04/07/2005 1:07 PM
- GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Niklas Kronwall has been named to the 2005 American Hockey League First All-Star Team, the league announced on Thursday.
Kronwalls selection, determined through a vote of players and media in each of the AHL's 28 cities, continues a banner season that first saw him earn a starting nod in the 2005 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic. The honor also establishes him as a top candidate for the AHLs Eddie Shore Award (outstanding defenseman), the winner of which will be announced on Tuesday, April 12.
Currently tied for the scoring lead among AHL defensemen with 50 points, Kronwall also ranks among the best blueliners with 38 assists (T3rd) and 12 goals (T4th). Barring unforeseen circumstances, he is set to become the first defenseman in the Griffins nine seasons to lead the team in either points or assists, and his 38 helpers already tie for ninth place on the franchises single-season list.
While appearing in each of the Griffins 73 games to date, the 24-year-old native of Stockholm, Sweden, has obliterated Griffins records for offensive productivity by a defenseman, surpassing Aris Brimanis 37 points in 1998-99 and Travis Richards 30 assists in 2000-01. Kronwalls play has also keyed a Grand Rapids defense that ranks fifth in the AHL, allowing only 2.38 goals per game.
The Detroit Red Wings first choice (29th overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Kronwall made his North American debut with the Griffins last season, contributing 13 points (2-1113) in 25 games. Beginning with his NHL debut with the Red Wings on Dec. 10, 2003, he appeared in 20 consecutive games for Detroit, totaling five points (1-45). However, he sustained a season-ending broken leg during warm-up on Jan. 22, 2004 at Los Angeles, causing him to miss the 2004 Pepsi AHL All-Star Classic in Grand Rapids.
Kronwall becomes only the third Griffins defenseman to be named to a postseason all-star team, following the selections of John Gruden in 2002 (First Team AHL) and Richards in 2001 (Second Team IHL).
Joining Kronwall on the First All-Star Team are Rochester goaltender and former Michigan State standout Ryan Miller, Chicago defenseman Travis Roche, Milwaukee left wing Simon Gamache, Binghamton center and former Griffin Jason Spezza, and Lowell right wing Chuck Kobasew.
The Second All-Star Team consists of Chicago goaltender Kari Lehtonen, Milwaukee defenseman Dan Hamhuis, Binghamton defenseman Brian Pothier, Chicago right wing J.P. Vigier, and two former Michigan Wolverines in Providence left wing Andy Hilbert and Manchester center Mike Cammalleri.