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AHL grads honored with NHL Awards

Taylor Hall won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the National Hockey League’s most valuable player for 2017-18, one of several American Hockey League alumni honored at the NHL’s annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.

Hall recorded 34 points in 26 games as a member of the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons during the 2012-13 season. He has gone on to total 474 points in 529 NHL games with Edmonton and New Jersey, including career highs with 36 goals, 54 assists and 93 points with the Devils in 2017-18.

Two-time AHL All-Star Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender after finishing third in the NHL with 42 wins and helping the Predators to their first Presidents’ Trophy. His eight shutouts were a team record, and he ranked among the league’s leaders in goals-against average and save percentage.

Rinne played three seasons in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals (2005-08), backstopping the team to the 2006 Calder Cup Finals and appearing in the 2006 and 2008 AHL All-Star Classics. Rinne has posted seven 30-win seasons with Nashville, totaling 311 victories for his NHL career.

Hall and Rinne were also two of three AHL graduates named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team, joining Tampa Bay right wing Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov began his pro career with the Syracuse Crunch in 2013-14, racking up 24 points in 17 games before graduating to Tampa Bay, where he set a career high with 100 points in 2017-18.

Photo: Chris Marion

Vegas Golden Knights forward William Karlsson won the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.

Karlsson finished third in the NHL with 43 goals and led the league with a plus-49 rating in 82 games while being assessed only 12 minutes in penalties.

Karlsson played 61 games in the AHL with Norfolk and Springfield over the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, totaling 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points.

New Jersey’s Brian Boyle won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, helping the Devils to the postseason after returning from treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia.

Boyle, a member of the AHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2007-08, notched 83 points in 114 AHL games with the Manchester Monarchs.

Vegas’s Deryk Engelland won the Mark Messier Leadership Award, presented to the NHL player who exemplifies great leadership qualities on and off the ice and who plays a leading role in his community growing the game of hockey.

Engelland has played 548 games in the NHL after spending six seasons in the AHL with Lowell, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He won a Calder Cup with the Bears in 2006 and returned to the Calder Cup Finals in 2007 and 2008.

Former AHL player and assistant coach Gerard Gallant won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s outstanding coach, and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings received the William M. Jennings Trophy as the goaltender on the club that allowed the fewest goals during the regular season.

The 2017-18 NHL Second All-Star Team includes former AHL All-Stars P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets, as well as former Philadelphia Phantoms forward Claude Giroux of the Flyers.

Members of the NHL All-Rookie Team include Nashville’s Juuse Saros, who had a record of 45-15-1 in 62 career AHL appearances with Milwaukee; and Boston’s Charlie McAvoy, who made his pro debut with the Providence Bruins in 2017.

All told, more than 87 percent of all National Hockey League players in 2017-18 were graduates of the American Hockey League, including 328 players who skated in both leagues over the course of the season.