AHL grads help Avalanche to Stanley Cup crown

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche won their third Stanley Cup championship on Sunday evening, with contributions up and down the roster from graduates of the American Hockey League.

The Avalanche dethroned the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning with a 2-1 win, taking the series four games to two.

Jared Bednar became the ninth head coach ever to win both the Stanley Cup and Calder Cup. Bednar, who led the Lake Erie Monsters to the AHL title in 2016 before joining Colorado that summer, joins Jon Cooper, Barry Trotz, John Tortorella, Peter Laviolette, Bob Hartley, Mike Keenan, Al MacNeil and Fred Shero in that exclusive group.

Bednar spent seven seasons total coaching in the AHL, as a head coach in Lake Erie (2015-16), Springfield (2014-15) and Peoria (2010-12) and as an assistant coach in Abbotsford (2009-10) and Springfield (2012-14).

Mikko Rantanen finished second on the Avalanche in playoff scoring with 25 points in 20 games. Rantanen was the co-winner of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding rookie in 2015-16, when he recorded 60 points in 52 games as a 19-year-old for the San Antonio Rampage.

Other AHL alumni who lifted the Stanley Cup include Colorado Eagles alumni Logan O’ConnorAlex NewhookBowen Byram and Pavel Francouz, as well as 2017 AHL All-Star Devon Toews, Darcy KuemperJ.T. CompherDarren HelmJosh MansonNicolas Aube-KubelNico SturmAndre Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri.

Nearly 90 percent of all players in the National Hockey League are graduates of the American Hockey League, with more than 400 players skating in both leagues during the 2021-22 season alone.