637 AHL alumni on NHL opening rosters

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … As the National Hockey League embarks on its 2014-15 season today, the American Hockey League is proud to have 637 graduates on NHL opening-day rosters, making up nearly 83 percent of the NHL’s player pool to begin its campaign.

Several of last year’s notable AHL players have made the jump to the NHL as the new season gets underway, including Chris Terry of the Carolina Hurricanes, Mike Hoffman of the Ottawa Senators and Jason Akeson of the Philadelphia Flyers, who all finished among the top 10 in AHL scoring in 2013-14. Defensemen Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth will open the season with the Dallas Stars after winning the Calder Cup with the Texas Stars last spring, while Michael Hutchinson and Adam Lowry made the Winnipeg Jets’ active roster after helping the St. John’s IceCaps to the 2014 Calder Cup Finals.

Jake Allen, who won the Baz Bastien Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender in 2013-14, opens the new season with the St. Louis Blues after leading the AHL in wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts last year. Montreal’s Dustin Tokarski and Anaheim’s John Gibson are also set to man NHL creases after standout campaigns in the AHL last year.

Willie Desjardins, the AHL’s outstanding coach in 2012-13 and a Calder Cup winner with Texas in 2013-14, is the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, one of 20 former AHL bench bosses currently leading NHL teams and one of seven who claimed a championship in the AHL (Washington’s Barry Trotz, Calgary’s Bob Hartley, Nashville’s Peter Laviolette, San Jose’s Todd McLellan, Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau, Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper).

Among the NHL stars who developed their skills in the American Hockey League are goaltender Jonathan Quick of the 2014 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings; reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins; 2013-14 Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks; 2014 First Team NHL All-Stars Zdeno Chara of the Bruins, Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars; as well as former AHL All-Stars including Zach Parise, P.K. Subban, Jason Spezza, Zdeno Chara, Cory Schneider, Jimmy Howard and Bobby Ryan.

Last season, 871 AHL alumni played in the National Hockey League, including 347 who skated in both leagues last year alone. Twenty AHL graduates led their NHL teams in scoring in 2013-14, and 28 AHL goaltending alumni paced their NHL clubs in victories.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams, as well as the NHL’s on-ice officials. The AHL’s 2014-15 season begins Friday, Oct. 10.