Tampa Bay’s Johnson named AHL MVP


The Tampa Bay Lightning are on a roll — in the context of AHL awards, that is.

For the second straight year, a Lightning farhmand has captured American League MVP honors as forward Tyler Johnson was named the Les Cunningham Award winner for 2013.

Last year, ex-Tampa Bay forward Cory Conacher won league MVP while playing for the Bolts’ former affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals.

Johnson, 22, is tied for the league lead with 33 goals and has totaled 60 points in 60 games for Syracuse this season. He is one of only two AHL scorers in the top-10 to average a point per game, and is also tied for the AHL lead with a plus-24 rating.

The former Spokane Chiefs scoring sensation — he racked up 115 points in 71 games in his final WHL campaign — went undrafted out of junior and signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Bolts in 2011.

Like Conacher, Johnson is an undersized (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) skill guy that defied the odds to make an impact at the NHL level.

He made his league debut on Mar. 14 and scored his first career goal in just his second game — all told, he finished his stint with the Bolts by posting 3G-3A-6PTS in 14 games, and ranked second among all rookie skaters in faceoff percentage (59.5).