Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Mats Zuccarello will represent the Connecticut Whale in the 2012 American Hockey League All-Star Game.
Their selection to the Eastern Conference All-Star team was announced Wednesday, recognizing their successful starts to the season.
But the contrast between the way the two arrived at this point is another story. Audy-Marchessault was expected to possibly start his season in Greenville of the ECHL. But strong play in camp gave the rookie forward a roster spot with the Whale, a position he hasn’t relinquished since.
Audy-Marchessault’s honor should be another step towards the New York Rangers giving him the contract he rightfully deserves and they should want to reward him with. After a slow start to the season with only five points in October, the 21-year-old forward went on a torrid pace by scoring 13 points in November and 11 points in December, helping sustain the Whale offensively after transactions and injuries depleted the roster. His 30 points is one behind the team lead held by Kris Newbury, an arguable snub from the Eastern Conference’s roster.
And on the other hand, Zuccarello might have had his heart set on another league’s all-star game before being the odd man out on the Rangers’ roster. Okay, making the NHL All-Star Game would have been a super long shot for Zuccarello, but you can see where I’m going with this.
While he might not be playing in the city he wants to be, Zuccarello, who is currently recovering from an ankle injury, should be proud of his accomplishment and use it to springboard him to success with the Rangers or another NHL franchise. He can play in the top league and has nothing left to prove in the AHL. Maybe this announcement helps catch the eye of a few teams as the NHL moves closer to the trade deadline. Zuccarello, who has only played in 18 games with the Whale, has 22 points, good for fourth on the team.
Newbury’s omission in favor of Audy-Marchessault and Zuccarello is a bit puzzling. He’s been the team’s leader and has the most points on the club despite playing in just 25 games. While all three certainly deserve the honor, it’s not a surprise that only two made it. There’s not a lot of space on these teams and you couldn’t go wrong with any of them. Unfortunately, somebody had to miss the cut.
This year’s game will be played in Atlantic City on Jan. 30. To see the rest of the AHL All-Star rosters, visit theahl.com.