The winner of the 2017-18 Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award (sportsmanship, determination, dedication to hockey) will be announced Friday.
2017-18 AHL First All-Star Team
Garret Sparks, Goaltender (Toronto Marlies): Garret Sparks is having another stellar campaign in his fifth season in Toronto, showing a 30-9-2 record in 42 games for the league-leading Marlies while pacing the AHL with a 1.81 goals-against average, a .936 save percentage and six shutouts. Sparks was named the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month during January, and put together a scoreless stretch of more than 185 minutes from Jan. 19 to Feb. 2. The 24-year-old native of Elmhurst, Ill., is the first goaltender in the Maple Leafs organization to earn a postseason AHL All-Star berth since Felix Potvin’s First Team nod in 1992.
Jacob MacDonald, Defenseman (Binghamton Devils): In his first full AHL season after collecting 24 points in 34 games a year ago, Jacob MacDonald leads all AHL defensemen in goals (19) and points (52, tied) while leading the Binghamton Devils in team scoring. The 25-year-old native of Brighton, Mich., and Cornell University product also leads league blueliners with 10 power-play goals and ranks second with 30 power-play points and 172 shots on goal, and two of his three game-winning goals for the Devils have come in overtime. MacDonald represented Binghamton at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic in January.
Sami Niku, Defenseman (Manitoba Moose): AHL All-Rookie blueliner Sami Niku has posted 15 goals and 37 assists for 52 points with a plus-18 rating while skating in all 71 games for Manitoba to date. A seventh-round pick by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft, Niku is tied for the league scoring lead among all AHL defensemen and is tied for third in rookie scoring as well. The 21-year-old native of Haapavesi, Finland, also made his NHL debut on Apr. 3 and scored a goal in the Jets’ win at Montreal. Niku joins Brandon Montour (2016), Justin Schultz (2013), Sami Vatanen (2013) and P.K. Subban (2010) as the only rookie defensemen in the last 43 years to be named a First Team AHL All-Star.
Chris Terry, Left Wing (Laval Rocket): Following his Second Team All-Star selection a year ago, Chris Terry has enjoyed another standout season in 2017-18, currently tied for the AHL scoring lead with 67 points (29 goals, 38 assists) in 58 games for Laval. The CCM/AHL Player of the Month for March also played in his third career AHL All-Star Classic this season, and was named the Rocket’s team winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his work in the Laval community. Terry, a ninth-year pro from Brampton, Ont., was drafted by Carolina in 2007 and is in his second season in the Montreal Canadiens organization.
Phil Varone, Center (Lehigh Valley Phantoms): Seventh-year pro Phil Varone has established career highs in goals (21), assists (46) and points (67) in 71 contests this season, leading Lehigh Valley’s top-ranked offense in scoring and currently tied for first in the entire league. The native of Vaughan, Ont., has gone back-to-back games without a point only three times all season, and his 14 multiple-point games include a four-assist effort at Binghamton on Nov. 4 and his first career hat trick at Utica on Feb. 21. Originally drafted by San Jose in 2009, Varone signed with the Philadelphia Flyers on July 1, 2017.
Mason Appleton, Right Wing (Manitoba Moose): Mason Appleton currently ranks fourth in the entire AHL in scoring and paces all league rookies with 40 assists and 61 points in 71 games for Manitoba this season, his first as a pro after two years at Michigan State University. The 22-year-old native of Green Bay, Wis., is the top producer on a Moose team that leads the Western Conference in offense, leading the club in assists, points and game-winning goals (six). Appleton, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team on Wednesday and also represented Manitoba at the AHL All-Star Classic in January.
2017-18 AHL Second All-Star Team
Michael Hutchinson, Goaltender (Manitoba Moose): Playing in the AHL for the first time since reaching the 2014 Calder Cup Finals, Michael Hutchinson has been a stalwart in net for the Manitoba Moose, posting a 15-5-4 record while ranking fourth in the AHL with a 2.21 goals-against average and second with a .933 save percentage thus far. Hutchinson suffered just two regulation losses in his first 21 AHL appearances before earning his first NHL start of the season on Jan. 30, picking up the victory for Winnipeg one night after representing the Moose in the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic. A native of Barrie, Ont., Hutchinson was the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month in November and December, the first back-to-back winner of the award since Matt Murray in 2015.
T.J. Brennan, Defenseman (Lehigh Valley Phantoms): It has been another milestone season for T.J. Brennan, who became the 10th defenseman in AHL history to reach the 400-point plateau for his career and the first blueliner ever to record eight career 10-goal seasons. Brennan has compiled 13 goals and 30 assists for 43 points in 60 games for the Phantoms, good for fifth among AHL defensemen in scoring in 2017-18. The native of Willingboro, N.J., played in his fifth consecutive AHL All-Star Classic in January, and this marks his fourth selection as a postseason AHL All-Star after First Team nods in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Zach Redmond, Defenseman (Rochester Americans): A seventh-year pro in his first season in the Buffalo Sabres organization, Zach Redmond has easily surpassed his previous career highs with 15 goals, 31 assists and 46 points in 63 games, good for the team scoring lead for the playoff-bound Rochester Americans. Redmond, who has skated in 133 career NHL games – including three this season with the Sabres – ranks fourth among AHL defenseman in points, tied for second in goals and third with eight power-play tallies. The native of Traverse City, Mich., has 11 points and a plus-9 rating in his last 10 contests entering this weekend’s action.
Andreas Johnsson, Left Wing (Toronto Marlies): Andreas Johnsson has followed up a strong debut season with a breakout campaign in 2017-18, collecting 26 goals and 28 assists for 54 points in 54 games with the Marlies. Named the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for February, Johnsson tallied 25 points in his last 16 contests before being recalled by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Mar. 13; he made his NHL debut the next night and has gone on to register two goals and one assist in nine games with the parent club. The 23-year-old native of Gavle, Sweden, also represented the Marlies at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic.
Austin Czarnik, Center (Providence Bruins): A member of the AHL All-Rookie Team in 2015-16, Austin Czarnik has notched 21 goals and 41 assists for 62 points in 59 games with Providence this season, good for third in the league in scoring. The third-year pro from Washington Township, Mich., leads the P-Bruins in goals, assists, points, power-play goals (11), power-play assists (16) and game-winning goals (seven), and has also collected four assists in 10 NHL games with Boston. Czarnik, who joined the Bruins after four seasons at Miami University, is averaging nearly a point per game over his AHL career with 148 points in 152 contests.
Ben Smith, Right Wing (Toronto Marlies): Captaining the Toronto Marlies after spending most of the last four seasons in the NHL, Ben Smith has registered 27 goals, 57 points and a plus-27 rating in 71 games in 2017-18, helping the club to the best record in the AHL. An eighth-year pro out of Boston College, Smith is also tied for the league lead with eight game-winning goals and leads the Marlies with two shorthanded markers on the season. The native of Avon, Conn., was originally drafted by Chicago in 2008 and won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013.