AHL Preview: North Division

Inside Hockey previews the 2012-2013 AHL season this year with team by team previews on all 30 teams. Below is the North Division preview for the American Hockey League.

Toronto Marlies

NHL Affiliate: Toronto Maple Leafs

2011-12 Season Recap: The Marlies had a heck of a 2011-2012 regular season, finishing as the second seed in the Western Conference before falling to the Norfolk Admirals in the Calder Cup finals.

Key Additions: Defense-man Dylan Yeo and Forward Keith Aucoin

Players to Watch: Goalie Ben Scrivens, defense-man Jake Gardiner and forwards Nazem Kadri, Carter Ashton and Jerry D’Amigo

Lockout Additions: Forward Nazem Kadri

Season Prediction: Not only did they add some NHL talent, Toronto picked up AHL all star forward Keith Auoin while bringing valuable pieces back to their roster this season. The Marlies are a sure fire cup contender, anchored by goaltender Ben Scrivens.

Rochester Americans

NHL Affiliate: Buffalo Sabres

2011-12 Season Recap: The Rochester Americans had a great season last year, finishing second in the North Division with 86 points before falling to the Toronto Marlies in the Western Conference semifinals.

Key Additions: Forwards Mark Mancari, Nick Tarnasky and Rick Schofield

Players to Watch: Forwards Cody Hodgson and Zemgus Girgensons

Lockout Additions: Forwards Cody Hodgson, Luke Adam and Marcus Foligno

Season Prediction: Rochester will surely display a high flying offense this season highlighted by their NHL additions due to the lockout. If the defense and goalies can play well, Rochester could go as far as the Western Conference finals this season.

Lake Erie Monsters

NHL Affiliate: Colorado Avalanche

2011-12 Season Recap: The Lake Erie Monsters recorded 84 points in the North Division last season, but failed to make the postseason. The Monsters didn’t receive any talent from the Avalanche, even in a lockout.

Key Additions: Forwards Bryan Lerg, Geoff Walker and Bill Thomas

Players to Watch: Defense-man Stefan Elliot

Lockout Additions: None

Season Prediction: Lake Erie will experience major growing pains this season, likely starting off to a slow start because other clubs have NHL caliber players on their rosters.

Hamilton Bulldogs

NHL Affiliate: Montreal Canadiens

2011-12 Season Recap: Hamilton was one of the worst teams in the AHL last year, finishing last in the North Division with 75 points.

Key Additions: Goalie Cedrick Desjardins

Players to Watch: Defense-man Jarred Tinordi

Lockout Additions: Forwards Zach Stortini, Louis Leblanc and Blake Geoffrion

Season Prediction: Although the Bulldogs added talent this off-season through free agency and the lockout, Hamilton will likely challenge Lake Erie for the bottom spots in the division.

Abbotsford Heat

NHL Affiliate: Calgary Flames

2011-12 Season Recap: Abbotsford had a solid season last year, making it all the way to the Western Conference semifinals following a 92 points regular season.

Key Additions: Defense-man Joe Callahan and forward Ben Street

Players to Watch: Forward Ben Walter

Lockout Additions: Defense-man T.J. Brodie and forward Paul Byron

Season Prediction: Abbotsford has questions on defense, but is solid enough offensively to make another playoff appearance.

You can follow Matthew on twitter @m_speck and email him at mspeck21@yahoo.com with any questions or comments.

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