The unforgiving nature of the position is an unfortunate reality for these prospects, and the adjustment to the much higher pace of AHL play can be a difficult hurdle.For those defensemen that can adjust and thrive, there is an NHL job as a reward.Here is a look at five of strongest NHL prospects among a deep group of AHL defensemen (listed alphabetically):Jack Ahcan, Providence (Boston Bruins)Ahcan (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) is the latest candidate in Providence auditioning for a future role in Boston.The 24-year-old played four seasons at St. Cloud State University and signed with the Bruins on Mach 27, 2020. He scored 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in 19 games with Providence last season, and played three games with the Bruins. This season he’s scored 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 17 AHL games.Declan Chisholm, Manitoba (Winnipeg Jets)The 21-year-old is part of a strong group of Jets defensemen prospects developing with Manitoba that includes Ville Heinola, Leon Gawanke, Johnathan Kovacevic, Simon Lundmark and Dylan Samberg.Selected by Winnipeg in the fifth round (No. 150) in the 2018 NHL Draft, Chisholm (6-1, 185) has emerged as a bona fide NHL prospect in his second AHL season.Chisholm scored 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 28 games last season. This season he’s scored 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 18 games, and has a 15.4 percent shooting percentage.Jacob Christiansen, Cleveland (Columbus Blue Jackets)Christensen played four seasons with Everett of the Western Hockey League and began his professional career in 2019-20 playing on a professional tryout with Stockton (Calgary Flames).After nine AHL games he was returned to Everett and scored 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) in 38 games. His average of 1.32 points per game led WHL defensemen and he signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets on March 4, 2020.Christiansen (6-0, 186) scored 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 28 games with Cleveland last season. This season, the 22-year-old is second among AHL defensemen with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 17 games.Ville Heinola, Manitoba (Winnipeg Jets)Heinola (5-11, 178) continues to push for full-time work with the Jets after being selected in the first round (No. 20) in the 2019 NHL Draft.The Jets brought Heinola to North America for brief NHL and AHL stints in 2019-20 before returning him to Lukko of Liiga, the top professional league in his native Finland. He began last season with Lukko before making his way back to North America once play began. He played five games with the Jets, and scored 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 19 AHL games.This season, he is tied for fifth among AHL defensemen with 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in 16 games.Reilly Walsh, Utica (New Jersey Devils)Walsh (6-0, 185), a third-round pick (No. 81) by the Devils in the 2017 NHL Draft, turned pro last season and scored 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 33 games with Binghamton, which was New Jersey’s AHL affiliate at the time.This season the 22-year-old is tied for second with Utica with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 17 games. He’s scored two game-winning goals as Utica has started the season 16-1-0-0, including an AHL record 13-game winning streak to begin the season.Tampa Bay Lightning Pelipaita

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