012 NCAA Hockey East Championship and goaltender of the year award in his first year, the 21-year old maybe rightly decided it was time to turn pro.
He’d also shared the top player between the pipes honors in his only year of American juniors in the NAHL with Odessa Jackalopes.
Although he has yet to receive his first NHL recall, he’s easily being groomed and has time as he’s signed to an entry level deal through 2017.
Columbus Blue Jackets‘ fifth year left wing Jeremy Morin(9) was recently acquired via minor league prospect deal from Chicago Blackhawks, where he’s spent all of his pro playing time.
He was originally an Atlanta Thrashers‘ 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft (#45 overall) but was involved in a massive 7-player deal before his skates ever touched the ice.
The 6’1″ 189 lbs. forward has always been on the cusp between playing in the big league and minors after tearing it up at every level of play until he turned pro after only a single dynamite season 47-36-83 in 56 games) in the OHL with Kitchener Rangers.
That followed a pair of more than point-per-game performances in the NAHL with the US National Junior Team.
Appearing in 54 NHL games in each of his years with the ‘Hawks registering 8 goals and 9 assists with +7 rating, he was never quite able to stick.
He has be a dominant force with their farm club, Rockford IceHogs scoring 81 goals, 78 assists in 208 contests and a massive +21 rating on a team that didn’t always put up a winning record.
Coming to the Blue Jackets, the 23-year old may have seen the last of bus rides as he joins a squad that has a knack for developing their young future stars.
So far, he’s got 1 assist in 4 games but did get a shootout goal that was almost the game-winner against his former team.
Ottawa Senators‘ undrafted, 2nd year left wing Cole Schneider(15) looks to be on pace to eclipse his career high AHL marks with minor league affiliate Binghamton Senators this season.
In 18 games he has 6 goals and 7 assists with a +9 rating. He played 60 games in 2012/2013 and struck for 17 tallies and 18 helpers with a reliable +19 plus/minus.
He’s in the final campaign of his entry level deal and the grinding power forward is making a strong argument for a 2-year extension over a simple qualifying offer to keep him in the system for another skate.
At 6’1″ 199 lbs. the winger uses all he’s got out on the ice to get into the difficult areas for scoring chances and isn’t afraid to play in the corners or along the boards.
He was a point-per-game guy in two years of college hockey at University Of Connecticut before turning pro and had similar success in a pair of NAHL junior hockey seasons.
We probably have yet to see the best from the 23-year old.