AHL grads eye NHL awards

Several American Hockey League graduates will be up for major honors when the National Hockey League holds its annual awards ceremony on Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

Former Manchester Monarchs goalie Jonathan Quick, who last week captured the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, is also a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL’s outstanding goaltender. Quick won 35 of the Kings’ 40 games in the regular season and led the NHL with 10 shutouts, ranked second with a 1.95 GAA and was fifth was a .929 save percentage. Pekka Rinne, a former AHL All-Star and Calder Cup finalist with the Milwaukee Admirals, is a Vezina nominee for the second year in a row. Rinne led the NHL with 73 appearances for Nashville in 2011-12 and won a league-best 43 games while posting a 2.39 GAA, a .923 save percentage and five shutouts.

Adam Henrique, who was one of the heroes of the New Jersey Devils’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals, is one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding rookie. Henrique, who scored 25 goals in the AHL as a first-year pro last year and who appeared in three games with the AHL’s Albany Devils early this season, led all NHL rookies with 35 assists and finished with 51 points in 74 games for New Jersey.

AHL grads Zdeno Chara of Boston, Erik Karlsson of Ottawa and Shea Weber of Nashville are the three finalists for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. Chara, the 2009 winner of the award, was an AHL All-Star in 1998 who played in his 1,000th NHL game in March. Karlsson played a dozen games with the Binghamton Senators in 2009-10 before becoming one of the pre-eminent young defensemen in the NHL, leading all blueliners in goals, assists and points this season. And Weber, a Norris finalist for the second straight year, helped the Milwaukee Admirals to the Calder Cup Finals as a first-year pro in 2006.

Florida’s Brian Campbell, who was an AHL All-Star and a Calder Cup finalist while coming up with the Rochester Americans, is up for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct. He is joined by fellow finalists Jordan Eberle of Edmonton, who made his pro debut with the Springfield Falcons in 2009 and totaled 23 points in 20 AHL games, and Matt Moulson, a three-time 30-goal scorer with the New York Islanders who scored 74 goals in his three seasons with the Manchester Monarchs.

John Tortorella, who won a Calder Cup championship with Rochester in 1996, has been voted a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s outstanding coach. Tortorella, who won the award in 2004, guided the New York Rangers to their first division title since 1994 and the top record in the Eastern Conference before back-to-back seven-game playoff wins over Ottawa and Washington.

Former Peoria Rivermen forward David Backes and Providence Bruins grad Patrice Bergeron, an AHL All-Star in 2004-05, are finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy given to the "forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game." Joffrey Lupul and Max Pacioretty are finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The 2012 NHL Awards at the Encore Theater at the Wynn Las Vegas will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network in the United States and online at cbcsports.ca in Canada. CBC will carry the complete two-hour celebration nationally in Canada starting at 8 p.m. local/8:30 p.m. NT.