This is Mark Dekanich. He’s the headliner for this year’s “Minor League All-Star” team and an interesting player to witch for the 11-12 season.
Those of us who believe there are capable men stuck in the AHL will be paying close attention to Dekanich.
Why pay attention? Dekanich, who is 25, posted an AHL best .931SP for Nashville’s AHL team and then signed as a free agent with Columbus.
The Jackets have had some struggles in goal over the last few years; Dekanich is not the typical “fix” for an NHL team. Most would prefer to sign a big name free agent or trade for an established player.
The Dekanich experiment might be an important item for AHL players of a certain quality.
I’ve done this a couple of times over the years and it’s fun to track the success/failure of the group. The 2008 version of this list is here and boasts Michael Leighton, Sami Lepisto and Teddy Purcell. Last summer’s version is here.
- Goal: Mark Dekanich- He had a very strong season in the AHL and has an enormous opportunity in Columbus. Only the inconsistent Steve Mason stands in his way.
- Defense: Marc-Andre Gragnani- Won the Eddie Shore award for best AHL defenseman and was also named to the 1st all-star team. He’s a playmaker and does have chaos to his game, but has good size. Is a defenseman-forward, which offers additional versatility to an NHL team.
- Defense: Corey Potter- Unusual in that he combines size, skill and defensive acumen but remains in the AHL at age 27. Sometimes all a player like this needs is a break, and with Tom Renney being familair with him the opportunity is there. Lacks consistency according to the scouting reports but the numbers are strong across the board.
- Center: Marc Pouliot- I know, here we go again. However, MP finished in a tie for 5th in AHL scoring this past season and followed it up with a solid playoff showing. He has a chance to re-start his NHL career beginning this fall.
- Left Wing: Nigel Dawes- 41 goals in the AHL this past season and a guy who has consistently shown well in the AHL. Has played 212 NHL games so this is cheating a little, but hang it all anyway this guy can play. He’s off to the KHL but this is a guy who averages 41 goals per 82 AHL games. You can’t tell me he can’t play a role in the NHL. He may be out of chances, though.
- Right Wing: Mark Mancari- Big man with good hands. His skating isn’t great, that’s what has kept him in the minors for so long (he’s 26). A nice signing by the Canucks, who have been very intelligent in the procurement of minor league all-stars over the years.