We’re days away from the NHL Entry Draft and we feel like a kid on Christmas. Or maybe more like a parent watching their kids on Christmas. Getting to see young men who we’ve followed for years get scooped up by pro teams is a pretty special thing. Of course, we love to say that we called it when it comes to a lot of these guys — and the truth is, in many cases we did.
Look no further than our past HockeyNow Minor Hockey Players of the Year. As our regular readers know, every year, HockeyNow selects a Player of the Year in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. The award started off in B.C. in 2000, with one winner selected, and expanded into Alberta and Ontario in 2014.
Projected to be selected in the first round of this year’s draft is 2013 Player of the Year Dante Fabbro, who started his career with the Burnaby Winter Club and had an outstanding season with the Penticton Vees this past year. Fabbro, a point leader at the 2016 World Championships, has been at the top of International Scouting Services’ rankings all year and currently sits at No. 19 heading into the draft.
The inaugural Player of the Year winner was Colin Fraser, a PIJHL Port Coquitlam Buckeroos centreman and WHL Red Deer Rebels prospect that year. Fraser was drafted in Round 3, 69th overall, of the 2003 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers and went on to win two Stanley Cups — one with the Blackhawks in 2010 and one with the Kings in 2012.
Our 2002 winner, Gilbert Brulé, and 2003 winner, Karl Alzner, were both drafted in the Top 10 in their draft years. In 2002, Brulé was on the BCHL's Quesnel Millionaire and had been drafted by the Vancouver Giants. He was drafted sixth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005. And in 2003, Alzner was a PIJHL Richmond Sockeye and Calgary Hitmen prospect. He was selected fifth overall in 2007 by the Washington Capitals, where he has been ever since.
In more recent years, our 2008 winner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and 2009 co-winners, Griffin Reinhart and Morgan Rielley, were all first round NHL picks, with Nugent-Hopkins having played 313 pro games, and still going.
These players managed to beat out the many other strong candidates on the preliminary lists compiled every month by our selection committee, headed by retired Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dave Babych and ISS Hockey founder and head scout Dennis MacInnis.
Obviously, the winners were standout players, but our selection committee takes a lot more than hockey ability into account. On top of a great performance throughout the season, these players exemplified the best in sportsmanship, leadership and school and community participation.
Once again this year, we’re narrowing in on players cut from the same cloth. We’ve been releasing preliminary lists from each region in print and online every month since November and we’re only a couple weeks away from announcing our winners in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.
We have some incredible talent and leadership across the board and, even though we say this every year, this year we are truly facing the most difficult decisions yet. But, as always, our winners will stand out in one way or another and we will once again have the honour of calling them up to tell them the news that they’ve won the award.
Three outstanding players will soon be presented with a trophy and a shopping spree a their local SportChek, and will also be gracing next month’s cover.
Enjoy our NHL Entry Draft preview, look out for our past Players of the Year, and stay tuned for our next batch of winners!
1) Top 5 Most Improved Draft-Eligible CHLers
2) John Dahlstrom Pulls Out All The Stops in Medicine Hat’s Final Days of the Season
3) Cobourg Cougars Prepare for RBC Cup after OJHL Elimination
4) Well-Traveled Junior Player Hoping To Conclude Career With Championship
5) The Modern Age of Minor Hockey