Inside Hockey previews the 2012-2013 AHL season this year with team by team previews on all 30 teams. Below is the South Division preview for the American Hockey League.
Oklahoma City Barons
NHL Affiliate: Edmonton Oilers
2011-12 Season Recap: Oklahoma City had a great season last year, but fell just short. The Barons won the West Division, captured the number one seed, but fell to the Toronto Marlies in the Western Conference finals.
Key Additions: Forward Dane Byers
Players to Watch: Goaltender Olivier Roy, defense-man Justin Schultz and forward Magnus Paajarvi
Lockout Additions: Forwards Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Magnus Paajarvi
Season Prediction: The Barons added the most NHL talent during the lockout, with Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins up front. If the goaltending is solid, Oklahoma City will be playing into June.
NHL Affiliate: Carolina Hurricanes
2011-12 Season Recap: The Checkers finished third in the Midwest division last year, missing the playoffs while accumulating 85 points.
Key Additions: Defense-man Marc-Andre Gargnani and forward Tim Wallace
Players to Watch: Goalie Justin Peters and forward Jeremy Welsh and Zac Dalpe
Lockout Additions: Goalie Dan Ellis and defense-man Justin Faulk
Season Prediction: The Checkers, now in the South Division, should compete in the Western Conference this season, looking to attain a lower seed to reach the postseason.
San Antonio Rampage
NHL Affiliate: Florida Panthers
2011-12 Season Recap: San Antonio reached the playoffs last season following a 41-30-3-2 regular season, but fell to the Oklahoma City Barons in the Western Conference semifinals. A great feat for a team not expected to do much in the postseason.
Key Additions: Defense-man Jason DeSantis and forwards J.F. Jacques, Andre Deveaux and Jon Rheault
Players to Watch: Goalie Jacob Markstrom and defense-man Alex Petrovic
Lockout Additions: Defense-man Tyson Strachan
Season Prediction: With Florida Panthers goalie Jacob Markstrom back in goal for the Rampage, San Antonio should return to the playoffs, most likely as a lower seed.
NHL Affiliate: Minnesota Wild
2011-12 Season Recap: Houston finished fourth in the West Division last season, but reached the playoffs as the eighth seed. The Aeros were swept by the Oklahoma City Barons in the first round of the playoffs.
Key Additions: Defense-man Brian Connelly
Players to Watch: Defense-man Tyler Cuma and forward Mikael Granlund
Lockout Additions: Defense-man Marco Scandella and forward Mikael Granlund
Season Prediction: A lack of talent on the Aeros roster will hurt them this season; expect Houston to miss out on the playoffs this year.
NHL Affiliate: Dallas Stars
2011-12 Season Recap: The Texas Stars struggled mightily last season, placing last in the South Division with 67 points. Willie Desjardins takes over the Texas bench as the Stars newest head coach.
Key Additions: Defense-man Tyler Sloan and forward Antoine Roussel
Players to Watch: Defense-man Jordie Benn and forward Cody Eakin
Lockout Additions: Forward Cody Eakin
Season Prediction: With the addition of Cody Eakin during a trade at the NHL draft this summer, the Texas Stars added a top line center to their lineup. But you should expect another year at the bottom of the conference standings for the Texas Stars.