Two young players having stand out seasons for the Moose are Mason Appleton and Sami Niku and today they were recognized by the AHL being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. Both were late picks in the 2015 draft by Winnipeg with Appleton’s selection coming in the 6th round and Niku’s in the 7th. Despite where they were drafted both players have had exceptional rookie campaigns for the Moose to date.
Mason Appleton has periodically led the league in scoring and his 61 (21G 40A) has him sitting in fourth overall in AHL scoring. He leads all rookies in scoring by four over his nearest competitor. Impressive considering he began the year with the stated goal of “just making the team” and playing the first few games on the 4th line.
On the backend smooth-skating defenceman Sami Niku has really brought the offence from the Moose zone setting records along the way. He is in a tie for third in rookie scoring with 52 points (15G 37A), sits first among rookie Dmen in scoring and tied for first among all Dmen in the AHL.
Appleton, 22, leads the Moose with 61 points (21G, 40A) and six game-winning goals in 71 games this season. He has already captured franchise records in assists and points by a rookie, and is the first Moose player to reach the 60-point plateau since the 2008-09 season. The Green Bay, Wis. native leads all AHL rookies in scoring and is fourth in the league’s overall points race. Appleton was previously honoured by the league as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 19. A sixth round, 168th overall, selection of the Winnipeg Jets in 2015, Appleton represented the Moose at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic.
Niku, 21, is tied for second on the Moose with 52 points (15G, 37A) in 71 games. Like Appleton, Niku has already made his mark in the Moose record books with the most points by a rookie defenceman in franchise history. His 52 points in 2017-18 are the fifth-most by a blue-liner in team history and most since the 2000-01 season. A seventh round, 198th overall, selection of the Winnipeg Jets in 2015, Niku is tied for the AHL lead in points by a defenceman and features the best plus/minus rating among the league’s top six scoring defenders. The Haapavesi, Finland native made his NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, scoring a goal in a 5-4 Jets victory.
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