Taylor Beck

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Plenty of intrigue as AHL announces All-Star rosters

The American Hockey League announced the 48 players selected to its annual All-Star Game on Thursday, and there was no shortage of accompanying storylines.

Twelve rookies and seven first-round draft picks were named and, all told, 27 players participating have been recalled to the NHL already this season.

Here’s a quick look at some of the more eye-catching narratives:

• The seven first-round picks?

Rangers forward Nicklas Jensen (29th overall, ’11), Toronto forward Kasperi Kapanen (22nd overall, ’14), Devils forward John Quenneville (30th overall, ’14), Jets forward Jack Roslovic (25th overall, ’15), Stars d-man Julius Honka (14th overall, 14), Flames forward Mark Jankowski (21st overall, ’12) and Coyotes forward Brendan Perlini (12th overall, ’14).

• Utica d-man Jordan Subban, the younger brother of P.K. Subban, made his first-ever All-Star game. Subban failed to crack the Canucks out of training camp this year and has yet to be recalled, but has racked up eight goals and 20 points in 29 games for the Comets, and looked good doing so.

• B’s goalie prospect Zane McIntyre made it, but he might not be around for the festivities. With the struggling Anton Khudobin clearing waivers today, many expect McIntyre to get the call up to Boston, and begin serving as Tuukka Rask‘s backup.

• We’ve written quite a bit about high-scoring Ducks blueliner Brandon Montour, and how he might affect Anaheim’s trade deadline strategy. Montour earned his second consecutive ASG nod, but his participation is questionable as he’s currently up with the Ducks.

• No shortage of veteran presences on this year’s roster. Minnesota’s Teemu Pulkkinen, claimed off waivers from Detroit earlier this season, will represent Iowa. Michael Leighton, the 35-year-old journeyman that saw some time with the ‘Canes this year, will represent Charlotte. And veteran AHLers like Chris Bourque (Capitals), T.J. Brennan (Flyers) and Brad Hunt (Blues) are all there as well.

Here’s the full roster breakdown:

Atlantic Division AHL All-Stars
F Chris Bourque (“C”), Hershey Bears (5th appearance)
F Travis Boyd, Hershey Bears (1st)
D T.J. Brennan, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (4th)
F Jake Guentzel, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)
F Danton Heinen, Providence Bruins (1st)
G Tristan Jarry, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)
F Nicklas Jensen, Hartford Wolf Pack (1st)
F Taylor Leier, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1st)
G Zane McIntyre, Providence Bruins (1st)
D Devon Toews, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1st)
F Jordan Weal, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (2nd)
D Mackenzie Weegar, Springfield Thunderbirds (1st)
Coach: Clark Donatelli, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)

North Division AHL All-Stars
F Casey Bailey, Binghamton Senators (1st appearance)
D Mark Barberio, St. John’s IceCaps (3rd)
F Joe Blandisi, Albany Devils (1st)
F Yanni Gourde, Syracuse Crunch (1st)
F Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Brendan Leipsic, Toronto Marlies (2nd)
G Charlie Lindgren, St. John’s IceCaps (1st)
F John Quenneville, Albany Devils (1st)
F Cole Schneider, Rochester Americans (1st)
D Jordan Subban, Utica Comets (1st)
D Matt Taormina, Syracuse Crunch (3rd)
G Linus Ullmark, Rochester Americans (1st)
Coach: Benoit Groulx, Syracuse Crunch (1st)

Central Division AHL All-Stars
F Spencer Abbott, Rockford IceHogs (1st appearance)
F Kenny Agostino, Chicago Wolves (1st)
F Oliver Bjorkstrand, Cleveland Monsters (1st)
D Alexandre Carrier, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
F Ryan Craig (“C”), Cleveland Monsters (1st)
D Brad Hunt, Chicago Wolves (4th)
G Michael Leighton, Charlotte Checkers (5th)
F Matt Lorito, Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
F Teemu Pulkkinen, Iowa Wild (2nd)
F Jack Roslovic, Manitoba Moose (1st)
D Robbie Russo, Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
G Juuse Saros, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
Coach: Todd Nelson, Grand Rapids Griffins (2nd)

Pacific Division AHL All-Stars
F Taylor Beck, Bakersfield Condors (1st appearance)
F Jonny Brodzinski, Ontario Reign (1st)
F A.J. Greer, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
G Troy Grosenick, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
D Julius Honka, Texas Stars (1st)
F Mark Jankowski, Stockton Heat (1st)
D Vincent LoVerde, Ontario Reign (2nd)
G Spencer Martin, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
D Brandon Montour, San Diego Gulls (2nd)
F Daniel O’Regan, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
F Brendan Perlini, Tucson Roadrunners (1st)
D Kyle Wood, Tucson Roadrunners (1st)
Coach: Mike Stothers, Ontario Reign (5th; 3rd as head coach)

Isles sign Bernier: one year, $750,000

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Last week, the Isles announced that veteran winger Steve Bernier would be attending training camp on a PTO.

Turns out he didn’t even need it.

On Thursday, as the Isles were set to begin camp, the club went ahead and signed Bernier to a one-year, one-way deal worth $750,000.

The move comes on the heels of a busy last 24 hours — last night, the club agreed to a three-year extension with RFA forward Brock Nelson and, today, GM Garth Snow traded speedy forward Michael Grabner to Toronto for a handful of players, including Taylor Beck.

But back to the Bernier signing for a second.

Though he’s never lived up to the hype — he was the 16th overall pick in 2003, and the Blues once signed him to an offer sheet — Bernier is coming off a pretty good year; he matched career highs in goals (16) and points (32) in just 67 games with the Devils last season, averaging just under 13 minutes a night.

At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he should provide good size and a net-front presence for the Isles.

Leafs grab Grabner, shed contracts in trade with Isles

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired forward Michael Grabner in a trade with the New York Islanders. In return, the Isles have received forwards Taylor Beck and Carter Verhaeghe, defensemen Matt Finn and Tom Nilsson, and goalie Christopher Gibson.

Grabner is a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3 million cap hit. The 27-year-old speedster had a frustrating 2014-15, with health issues limiting him to just 34 games, in which he scored only eight goals.

From a recent Newsday article:

He needed hernia surgery in October that took away the second half of his training camp and the first half of the season, then he had trouble sticking in a lineup that had success without him.

He needed another hernia surgery in May but pronounced himself fit as camp approaches — a camp he might not have thought he’d be attending, with the Isles trying to hard to unload the 27-year-old most of the summer.

“A fresh start, I guess,” he said. “Trying to get healthy, get stuff back working. I had a lot of time in the summer, I think I used it properly.”

Grabner’s best season came in 2010-11, when he had 34 goals for the Isles, including six shorthanded tallies.

The Leafs have a number of veterans coming to training camp on professional tryouts, including Curtis Glencross, Brad Boyes, Devin Setoguchi and Mark Fraser.

As for the five youngsters sent the Islanders’ way, here’s more on them from the club’s press release:

Beck, a 24-year-old forward, appeared in 62 National Hockey League games last season with the Nashville Predators, scoring sixteen points (eight goals, eight assists). Nashville selected the St. Catherines, ON, native in the third round (70th overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft.

Finn, 21, was Toronto’s second round pick (35th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. The Toronto, ON, native spent his first professional season with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League last season, recording a goal and two assists in 28 games. The defenseman led the Guelph Storm to an Ontario Hockey League Championship in 2013-14, while posting a league-best plus-57 mark.

Gibson is a 22-year-old goaltender from Karkkila, Finland. In 45 AHL games with the Marlies last season, he posted a 24-17-3 record with a 2.42 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. The Los Angeles Kings selected Gibson in the second round (49th overall) of the 2011 Draft.

Nilsson, 22, played 44 AHL games with Toronto last season during his first year in North America. The defenseman from Mora, Sweden, was Toronto’s fourth-round selection (100th overall) in the 2011 Draft.

Verhaeghe, a 20-year-old forward from Toronto, served as captain of the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League last season. The Maple Leaf’s third-round (82nd overall) selection in the 2013 Draft, Verhaeghe won gold with Team Canada at the 2013 Under-18 World Junior Championships.