NAHL alums celebrate Stanley Cup
June 25, 2013
Four alumni of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) had a hand in winning the Stanley Cup after the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Tuesday night, winning the best of seven series, 4-2. It is Chicago’s second Stanley Cup Championship in the past four years.
Patrick Kane, who played two seasons in the NAHL for the USNTDP team in 2004-05 and again in 2005-06, was named as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He is the third straight American-born player that has won the award. In 2011, Boston Bruins goaltender and NAHL alum Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Kane, whose overtime goal in 2010 gave the Blackhawks their first championship since 1961, led Chicago in scoring in the 2013 playoffs. He finished with 19 points on nine goals and 10 assists, including nine points in his final 10 games. Kane scored twice in Game 5 to put the Blackhawks on the verge of their second title in four years and was on the ice for two more goals in Monday's Game 6 clincher at TD Garden.
While developing in the NAHL, Kane played in a total of 55 regular season games in two seasons. In those 55 games he totaled 71 career regular season points. He also led the USNTDP to the North Division Playoff title in 2005 as the US team defeated the Soo Indians, 4 games to 3. Kane led the team in scoring in the playoffs as was tied for 4th overall in NAHL playoff scoring that season with 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists) in nine playoff games.
Another NAHL alum who made big contributions this season in the Blackhawks Stanley Cup run was forward Brandon Saad. Saad, who is just 20 years old, is a former NAHL Rookie of the Year. Saad played in the NAHL for the Mahoning Valley Phantoms during the 2008-09 season when he was just 16-years-old. During that season, he recorded 47 points (29 goals, 18 assists) in 47 games played. His 29 goals that season ranked him tied for 6th in NAHL scoring. During that season, Saad also played on Team North during the 2009 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, recording three points in three games.
Saad played in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games this past season recording a goal and five assists for six points. His lone playoff goal came in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Boston. During the regular season, Saad recorded 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 46 games played with the Blackhawks during the lockout-shortened regular season. During the lockout, Saad played with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL.
The two other alums who played for the Blackhawks this season were forwards Jimmy Hayes and Jeremy Morin. Both played in stretches during the regular season for Chicago, but neither appeared in a Stanley Cup Playoff Game. They were both members of the Chicago ‘Black Aces’ squad during the playoffs, which is a selected group of players that were on reserve in case they were needed during the grind that is the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Hayes played parts of two seasons in the NAHL with the USNTDP team during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. He totaled 24 points in 33 career NAHL regular season games. During this past season, Hayes played in 10 games for the Blackhawks and had four points.
Morin also played two seasons in the NAHL for the USNTDP team and put up some big numbers while developing in the league. Morin played in 44 career NAHL regular season games during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, totaling 51 points. Following his final season in the NAHL, he was selected in the 2nd round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by Atlanta. During this past season he played in three games for the Blackhawks and had two points.