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Couturier up for a pair of CHL awards

by Greg Picker /
Sean Couturier has a chance to take home some serious hardware this weekend.

Couturier, NHL Central Scouting's No. 6-ranked North American skater for the 2011 Entry Draft, is up for two of the biggest honors at Saturday's Canadian Hockey League Awards Ceremony.

The Drummondville Voltigeurs center is one of three nominees for the CCM Player of the Year award. The 6-foot-4, 197-pounder had 36 goals and 60 assists in 58 games while leading Drummondville to the quarterfinals of the QMJHL playoffs. He also helped Canada win a silver medal at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

"At his size he'll be hard to pass up in the Draft," said NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau. "He possesses a very good work ethic and he's out there for every important faceoff. He's very responsible in the defensive aspect of the game -- a rare quality for such a young player in junior hockey."

He's also one of three nominees for the Jack Link's Top Prospect of the Year award.

Joining Couturier are Central Scouting's top two North American skaters -- Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kitchener Rangers left wing Gabriel Landeskog

Nugent-Hopkins was third in the Western Hockey League with 106 points this season (31 goals, 75 assists), and then tied for the team lead with 11 points in nine playoff games.

"A couple of people high up -- and not naming names -- said Hopkins has the best vision since No. 99 (Wayne Gretzky). That's the highest compliment you can get," said NHL's Central Scouting Peter Sullivan.

Landeskog finished the season third on the Rangers with 66 points (36 goals, 30 assists). An ankle injury forced Landeskog to miss 15 games during the regular season, but he still showed enough to be a topic of discussion for being the first pick of this year's Draft.

"He plays the game with so much passion, he plays the game hard, he's a great mentor for players that are younger and older -- maturity beyond his years," said Central Scouting's Chris Edwards.

Another highly regarded Draft pick, Niagara's Dougie Hamilton, is one of the finalists for the Subway Scholastic Player of the Year award. Hamilton is Central Scouting's top-ranked defenseman, and No. 4 skater. Other nominees are Nicolas Therrien of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and the Kamloops Blazers' Colin Smith.

Joining Couturier as nominees for the Player of the Year award are Windsor Spitfires defenseman Ryan Ellis and Red Deer goaltender Darcey Kuemper. Ellis, taken by the Nashville Predators with the 11th pick of the 2009 Entry Draft, led Ontario Hockey League defensemen, and was fifth among all players, with 101 points. He's the first OHL defenseman to hit triple-digits in points since Bill McCauley of the Detroit Jr. Red Wings in 1994-95 had 102 points. It's also the second time in three seasons Ellis has been the leading scorer among OHL blueliners.

Kuemper, taken by the Minnesota Wild in the sixth-round of the 2009 Draft, led the Western Hockey League in wins (45), goals-against average (1.86), save percentage (.933) and shutouts (13).

Ellis also is one of the finalists for the CGC Defensemen of the Year award. The other finalists are the Saint John Sea Dogs' Simon Despres, a 2009 first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Stefan Elliott of the Saskatoon Blades, a 2009 second-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche.

Kuemper also is up for the PERT Plus Goaltender of the Year award. Other finalists are Mark Visentin of the Niagara IceDogs, a 2009 first-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes, and Jacob DeSerres of the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Three prominent members of the 2012 Entry Draft class are up for the BMO Rookie of the Year award -- Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting, Charles Hudon of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Matt Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels.

Finalists for the FRAM Sportsman of the Year award are the Kitchener Rangers' Jason Akeson, a Philadelphia Flyers prospect; Philip-Michael Devos of the Gatineau Olympiques; and the Spokane Chiefs' Tyler Johnson, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect.

Finalists for the Home Hardware Humanitarian Player of Year award are Jack Walchessen of the Peterborough Petes, Gabriel Lemieux of the Shawinigan Cataractes and Spencer Edwards of the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Mark Reeds of the Owen Sound Attack, Gerard Gallant of the Saint John Sea Dogs and Don Nachbaur of the Spokane Chiefs are the nominees for the Old Dutch Coach of the Year award.
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