AHL team: Chicago Wolves
NHL affiliate: Vancouver Canucks
Home rink: Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois
NHLers on 2012-13 roster: Zack Kassian, Derek Joslin, Andrew Ebbett, Chris Tanev
2011-12 record: 42-17-4-3 (1st in the Midwest Division, lost to San Antonio Rampage in first round)
2011-12 leading scorer: Mark Mancari, 58 points
What you need to know: After finishing first place in the Midwest Division, the Wolves were upset and eliminated by the San Antonio Rampage in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs last season. They wish to get that bad taste out of their mouths this year and are off to a good start, opening the 2012-13 campaign 3-0.
The NHL lockout will be a big boost to many AHL teams, and the Wolves are no exception. With players like Zack Kassian and Derek Joslin adding a combination of toughness, skill and recent NHL experience, the Wolves should once again be a contender to sit atop the Midwest and head into the playoffs in a favourable position.
Obviously, unlike their NHL affiliate Canucks, they don’t have skill up front like the Sedin twins, but youngsters like Jordan Schroeder, Alexandre Mallet and Alex Friesen, who all put up excellent numbers in junior, should provide offensive flair.
The Wolves are a youthful group as most of the team is 25 years of age or younger. In fact, Darren Haydar is the only player on the roster over the age of 30.
Players like Kassian and Guillaume Desbiens provide serious size and toughness that opposing defencemen must be aware of. On the back end, there are some big boys too, and it will come in handy during rough, grinding-style games especially during battles in front of the net.
Between the pipes the team is in good shape once again as Matt Climie and Eddie Lack put up respectable numbers last season for the Wolves and should do the same this year.
Fun fact: The Chicago Wolves has never had a losing season during its history, dating back to their days in the International Hockey League.
Cheapest ticket: $9