AHL Preview: South Division

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.

Charlotte Checkers

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.

Houston Aeros

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.

Texas Stars

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.

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

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