by PuckStopsHere on 10/26/09 at 11:19 AM ET
Last week I wrote about the San Antonio Rampage (the Phoenix Coyotes affiliate) taking the lead in the AHL. Their lead was short-lived. The Rochester Americans have now taken over top spot in the league. Rochester is the Florida Panthers affiliate and is enjoying a seven game winning streak. This gives them an 8-1-1 record (one overtime loss). Rochester has a balanced attack (ten players have five or more points) led by Michal Repik’s 11 points. Repik is the Panthers 2007 second round draft pick and a solid prospect. Rochester’s biggest strength has been goaltending. Alexander Salak has put up tremendous numbers. He has a 1.60 GAA and a .947 saves percentage. These are numbers that will have to get him NHL notice if he can keep them up. Salak has had a short NHL trial. He played less than a period in the early part of this season without much success (two goals allowed on seven shots), but he is playing very well in the AHL. He is an undrafted 22 year old who put up strong numbers in Finland last season and looks like a good contender to challenge for an NHL spot in the future.
The Florida Panthers are off to a slow start in the NHL (only the winless Toronto Maple Leafs have less points), but it appears they have help available in the AHL. There likely isn’t enough talent to compete for a playoff berth, but they should improve significantly from their current standing. It is rare that a team can be an NHL bottom-feeder with a powerhouse AHL affiliate. In time, the NHL team will call up the players who are helping the AHL team succeed. This will strengthen the NHL club, while weakening the AHL one.
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