by PuckStopsHere on 03/03/13 at 02:28 AM ET
The AHL season has been a rather disjointed one because of the NHL lockout. Many of the top players in the league joined the NHL in January when its season began. One example of that is seen in the scoring race. Jordan Eberle of the Oklahoma City Barons (AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers) took over the league scoring race around the end of 2012. His biggest rival was teammate Justin Schultz. Both are in the NHL now.
Eberle has 15 points so far this season in the NHL and Schultz is slightly behind at 13 points. They were so far in front of the pack that it took about a month and a half before anyone who remained in the AHL caught up to them. There are now two players who have passed Eberle's mark of 51 points. These players required about twenty games more than Eberle played.
Gustav Nyquist of the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings affiliate) leads the league with 56 points. He leads over Tyler Johnson of the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning affiliate) who has 54 points. They have a bit of a lead over the rest of the pack and there is a significant pack. Four players have between 49 and 51 points (not including Eberle who is not returning to the AHL this season in all likelihood).
Nyquist is a 23 year old who has Detroit's fourth round pick in 2008. He has played 20 NHL games over the past two seasons scoring seven points. He is a solid NHL prospect who has been brought along slowly and has shown the ability to score at slightly above point per game rate in the AHL. He is a bit on the small side given his 185 pound playing weight and that has possibly held him back from a regular NHL job. I expect that he could win the AHL scoring title this season. The most likely reason that he does not would be an NHL audition. He has played well enough to deserve one.
Johnson is a 22 year old who was signed as a free agent by the Lightning. He too is on the smaller side at 5'10" and 183 pounds. He showed himself to be a good scorer in the WHL - especially as an overager with the Spokane Chiefs - where he scored 115 points in 2010/11. He has yet to play an NHL game and is perhaps due to get that chance.
The AHL scoring race is somewhat wide open. Jordan Eberle had a wide lead on the competition. It took over a month for anyone to catch him after the NHL season began. Currently Gustav Nyquist has taken the lead. He can win the title but he also has a strong chance of playing in the NHL before the season ends. If that happens, his chance of winning the scoring title drops significantly. After him comes Tyler Johnson who also has some NHL possibilities. Should both of them wind up in the NHL, there is a relatively large pack of players who might take the lead.
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