by PuckStopsHere on 11/11/12 at 05:09 PM ET
It has been a couple of weeks since I last looked at the AHL scoring race. Things have changed in that time. At that time there was a fourway tie for the scoring lead. Now Justin Schultz of the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oiler farm affliliate) has taken sole lead of the AHL scoring race. Schultz has 16 points in 12 games. It is rare that a rookie defenceman leads any league in scoring. Schultz's seven goals is also among the league leaders. He is one player who is showing himself to be better than the AHL competition.
Schultz was an Anaheim Duck draft pick in 2008 but he never signed with them. He became an unrestricted free agent this summer and signed in Edmonton. He would be considered a Calder Trophy favorite if there was an NHL season.
One point behind Schultz is Gustav Nyquist of the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings farm affiliate). He was a 2008 draft pick with the Red Wings and played his first 22 NHL games last year (including four in the playoffs). He too appears to be a level above AHL competition ad would be in the NHL if there was a season.
Behind Nyquist is a four-way tie for third place with 14 points. In this tie is Marcus Foligno of the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabre affiliate), Kris Newbury of the Connecticut Whale (New York Ranger affiliate) and Zach Boychuk and Justin Faulk of the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina affiliate). All four have NHL experience and it isn't clear if any of them would be in the AHL if there was an NHL season underway.
With the NHL locked out there are several proven NHL players on entry level contracts who are playing in the AHL. This gives the AHL its largest talent base in its history. As this happens, the AHL scoring leader is a rookie defenceman. Justin Schultz is a highly regarded prospect who would be in the NHL were there a season. His lead in the AHL scoring race is made more amazing when one considers some of the more experienced AHLers who also have NHL experience that he is ahead of. Schultz is off to a tremendous start this season. He looks like he is a very good player at the AHL level and should be a very good player at the NHL level. I hope we get a chance to see him there soon.
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