While the 2014 Stanley Cup Final approaches Game 3, the AHL’s 2014 Calder Cup Finals begin with Game 1 between the St. John’s IceCaps and the Texas Stars on Sunday. That opening contest airs on NHL Network starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.
There are some interesting prospects on both sides, with some possessing the potential to make future NHL impacts. The IceCaps are the Winnipeg Jets’ affiliate while the Stars are (pause for dramatic effect) the Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate.*
Actually, one of the most NHL-relevant figures in this series is Stars head coach Willie Desjardins (pictured). “Whiteboard Willie” has been mentioned in quite a few head coach searches. The list of recent AHL head coaches who’ve been successful NHL bench bosses is considerable: Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper, Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau and former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma have all enjoyed near-immediate success after making the jump.
Still, there are prospects worth watching. Stars’ blueliner Jamie Oleksiak hopes to convert his Tyler Myers-like size to NHL success. Brett Ritchie, Radek Faksa and Cristopher Nilstorp could help the big-league Stars in the future. For the IceCaps, there’s goalie Michael Hutchinson, defenseman Zach Redmond and forward Eric O’Dell (among others).
Long story short, there are plenty of stories to watch in the AHL’s title round and it’s another way for hockey fans to get their fix with the number of meaningful games dwindling.
* – Didn’t see that coming, did you?