The votes have been cast, and this year’s AHL All-Rookie Team has been released. The AHL rookie teams are always a mix of top draft picks and surprising prospects, and this year is no different. The team is as follows:
Goaltender: Shane Starrett, Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers)
Defense: Jake Bean, Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes)
Defense: Mitch Reinke, San Antonio Rampage (St. Louis Blues)
Forward: Alex Barre-Boulet, Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Forward: Drake Batherson, Belleville Senators (Ottawa Senators)
Forward: Tyler Benson, Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers)
Obviously winning this award doesn’t guarantee NHL success, but it is a strong sign for players who will experience a long and successful professional career. The past All-Rookie teams have included many eventual NHL All-Stars, something this group will aspire to be in the future.
Bean may be the most recognizable name of the group, having been the 13th overall pick in the 2016 draft. The Hurricanes defenseman made his NHL debut this season and recorded an incredible 44 points in 70 games for the Checkers. That put him eighth among all AHL defenders (one point ahead of Reinke) and should excite Carolina fans waiting for him to get a full-time chance at the highest level. Bean is another reason why so many have speculated about a Hurricanes trade this offseason as they seem to have too many defensemen ready to play increased roles.
Perhaps most notable though is Barre-Boulet, another undrafted forward that the Lightning snapped up out of the QMJHL. The 21-year old tied for the AHL lead in goals with 33 this season and led all rookie skaters with 64 points (one ahead of Benson). While there’s certainly no guarantee that Barre-Boulet ever becomes an NHL regular, he’s in the organization that won’t hesitate to give him a chance. The Lightning have a long history of success with undrafted forwards, most recently with Yanni Gourde who just posted his second consecutive 20+ goal season in the NHL.