SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers are ready to face off for the Stanley Cup, and the finalists’ rosters are stocked with graduates of the American Hockey League.

Edmonton, the parent club of the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors, reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2006 with contributions from AHL alumni up and down the roster – 22 of the 23 players to appear in a playoff game for the Oilers so far have spent time in the American Hockey League, including 10 former Condors.

Guiding the Oilers is head coach Kris Knoblauch, who was in his fifth season as coach of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack when he was hired by Edmonton on Nov. 12. Knoblauch led Hartford to a record of 119-90-32 and two series wins during the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs; he is looking to join Dan Bylsma (2009) and Mike Sullivan (2016) as recent coaches to win the Stanley Cup after midseason promotions from the AHL.

Evan Bouchard is continuing his breakout season during the playoffs, with six goals and 21 assists for 27 points in 18 games through three rounds. An AHL All-Star as a rookie in 2019-20, where his patented slap shot registered 103.0 miles per hour at the annual Skills Competition, Bouchard ranked fourth among NHL defensemen in scoring with 82 points during the 2023-24 regular season. Derek Ryan, Connor Brown and Warren Foegele were also AHL All-Stars earlier in their careers.

Stuart Skinner has backstopped the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final in just his second full NHL season. The Edmonton native played 113 games in the AHL with Bakersfield between 2018 and 2022, going 62-35-12 with a 2.68 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage and eight shutouts.

Zach Hyman, who scored 54 goals for the Oilers during the regular season before tacking on 14 more in the playoffs to date, notched 37 points in 59 games as a rookie with the Toronto Marlies in 2015-16 before helping them reach the conference finals.

Philip Broberg, Dylan Holloway and Calvin Pickard all spent time with Bakersfield earlier this season, with Broberg leading all Condors defensemen with 38 points in 49 games. Holloway skated in 63 games with Bakersfield over parts of three seasons, and Pickard has appeared in 321 AHL contests, winning a Calder Cup championship with Toronto in 2018.

Other notable AHL alumni on Edmonton’s roster include Vincent Desharnais, Darnell Nurse, Ryan McLeod, Corey Perry, Cody Ceci, Mattias Janmark, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl, who began the 2015-16 season with Bakersfield before going on to be an NHL MVP and a three-time 50-goal scorer.

Florida’s second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final has been boosted by AHL alumni including Carter Verhaeghe, who was the AHL’s scoring champion in 2018-19. Verhaeghe, who played 211 games in the AHL with Syracuse, Bridgeport and Toronto before making his NHL debut in 2019, leads the Panthers with nine playoff goals after scoring 34 times in 76 games during the regular season.

Brandon Montour played 118 games in the AHL in Anaheim’s system, representing the San Diego Gulls at the AHL All-Star Classic in 2016 and 2017. The former second-round draft pick has gone on to play 520 games in the NHL.

Gustav Forsling, who has four goals and 11 points this postseason, skated in 110 games over parts of four AHL seasons with Rockford and Charlotte.

Other AHL alumni with the Panthers include Eetu Luostarinen, Kyle Okposo, Evan Rodrigues, Niko Mikkola, Kevin Stenlund, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and former AHL All-Stars Nick Cousins and Anthony Stolarz. Forward Steven Lorentz won a Calder Cup championship with the Charlotte Checkers in 2019.

Paul Maurice coached the Toronto Marlies in 2005-06, and general manager Bill Zito won a Calder Cup as GM of the Lake Erie Monsters in 2016.

The 2024 Stanley Cup Final begins Saturday at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla.

In operation since 1936, the AHL serves as the top development league for all 32 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.


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