2023-24 season is underway

Photo: David Moll

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League opens its 88th season of play tonight, with 12 games on the schedule to kick things off.

All 32 clubs will play 72 games during a 2023-24 regular season that will run through April 21. From there, 23 teams will qualify for postseason play, with five rounds of playoffs leading to the crowning of the 2024 Calder Cup champion. The postseason field will include six of eight teams from the Atlantic Division, five of seven in both the North and Central Divisions, and seven of 10 in the Pacific.

During the 2022-23 season, 87.2 percent of all NHL players were graduates of the American Hockey League, including 2022-23 Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark, Norris Trophy recipient Erik Karlsson and Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron. The 2023 Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights were stocked with AHL graduates including three-time AHL All-Star and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Marchessault.

There were 238 former first- and second-round NHL draft picks who skated in the AHL last season, including standouts like Simon Nemec, David Jiricek, Jiri Kulich, Lukas Reichel, William Eklund, Jesper Wallstedt, Thomas Harley and Calder Cup champions Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre. There were also 375 players who saw action in both the AHL and the NHL last season alone.

In 2023-24, 22 NHL teams are being led by former AHL head coaches, including Bruce Cassidy of the 2023 Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights and newcomers Greg Cronin of the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Huska of the Calgary Flames, Pascal Vincent of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Spencer Carbery of the Washington Capitals. Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper, Toronto’s Sheldon Keefe, Minnesota’s Dean Evason, Edmonton’s Jay Woodcroft and Detroit’s Derek Lalonde are also among the current NHL coaches who spent time in the American Hockey League before making the jump.

Three-time AHL All-Star Jonathan Marchessault won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo: Getty Images)

Around the AHL, 10 head coaching changes have been made since the end of last season.

The promotions to NHL coaching positions of Greg Cronin (Anaheim head coach), Mitch Love (Washington assistant coach) and Brent Thompson (Anaheim assistant coach) resulted in the hiring of Aaron Schneekloth (Colorado Eagles), Trent Cull (Calgary Wranglers) and Rick Kowalsky (Bridgeport Islanders) to run AHL benches.

Joel Bouchard takes over the helm of the Syracuse Crunch, and first-time AHL head coaches Bob Nardella (Chicago), Dan Watson (Grand Rapids), Ryan Craig (Henderson), Brett McLean (Iowa), Matt McIlvane (San Diego) and John Gruden (Toronto) round out the crop of newcomers.

The San Jose Barracuda will host the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic at Tech CU Arena, the showcase event’s second time on the West Coast. The AHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place on Sunday, February 4, followed by the AHL Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony on Monday, February 5 and the three-on-three, round-robin 2023 AHL All-Star Challenge that evening.

Since 1995, more than 94 percent of All-Star Classic participants have gone on to compete in the National Hockey League, including Cam AtkinsonDrake Batherson, Jordan BinningtonJack CampbellJohn CarlsonLogan CoutureThatcher DemkoConnor HellebuyckTristan JarryKaapo KahkonenJordan Kyrou, Jacob MarkstromBrandon MontourWilliam NylanderKyle PalmieriMikko RantanenDylan Strome, Vitek Vanecek and Mats Zuccarello.

AHLTV (AHLTV.com) features live streaming of every AHL game in high definition on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, as well as on over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as RokuApple TVAmazon Fire TV and Android TV. AHLTV is also available through the official AHL mobile app for iOS or Android.

Subscription packages range from $7.99 USD for a single day’s worth of games to just $104.99 USD for every game throughout the 2023-24 regular season and Calder Cup Playoffs.

The season on AHLTV officially kicks off with an Opening Weekend Freeview; all games from Oct. 13-15 are free to anyone with an AHLTV account (no purchase or subscription necessary).

The AHL’s positioning in social media also continues to grow, and the league’s feeds on Instagram (theahl), Facebook (fb.com/theahl), X (@TheAHL) and Threads (@TheAHL) remain great sources for breaking AHL news, special offers, behind-the-scenes insights and fan interaction. The AHL communications department also maintains news feeds on X (@AHLPR) and Threads (@ahl_pr).

The AHL’s digital properties are anchored by the league’s official website, theahl.com, which is fully compatible with desktop, mobile and tablet devices alike. In addition, the official AHL mobile app is available for free for iPhone and Android devices.

The 2023-24 AHL Guide & Record Book is available for viewing and download at theahl.com/mediaguide. The AHL Rule Book can be found at theahl.com/rules.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives, broadcasters and staff of all 32 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.