The American Hockey League held its annual All-Star Classic on Tuesday, which featured Team Canada against Planet USA.
Since changing to this format in 1996, Team Canada has won 10 of the 15 games. Planet USA was up 5-2 to end the first period on Tuesday, but Team Canada rallied behind centre Tyler Ennis to win 10-9 in a shootout. Ennis was named the MVP after scoring a goal and two assists.
Despite the AHL being a place for young stars to develop once their junior careers are over, being named AHL all-star MVP has not translated into NHL success. All-star games are usually high-scoring affairs so when a goalie wins the MVP, he must have been spectacular, especially considering they only get to play one period. Five goalies have been named MVP, however, only Tomas Vokoun (1997 MVP) went onto have a successful NHL career. Wade Flaherty was a co-MVP in the 2006 game; however, his NHL career was over by that point.
Between 1996 and 2007, only three skaters have gone on to have a successful NHL career. Three other MVPs won the title after their NHL careers were basically over and of the remaining MVPs, no skater has gone on to play more than 200 NHL games. Tomas Plekanec (2005) has scored 232 points in 361 NHL games, Jon Sim (2003) scored 123 points in 406 NHL games and Wes Walz (1996) scored 260 points in 607 NHL games. Only Plekanec is fantasy-hockey worthy and is currently scoring around a point a game pace.
The last three MVP winners are hoping to change the pattern. Teddy Purcell scored three goals and the shootout winner in the 2008 all-star game. Purcell showed he can be a terrific goal scorer but is better known as a playmaker. Purcell has the potential to be a top-six forward, but there is so much depth on the Los Angeles Kings that he may need to move to another team to see his true potential. Purcell will likely top out around 75 points, but needs to become more consistent as he scores in bunches and is a couple years away.
Jared Ross scored one goal and a record-breaking six assists in the 2009 all-star game. Ross is a smaller player who has great hands and has the potential to be a solid play-making centre. Ross has led the Philadelphia Phantoms in scoring the last two seasons, last year with 40 assists and 69 points in 64 games played. Ross is currently recovering a head injury from a Patrick Kaleta hit and is out indefinitely. Ross's career potential is a second-line depth centre that could help your fantasy squad as a bench player.
Ennis led the comeback for Team Canada in front of his home crowd, scoring one goal and two assists. Ennis currently is leading the Portland Pirates in scoring with 41 points in 43 games. Ennis has played just one NHL game where he scored his first NHL goal. Ennis is a very fast skater who looks to score every time he is on the ice. He has tremendous offensive potential and should be a point-a-game player in the NHL; he is definitely a prospect you want on your keeper fantasy roster.
Ennis has the most potential out of all the AHL all-star game MVPs. Three players to keep an eye on who each had two points in Tuesday's game are Sergei Shirokov (two goals), Logan Couture (one goal, one assist) and Ivan Vishnevskiy (two assists).