Taormina named AHL’s top defenseman for 2016-17

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Matt Taormina of the Syracuse Crunch is the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2016-17 season.

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.

Photo: Scott Thomas
Photo: Scott Thomas

Taormina captures the Eddie Shore Award having established career highs in goals (14), assists (42) and points (56) in 66 games with Syracuse thus far. He is tied for the league lead in scoring among defensemen and is first in power-play points (29), and shows a plus-9 rating for a Crunch team that has been battling for the top spot in the North Division all season. Taormina was named a 2016-17 First Team AHL All-Star earlier this week, and played in his third consecutive AHL All-Star Classic back in January.

An eighth-year pro from Warren, Mich., Taormina has skated in 435 career AHL games with Syracuse, Worcester, Springfield, Albany/Lowell and Binghamton, totaling 69 goals and 187 assists for 256 points. A Calder Cup finalist with the Crunch in 2013, Taormina has also played 59 National Hockey League games with Tampa Bay and New Jersey, registering four goals and eight assists.

This award was first presented by the AHL in 1958-59 in honor of the late Eddie Shore, a member of both the Hockey Hall of Fame and the American Hockey League Hall of Fame who is widely regarded as one of hockey’s greatest defensemen. Shore won a total of seven Calder Cups in his career, including two as the general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and five as the longtime owner of the Springfield Indians. Previous recipients of the Eddie Shore Award include Steve Kraftcheck (1959), Bob McCord (1961, ’67), Al Arbour (1965), Jim Morrison (1966), Noel Price (1970, ’72, ’76), Brian Engblom (1977), Terry Murray (1978, ’79), Dave Farrish (1982), Brad Shaw (1987), Dave Fenyves (1988, ’89), Eric Weinrich (1990), Darren Rumble (1997), John Slaney (2001, ’02), Niklas Kronwall (2005), Johnny Boychuk (2009), Mark Barberio (2012), Justin Schultz (2013), T.J. Brennan (2014, ’16) and Chris Wideman (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 2016-17 regular season ends on Apr. 15, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway the following week.

The winner of the 2016-17 Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award (outstanding goaltender) will be announced Monday.