A pair of Avalanche prospects will go head-to-head for a prestigious Western Hockey League Award.
, the reigning WHL Defenseman of the Year, has again been nominated for the award after finishing sixth among league blueliners with 58 points (11g/47a) in just 54 games for the Western Conference’s Kelowna Rockets. Barrie was honored with the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy a season ago after posting 72 points (19g/53a) in 63 contests.
The rearguard, who serves as Kelowna’s captain, missed Colorado’s training camp and the start of the WHL season due to injury, and then also took some time away from the Rockets during the middle of the season to represent Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The last player to win the award in back-to-back years was Medicine Hat’s Kris Russell in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Red Deer’s Dion Phaneuf (2003-04, 2004-05) and Kamloops’ Nolan Baumgartner (1994-95, 1995-96) are the only players who have achieved the feat, although Portland’s Glen Wesley (1985-86, 1986-87) was named the Western Conference’s Defenseman of the Year in back-to-back seasons during which only conference winners were named.
Barrie’s competition from the Eastern Conference will be fellow Avalanche prospect Stefan Elliott
, who led all WHL defensemen with in goals (31) and points (tied-81) while registering a league-best +62 plus/minus rating for the Saskatoon Blades.
The first WHL blueliner to reach the 30-goal mark since 2006-07, Elliott finished his junior career as the highest scoring defenseman in Blades franchise history, compiling 241 points (82g/159a) in 282 career games. Elliott, who signed an entry-level contract with the Avalanche on Monday, is also the Eastern Conference’s finalist for the Brad Hornung Trophy as the WHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year.
The award winners will be announced at the 2011 WHL Awards Luncheon in Calgary on Wednesday, May 4.
The WHL has also announced its 2010-11 WHL Conference First and Second All-Star Teams.
Not surprisingly, Barrie was named to the Western Conference First All-Star Team, while Elliott was a unanimous selection to the Eastern Conference First All-Star Team. In addition, Seattle goaltender Calvin Pickard
earned a spot on the Western Conference Second All-Star Team after leading all league goalies in appearances (68), minutes (4013) and saves (2443).