After announcing their All-Rookie team earlier this week, the AHL have now given us their choices for the first and second All-Star Teams for 2017-18. These players were voted in by coaches, players and media all across the league.
First All-Star Team:
Goaltender: Garret Sparks, Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Defenseman: Jacob MacDonald, Binghamton Devils (New Jersey Devils)
Defenseman: Sami Niku, Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets)*
Left Wing: Chris Terry, Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens)
Center: Phil Varone, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers)
Right Wing: Mason Appleton, Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets)*
*Niku and Appleton were also named as part of the All-Rookie team.
Second All-Star Team:
Goaltender: Michael Hutchinson, Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets)
Defenseman: T.J. Brennan, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers)
Defenseman: Zach Redmond, Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres)
Left Wing: Andreas Johnsson, Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Center: Austin Czarnik, Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins)
Right Wing: Ben Smith, Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Of course, much of the fanfare will go to Niku and Appleton who were not only rookies but late-round draft choices. Their appearance on the list is so impressive, especially given the success of the Jets already graduated young core. With a pipeline of talent, Winnipeg should have a wide open window of contention.
Probably the most interesting name though is Hutchinson, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. One has to wonder if he’ll get a crack at an NHL job, given his outstanding minor league season and reliatively successful experience at the highest level. He’s making $1.3MM this season, but could look for a larger opportunity elsewhere while Connor Hellebuyck, Steve Mason and Eric Comrie man the crease in Winnipeg.