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Stanley Cup Final
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AHL Update

Lightning-Red Wings series familiar to AHL followers

Friday, 04.17.2015 / 1:28 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

From behind the lens of the American Hockey League, the Eastern Conference First Round matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings is more than just two divisional rivals going head-to-head: it’s an opportunity to revisit some recent history.

When the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Syracuse Crunch to win the AHL's Calder Cup championship in 2013, it also marked a graduation for many players in the series to the NHL. Two years later, their parent clubs are doing battle with many of the same faces hitting the ice in pursuit of another Cup.

Of the players on Detroit's playoff roster, 10 have their names engraved on the Calder Cup as members of the 2013 Grand Rapids Griffins: forwards Joakim Andersson, Landon Ferraro, Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Riley Sheahan, defenseman Danny DeKeyser, and goalie Petr Mrazek.

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Avalanche's Pickard thriving with AHL workload

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 3:25 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Goaltender Calvin Pickard's ability to handle a heavy workload is starting to pay off.

Making his NHL debut, doing so under the watchful eye of one of his childhood idols and earning the top spot in ESPN "SportsCenter’s" Top 10 Plays are all things the 22-year-old can check off his to-do list. Between the Colorado Avalanche and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, Pickard has appeared in 61 games this season. That includes his first appearance and victory in the NHL.

“It seems like both places I've been in, I've been able to play a lot of games,” said Pickard, Colorado's third-round pick (No. 49) in the 2010 NHL Draft. “That’s how you develop, and I've been earning a lot of experience this year, playing at both levels and in different situations. It’s been a big year for me, for sure.”

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Blue Jackets pick Tynan leading charge in Springfield

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 11:32 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Before the season began, Jared Bednar's biggest concern with TJ Tynan was his size.

The rookie is listed at 5-foot-8 -- the smallest on a Springfield Falcons roster made up of mainly players 6-foot-plus -- and plays a defensively demanding, two-way position in center.

But now, after almost a full American Hockey League season, the Falcons coach's concerns have been completely alleviated.

"I think at first when you see a smaller, undersized guy that has some skill, you wonder as a coach, 'How is this guy going to play in traffic against bigger opponents every night for the course of a really long season?'" Bednar said. "The worries I had as a coach have really dissipated over the course of the season. He's proven to me that he has the ability to be a top player every night on both sides of the puck."

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Lightning prospect Koekkoek handling rigors of AHL

Friday, 03.27.2015 / 11:20 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Slater Koekkoek might have one of the best names in hockey, and it's one Tampa Bay Lightning fans should be hearing for a long time.

About to finish up his first professional season as a rookie with the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, Koekkoek is settling in nicely after four junior seasons in the Ontario Hockey League.

"I expected [the AHL] to be a rough and tough league, and that's what it is. The guys are bigger, stronger, faster," he said. "There was a bit of a learning process, but everything has been going well. I'm happy so far."

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Kings prospect Miller continuing breakout season

Friday, 03.20.2015 / 2:12 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Colin Miller hasn't yet finished his second season with the Manchester Monarchs, but he's already written himself into the American Hockey League history book.

During the AHL All-Star event in Utica, N.Y., the 22-year-old defenseman fired a 105.5 mph shot during the AHL All-Star Skills Competition, the hardest shot in the event's 20-year history.

"I had never done anything like that before so I was really kind of going into the whole thing blind and just trying to really not embarrass myself too much," Miller said. "I was happy when I hit the net and had a really good time at the entire event."

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Graovac rewarding Wild with breakout AHL season

Friday, 03.13.2015 / 12:20 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Tyler Graovac is hard to miss.

But all 30 NHL teams did just that, bypassing Graovac 190 times until the Minnesota Wild finally selected him at No. 191 with their last pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

"I knew when it came down to [draft weekend], I wasn't really expected to go high," Graovac said. "Getting picked seventh round by Minnesota was a little bit of a shock because I had had a lot of interviews with teams that year and Minnesota was the only one who didn't interview me. But it's been going great. They've been very patient with me."

That patience has paid dividends, as the 21-year-old center has excelled in his second season with their American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild. Fifty-eight games into the 2014-15 season, Graovac has nearly doubled his offensive output from last season, leading Iowa in goals (19), points (40), power-play goals (eight), and shots on goal (163). He's had 10 multipoint games.

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Sabres prospect McCabe blossoming in Rochester

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 1:04 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

When Chadd Cassidy first met Jake McCabe, the defenseman was 16 years old.

Holding down the blue line for the U.S. National Development Team, McCabe instantly stuck out as a physical player, ready and willing not only to defend the puck, but to go one step further and create offense for his fellow teammates.

As his coach that first season, Cassidy helped start molding the tools McCabe would eventually use to make his way to the highest level of hockey.

Now together again with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, McCabe's development continues to thrive under Cassidy's watch.

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Lindberg earns first call-up amid strong AHL season

Friday, 02.27.2015 / 12:32 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

On Feb. 24, at just around 7 p.m., Hartford Wolf Pack center Oscar Lindberg had a date at Madison Square Garden with a dream he'd been chasing since childhood.

In 8:18 of ice time spread over 16 shifts, the Skelleftea, Sweden, native was on the ice for his first career NHL game with the New York Rangers, one that will linger in his memory forever, regardless of how many more come after it.

"I was kind of nervous the first couple of shifts, but I think as the game went on, I felt more comfortable," Lindberg said. "I'll remember that day for the rest of my life, that's for sure."

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Canucks' Markstrom getting help from countryman

Friday, 02.20.2015 / 12:37 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

After being selected by the Florida Panthers in the second round (No. 31) of the 2008 NHL Draft, Jacob Markstrom's North American adjustment had a microscope on it from the moment he left his native Sweden in 2010.

Spending three and a half years bouncing between the Panthers and their American Hockey League affiliates in Rochester and San Antonio, Markstrom seemed unable to live up to the expectations the hockey world had for him.

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Martinook set to go after second recall by Coyotes

Friday, 02.13.2015 / 11:06 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Jordan Martinook usually leaves his practices with the Portland Pirates in a car, homeward bound.

On Wednesday, all was about to go according to plan until coach Ray Edwards shook it up. Martinook was going to go home, sure, but only to pack. He was headed to the airport, booked on the next flight out to Glendale, Ariz.

In his third year with the American Hockey League affiliate for the Arizona Coyotes, the 22-year-old native of Brandon, Manitoba had already made his NHL debut on Dec. 6, playing in two games at Gila River Arena before boarding a plane back to Portland.

"It’s pretty surreal. You dream of that moment your entire life. It took me a couple years to get that call," Martinook, a center, said of his first experience. "It’s something you can’t even really describe in words how much it means to you."

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Quote of the Day

This team has been a real treat to say you've been the head coach of them. I'm extremely proud of this group ... after the disappointment of (the Game 6 loss) is digested, it's always a lot easier as a coach when your team has emptied its tank, and that team emptied its tank for me for three months.

— Senators coach Dave Cameron after getting eliminated in the first round by the Canadiens