by PuckStopsHere on 02/20/12 at 01:41 PM ET
The St. John’s IceCaps (Winnipeg Jets farm team) have moved into first place in the AHL. They have a 33-19 record with 6 regulation tie points. They have passed the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers farm team) who also have a 33-19 record but with only 5 regulation tie points.
St John’s is best known as an offensive team. They are third overall in the AHL in scoring. Given that the Winnipeg Jets are run by Mark Chipman, who ran the successful Manitoba Moose in the AHL before the Jets, it isn’t a surprise that they have a top AHL team. The question is whether or not this helps the Jets win at the NHL level. A winning team in the AHL is usually a team of men who are no longer NHL prospects that defeat teams of boys who have much higher NHL potential.
St John’s is a deep team. They do not have any of the league’s top scorers despite being a top scoring team. Their top scorer is Spencer Machacek, who at age 23 might still be an NHL prospect. He is followed by thirty year old Jason Jaffray, 21 year old Carl Klingberg and 30 year old Jason King. Their defence is led by 22 year old Paul Postma and 25 year old Jason DiSantis. Goaltending has been shared by 21 year old Eddie Pasquale and 34 year old David Aebischer. This team has several younger players playing core roles as well as several veterans. Klingberg, Postma and Machacek are considered candidates to have significant NHL careers.
Oklahoma City is the top rival for St John’s. The Barons are the best defensive team in the AHL and have allowed the fewest goals against. Their top scorer Ryan Keller is 28 years old. He is followed by 21 year old Philippe Cornet, 23 year old Mark Arcobello and 21 year old Teemu Hartikainen. On defence there is 27 year old Bryan Rodney and 24 year old Taylor Chorney. Their goaltending is in good hands under 30 year old Yann Danis. Of these players, only Hartikainen is seen as a serious NHL prospect.
St John’s has moved into the AHL lead. Their lead over Oklahoma City is by a slim one point margin. It will be an interesting race as teams go down the stretch into the playoffs.
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