Photo Credit: Abbotsford Canucks

*This was originally posted March 2, 2022*

On Tuesday, the American Hockey League announced that Abbotsford Canucks forward Sheldon Dries was selected as the league’s top player for the month of February. Dries recorded 19 points in 11 games for Abbotsford during the month, including 12 goals. 

    Through 38 games this season, the 27-year-old has produced 48 points, and is tied for the league lead in goals with 28. Dries has found himself centering the baby Canucks’ first line for the majority of the year, and has performed exceptionally well considering the constantly revolving door of wingers he has been handed. His longest lasting line of Phil Di Giuseppe-Dries-Sheldon Rempal has been a dangerous one, however they have since been dismembered due to a lack of AHL depth, and Di Giuseppe being called up to Vancouver. 

    No matter who he plays with, Dries can get the job done. The 5-foot-9 two-way force has produced at every level. After going undrafted in the USHL, Dries played four seasons with the Western Michigan University Broncos, spending three of them serving as the team’s captain. After graduating with a criminal justice degree in 2017, Dries turned pro with the Dallas Stars AHL affiliate in Texas on an AHL only contract. In his rookie season,Dries played a key role in the Stars advancing to the Calder Cup finals, but the team unfortunately lost in seven games to the Toronto Marlies. Following his impressive introductory season, Dries signed a two-way deal with the Colorado Avalanche, and earned himself a roster spot in the NHL for the majority of the following season. Playing in 40 games in his first season with the Avalanche, Dries put up six points and found himself back in the AHL by years end. 

    Since then, Dries has been unable to stick in the NHL, as he has played just ten games in the show over the past three season. He has, however, developed into a dominant force in the AHL. Though he has showcased his impressive hands, and powerful shot this season, Dries’ net front presence and hockey IQ are his most notable qualities when deliberating on his NHL future. Despite his size, Dries is one of the toughest players on the ice at all times and doesn’t back down from an opportunity to shift the momentum with a big hit. Though he isn’t as physical as he once was due to his newfound scoring role in Abbotsford, his bite is still there. He can also be relied on defensively, which isn’t something often said of AHL stars. He has killed penalties at every level he’s played at and done so successfully.

    As Abbotsford continues to push for a better seed in the approaching AHL postseason, Dries, and his leadership will remain vital. At his current pace, Dries will score 49 goals in just 67 games. If he is able to reach the revered 50 goal mark, he will be the first AHL player to do so since 2010. Regardless, Dries is sure to receive some NHL attention in the offseason, but if he sticks around in Abbotsford, he will certainly be in the running to be named the first captain in franchise history.