Five Young Ducklings To Keep An Eye On In The AHL

Photo Credit: Anthony Buck/Anthony Buck Images

With a full season NHL lockout looming, the top affiliate club of the Anaheim Ducks have made sure that their ducklings are well taking care of in the AHL.  The Norfolk Admirals, the AHL affiliate of Anaheim, are off to a scorching start having won all four games that they have played.  Norfolk is standing tall in the division owning the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference.  In the Eastern Division of the Conference, Norfolk sits number two which is one point behind the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Club has showcased their young talent such as 18-year-old Hampus Lindholm. The 6’3” Swedish-born defenseman made his American pro debut with the Admirals on October 12th versus the Worcester Sharks, the AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.  Norfolk Head Coach Trent Yawney commented on Hampus’ game saying, “He is getting better every game.  Sometimes you forget that he is 18-years-old because of the way he plays.  He has tremendous poise and vision with the puck.  He is going to be a really good player for a long time and has a bright future ahead of him.”  Lindholm has put up one assist in four games and is currently sitting at +2 on the season.

Norfolk acquired 2010 1st round draft pick Emerson Etem courtesy of the lockout.  Prior to his pro debut, Etem led the Canadian Hockey League in goals with 61 and assisted on 46 totaling a jaw dropping 107 points during the 2011-2012 season. The 6’2” forward struck bronze at the 2011 World Junior Tournament alongside current Admiral teammate Kyle Palmieri.    Emerson made his pro debut with the Syracuse Crunch, the former affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, helping the Crunch clinch a playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.  The Long Beach native netted his 1st professional goal on April 15, 2012 against the Rangers’ top AHL club, the Connecticut Whale.  Emerson went on to play in four playoff games with the Crunch.  Etem scored two goals in the playoffs.  Both of his goals fell on the same night in St. Johns at the Mile One Centre on April 27, 2012 against the Ice Caps, the top affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets.  Etem has gotten off to a slow start.  In four games, he has yet to register a point and possess a -2 plus-minus rating for the season.  Norfolk’s Head Coach indicated that Etem would have to learn on the job.

Anaheim bolstered the Admirals lineup with 21-year-old Kyle Palmieri who was drafted by the Ducks 26th overall in 2009.  Palmieri has proven that he can score at any level he is assigned to.  Both Palmieri and defenseman Sami Vatanen lead the club with six points each.  Palmieri has two AHL All-Star games to his credit.  He acquired two points in the 2011 AHL All-Star game netting a goal and an assist.  He repeated the goal and assist at the 2012 All-Star Game.  The Smithtown, New York native led the Crunch in goals and points his rookie season totaling 29 goals and 22 assists for a total of 51 points.  In addition, Kyle won AHL Player of the Week twice during his 1st season pro and was named AHL Rookie of the Month in March, 2011.  Kyle played 28 regular season games and one playoff game thus far in his young career netting five goals and three assists including scoring in his NHL debut.   The right winger also struck gold and bronze at the International Level.  The 21-year-old represented Team USA in the 2012 World Cup.  Palmieri played college hockey for Notre Dame and his junior hockey with the US National Development Program.

Another young prospect that anchored in Norfolk is center Peter Holland.  Holland is a first-round draft pick going 15th overall in the 2009.  After playing 256 career games with the Guelph Storm, he came into the Ducks organization with 257 points that were all collected over a four season tour with Guelph.  In 2009-2010, the Toronto native ranked 15th in the OHL in scoring.  In addition, he was named AHL Rookie of the Month in March, 2012.  Holland played in 4 NHL games all with the Ducks scoring one goal over the 4 game stint against Roberto Luongo which proved to be the game winning goal.

The Admirals received a young offensive dynamo in Devante Smith-Pelly, the 42nd pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.  Smith-Pelly has demonstrated why he led all Anaheim rookies in ice time, appearances, goals, scoring, and shots last season.  Devante has shown his NHL caliber playmaking skills this season posting three assists in four games.  Prior to jumping to the NHL straight from the Mississauga Majors of the OHL, the 20-year-old carried his junior club to the 2011 Memorial Cup finals; however; Smith-Pelly and his squad couldn’t cash in and lost to the St. Johns Sea Dogs by only a single gut-wrenching goal.

The Admirals invade the Mile One Centre in St. Johns Newfoundland, Canada home to the St. Johns Ice Caps this weekend where the team will play Saturday and Sunday.  If all things go as planned, the team could be sitting on a six game winning streak at the end of the weekend series.