Griffinshockey.com’s Mark Newman posted an article regarding the “springboard” that the AHL’s playoff MVP trophy, the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy, can provide for players looking to stick in the NHL:
There are many paths to the NHL, but most players pass through the AHL on their way to the world’s foremost hockey league. In fact, 88 percent of all NHL players last season were graduates of the AHL.
One sure ticket to the NHL – or as close as one can get to a golden pass – is the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy, the award given annually to the Most Valuable Player of the Calder Cup Playoffs (and named in honor of the man who had the longest tenure of any AHL executive in history, 28 years).
First awarded in 1984, the Butterfield Trophy is no guarantee of NHL stardom, but the list of past winners is peppered with a number of solid NHL performers, including Olaf Kolzig, Derek Armstrong and Dixon Ward, among others.
Two of the past five winners are current Red Wings. Tomas Tatar was the MVP of the 2013 playoffs when he helped the Griffins win their first Calder Cup by tallying 16 goals in 24 games. Tyler Bertuzzi won the postseason MVP honors last spring when he had 19 points (9-10-19) in 19 games to power Grand Rapids to its second Cup.
Although both players can cite the playoffs as their stepping stone to the NHL, their experiences were actually quite different.