by PuckStopsHere on 03/02/09 at 03:29 AM ET
Barring a major surprise in the remainder of the season, Keith Aucoin of the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals affiliate) will win the AHL scoring title. Aucoin currently has 82 points for a nine point lead over teammate Alexandre Giroux and a nearly twenty point lead over anyone else.
Keith Aucoin is an AHL superstar. It is interesting to see where AHL superstars come from and why they are not NHL players. Aucoin is currently 30 years old and likely playing the best hockey of his career. He went undrafted by the NHL after a high school hockey career in Massachusetts and chose to attend the Norwich University. This is a division III school in the NCAA. While there, Aucoin was a star. He graduated as the school’s all time leader in goals, assists and points.
Those numbers were good enough to get him into the AHL as an independent player (one unaffiliated with any NHL team). He joined the Lowell Lock Monsters and played pretty well (16 points in 30 games), but was shipped down to the UHL to make room for NHL prospects. In the UHL, he was limited to only 44 games because of his AHL time and was the second highest rookie scorer in the league with 58 points. From that point on he has been an AHL regular with stints in Cincinnati, Providence, another stint in Lowell, Albany and Hershey. He has scored at better than point per game rate every year since 2005/06. He has had an NHL shot along the way. Over the last four years e has played a few NHL games each season. For his first three NHL years he played with Carolina and this season he signed as a free agent in Washington. In his NHL time he has 15 points in 56 games. He has always been treated as a non-prospect in his NHL time. This is probably partly due to his being 26 years old before his first NHL game. He has always skated to fourth line ice time. Often with about 10 minutes of play per game. I don’t know if he could be an NHL player (one obvious question is that at 5’9” he is not a large player), but he has never been given a serious chance in the NHL. Nobody has ever given him significant ice time to see what he can do. His small size and unusual path to the NHL made him a player who was never seriously thought of as a prospect. He was very old for a first year player before he made the NHL. Despite his being a superstar everywhere he played, the NHL has not given him a serious shot. That is the story with many of the AHL superstars. One must wonder if they had another career if they would have been a significant NHL regular.
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