Justin Schultz continues to defy the odds and lead the AHL in scoring, something he’s done since the early days of the season. Now, Schultz is being joined by other Barons at the top of the scoring race and there’s another group crowding into the league’s top 20 point-getters for 2012-13. How unique is this display by Oiler farmhands?
Peter White is one of two players (the other is Shaun Van Allen) to lead the AHL in scoring while playing for an Oilers farm club (in both cases it was the Cape Breton Oilers). Its interesting to look back and see how many players made the "front page" of the season-ending scoring lists, reflecting a top 10 finish:
- 1979-80: Mike Toal, Houston (CHL) 76pts (tie-5th)
- 1980-81: Tom Roulston, Wichita (CHL) 107pts (2nd)
- 1980-81: Don Ashby, Wichita (CHL) 96pts (3rd)
- 1982-83: Ray Cote, Moncton (AHL) 91pts (10th)
- 1984-85: Ray Cote, Nova Scotia (WHL) 79pts (tie-7th)
- 1990-91: Shaun Van Allen, Cape Breton (AHL) 100pts (3rd)
- 1990-91: Dan Currie, Cape Breton (AHL) 92pts (10th)
- 1991-92: Shaun Van Allen, Cape Breton (AHL) 113pts (1st)
- 1991-92: Dan Currie, Cape Breton (AHL) 92pts (8th)
- 1992-93: Dan Currie, Cape Breton (AHL) 98pts (7th)
- 1994-95: Peter White, Cape Breton (AHL) 105pts (1st)
- 1994-95: Ralph Intranuovo, Cape Breton (AHL) 93pts (4th)
- 1999-00: Dan Cleary, Hamilton (AHL) 74pts (10th)
- 2001-02: Jason Chimera, Hamilton (AHL) 77pts (5th)
- 2001-02: Brian Swanson, Hamilton (AHL) 73pts (8th)
- 2007-08: Rob Schremp, Springfield (AHL) 76pts (tie-7th)
- 2009-10: Charles Linglet, Springfield (AHL) 74pts (tie-8th)
- 2010-11: Alexandre Giroux, OKC (AHL) 78pts (2nd)
- 2010-11: Brad Moran, OKC (AHL) 72pts (tie-6th)
Interesting group of names, almost all of them minor league scorers of note who did not establish themselves as NHL calibre scoring starts. Van Allen had a substantial career, but it was in a 2-way of checking role and he was saved by expansion. Dan Cleary and Jason Chimera took some time to figure things out in the minors, but both have enjoyed solid NHL careers over a long period of time. Rem Murray also enjoyed a sensational AHL season in 95-96 and used it as a springboard to an NHL career.
None of these players has a thing in common with Justin Schultz, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Taylor Hall. The situation the current Barons find themselves in is truly unique–a one-off if you will–and we are likely to see some unusual totals if the NHL season is flushed.
First of all, no defenseman has ever led the AHL in scoring. The last time a defenseman finished in the top 10 in league scoring (by my count) was Steve Bancroft (10th in scoring 2000-01, 73 points). The record for most points in a single AHL season by a defenseman belongs to Chris Snell, who scored an amazing 96 points for the St. John’s Maple Leafs in 1993-94. Justin Schultz is on pace to clear that number with ease and if he continues on current pace would be the first defenseman in the league’s history to score 100 points in a single season.
The forwards are likely to pass Schultz eventually, with Jordan Eberle hot on his trail and clearly having fun in the AHL:
How many points could Eberle score, Nugent-Hopkins score, Hall score? Because most players who romp early like these kids are called to the NHL, there isn’t a lot of precedent for this kind of thing. Don Biggs of the Binghampton Senators holds the league record for points in a season (138 in 1992-93 for Binghampton) and I think that number might be in jeopardy if there’s no NHL season. Of course, there are other players in the league this season who could make a run at that number including Braydon Schenn and there’s a lot of season to go (and of course the NHL could end this lockout and send everyone back to where they belong).
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
More of the same. These guys are just starting to wheel, especially Taylor Hall who is 3, 1-7-8 +4 in the last week. The Barons play again this afternoon and based on last night’s game (the first period was electric) we should expect more offense and more of the type of chances displayed in the Eberle video above.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The 3 impact kids are finding the range, and Schultz is no flash in the pan. The supporting cast–Teemu Hartikainen, Magnus Paajarvi, Mark Arcobello, Martin Marincin and Taylor Fedun are fitting in, too. Yann Danis is showing flashes of returning to the form that made him team MVP for the Barons one year ago.
How high can they fly? That’s the fun part, watching these young men put their name in the history books in what is fast becoming a unique and exhilarating season.