The Capitals have an abundance of young players stashed in the AHL during this lockout season to various degrees of personal success. In this post we will check on my crop of midgets down on the farm.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, 21, has been a key player for the Springfield Falcons after signing a 3 year ELC with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The New York Rangers inexplicably allowed JAM to enter free agency after a 64 point season for the Connecticut Whale and he has continued his scoring ways into 2012-2013 with 19 points in 17 games.
Michael Sgarbossa, 21, has also been quite a find in his rookie season in the AHL and first professional action. With 17 points in 19 games, Sgarbossa is scoring enough to have him among the league leaders and trails only Justin Schultz for the honor of leading rookie scorer. Lake Eerie plays a system that isn't entirely skill friendly, which makes Sgarbossa's points explosion far more impressive in context.
Brett Connolly, 20, has emerged from a mediocre first NHL season where he was trapped between levels due to the ridiculous CHL/AHL agreement to find a degree of success with the Lightning's affiliate the Syracuse Crunch. Connolly has 16 points in 17 games and is starting to get back to the scoring ways that made him the 6th overall pick in his draft year. While the dreams for Connolly being a 40 goal scorer may be all but dashed, his talent level is starting to emerge and he should be ready for an NHL return as soon as the games start back up.
Andy Miele, 24, continues to hone his skills at the AHL level for the Portland Pirates. The former Hobey Baker winner has had zero difficulty transfering his scoring to the professional ranks in the AHL, but his adjustment to the NHL hasn't been as smooth. With 16 points in 18 games, Miele again is pacing his team in scoring but at his relative advanced age that much is to be expected. Miele is a player that was expected to challenge hard for a spot with the Coyotes out of camp and this year in the AHL may be a bit redundant for his career path, but his continued success is encouraging nonetheless.
Brandon Kozun, 22, may have his scoring light starting to shine a bit brighter in his 3rd professional season after full campaigns of 48 and 46 points respectively. The Manchester Monarch has 16 points in 18 games and seems to be embracing his role for the Kings affiliate. With the level of forward depth that Los Angeles boasts, it will be hard for him to play himself into consideration there but the production is always going to draw attention.
Zac Dalpe, 23, hinges upon a very important year in his career in the AHL. Despite a great deal of success with Charlotte, he hasn't been able to parlay that into production at the NHL level. Carolina brass is growing impatient with Dalpe and his partner in crime Zach Boychuk. This year may prove to be a sink or swim situation for them regarding consistent effort from game to game. Thus far, Dalpe and Boychuk are both passing the early returns. Dalpe has 15 points in 18 games.
David Savard, 22, is another in between prospect for Columbus of the NHL. If not for being in such a deep defensive prospect pool, Savard might be an NHL regular by now. With an impressive 30+ game audition for Columbus last year, Savard now returns to the AHL where he has been consistently one of the more productive defenders in the league. 13 points in 17 games and a sparkling +8 rating in the early going speaks to his strong play in all phases.
Chris Brown, 21, was once a highly regarded prospect in the pipeline for Phoenix who has needed a player of Brown's early projections for some time. Brown was projected to play a speedy power forward light game like an Erik Cole or Max Pacioretty, the former being a player that Brown was expected to replace at Michigan. Despite a promising Freshman campaign with 13 goals for the Wolverines and 28 points, Brown would never eclipse those totals in his two remaining years in the maize and blue. Despite those setbacks, Brown still went on to be named to a Team USA squad that won bronze and was signed to an ELC by Phoenix to start his professional career this year. Oddly enough, he has 7 goals in 18 games with 11 total scoring points. He could be a better professional than NCAA player.