Rantanen, Vatrano share Garrett Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that San Antonio Rampage forward Mikko Rantanen and Providence Bruins forward Frank Vatrano have been voted co-winners of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding rookie for the 2015-16 season.

This year’s award is shared as a result of a tie in the voting among AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities. 

At 19, Mikko Rantanen has had a remarkable 2015-16 season despite being one of the youngest players in the AHL. The 10th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Rantanen leads all AHL rookies in scoring and is tied for sixth overall with 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists) for San Antonio, recording at least one point in 42 of his 51 AHL games. Rantanen is tops on the Rampage in goals, assists, points and plus/minus (+19), and is just the seventh teenager in AHL history to reach the 60-point mark in a single season. 

Rantanen, who has also skated in nine NHL games with Colorado this season, appeared in the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic – where he was the second-youngest participant in the event’s modern history – and won a gold medal as captain of Finland’s team at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. He was voted a Second Team AHL All-Star last week. 

Frank VatranoFrank Vatrano has also had a historic first season as a professional, highlighted by his league-leading 34 goals in 34 games for Providence. Bidding to become just the fourth AHL player ever to average a goal a game in a 30-goal season, Vatrano has added 17 assists to give him 51 points, good for a league-best 1.50 points per contest, and he has recorded three hat tricks on the year, including tying an AHL record with three unassisted goals in a single game on Mar. 6 vs. Portland. 

A 22-year-old native of East Longmeadow, Mass., Vatrano signed with the Boston Bruins last spring after playing at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and appeared in 39 NHL games this season, tallying eight goals and three assists for Boston. He was selected to the First AHL All-Star Team last week. 

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1947, honors the late Dudley (Red) Garrett, a promising young player who lost his life during World War II while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. Garrett split his only pro season, 1942-43, between the AHL’s Providence Reds and the NHL’s New York Rangers. 

Previous winners of the Garrett Award include Terry Sawchuk (1949), Jimmy Anderson (1955), Bill Sweeney (1958), Roger Crozier (1964), Gerry Desjardins (1968), Rick Middleton (1974), Darryl Sutter (1980), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Steve Thomas (1985), Ron Hextall (1986), Brett Hull (1987), Felix Potvin (1992), Corey Hirsch (1993), Darcy Tucker (1996), Daniel Briere (1998), Rene Bourque (2005), Teddy Purcell (2008), Nathan Gerbe (2009), Tyler Ennis (2010), Tyler Toffoli (2013), Curtis McKenzie (2014) and Matt Murray (2015). 

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2015-16 regular season ends Sunday, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week. 

The winner of the 2015-16 Les Cunningham Award (most valuable player) will be announced Friday.