|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
The AHL announced this afternoon that Texas forward Riley Damiani has been named the league's Rookie of the Month for March. In the month, he racked up 4-11=15 in 10 and leads all rookie scoring by six points.
It's not quite time yet to start voting on AHL awards, but it is probably a fine time to start talking about Damiani's candidacy for Rookie of the Year. With 23 points overall and the aforementioned lead on the next closest player, he's got a really good shot. Personally he passes the eye test to me, but the straight fact is that many voters will simply select the player with the most points. He has that box checked as well, of course. At this point, he is nearly guaranteed to make it onto the AHL All-Rookie Team. He may even join Adam Mascherin on the AHL's All-Star squad as well.
The most likely contender to challenge him is Logan Thompson of Henderson. Goalies are a special situation when it comes to individual end of season awards, as they really must be exceptional to get above the fray of forwards who usually win these sorts of things. However, Thompson has been excellent. His 10-2 record is exemplary and the 1.84 GAA and .947 SV% are off the charts.
For the record, Texas's only other rookie of the year winner, Curtis McKenzie, finished his winning season with 27-38=65 in 75 games played. Stretching Damiani's current pace to a 75 game season like McKenzie's would yield 26 goals and 75 assists. Perhaps not a sustainable pace with a high 17.1% shooting percentage, however, it shows how off-the-charts good the season has been so far for Damiani and helps us compare his body of work to a more normal season length.