Kaapo Kahkonen and Cal O’Reilly of the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild, have been named to the AHL Central Division All-Star team.
Kaapo Kahkonen has had quite the first season in the AHL, even backing-up for one Minnesota Wild game in the NHL. Cal O’Reilly is one of those AHL veterans that probably deserve one last shot at the big-time but it always overlooked.
The AHL selection process, which we feel is a much fairer one than that of the NHL, saw the Iowa Wild pair named to the team by a committee of AHL coaches. They will find themselves coached by their regular bench boss, Tim Army, who we see as a future leader for the Minnesota Wild.
Suffice to say, it must be pleasing for the Minnesota Wild to see Kaapo Kahkonen named to the team, not least because he’s the future of their goaltending and may deserve a promotion sooner rather than later.
Only Josef Korenar of the San Jose Barracuddas has put up a better goals against average among rookie goalies with 10 or more games in the AHL this year.
Though he has a stronger 2.19 than Kaapo Kahkonen’s 2.42, his save percentage is identical at 0.918%. You have to think that a lot of it is the team defense in front of Korenar elevating his stats.
What is more impressive is that of Kaapo Kahkonen’s 17 games played, his side has won 9 of them with 4 of those nights seeing the goalie post a shutout. That ties him for first among all goaltenders, rookie or otherwise, in terms of shut-outs.
The sheer fact that the Iowa Wild rookie is posting a sixth best (among all goaltenders) goals against average and an equal sixth best save percentage makes it clear why his rookie year will see an AHL All-Star appearance for him.
As for Cal O’Reilly, the Iowa Wild captain will make his fifth appearance at the AHL All-Star Classic. That is surely something that may frustrate the brother of Ryan O’Reilly, given the latter’s successes one tier higher in the NHL.
Regardless of any sibling rivalry, the captain has always led the Iowa Wild effectively and this year’s point-per-game average of 25 in 25 games was plenty enough to see him called up.
It’s a shame that he has never been able to make it stick at the NHL level and it’s unlikely, despite a strong record in the AHL, that the 32-year-old will get another chance.
Like a great leader though, he gives his all every night for the Iowa Wild not caring that the Minnesota Wild might now be out of the grasp of one Cal O’Reilly.
His call-up is as much a testament to his determination and leadership qualities as it is to his on-ice play. League-wide, there’s 48 forwards with better point tallies than him this year, but his game-on-game efficiency lands Cal O’Reilly in a much more impressive 36th spot in terms of point to game averages.
He may be one of the elder statesmen on a team populated by developing youngsters, but that is a role that has seen Cal O’Reilly thrive and the call-up is definitely well-deserved.
We look forward to seeing these two and their coach, Tim Army suiting up for the Central Division!
Statistics courtesy of theahl.com.