Skip to main content

Western Hockey League top 10 @NHL

Top-10 storylines of the 2008-09 Western Hockey League season:

1. The Kelowna Rockets and the Canadian junior men's hockey team would be thrilled if the Toronto Maple Leafs return defenceman Luke Schenn to the junior ranks. Schenn, the fifth overall pick in this year's NHL draft, helped Canada win a fourth straight gold medal this year and would be instrumental in chasing a fifth in Ottawa.

2. The defending Memorial Cup champion Spokane Chiefs have 18 players eligible to return this season. Expect them to be in the hunt for another title come playoff time.

3. The Kamloops Blazers are coming off a turbulent year of ownership and coaching changes. Will there be smooth sailing ahead with NHL players Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi, Shane Doan and Darryl Sydor part of the ownership group?

4. After finishing at the bottom of the WHL the past two seasons, the Portland Winter Hawks are rumoured to have been sold to new owners. The WHL conducted an audit of the team's operations last season after allegations of failure to pay bills on time and inadequate care for injured players, which team owners denied.

5. Defenceman Alex Plante, a first-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers, has asked the Calgary Hitmen for a trade when he returns from NHL camp. Injuries robbed Plante of ice time last season. The six-foot-four, 225-pounder appeared in only 36 regular-season games.

6. Dale Derkatch's appointment as the new head coach of the Regina Pats is intriguing. The 43-year-old is still considered the best player in the franchise history and he still holds WHL records in career playoff points, playoff points in a season and points in a single playoff game. This is Derkatch's first coaching job in major junior hockey.

7. Kelowna Rockets forward Colin Long is the heir-apparent to the WHL's scoring title. After collecting 100 points last season (31 goals, 69 assists), the 19-year-old from Santa Ana, Calif., was selected in the fourth round (99th overall) by the Phoenix Coyotes.

8. There's a good chance Canada's starting goalie at the 2009 world junior hockey championship will come out of the WHL. Spokane's Dustin Tokarski, Chet Pickard of the Tri-City Americans and Tyson Sexsmith of the Vancouver Giants are frontrunners for invitations to selection camp.

9. Brandon Wheat Kings winger Brayden Schenn will keep the family name alive in the WHL if older brother Luke sticks with the Maple leafs. The 17-year-old was named the WHL's top rookie with 28 goals and 43 assists. He also helped Canada win gold at the world under-18 championship in April.

10. The Brandon Wheat Kings, Kelowna Rockets and Everett Silvertips all want to host the 2010 Memorial Cup.

View More