|It's likely that some AHL All-Stars will be finishing the 2016-17 season in the NHL. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
With the National Hockey League's (NHL) trading deadline just one week away - all trades must be into the league by 5 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 1st - rumor mills are churning out reports and speculation about some of the big names in play as the NHL approaches the annual deadline.
Here at Highland Park Hockey, the focus in the coming week will be more about how these trades at the NHL level affect the American Hockey League (AHL) teams - both directly with player movement and indirectly with how transactions around the league in the next week will shape the playoff race in the four AHL divisions down the stretch.
In addition to our yearly trade deadline day live blog, there will also be an 'AHL Trade Tracker' - tracking the additions/subtractions to the rosters of the 30 AHL teams as their NHL counterparts make trades leading up to next Wednesday. Stay on the lookout for both of those links, and keep them handy as we move toward March.
Not only do AHL fans and media alike need to be concerned with the direct trading of AHL players - i.e. an AHL-level trade with a swap of players between two NHL franchises, or an NHL rental-type player for draft picks and prospects - but also the player movement in trades at the NHL level. After all, a void on an NHL roster will more than likely be filled with an AHL call up.
For AHL teams like the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, whose NHL counterpart Pittsburgh is gearing up for another run at the Stanley Cup, the AHL roster could be directly affected if/when the Penguins trade for added NHL depth for their postseason push. Any move to add NHL-level talent from a selling NHL franchise will likely result in draft picks and prospects heading the other way - meaning the AHL Penguins might see some of their top players involved in a trade to help the NHL Pens in their Stanley Cup playoff push.
For teams like the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, whose NHL counterpart Philadelphia is still in the midst of a rebuild, the AHL roster could be directly affected in a different way. If the Flyers move an NHL roster player on an expiring contract for picks and prospects and not a replacement NHL-level player, then the Phantoms would likely see some of their top players moved up to the Flyers to fill the void for the rest of the season.
Remember in the AHL that any player who is on an NHL roster at the time of the trade deadline is ineligible to participate in the AHL the rest of the season - including the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. Also, after the NHL's trading deadline AHL teams will have their own trading deadline in which players on AHL-only contracts can be moved between AHL clubs.