As much as Alaska Aces fans no doubt are bummed the team has lost its four NHLers with the end of the NHL lockout, they can take solace in the trickle-up effect that is weakening other ECHL clubs.
The last couple days there has been significant movement of some of the ECHL's best players heading up to the AHL. That's because as players move up from the AHL to NHL post-lockout, those AHL spots have to be filled, which means guys are moving from the ECHL to the AHL.
For example, check out the Idaho Steelheads and Stockton Thunder, who each have lost at least three elite players to the AHL in the last couple days.
Idaho's leading goal scorer Austin Smith (19-11--30 in just 23 games) is off to Texas in the AHL, as is the Steelheads' leading point man Justin Dowling (13-33--46 in 34 games) and defenseman Jace Coyle (1-13--14 in 18 games).
Ditto for the Stockton Thunder. Their leading scorer, Toni Rajala (18-20--38 in 29 games) is headed back to AHL Oklahoma City. Same for forwards Philippe Cornet (9-14--23 in 18 games) and Ryan Martindale (0-2--2 in 5 games), the latter of whom was recently assigned to Stockton.
Will be interesting to see if the Aces get poached by any AHL teams. Remember, defenseman Kane Lafranchise already is up in Oklahoma City.