The AHL’s year-end awards are already starting to trickle out. This first of these to be announced is the AHL’s 2015-16 All-Rookie Team and Milwaukee Admirals goaltender Juuse Saros has been named to the team.
Press Release via AHL:
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League has announced the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities.
2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team (stats through Apr. 5)
Goaltender – Juuse Saros, Milwaukee Admirals (34gp, 26-7-0, 2.18gaa, .922sv%, 4so)
Defenseman – Brandon Montour, San Diego Gulls (63gp, 11+41=52pts., E, 29 PP pts.)
Defenseman – Robbie Russo, Grand Rapids Griffins (65gp, 5+34=39pts., +47)
Forward – Austin Czarnik, Providence Bruins (62gp, 16+40=56pts., +15, 5 PPG, 2 SHG)
Forward – Mikko Rantanen, San Antonio Rampage (47gp, 22+34=56pts., +20, 5 PPG, 4 GWG)
Forward – Frank Vatrano, Providence Bruins (33gp, 33+16=49pts., +17, 3 hat tricks)
Each player will receive a custom-designed crystal award in recognition of his selection to the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team.
Previous selections to the annual AHL All-Rookie Team include Zdeno Chara (1998), J.S. Giguere (1998), Marc Savard(1998), Daniel Briere (1998), Dan Boyle (1999), Cory Sarich (1999), Barret Jackman (2002), Ron Hainsey (2002), Jason Spezza (2003), Brad Boyes (2003), Cam Ward (2005), Thomas Vanek (2005), Rene Bourque (2005), Kevin Bieksa (2005),Jimmy Howard (2006), Dan Girardi (2006), Mike Green (2006), Jaroslav Halak (2007), Troy Brouwer (2007), Ryan Callahan(2007), Bobby Ryan (2008), Teddy Purcell (2008), Brian Boyle (2008), Alex Goligoski (2008), Nathan Gerbe (2009), Justin Abdelkader (2009), John Carlson (2010), P.K. Subban (2010), Logan Couture (2010), Lars Eller (2010), Eddie Lack (2011),Brendan Smith (2011), Gustav Nyquist (2012), Tyler Johnson (2012), Justin Schultz (2013), Sami Vatanen (2013), Jason Zucker (2013), Tyler Toffoli (2013), Ryan Strome (2014), Teemu Pulkkinen (2014) and Matt Murray (2015).
The 2015-16 First and Second AHL All-Star Teams will be announced on Thursday.
2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team
Juuse Saros, Goaltender (Milwaukee Admirals): A fourth-round draft pick by Nashville in 2013, Juuse Saros has shined during his North American debut with Milwaukee this season. Entering Wednesday’s action, the 20-year-old native of Forssa, Finland, is 26-7-0 with four shutouts in 34 appearances for the Admirals, ranking third in the AHL with a 2.18 goals-against average and seventh with a .922 save percentage. Saros, who won eight consecutive starts from Nov. 5 to Dec. 5, is currently 11-1-0 in his last 12 decisions and has helped lead Milwaukee to the top of the Central Division. Saros also made his NHL debut this season, starting for the Predators on Nov. 28 vs. Buffalo.
Brandon Montour, Defenseman (San Diego Gulls): Selected by Anaheim in the second round (55th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Brandon Montour is tied for third among all AHL rookies and ranks second among all defensemen in scoring this season, with 52 points (11 goals, 41 assists) in 63 games for San Diego. The 21-year-old native of Brantford, Ont., also leads the entire league in power-play scoring (29 points), anchoring a Gulls unit that ranks fourth in the AHL in efficiency. Montour, who turned pro last spring after completing his freshman season at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, has had 12 multiple-point games this season, including a four-point night vs. Bakersfield on Nov. 11.
Robbie Russo, Defenseman (Grand Rapids Griffins): In his first pro campaign after a stellar four-year collegiate career at Notre Dame, Robbie Russo has tallied five goals and 34 assists for 39 points in 65 games for Grand Rapids in 2015-16, while posting a plus-47 rating that is tied for the highest mark by an AHL player since 1993. Russo, who has been on the ice for only 28 even-strength goals by the opposition all season, has also contributed offensively, ranking third among AHL rookie blueliners in scoring and closing in on the franchise record for assists by a rookie (36, Gustav Nyquist). A 23-year-old native of Westmont, Ill., Russo was originally a fourth-round draft pick by the New York Islanders in 2011.
Austin Czarnik, Forward (Providence Bruins): Tied for the AHL scoring lead among rookies with 56 points (16 goals, 40 assists) in 62 games, Austin Czarnik is in the midst of a standout campaign with the Providence Bruins. Czarnik has registered two separate five-game scoring streaks, and he notched his first career hat trick in a 3-2 overtime victory over Bridgeport on Dec. 18. Signed as a free agent by Boston out of Miami University, Czarnik is tied for ninth in the overall scoring race, and his 25 power-play points – good for a share of fourth in the league – have helped the Bruins to the top-ranked power play in the AHL.
Mikko Rantanen, Forward (San Antonio Rampage): It has been a memorable season for Mikko Rantanen, who is tied for the AHL rookie scoring lead with 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) despite appearing in just 47 games for San Antonio. The 10th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Rantanen began the season in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche before joining the Rampage, where he has been held off the scoresheet just nine times in his 47 outings. A 19-year-old native of Nousiainen, Finland, Rantanen skated in the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic – where he was the second-youngest AHL participant in the event’s modern history – and won a gold medal while captaining his country’s team at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Frank Vatrano, Forward (Providence Bruins): Frank Vatrano has been nearly unstoppable during his time in Providence this season, scoring a league-leading 33 goals in 33 games for the Bruins. Poised to become just the fourth player in AHL history to average a goal a game while scoring at least 30, Vatrano has also peppered opposing goalies with 172 shots on goal (5.2 per game) and recorded three hat tricks, including tying an AHL record with three unassisted goals in a single game on Mar. 6 vs. Portland. The 22-year-old native of East Longmeadow, Mass., and UMass-Amherst product has also appeared in 37 NHL games with Boston this season, tallying eight goals and three assists.
With tonight’s game included there are still six-games remaining before the Admirals 2015-16 regular season comes to a close but the rookie class of the AHL this season has pretty well cemented itself.
Saros isn’t just among the league leaders in major goaltending categories with rookies but across the entire league itself. He has made 34 starts this season and holds a record of 26-7-0-0 in net with a 2.18 goals against average, 0.922 save percentage, and four shutouts. He has also participated in a total of four shootouts this season and has stopped all thirteen shootout attempts he has faced to help the Admirals in securing crucial points that see them atop the AHL’s Central Division.
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