by PuckStopsHere on 11/12/08 at 03:28 PM ET
It is often valuable to look at the leaders in the AHL to learn about which NHL franchises have depth and players available who might make a significant NHL impact. Currently, the first place team in the AHL is the Portland Pirates. They have a 9-2 record (with one overtime loss). This gives them 19 points in 21 games. They are the Buffalo Sabres minor league affiliate. So not only is Buffalo off to a good start with 19 points in their 14 games, which has them in seventh place, they have plenty of depth in the minors.
Portland is led by AHL top scorer Mark Mancari. He has 21 points so far this season. At 23 years old he still has a shot at a legitimate NHL career. Thus far he has only played 3 NHL gamers in his life.
Other players with NHL possibilities include Tim Kennedy who has jumped to the AHL after a successful college career at Michigan State. Nathan Gerbe is another player who had a successful NCAA career. He played with Boston College. Thus far he has not been held back by his small size (he is 5’ 5”). He has ten goals so far this season. On defence, Marc-Andre Gragnani is a good prospect. He played two NHL games last season. Goaltending duties have been shared by Jhonas Enroth and Adam Dennis. Enroth has experience playing internationally for Sweden.
Buffalo has significant depth both at the NHL and AHL level. They should be able to handle injuries better than most clubs because of this depth. It will make the Buffalo Sabres a very durable team this year.
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