Miller, Keith lead AHL grads on Awards night

American Hockey League alumni were once again well represented among the winners at the NHL’s annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.

Two-time AHL All-Star Ryan Miller won the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the NHL, the eighth consecutive season in which the award has gone to an AHL alumnus. Miller set a Buffalo Sabres franchise record and ranked fourth among NHL goaltenders with 41 wins, placed second in the NHL in GAA (2.22) and save percentage (.929) and tied a career high with five shutouts.

Miller played three seasons with the Rochester Americans, winning 92 games and claiming the Baz Bastien Award as the top goalie in the AHL in 2004-05.

Duncan Keith of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks captured the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2009-10 season, following Zdeno Chara as the second consecutive AHL graduate to win the award.

Keith spent his first two professional seasons in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals, totaling 16 goals and 35 assists in 154 games. Keith logged more ice time than any NHL player in the 2009-10 regular season and registered career highs in goals (14), assists (55) and points (69) to go with a plus-21 rating.

Martin St. Louis, an AHL All-Star in 1999, won the Lady Byng Trophy for skill and sportsmanship. St. Louis recorded 94 points and just 12 penalty minutes on the season.

Keith, Miller and Washington defenseman Mike Green were named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team, while St. Louis and Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov were named Second Team All-Stars.

Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan accepted the King Clancy Trophy as the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. Doan played 39 games for the Springfield Falcons in 1997-98, recording 21 goals and 21 assists.

Martin Brodeur (Utica Devils) of the New Jersey Devils won the William Jennings Trophy as the Devils allowed the fewest goals during the regular season, and Jose Theodore (Fredericton Canadiens, Quebec Citadelles, Lake Erie Monsters) of the Washington Capitals was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, an AHL All-Star in 2008, and Nicklas Bergfors of the Atlanta Thrashers were named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

Over 85 percent of all NHL players in 2009-10 were graduates of the American Hockey League, including more than 300 players who skated in both leagues over the course of the season.