by PuckStopsHere on 03/28/13 at 12:33 AM ET
I last looked at the AHL scoring race in early March and it has tightened up a lot since then. At the beginning of the month Gustav Nyquist of the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings affiliate) led the league in scoring. He had a two point lead over Tyler Johnson of the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning affiliate) and several other players were a few points back of them. Both of these players have been called up to the NHL and this has allowed the rest of the pack to catch up.
Nyquist is in a three-way tie for the AHL scoring lead with 60 points. He is tied with Jeff Taffe of the Hershey Bears (Washington Capital affiliate) and TJ Hensick of the Peoria Rivermen (St Louis Blues affiliate). One point back is Linden Vey of the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings affiliate). One point back of that are Tyler Johnson and Mark Mancari of the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabre affiliate). A few points back from that are more players.
Nyquist's chances of staying in the AHL point lead depend upon him coming back to the AHL. With 8 NHL games played and two points so far in the NHL this is a reasonable possibility, but staying in the NHL is also possible depending upon his play into the future and other injuries in the Detroit system.
Jeff Taffe has played 180 NHL games since 2002 but none so far this season. He is not seen as a prospect anymore and is more of a career AHLer. Thus a Washington team that is not seriously in the race in the NHL will likely not call him up. \This gives him a good shot at the scoring race.
TJ Hensick has 112 games played in the NHL but none since 2011. At age 27 he is no longer an NHL prospect either but could get an NHL shot if St Louis tries to make a run for the playoffs. This may not happen and if it doesn't he will have a good shot at the AHL scoring title.
Linden Vey has never played an NHL game and at age 21 the Los Angeles Kings will likely give him a shot sooner or later. This reduces his chances of being the eventual AHL top scorer.
Tyler Johnson is succeeding in the NHL. He has six points in seven games. If he keeps up that scoring rate his AHL days are over and he will drop out of this race.
Mark Mancari has 42 career NHL games and none so far this year. Buffalo is not in the race and has little need for a 27 year old career AHLer.
The AHL scoring race has become a tight race with many players. A major deciding factor will be which players stay in the AHL and which players get their NHL call-ups. The players in the race with less NHL interest are likely to be the eventual top scorer. These are players who are well into their 20s and have failed in several NHL shots. They are career AHL players at this point. Being a career AHLer clearly helps a player win the AHL scoring title. If I had to predict one player to win the scoring race this year, I would pick Jeff Taffe, but it is a close race with several legitimate candidates.
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