DUBNetwork awards for the 2020-21 WHL season

 

It’s tough to call any hockey this year a ‘regular’ season because it was anything but, including in the Western Hockey League.

However, despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all 22 WHL clubs were able to play no fewer than 16 games, with nine getting in the full 24-game schedule.

We had our writers vote for six different categories. A first-place vote got the nominee 10 points, a second-place vote was worth seven points, a third-place vote was five points, a fourth-place was three points and a fifth-place was one point.

Most Valuable Player

Awarded to the player judged most valuable to his team during the regular season.

Winner: Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg Ice

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Krebs led all WHL scorers with 43 points in 24 games and matched his career-high in power play goals in 40 fewer games. The Okotoks, Alberta product only went pointless in the Ice’s season opener, going on a 23-game point streak to end the year.

The 2019 first-rounder of the Vegas Golden Knights notched 13 multi-point games and also hit a career-high in plus-minus at +11 in 2020-21. He made his NHL debut on May 4 and notched an assist for his first point for the Golden Knights.

Runners up:

  1. Connor Bedard, Regina Pats
  2. Dustin Wolf, Everett Silvertips
  3. Sebastian Cossa, Edmonton Oil Kings
  4. Ben McCartney, Brandon Wheat Kings

Rookie of the Year

Awarded to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the Western Hockey League.

Winner: Connor Bedard, Regina Pats

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Bedard was the lone DUBNetwork award winner to earn a consensus among voters, receiving every single first-place vote for rookie of the year. The Regina Pats wunderkind had an eye-popping 12 goals and 28 points in 15 games as a 15-year-old in 2020-21.

The North Vancouver product opened his WHL career with six points in two games before being held off the scoresheet for the only time during the season in a 4-3 shootout loss to Moose Jaw on Apr. 5. As a projected top pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, Bedard will be fun to watch over the next two seasons.

Runners up:

  1. Conor Geekie, Winnipeg Ice
  2. Brayden Yager, Moose Jaw Warriors
  3. Zach Benson, Winnipeg Ice
  4. Mathew Ward, Swift Current Broncos

Top Defenseman

Awarded to the top defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.

Winner: Cole Clayton, Medicine Hat Tigers

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It was tight between Clayton and Braden Schneider of the Brandon Wheat Kings as they both received the same number of first-place votes. Clayton led all defenders in the WHL in scoring this season with 30 points in 23 games, which matched his career-high point total in 40 fewer games.

Clayton also finished tied for third in the WHL in power play goals with seven. The 2000-born blueliner had nine multi-point games, including four where he notched more than three points, highlighted by a hat trick in a 6-2 win over Calgary on Mar. 12.

Runners up:

  1. Braden Schneider, Brandon Wheat Kings
  2. Ryker Evans, Regina Pats
  3. Matthew Robertson, Edmonton Oil Kings
  4. Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors/Alex Cotton, Lethbridge Hurricanes

Top Goaltender

Awarded to the goaltender voted to be the top at his position for the regular season.

Winner: Sebastian Cossa, Edmonton Oil Kings

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The final tally for Cossa or Everett Silvertips netminder Dustin Wolf was decided by just five points, with the Oil Kings sophomore coming out on top. The 2002-born goalie, who’s a 2021 NHL Draft prospect, improved on his outstanding 2019-20 rookie year, finishing the hub season with a 17-1-1 record.

Cossa also had a minuscule 1.57 goals-against-average, a .941 save percentage, and four shutouts to push his career total to eight. He started the season on an eight-game winning streak and had two separate streaks of four and five wins respectively.

Runners up:

  1. Dustin Wolf, Everett Silvertips
  2. Trent Miner, Vancouver Giants
  3. Nolan Maier, Saskatoon Blades
  4. Ethan Kruger, Brandon Wheat Kings

Coach of the Year

Awarded annually to the coach voted to have contributed the most to his team’s success.

Winner: Brad Lauer, Edmonton Oil Kings

Photo: Oil Kings Twitter

Lauer is the reigning WHL coach of the year and according to our DUBNetwork staff, the 54-year-old gets the honour for the 2020-21 season as well. He led Edmonton to a sparkling 20-2-1 record and top spot in the WHL with 41 points, three ahead of Brandon and Everett.

The Humboldt, Saskatchewan product guided the Oil Kings to the stingiest goals-against in the WHL, giving up four fewer than the Silvertips. He improved his record behind the bench for Edmonton to an excellent 104-31-11-8.

Runners up:

  1. Don MacGillivray, Brandon Wheat Kings
  2. Dennis Williams, Everett Silvertips
  3. Shaun Clouston, Kamloops Blazers
  4. James Patrick, Winnipeg Ice

Executive of the Year

Awarded to the top Western Hockey League front office member voted to have contributed the most to their team’s success.

Winner: Kirt Hill, Edmonton Oil Kings

Photo: Andy Devlin

The Oil Kings dominance at the DUBNetwork 2020-21 awards continues with Hill claiming executive of the year. The Edmonton president of hockey operations and general manager built a roster that not only had the stellar 20-2-1 record but also featured 22 of the Oil Kings’ own WHL Bantam Draft picks.

The 33-year-old Winnipegger’s tenure in his two current roles mirrors the same amount of time as Lauer’s behind the bench. The Oil Kings’ success came despite having only one player among the top 10 in scoring in the WHL and only three players in the top 20.

Runners up:

  1. Matt Bardsley, Kamloops Blazers
  2. Garry Davidson, Everett Silvertips
  3. John Paddock, Regina Pats
  4. Matt Cockell, Winnipeg Ice

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