Are the AHL teams important? Should I do my lines for them? The answer is a huge YES!
If your farm team loses, the players on it will have a low attitude, and it will hinder the development of your top prospects playing on the farm. I myself like to switch players around on their positions. I have it so my top 3 guys are on each line, so that a 2nd line guy isn't better than someone on my 1st line, etc. This will allow for good line settings. The overall of a player is all that matter, there are no line shift length or strategies. Even your PP and PK only need the best people. The easiest way to do this is to switch around your players by alternate positions until they are set so that when you hit 'computer lines', your best players are on the best lines. It is also reasonably good to have the same amount of depth at each position, this will help when you get injuries.
Once you Have finished doing your lines this way, and if you have a lot of older guys on your top lines, feel free to adjust your lines slightly so your younger guys move up, this is ok to do. It is just best to set it up so the best people are higher because winning will help your players development.
Tips on AHL
1.Keep your prospects who are 20 years old and older signed to your farm, this will keep your farm young and replace veterans you don't need. Older guys take up development space. The best way to do this is to invite all your prospects to training camp (see 'Tips on succeeding in your online league') then sign all the players 20 years and older and assign them to the farm, even there they will develop and train. Also, to restock your team, every few years, get a few 4th and 5th rounder's, these players can turn out to be great depth on your farm.
2.A great tip I will also add to the 'draft' section, when looking for 4th and 5th round gems, the easiest way is to wait until after the junior championships. After that is done, search the international teams (located in the 'Draft Central' area) and look at the bottom feeders, there is a line in the middle dividing the 2 groups of teams, the ones below the line is where to look. Now, look at who is under 20 and not drafted yet. There may be 1 or 2 per team, sometimes more, but not often. These players are a good place to start. I will tell you why in a minute. Look at the players name and find him in the CSB rankings, if he is between 91-120, he is a 4th or 5th round player.
Why are these players so good? Simple, they play for a country that doesn't have many players, they are a lock to make the national team every tournament and get extra development time in every tournament. Even a low rated player can turn out above expectations because of this.