(Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The American Hockey League announced it would be adapting the All-Star Game to a 4-on-4/3-on-3 hybrid round robin tournament this year in Syracuse.
A team of all-stars from each division will play three nine-minute games, with half being played 4-on-4 and the second half being played 3-on-3. The two divisions with the best record will then meet in a six-minute championship game of 3-on-3 hockey.
So, what will the rosters look like when the All-Stars hit the ice in Syracuse on Feb. 1?
Jason Iacona from Chirps from Center Ice and I dove into the selection process. I took the Western Conference, and he made the Eastern Conference selections.
We went by the same ground rules the AHL will use when it makes its selection. Each team consists of 11 skaters, plus two goalies, and each team must be represented.
Andrew Agozzino, SA
I’ve watched Agozzino terrorize the Texas Stars this season and his numbers are even more impressive when you look at his games played. The Rampage forward has 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists) in just 11 games. Every other player in the top-20 in league scoring has played at least 14 games.
Markus Granllund, STK
Stockton center has nine points in 11 games and he should be Stockton’s representative. It was hard to keep his teammate Jon Gillies out of the game, but the strength of goaltending in the Pacific Division is unbelievable.
Bryan Lerg, SJ
Veteran player that gets what the AHL is all about and captains the Barracuda. Could be considered captain of the Pacific Division team.
Michael Mersch, ONT
Making my Pacific Division All-Star selections the day after watching Mersch play for the first time, and he really passes the eye test. Big, physical forward that you can’t take the puck off of and he has a team-high nine goals for the Reign.
Mikko Rantanen, SA
The 10th overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft has quickly adapted to life in the AHL after a slow start in the NHL. The teenager is big, creative, and his high-draft status is something the AHL will want to promote in the all-star game.
Nick Ritchie, SD
In the NHL right now, but the 10th overall pick should be back in AHL soon enough. Brother of Dallas prospect Brett Ritchie has nine goals in 12 AHL games.
Devin Shore, TEX
The Stars stud rookie has cooled slightly since he earned AHL Player of the Month honors in October, but he’s still a favorite to reach the All-Star Game. In addition to his 17 points, Shore has NHL experience this season that the league likes to promote.
Brandon Montour, SD
San Diego’s rookie defensemen has been a power play phenom this season and leads the AHL with 10 power play helpers.
Maxime Noreau, SA
All-Star games are built for offensive-minded defenseman like Noreau. Rampage blue liner has 13 points in 15 games and has been a catalyst for his team’s hot start.
Brad Hunt, BAK
Not the best defensive defenseman, but he’s an offensive threat and was an AHL All-Star last season. A quarterback on the power play who has a quick release.
Esa Lindell, TEX
The Stars soft-spoken defenseman is quietly sixth in the league in scoring for defensemen with 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists) and he’s second in the league at plus-12. He’ll enjoy connecting with Devin Shore on stretch passes in Syracuse.
Peter Budaj, ONT
The AHL doesn’t give out a comeback player of the year award, not officially, but Budaj would be the leader at this point. The Ontario goaltender leads the league with a 1.44 goals against average and .941 save percentage.
Laurent Brossoit, BAK
The Pacific Division is filled with NHL-quality goaltenders, and this selection could go to Calvin Pickard from San Antonio. But, right now he’s in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, so we’ll go with Brossoit and his dazzling .937 save percentage.
Andreas Athanasiou, GR
Grand Rapids has been one of the AHL’s disappointments this season after several people (present company included) picked them to compete for the Calder Cup. Athansiou has 7 points in 10 AHL games and his speed makes him a weapon in 3-on-3.
Victor Arvidsson, MKE
One of those players you want to watch play every night. Arvidsson makes things happen on the ice and is averaging more than a point per game.
Michael Keranen, IOW
Iowa is a very bad hockey team. The Wild have just three wins in 20 games and my first thought for an All-Star, defenseman Michael Reilly, is minus-21 this season. Keranen has 10 points in 16 games, so we’ll give him the nod.
Danny Kristo, CHI
Kristo locked up this spot in my mind after I watched him play a pair of 3-on-3 overtime games against San Antonio, and he scored the game-winner each time. Thirteen points and a plus-7 rating help back up my claim.
Ty Rattie, CHI
Wolves forward is dynamic and is always one injury away from being in the NHL. If he’s still in the AHL around the All-Star break he should be on this squad.
Derek Ryan, CHA
Ryan was the Swedish Hockey League MVP last season and came over to North America and joined the Checkers this fall. So far he’s leading Charlotte with eight goals in 16 games and has been named captain of the Hurricane’s AHL affiliate.
Kerby Rychel, LE
He’s been up-and-down between Columbus and Lake Erie, but when he’s in the AHL he’s an All-Star and should be headed to Syracuse.
Andre Benoit, CHI
Former NHLer and KHLer is captain material and should get the C for the Central Division squad. Had 10 assists in 14 games.
Branden Kichton, MTB
This is an all-star tournament and goals are the priority. Player like Kichton fits the bill and he currently leads the Moose in points.
Ville Pokka, RFD
Finnish defenseman has been one of the leaders on Rockford’s blue line this season. He also has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 17 games.
Trevor Murphy, MKE
Rookie defenseman has made a strong transition to the AHL and has been a leader on the Admirals blue line. With eight points (four goals, four assists) and a plus-9 in 11 games, he has the stats to back it up.
Joonas Korpisalo, LE
Lake Erie goaltender has been stout this season with a .939 save percentage and 1.90 goals against average.
Eric Comrie, MTB
Comrie isn’t used to getting much goal support in Manitoba, so maybe he’ll like the added firepower in front of him at the All-Star game. The Moose netminder has a .944 save percentage and 1.73 goals against average, even though he’s only won two games.
Michael McCarron, STJ
This hulking 6’6 center is in his first pro year and is second on the IceCaps in scoring.
Bud Holloway, STJ
Led the Swiss league in scoring in 2012-13 and leads his IceCaps team in scoring.
Mike Sislo, ALB
AHL veteran that puts up points, all with Albany.
Cole Schneider, BNG
Bright light on a bad Binghamton team.
Phil Varone, RCH
He’s the veteran of this group that can still put points up.
Hunter Shinkaruk, UTI
Something like a three-on-three exhibition is made for Shinkaruk.
Anthony DeAngelo, SYR
Rookie out of Sarnia from the OHL putting up impressive numbers.
T.J Brennan, TOR
A three on three exhibition is built for guys like T.J. Brennan.
Marc-Andre Gragnani, ALB
He’s your veteran offensive defenseman that would pair up nice with DeAngelo and feed off of Brennan.
Garret Sparks, TOR
Played all of last year in Orlando with the ECHL and now making the most of his chance on a very good Marlies team.
Yann Danis, ALB
Former Baz Bastien winner has found a niche on a defensive Albany team.
Chris Bourque, HER
Perennial All-Star and future AHL Hall of Famer. You are buying the ticket to see him.
Chris Conner, LV
You need his speed in a three on three format. He can put up points too.
Brian Gibbons, HFD
Probably the only one on the team that can keep up with Conner both in speed and in putting points on the board.
Alex Khokhlachev, PRO
Your heart is either in your throat or you are half way out of your seat every time he touches the puck.
Joe Whitney, BRI
I put him on this team because he scores bucket loads of points but also to see what it would like like with him matching up against McCarron, who is a whole foot taller than he is.
Dustin Jeffrey, SPR
Falcons offense has come to life of recent. Gee, I wonder why? That’s right, Dustin Jeffrey is putting up more than a point a game for Springfield.
Ryan Pulock, BRI
Not quite on everyones radar yet, but 29 points in 54 games as a rookie last year and 11 points through 14 games so far for Bridgeport, he will be.
Derek Smith, SPR
Won a Calder Cup with Binghamton. Has found his scoring touch again with Springfield.
Derrick Pouliot, WBS
You want some one who can skate, move the puck and put up points and Pouliot is all of these.
Matt Murray, WBS
It’s not an all-star game without him.
Christopher Gibson, BRI
Change of scenery did him well and has Bridgeport playing respectable hockey again.