The NHL All-Star weekend kicks off in Raleigh, and both Crosby and Malkin will be missing. This makes room for the Carolina Hurricanes to showcase the talents of Jeff Skinner and Jamie McBain. Skinner has been added to the Staal team, and McBain will participate in the skills competition. Nice to see Paul Stastny added as the second representative for the Colorado Avalanche, a fantastic model for the young gunners found in many new teams, including Carolina.
The NHL Network will have a two-hour special starting at 6 p.m. EST on Friday, then the skills competition on Saturday, followed by the 2011 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday at 4 p.m. EST.
While the festivities in Raleigh rage, the AHL is putting on the Ritz in Hershey Jan. 30-31. The 2011 AHL All-Star Skills Competition is at 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 30, and the 2011 AHL All-Star Game at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 31. As a hockey enthusiast, the AHL weekend is a surge to highlight the players who may be sitting on an NHL roster near you. Included in the selections of 31 first-time AHL All-Stars and 11 rookies, with roots at the University of Denver and the Big Ten worth taking a look at.
AHL rookie scoring leader Rhett Rakhshani of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and formerly of DU is an exciting player to follow. His name sent a rush through the crowd at the Ritchie Center in Denver. I witnessed Rakhshani’s talent that was evident of a great future career in hockey.
Other notables to watch and take notes:
*Bobby Butler, leading rookie-goal-scorer of the Binghamton Senators
*Goaltender Jake Allen of the Peoria Rivermen
*Martin Jones, goaltender of the Manchester Monarchs.
Grand Rapids Griffins and former University of Wisconsin defenseman and Hobey Baker finalist, Brendan Smith, is absolutely a player to watch. He signed an entry-level contract in 2007 with the Detroit Red Wings, so keep your eye on his skills and his career.
Other notable players who played in the AHL All-Star game last season, and worth taking note:
*Syracuse Crunch goaltender, Kyle Palmieri
*John Moore, defenseman for the Springfield Falcons
*Corey Locke of Binghamton, who is the all-time leading scorer in the AHL All-Stars and the AHL leading scorer.
*Dustin Jeffrey, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Center who has some time on the ice with the Pittsburgh Penguin.
From the Southeast Division, note these players with time in the NHL:
*Andrew Gordon, winger for Hershey and the Washington Capitals
*Bryan Rodney, of the Charlotte Checkers and Carolina Hurricanes
These AHL players are crucial to the success of the NHL and many have seen ice time with their respective franchises. Enjoy a weekend full of hockey!