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AHL grads garner NHL honors

awards07_200.jpgSeveral American Hockey League alumni were among those players honored at the National Hockey League’s annual awards ceremony in Toronto on Thursday night.

New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, who spent his first professional season in the AHL in 1992-93, won his third Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding goaltender. Brodeur set an NHL record for wins in a season with 48 in 2006-07 and had a league-leading 12 shutouts.

Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault, in his first season with the Canucks, was awarded the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best coach.  Vigneault spent the 2005-06 season as the bench boss for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, guiding them to a 100-point season the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Boston rookie Phil Kessel, who had a stint with the AHL’s Providence Bruins in 2006-07 during his comeback from a bout with testicular cancer, was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to the game.

AHL grads grabbed two spots on the NHL’s All-Rookie Team. Goaltender Mike Smith won 57 games in the AHL over parts of four seasons (2002-06) with Utah, Houston and Iowa before making his NHL debut with Dallas in 2006-07. He appeared in 23 games with the Stars, posting a 12-5-2 record with a 2.23 GAA and a .912 save percentage, and became the first goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout in his NHL debut Oct. 21 at Phoenix (22 saves). Matthew Carle, who spent part of the 2006-07 season in the AHL with Worcester, was named an AHL All-Rookie defenseman after tallying 42 points (11g, 31a) in 77 games for San Jose.

AHL alumni named to the NHL’s two All-Star teams include Martin Brodeur (G, First Team), Roberto Luongo (G, Second Team), Dan Boyle (D, Second Team), Martin St. Louis (RW, Second Team) and Thomas Vanek (LW, Second Team).