|Connor Brickley (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
Before we break down each position, it’s important to note that we aren’t allowed to vote for Texas Stars, since we cover the team. And, due to the nature of the AHL scheduling, we haven’t seen an Eastern Conference team or player this season (Texas has played three Eastern Conference teams all-time: the Hershey Bears, St. John’s IceCaps, and Syracuse Crunch).
Keep that rule and guideline in mind. We can’t vote for Texas, and we tend to vote for Western Conference players.
G Matt Murray, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Sean: This was a no-brainer, even though we haven’t seen Murray in person. His numbers not only blow away all rookie goalies (37gp, 23-9-3, 1.54gaa, .941 save percentage, 11 shutouts), but all goalies in general. I guarantee he was on 29 of the 30 ballots. The poor guys from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton essentially had a throw away vote and probably voted for Springfield’s Anton Forsberg.
D Stephen Johns, Rockford IceHogs
Sean: According to the league, Stephen Johns isn’t even the best rookie defenseman on his team. That would go to Ville Pokka (no, he’s not a bond villain working with Magnus Hellberg), who led all rookie defenseman with 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists).
We, of course, would disagree.
As an overall player, we were more impressed with Johns in both games at the Cedar Park Center. He also happens to lead the AHL in plus/minus at plus-27, no other rookie is in the top-15.
Johns also has 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists) in 45 games.
D Jake McCabe, Rochester Americans
Sean: If we could have, this spot on the ballot would have been reserved for Texas Stars defenseman Julius Honka -- the youngest player in the league at 19 on opening night, who still finished third amongst rookie defensemen in scoring.
Since we couldn’t we went with McCabe, who impressed each time he played against Texas. McCabe had three assists against Texas, has 27 points (5 goals, 22 assists) in 54 games, and has been defensively solid while playing for a very bad team.
He also outperformed Bridgeport’s Ryan Pulock, who got the nod, statistically. Pulock currently has 26 points, one below McCabe, and he’s minus-5 compared to McCabe’s minus-2.
F Charles Hudon, Hamilton Bulldogs
Stephen: This one was the second-most obvious after Matt Murray. While the Stars haven’t welcomed Hudon and the Bulldogs to the CPC yet this year, his prowess has been foretold to us through many highlight reel goals and plays of the week. The center is second in rookie scoring (17-38=55 in 71 GP) behind Connor Brown, who was named to the team by the AHL. More about Brown below though.
F Viktor Arvidsson, Milwaukee Admirals
Stephen: Against Texas, it was a forgettable year for the Admirals. Following this weekend’s game, the Ads went winless against the Stars. However, that doesn’t mean their roster wasn’t without bright spots. The biggest one was Viktor Arvidsson, who you had to have noticed in the Ads’ two contests at the CPC.
The rookie Swede tallied 51 points on the year, nine points higher than the closest player on the Milwaukee roster. He had three points against Texas, including a really nice goal and assist in a 6-2 losing effort on March 15th. If you’ll remember, Arvidsson and Pontus Aberg broke away from William Wrenn for a nifty play that showcased the type of skill that he’s got. He only played three against Texas this season because he was in Nashville for one of the contests. He’ll likely be a black ace for the Predators this postseason and we’ll see if he ever returns to Wisconsin next season.
F Connor Brickley, San Antonio Rampage
Stephen: The league named a different Connor B. to their All-Rookie Team. Sean and I went with the local kid, Brickley, as opposed to Brown. The Stars play 12 games a year against the San Antonio Rampage, and Brickley (21-24=45 in 68 GP) stood out to us. Brown simply didn’t in his games against the Stars, despite his excellent overall play this season. It probably doesn’t hurt Brickley’s case with the Texas media that he scored one of every five points he had this year against the Stars (6-3=9).
There might be an argument to be made for the talented Rocco Grimaldi to find a spot on the rookie ballot. After all, he was a Star-killer this year (3-9=12 in just 9 GP). However, his overall numbers were less impressive than Brickley’s for us. We also felt like Brickley was a better 5-on-5 player than Grimaldi.
Either one of them might have ended up as winners if they hadn’t been on the same team, which tends to split votes among the teams that saw them. OKC, Iowa and Charlotte all had a choice of voting for one of them but probably, like us, didn’t choose to vote for both.
Tomorrow we’ll break down our ballot for the AHL’s first and second All-Star teams.