The 2020–21 AHL season was the 85th season of the American Hockey League. Due to the ongoing restrictions in the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the regular season was pushed back to February 5, 2021, and the league championship Calder Cup was not awarded for the second consecutive season. The Hershey Bears won the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy for the best regular-season record, their eighth regular-season championship. This was the first season under Scott Howson as the league's president after David Andrews announced his retirement after 26 years in the position.
|2020–21 AHL season|
|League||American Hockey League|
|Duration||February 5 – May 20, 2021|
|Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy||Hershey Bears|
|Season MVP||T. J. Tynan (Colorado)|
|Top scorer||Andrew Poturalski (San Diego)|
After the previous season was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no certainty for the AHL's 2020–21 season due to continuing limitations on arena capacities and traveling during the pandemic. The league had originally hoped to start play by December 4, 2020, but was later pushed back to at least February 5, 2021. Similar to the National Hockey League, the league was reportedly exploring the option of playing with an all-Canada division due to increased border travel restrictions between the United States and Canada.
On January 4, 2021, the league announced its plans and divisional alignment for the shortened season. The four Canadian teams were placed in their own division with a season start date still pending provincial approval. Three teams opted out of the season entirely: the Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals, and the Springfield Thunderbirds. Seven teams temporarily relocated to be closer to their parent teams or due to venue availability during the pandemic: the Belleville Senators to Ottawa; the Binghamton Devils to Newark, New Jersey; the Laval Rocket to Montreal; the Ontario Reign to El Segundo, California; the Providence Bruins to Marlborough, Massachusetts; the San Diego Gulls to Irvine, California; and the Stockton Heat to Calgary. The San Jose Barracuda also opened their season with home games in Tucson before returning to San Jose.
The schedule for the American divisions was released on January 22; however, the Canadian teams had not yet received provincial clearance. Stockton then moved from the Pacific to the Canadian Division on January 28 causing scheduling changes to the Pacific Division. On February 1, the league announced a revised schedule and that the start of the season for the Canadian Division had been postponed. The beginning of the Canadian schedule was released on February 9 with a February 12 start date, but the two Ontario teams still did not have approval to play at home.
The league allowed each division the choice to hold a divisional postseason. On April 29, it was announced that only the Pacific Division had elected to hold a postseason tournament to name a division champion, with the other four divisions awarding their champions via regular season records. Consequently, the league would not award the Calder Cup for a second consecutive season.
Team and NHL affiliation changesEdit
- The San Antonio Rampage franchise was purchased by the National Hockey League's Vegas Golden Knights and relocated to the Las Vegas area. The team became the Henderson Silver Knights playing out of Orleans Arena in Paradise, Nevada, with plans to move into a new venue in nearby Henderson, Nevada, upon completion.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, three teams chose to not participate in the season.
|AHL team||New affiliate||Previous affiliate|
|Charlotte Checkers[a]||Florida Panthers||Carolina Hurricanes|
|Chicago Wolves||Carolina Hurricanes||Vegas Golden Knights|
|Henderson Silver Knights[b]||Vegas Golden Knights||St. Louis Blues|
|Springfield Thunderbirds[a]||St. Louis Blues||Florida Panthers|
|AHL team||Primary affiliate||New secondary affiliate[c]|
|Chicago Wolves||Carolina Hurricanes||Nashville Predators|
|Syracuse Crunch||Tampa Bay Lightning||Florida Panthers|
|Utica Comets||Vancouver Canucks||St. Louis Blues|
- Primary affiliation prior to team opting out of the season.
- Affiliation change as the San Antonio Rampage
- Due to three teams opting out of the season, temporary dual NHL affiliations were permitted
|Team||2019–20 coach||2020–21 coach||Notes|
|Charlotte Checkers||Ryan Warsofsky||Geordie Kinnear||Warsofsky left the Checkers for the Chicago Wolves when the Carolina Hurricanes switched affiliations. Warsofsky had coached the Checkers for one season and 34–22–5–0 record after coming from the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays. After the Checkers affiliated with the Florida Panthers, Kinnear was named the new head coach on September 28, 2020, after serving in the same position with the Panthers' previous affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds. Kinnear had previously served as an assistant coach in Charlotte from 2010 to 2016.|
|Chicago Wolves||Rocky Thompson||Ryan Warsofsky||Thompson left the Wolves on July 18, 2020, after three seasons and a 113–71–18–11 record to join the San Jose Sharks coaching staff. Warsofsky was brought to the Wolves by their new NHL affiliate, the Carolina Hurricanes in September 2020.|
|Henderson Silver Knights||Drew Bannister||Emanuel Viveiros||Bannister stayed with the Blues' organization when the Rampage franchise was relocated by the Vegas Golden Knights to Henderson. Viveiros was named the Silver Knights' first head coach on August 31, 2020, after serving as the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League with a 41–18–4–1 record.|
|Ontario Reign||Mike Stothers||John Wroblewski||On May 30, 2020, the Los Angeles Kings announced that they would not renew Stothers' contract as head coach of the Reign. Wroblewski was hired on August 17, 2020.|
|Rochester Americans||Chris Taylor||Seth Appert||On June 16, 2020, the Buffalo Sabres fired the entire Americans' coaching staff including Taylor. Appert was hired on August 14, 2020.|
|San Jose Barracuda||Jimmy Bonneau
|Roy Sommer||Sommer was called up as an associate coach for the San Jose Sharks during the previous season after serving as the head coach of the Sharks' AHL affiliate since first being named to the position with the Kentucky Thoroughblades on May 28, 1998. Assistant coaches Bonneau and Chiasson were named as co-coaches of the Barracuda until the end of the season when Sommer was sent back to the Barracuda.|
|Springfield Thunderbirds||Geordie Kinnear||Drew Bannister||Kinnear left the Thunderbirds after their affiliate, the Florida Panthers, changed their affiliation to the Charlotte Checkers. Kinnear had led the Thunderbirds since 2016 and a 128–126–26–9 record. Bannister was brought on as the new head coach from the San Antonio Rampage, the former St. Louis Blues' affiliate that was sold and relocated as the Henderson Silver Knights.|
|Tucson Roadrunners||Jay Varady||Steve Potvin||Prior to the postponed start of the season, Roadrunners' head coach Jay Varady was brought up to the Arizona Coyotes' staff as an assistant coach and Roadrunners' assistant coach Steve Potvin was promoted as the head coach.|
|Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins||Mike Vellucci||J. D. Forrest||On September 2, 2020, Vellucci was promoted to an assistant coach position with the Pittsburgh Penguins. On September 11, Forrest was named head coach after serving as an assistant coach for the WBS Penguins since August 2016.|
y– indicates team clinched regular season division title
Final standings as of May 20, 2021
|y–Providence Bruins (BOS)||25||15||6||2||2||32||.680||78||60|
|Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR)||24||14||9||1||0||29||.604||82||74|
|Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)||24||8||14||2||0||18||.375||59||81|
|y–Laval Rocket (MTL)||36||23||9||3||1||50||.694||113||87|
|Manitoba Moose (WPG)||36||18||13||3||2||41||.569||109||102|
|Belleville Senators (OTT)||35||18||16||1||0||37||.529||102||111|
|Toronto Marlies (TOR)||35||16||17||0||2||34||.486||111||119|
|Stockton Heat (CGY)||30||11||17||2||0||24||.400||79||95|
|y–Hershey Bears (WSH)||33||24||7||2||0||50||.758||110||77|
|Lehigh Valley Phantoms (PHI)||32||18||7||4||2||43[a]||.672||96||92|
|Syracuse Crunch (TBL/FLA)||32||19||10||3||0||41||.641||120||93|
|Utica Comets (VAN/STL)||28||16||11||0||1||33||.589||89||88|
|Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)||32||13||13||4||2||32||.500||92||107|
|Rochester Americans (BUF)||29||11||15||2||1||25||.431||89||116|
|Binghamton Devils (NJD)||35||7||20||5||2||22[a]||.314||89||127|
|y–Chicago Wolves (CAR/NSH)||33||21||9||1||2||45||.682||132||94|
|Cleveland Monsters (CBJ)||29||16||10||1||2||35||.603||101||86|
|Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)||32||16||12||3||1||36||.563||96||97|
|Iowa Wild (MIN)||34||17||13||4||0||38||.559||107||113|
|Texas Stars (DAL)||38||17||18||3||0||37||.487||117||124|
|Rockford IceHogs (CHI)||32||12||19||1||0||25||.391||89||115|
|y–Henderson Silver Knights (VGK)||39||25||13||0||1||51||.654||125||102|
|Bakersfield Condors (EDM)||39||24||14||0||1||49||.628||129||104|
|San Diego Gulls (ANA)||44||26||17||1||0||53||.602||153||142|
|San Jose Barracuda (SJS)||36||15||15||4||2||36||.500||105||127|
|Colorado Eagles (COL)||34||15||15||3||1||34||.500||101||104|
|Ontario Reign (LAK)||40||17||19||4||0||38||.475||136||149|
|Tucson Roadrunners (ARI)||36||13||20||3||0||29||.403||103||126|
- The March 10 game between Lehigh Valley and Binghamton was suspended after one period with the teams tied 1–1 due a player testing positive for COVID-19. The game was declared a draw with each team earning one point.
The following players are sorted by points, then goals. Final as of May 20, 2021.
|Andrew Poturalski||San Diego Gulls||44||9||34||43||10|
|Cooper Marody||Bakersfield Condors||39||21||15||36||18|
|Danny O'Regan||Henderson Silver Knights||37||16||20||36||4|
|Riley Damiani||Texas Stars||36||11||25||36||18|
|Tyler Benson||Bakersfield Condors||36||10||26||36||30|
|Chase De Leo||San Diego Gulls||37||15||20||35||18|
|T. J. Tynan||Colorado Eagles||27||8||27||35||12|
|Riley Barber||Grand Rapids Griffins||32||20||14||34||22|
|Adam Mascherin||Texas Stars||37||18||16||34||14|
|Boris Katchouk||Syracuse Crunch||29||11||23||34||18|
GP = Games played; TOI = Time on ice (in minutes); SA = Shots against; GA = Goals against; SO = Shutouts; GAA = Goals against average; SV% = Save percentage; W = Wins; L = Losses; OT = Overtime/shootout loss
|Zachary Fucale||Hershey Bears||11||665:36||294||20||1||1.80||.932||9||2||0|
|Logan Thompson||Henderson Silver Knights||23||1349:37||768||44||2||1.96||.943||16||6||1|
|Cayden Primeau||Laval Rocket||16||914:03||350||32||2||2.10||.909||11||4||0|
|Alex D'Orio||Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins||11||661:06||281||24||0||2.18||.915||6||3||1|
|Zane McIntyre||Lehigh Valley Phantoms||19||1079:45||505||42||1||2.33||.917||11||3||3|
For the second consecutive season, there was no Calder Cup playoffs. The teams in the Pacific Division held a postseason tournament to name a division champion. All seven Pacific teams participated, with the bottom four teams participating in a single-elimination play-in series to face the top seed in the division semifinal. The semifinals and finals were both best-of-three series.
Pacific Division playoffEdit
|Play-in Final Game|
|1||Henderson Silver Knights||2|
|4||San Jose Barracuda||0|
|4||San Jose Barracuda||2|
|4||San Jose Barracuda||5|
|5||Colorado Eagles||5 (OT)|
|1||Henderson Silver Knights||1|
|3||San Diego Gulls||1|
- Jeremy Swayman (G) – Providence
- Samuel Bolduc (D) – Bridgeport
- Tarmo Reunanen (D) – Hartford
- Morgan Barron (F) – Hartford
- Cameron Hughes (F) – Providence
- Jakub Lauko (F) – Providence
- Cayden Primeau (G) – Laval
- Otto Leskinen (D) – Laval
- Connor Mackey (D) – Stockton
- Kalle Kossila (F) – Toronto
- Egor Sokolov (F) – Belleville
- Nathan Todd (F) – Manitoba
- Beck Warm (G) – Chicago
- Calen Addison (D) – Iowa
- Cody Franson (D) – Rockford
- Riley Barber (F) – Grand Rapids
- Riley Damiani (F) – Texas
- Adam Mascherin (F) – Texas
- Zane McIntyre (G) – Lehigh Valley
- Oskari Laaksonen (D) – Rochester
- Cameron Schilling (D) – Hershey
- Boris Katchouk (F) – Syracuse
- Connor McMichael (F) – Hershey
- Taylor Raddysh (F) – Syracuse
- Logan Thompson (G) – Henderson
- Josh Mahura (D) – San Diego
- Ryan Murphy (D) – Henderson
- Cooper Marody (F) – Bakersfield
- Andrew Poturalski (F) – San Diego
- T. J. Tynan (F) – Colorado
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