The American Hockey League announced its rosters on Jan. 3 for the AHL All-Star Classic, and it will be another showcase for top-tier potential talent for the National Hockey League.
Each of the AHL’s four divisions will have a team of 12 players. The four teams will compete in a round-robin 3-on-3 tournament that will end with a championship game.
Thirteen of the 48 players selected are first- or second-round NHL Draft choices.
The four divisional coaching positions are awarded to the coach of the AHL teams leading each division after the games on Dec. 31.
Charlotte’s Mike Vellucci (Carolina Hurricanes) was the first coach to clinch a spot in the event and will coach the Atlantic Division. Ben Groulx of Syracuse (Tampa Bay Lightning), who reached the Calder Cup Final with Syracuse in 2017, will coach the Northern Division.
Here is a look at some of the high-profile Eastern Conference players who will compete for the Atlantic and North Division teams.
Next week will feature a breakdown of some of the top talent from the Western Conference, representing the Central and Pacific Division teams.
Henrik Borgstrom, Springfield (Florida Panthers)
A first round pick (No. 23) in the 2016 NHL Draft, Borgstrom (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) needed only 24 AHL games before making his NHL debut last season.
The Panthers recalled the 21-year-old forward Dec. 15, and he has remained in Florida, scoring four points (three goals, one assist) in 11 games.
Borgstrom arrived in Springfield fresh off two NCAA seasons at the University of Denver, where he had 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists) in 40 games last season and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the best player in college hockey.
Florida management chose to send him to Springfield after training camp rather than rush him to the NHL. He accepted a big role in the Springfield lineup and had 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) before his recall to the Panthers.
Ryan Fitzgerald, Providence (Boston Bruins)
The son of former NHL forward Tom Fitzgerald has a good chance to eventually play full-time with his hometown Bruins.
Ryan Fitzgerald (5-9, 172) played three years of Massachusetts high-school hockey at Malden Catholic High School before spending four NCAA seasons at Boston College. The Bruins drafted the forward in the fourth round (No. 120) in the 2013 NHL Draft. He signed after finishing his senior college season and was sent to Providence, where he had a strong run in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Last season as an AHL rookie, he had 37 points (21 goals, 16 assists) in 65 games. With the deep Bruins lineup difficult to crack, he is back in Providence and continues to fill a key role after several offseason changes to the AHL lineup. At 24 years old, he is further along in his development curve and has 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 36 games for Providence this season.
Connor Ingram, Syracuse (Tampa Bay)
The Lightning have made it a habit of taking things slowly with their prospects. With a wealth of talent already in the NHL, the Lightning are not desperate to rush prospects to the NHL before they are ready. They are taking the same steps with Ingram (6-2, 196), a third-round pick (No. 88) in the 2016 draft.
With goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy having another All-Star season with Tampa Bay, Ingram, a 21-year-old goalie, is getting plenty of work in Syracuse. Last season, he earned postseason playing time, appearing in four games. This season, he is 9-5-0 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .920 save percentage, though he has been out since Dec. 21 with a leg injury.
Trevor Moore, Toronto (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Amid a stacked lineup that won the Calder Cup championship last season, perhaps it was easy to overlook Moore. But the 23-year-old forward certainly caught the eye of Maple Leafs management.
Another University of Denver product, Moore signed with the Maple Leafs as a free agent on July 26, 2016. In keeping with the philosophy of slow-and-steady development, he played two full seasons in the AHL before he broke out this past spring with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 20 playoff games.
Moore (5-10, 182) wins battles down low and puts his creative touch to work. He earned his first NHL recall this season and played six games for the Maple Leafs and has three points (one goal, two assists) after having 24 points (17 goals, seven assists) in 27 AHL games.