WINDSOR, Ont. – With the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup final set between the Erie Otters and the Windsor Spitfires for Sunday, the CHL spent Saturday handing out its annual awards.
Brandon Wheat King centre Nolan Patrick led the WHL nominees in picking up the Sherwin Williams Top Prospect award. Regina Pats star Sam Steel was also awarded the Chrysler Top scorer award after his remarkable 131 -point campgaign.
The WHL wasn’t done however as Lethbridge Hurricane captain Tyler Wong took home the MasterCard Humanitarian of the year award.
Patrick is rated as the potential number one pick in the upcoming NHL Draft by most pundits. He’s coming off an injury plagued season with the Wheat Kings and was limited to just 33 games. Despite that he still managed to pot 20 goals and 46 points.
“It’s an honor to win,” he said after winning the Top Prospect award. “For me it wasn’t the exact year I was picturing but to be honored like that is pretty special. For any season you don’t want to go through injuries like that. It was a tough bounce for me but I’m happy to be healthy now.”
The injuries don’t figure to scare NHL scouts away and his power, size and skill has been on display for three seasons in the WHL.
During Brandon’s WHL Championship season last year he topped the 100-point mark and was named MVP of the playoffs. That’s all in the past now as he’s a month away from finding out which NHL team he’ll be lacing them up for.
“I’m just going to try and enjoy the experience,” Patrick said of the upcoming draft. “I’m not rushed to get there so I’m just going to enjoy it.”
Steel’s Regina Pats came up just short of earning a bid to the Memorial Cup but the Anaheim Ducks prospect was spectacular for the Pats.
He led the WHL in points and potted 50 goals. The goal total was more than double of his previous season and he jumped from 70 points to 131 this year. Former winners of this award include Erie’s Dylan Strome and former Portland Winterhawks star Brendan Leipsic.
“It’s an honor,” Steel said of the award. “Looking back to see how many great players have won this award and gone off to do great things. To win the same award is pretty special.”
Steel credited his off season work outs and great chemistry with his linemates for his jump in numbers. He also is soaking up the experience of being at the Memorial Cup, knowing that his Pats will be the host team next season.
“We’d obviously like to be here but we know next year that we’ll be in the Memorial Cup,” Steel said. “There’s definitely things to learn by watching.”
Wong’s award was more for his off the ice activities in the Lethbridge community but he also turned in a career season with the Hurricanes. He had career highs in goals (51), assists (58) and points (109). He was also a key figure in the turn around of the Lethbridge franchise, from a team that had its future in Lethbridge questioned into one that was a contender in the Eastern Conference this season.
Steel was also nominated for the CHL Player of the year but that award went to Erie’s Alex DeBrincat. Seattle’s Ethan Bear was up for Defenseman of the Year but lost out to Saint John’s Thomas Chabot. Everett’s Carter Hart missed out on winning back-to-back Goaltender of the Year awards as this year it was given to Michael McNiven of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack.
Swift Current rookie Aleksi Heponiemi was nominated for Rookie of the Year, but the award went to Nico Hischier from the Halifax Moosehead. Owen Sound’s bench boss Ryan McGill took the Coach of the Year over Regina’s John Paddock while Everett’s Brian King missed out on Scholastic Player of the Year to Sasha Chmelevski of the Ottawa 67’s.