The AHL regular season has come to an end, with the Calder Cup playoffs getting underway on Thursday, and the league has begun to announce their end-of-the-year awards. The first player to be honored is long-time pro Zach Redmond. The AHL has announced that Redmond is this season’s recipient of the Eddie Shore Award as the best defenseman in the league. The 30-year-old, who has played on an AHL contract this season with the Rochester Americans, recorded 21 goals and 50 points in just 58 games. While Redmond finished third in overall scoring among defensemen, he was first in goal scoring and led qualifying defenders in points-per-game by a wide margin. A veteran of 133 NHL games to go along with 314 AHL games, Redmond is a respected leader at the minor league level, but has also shown to be a high-end producer with back-to-back seasons of 40+ points. One has to think that there is a good chance that Redmond receives a two-way offer from an NHL club this summer after proving his ability to be a valuable AHL depth asset.
- Another AHL award winner is Charlotte Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci. Vellucci, who also doubles as an assistant general manager for the Carolina Hurricanes, was named the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award recipient as the top coach in the league. Vellucci led the Checkers to their best regular season in team history with 110 points and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. In fact, their 51-17-7 record was a top-ten all-time mark in AHL history. Most importantly, in just two years on the job Vellucci has graduated a number of player to the Hurricanes who have become impact players, including Lucas Wallmark, Warren Foegele, and Haydn Fleury, with the likes of Martin Necas, Jake Bean, Aleksi Saarela, and Janne Kuokkanen likely to push for spots next season. The long-time head coach and GM of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, who has now found success at the pro level, it seems likely only a matter of time before Vellucci earns a larger role either behind the bench or in the front office of an NHL team.
- The Grand Rapids Griffins, affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, have made a nice addition right before the start of the postseason. The Griffins announced that they have added University of Denver forward Jarid Lukosevicius on a tryout basis for the remainder of the season. On top of that, Lukosevicius has signed a two-year AHL contract beginning next season. The 24-year-old winger just wrapped up his fourth and final collegiate season with the Pioneers and his third in a row with double-digit goals and assists and a plus rating. The all-around contributor lacks size or high-end skill, but makes up for it with an impressive motor and great hockey IQ. Lukosevicius projects to be a capable pro who may even develop into a bottom-six option for the Red Wings down the road.