Minor League All-Stars (Update)

That’s Sami Lepisto in a Phoenix uniform. Back in 2008 I mentioned him as part of a “Minor League All-Stars” lineup of AHL players.

The general idea (stolen from Bill James) was that there were probably useful players in the minor leagues that could easily be identified. Pick a player per position based on traditional criteria and then make a bet they’ll become NHL players. The crazy thing is that many of them change uniforms before they get their chance. Here’s a quick review of the 2008 list:

  • G Michael Leighton: After his impressive AHL season in 07-08, he was rewarded with a full season in Carolina (19 games, backup role) and performed well. The Hurricanes tried to slip him through waivers last season and the Flyers plucked Leighton because they needed him badly. Leighton had a strong stretch run and signed a two-year deal early this past summer with Philadelphia. He has had lower back troubles this fall and with the Flyers goaltending soap opera it is anyone’s guess what will happen next. Still, he’s had some good fortune since summer 2008, and was in fact available for very little during the time we talked about him.
  • D Sami Lepisto: He would spend another season in the AHL (08-09) but would be traded summer 2009 (to PHX) for a 5th round (read: low) selection. He had a quality rookie season with the Coyotes (66gp, 1-10-11 +14) and played for the Finns at the Olympics. At age 25 he’s about to establish himself as a solid NHL player, and the Coyotes paid an extremely small price to get him.
  • D Andrew Hutchinson: He was older than Lepisto (28 in 2008) so had less potential for a strong NHL career. After his 07-08 AHL season, the Lightning signed Hutchinson and he did play 2 big league games before being traded to Dallas where he played another 38 games (40gp, 2-3-5 -9 for the season). Hutchinson spent the entire 09-10 season in the AHL, but is back playing tonight for the Penguins in the show.
  • C Jason Krog: Had a strong 07-08 season, but played in only 4 NHL games since then. Remains an outstanding AHL player.
  • LW Jeff Tambellini: After his impressive 07-08 AHL season, Tambellini spent all of 08-09 in the NHL. Lost traction and fell down the depth chart in 09-10 and is now a Vancouver Canuck. On the plus side, he has played 102 NHL games and 6 AHL games since 2008 summer.
  • RW Teddy Purcell: Was exceptional on the PP in 07-08, and ended up in the NHL for 08-09 and beyond. Purcell was dealt to TBAY from LAK in exchange for Jeff Halpern at the deadline spring 2010. Has played over 100 NHL games since we talked about him in 2008, and isn’t quite established but has a chance for an NHL career.

Interesting list, and I think some value for an NHL team. My list this summer is here.

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