Nine NHL Players Struggling In AHL This Season

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Nine NHL Players Struggling In AHL This Season

Nine NHL Players Struggling In AHL This Season
Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

The NHL lockout has left the AHL with an influx of talent unseen since the 2004-05 season. Many players who would be seeing regular duty with their NHL clubs are instead having great seasons in the AHL. Brayden Schenn, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall are showing they will be ready to make huge impacts for their teams when the lockout ends. For as much success as these players are having, several players who saw NHL time last season have gotten off to a slow start in the minors this season.

Alexander Burmistrov of the Winnipeg Jets has just two goals so far, Leland Irving of the Calgary Flames has just two wins in five appearances and New Jersey Devils playoff hero Adam Henrique had managed just eight points in 16 AHL games with the Albany Devils before a thumb injury sidelined him.

Two netminders barely avoid making the list: Matt Hackett of the Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild) and Jacob Markstrom of the San Antonio Rampage (Florida Panthers). Both have an almost equal number of wins and losses, but have shown some flashes of brilliance and it seems too early to tell if the fault lies with them or their teams thus far.

The season is a quarter done, and the lack of an NHL schedule has allowed most clubs’ upper management more time to visit with their affiliate teams and track player development. As some of the players in this slideshow continue to struggle, they also open doors for AHL veterans or other prospects to steal the spotlight and earn another shot in the NHL.

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Ryan Ellis

Ryan Ellis
Jason O. Watson

With Ryan Suter leaving via free agency, the Nashville Predators will turn to Ryan Ellis to help fill the void left on their blue line. Ellis hasn’t shown much this season, with just a handful of assists in 14 AHL contests with the Milwaukee Admirals.

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Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry Orlov
Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports

Dmitry Orlov made his NHL debut last season, and wound up playing 60 games for the Washington Capitals. The young Russian defenseman had 19 points for the Caps, but in 18 games with the Hershey Bears this season has only scored once.

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Joe Colborne

Joe Colborne
Tom Szczerbowski - USA TODAY Sports

Joe Colborne continues to puzzle Toronto Maple Leafs fans. After a 2011-12 season with the Toronto Marlies that saw him post 39 points and spend 10 games in the NHL, he has managed just one goal and nine points in 25 AHL contests this season.

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Leland Irving

Leland Irving
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames have been hoping for years that Leland Irving would eventually be able to take over for netminder Miikka Kiprusoff. The team gave him his first taste of NHL action last season, and he showed he could play at that level, getting his first win. This year with the Abbotsford Heat he has been playing in the shadow of veterans Danny Taylor and Barry Brust, and he has just two wins in his five appearances (as well as a 3.33 GAA).

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Stefan Elliott

Stefan Elliott
Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Stefan Elliott made his NHL debut last season, and had four goals and 13 points in the NHL. In 27 AHL games with the Lake Erie Monsters he has scored just once and has a -6 rating.

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Mika Zibanejad

Mika Zibanejad
James Guillory

The Ottawa Senators made headlines when they decided not to let young forward Mika Zibanejad head to the 2013 World Juniors. They likely made the right decision, saying they wanted him to have more time to adapt to play in North America - he has just one goal and seven points through 16 games for the Binghamton Senators.

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Adam Henrique

Adam Henrique
Jim O'Connor - USA TODAY Sports

Adam Henrique had a memorable 2011-12 season, scoring 51 points for the New Jersey Devils. He would add another 13 points in the playoffs, but had managed just eight points in 16 games for the AHL Albany Devils before suffering a thumb injury in November that will sideline him for a few more weeks.

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Chris Kreider

Chris Kreider
Debby Wong - USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kreider joined the New York Rangers for the 2012 playoffs, scoring five goals in 18 games. It may be a stretch to say he’s struggling in the AHL this season, but his five goals and 11 points for the Connecticut Whale don’t even place him in the top ten for team scoring.

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Alexander Burmistrov

Alex Burmistrov
Bruce Fedyck - USA TODAY Sports

Alexander Burmistrov scored 13 goals for the Winnipeg Jets during his rookie campaign, but has had trouble finding the back of the net for a struggling St. John’s IceCaps team this year. The young Russian forward has two goals and 11 points in 22 games.

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