Courtesy of the Western Hockey League
The Western Hockey League today announced the WHL Eastern and Western Conference finalists for the 2013-14 WHL Player of the Year. The two finalists for WHL Player of the Year are determined through voting by general managers, coaches, broadcast and media representatives of all WHL Member Clubs. The recipients of all WHL individual awards will be announced at the 2014 WHL Awards Luncheon, which will be held in Calgary, Alberta, on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
In the WHL's Eastern Conference, which includes the East and Central Divisions, the Player of the Year nominee is forward Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice. In the WHL’s Western Conference, which includes the B.C. and U.S. Divisions, the Player of the Year nominee is forward Mitch Holmberg of the Spokane Chiefs.
18-year-old Vancouver, B.C., native Sam Reinhart was a dominant player for the Kootenay Ice during the 2013-14 WHL regular season, leading the Ice to a 39-28-2-3 record and a fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference while helping the Club set a new WHL record with their 15th consecutive campaign with a record of .500 or better. The Ice’s captain, Reinhart scored 36 goals and 69 assists for 105 points along with a +24 rating in 60 games.
Reinhart’s 105 points tied him for fourth in WHL scoring while his 69 assists placed him second among all WHL players and established a new Kootenay Ice record for assists in a single season. In addition, Reinhart led the Ice with six game-winning goals and two shorthanded goals. Reinhart’s consistency during the 2013-14 regular season was remarkable as he was held off the score sheet just nine times, was only held without a point in back-to-back games once, and enjoyed a WHL-best 22-game point streak. Reinhart’s importance to Kootenay’s success this season is evident in the fact that he factored in on 45% of his team’s entire offensive output, and that the Ice lost all nine games in which he dressed but failed to register a point.
Selected by Kootenay in the first round, 15th overall, in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, Reinhart has played 203 career regular-season games for the Ice, amassing 101 goals and 254 points with a +52 rating. The 2011-12 WHL Rookie of the Year, Reinhart is considered a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft.
Holmberg, a product of Sherwood Park, AB, enjoyed an outstanding 2013-14 season for the Spokane Chiefs, helping the team to a 40-26-3-3 record and a sixth-place finish in the Western Conference as they clinched a playoff berth for an eighth straight year. The 20-year-old scored 62 goals and 56 assists for 118 points to go with a +35 rating while appearing in all 72 games for the Chiefs.
Holmberg’s 62 goals and 118 points led all WHL players, allowing him to become the first member of the Chiefs to win the WHL scoring title since Ray Whitney in 1990-91. In addition, Holmberg led all WHL players with 23 power play goals and 10 game-winning goals, and finished tied for second among WHL players with six shorthanded goals. Holmberg finished with 12 more goals than his nearest competitor, and is only the second WHL player since the 2000-01 season to reach the 60-goal mark during a season. Holmberg contributions to Spokane’s strong campaign cannot be understated as the 5’10”, 175-lb winger scored over 25% of his Club’s goals while also factoring in on over 48% of the Club’s entire offensive output. In his fifth and final WHL campaign, Holmberg established a new Spokane Chiefs’ franchise record for career goals with 147.
The Chiefs’ first-round pick, 21st overall, in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, Holmberg has appeared in 314 career regular-season games, amassing 296 points along with a +62 rating. Holmberg is a free agent.