Calgary, AB – The Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time countdown, as voted on by WHL fans, concluded earlier today with the announcement of the top three at the 2016 WHL Awards in Calgary. WHL graduates Joe Sakic, Bob Clarke and Carey Price have earned top honours on the prestigious list.
As part of the Western Hockey League’s 50th Season celebrations, a panel of historians selected the top 125 players in WHL history this past September based on a combination of the impact they had while playing in the WHL and their careers upon graduating from the League. From this list, WHL fans voted at Top50.whl.ca to select the Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time.
#3 – Carey Price (Tri-City Americans)
#2 – Bob Clarke (Flin Flon Bombers)
#1 – Joe Sakic (Swift Current Broncos)
#3 Carey Price (Tri-City Americans, 2003-07)
Price was a member of the Tri-City Americans for four seasons from 2003 to 2007. A highly touted bantam player, Price was chosen seventh overall by the Americans in the 2002 WHL Bantam Draft. In his 17-year-old campaign, Price played in 63 games and secured the starting role in net. The Montreal Canadiens selected the netminder fifth overall in the 2005 NHL Draft after Price posted a 2.34 goals against average and .920 save percentage along with eight shutouts that season. During his final season with the Americans, Price registered 30 of the Club’s 47 victories and was named the CHL and WHL Goaltender of the Year for his spectacular play. The CHL and WHL Western Conference First Team All-Star guided the Americans to a 96-point campaign which was the Club’s best regular season since relocating to Tri-City at the time.
After Tri-City was eliminated from the 2007 WHL Playoffs, Price joined the Hamilton Bulldogs for their AHL playoff run. Price led the Bulldogs to a Calder Cup championship and earned the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the AHL Playoffs. He also had success on the international stage that season as Price backstopped Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship. The Anahim Lake, BC product finished his WHL career with 83 wins, a 2.53 goals against average and a 0.914 save percentage in 193 regular season appearances. Price also owns the Tri-City Americans’ record for career shutouts with 15.
The 28-year-old goaltender has played his entire nine-year NHL career so far with the Montreal Canadiens. In 2014-15, Price had a season to remember as he racked up numerous individual awards. Price’s exceptional campaign earned him the Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL as well as the Ted Lindsay Award as the NHL’s most valuable player as selected by the National Hockey League Players’ Association. In addition, the netminder received the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie and the William M. Jennings Trophy. Price also became the second WHL graduate to earn the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s top athlete in 2015. Price had the opportunity to represent his country once again in 2014 and won an Olympic Gold medal between the pipes for Team Canada.
#2 Bob Clarke (Flin Flon Bombers, 1967-69)
The Flin Flon, MB product played two seasons with his hometown Flin Flon Bombers from 1967 to 1969 when the Bombers were a member of the WCHL. In 1967-68, Clarke ran away with the scoring title by racking up 168 points (51g-117a) in 59 games. The following campaign, Clarke was named the WCHL Most Valuable Player after notching 137 points (51g-86a) in 58 games. It was the second consecutive season that Clarke won the Top Scorer Award, a trophy that would be renamed in his honour in 1988. Making a return trip to the League final, the Bombers captured the 1969 WCHL Championship as Clarke led the way with a League-best 25 postseason points. The two-time First Team All-Star and the Bombers also hoisted the James Piggott Trophy as Canadian Dominion Champions that season.
Over his WCHL career, Clarke registered 305 points (102g-203a) in 117 regular season games and 39 points (13g-26a) in 33 playoff appearances. After being chosen in the second round, 17th overall, by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1969 NHL Draft, Clarke played his entire 15-year NHL career with the Flyers.
During the ‘Broad Street Bullies’ era of the Flyers in the 1970s, Clarke captained the Club to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories in 1974 and 1975. Clarke is a three-time winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL (1972-73, 1974-75 and 1975-76) and also earned the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL’s most valuable player as selected by the National Hockey League Players’ Association in 1972-73. A tremendous two-way player, Clarke received the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the best defensive forward in the NHL during the 1982-83 season and was also awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 1971-72 for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
When Clarke hung up his skates in 1984, he had accumulated 1210 points (358g-852a) in 1144 regular season games and amassed 119 playoff points (42g-77a) in 136 contests. The 66-year-old is currently in his 43rd season in the Flyers organization as he moved into the front office after his retirement. Clarke is now the Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations for the Flyers after two stints as the team’s General Manager.
In international play as a member of Team Canada, Clarke helped Canada defeat Russia in the 1972 Summit Series, won the 1976 Canada Cup and captured a bronze medal at the 1982 IIHF World Championship. For all his accomplishments throughout his illustrious hockey career, Clarke was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 1987 class. His jersey has also been retired by the Flin Flon Bombers and Philadelphia Flyers.
#1 Joe Sakic (Swift Current Broncos, 1986-88)
Joe Sakic spent two campaigns as a member of the Swift Current Broncos from 1986 to 1988. During the 1986-87 season, the Broncos relocated back to Swift Current after 12 years in Lethbridge. However, tragedy struck in the form of a bus crash on December 30, 1986. Sakic and his teammates dedicated the season to their four fallen brothers. After notching 133 points (60g-73a) in 72 games, Sakic received Most Valuable Player and WHL Rookie of the Year honours in the Eastern Conference.
The following season, Sakic was named the CHL Player of the Year as well as the WHL’s Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row. There was a tie for the WHL Top Scorer award between Sakic and Theoren Fleury as both players had 160 points, but Sakic finished with a League-best 78 goals. The Burnaby, BC product was also a member of Team Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 1988 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Throughout his WHL career, Sakic accumulated 293 points (139g-138a) in 139 regular season games and 25 points (11g-14a) in 14 playoff appearances. After being selected in the first round, 15th overall, by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1987 NHL Draft, Sakic played his entire 20-year NHL career with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche organization.
The 46-year-old is currently the Executive Vice-President of Hockey Operations and General Manager of the Colorado Avalanche. During his playing days on the Avalanche, Sakic hoisted the Stanley Cup twice in 1996 and 2001. The long-time Captain of the Avalanche led the way in the 1996 NHL Playoffs to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy. In 2000-01, Sakic received the Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL, the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL’s most valuable player as selected by the National Hockey League Players’ Association as well as the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct. When Sakic retired from the NHL in 2009, he had tallied 1641 points (625g-1016a) in 1378 regular season games which sits ninth all-time in NHL scoring. His 188 playoff points (84g-104a) in 172 contests are ranked eighth all-time.
Sakic is a member of the elite Triple Gold Club. In addition to winning the Stanley Cup, Sakic won an Olympic gold medal in 2002 and a World Championship gold medal in 1994 with Team Canada. For all his accomplishments throughout his distinguished hockey career, Sakic was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 2012 class.
Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time
Click HERE for the original top 125 list as compiled by the panel.
#1 – Joe Sakic (Swift Current Broncos, 1986-88)
#2 – Bob Clarke (Flin Flon Bombers, 1967-69)
#3 – Carey Price (Tri-City Americans, 2003-07)
#4 – Bryan Trottier (Swift Current/Lethbridge Broncos, 1972-75)
#5 – Scott Niedermayer (Kamloops Blazers, 1989-92)
#6 – Lanny McDonald (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1971-73)
#7 – Jarome Iginla (Kamloops Blazers, 1993-96)
#8 – Mike Modano (Prince Albert Raiders, 1986-89)
#9 – Grant Fuhr (Victoria Cougars, 1979-81)
#10 – Cam Neely (Portland Winter Hawks, 1982-84)
#11 – Ray Ferraro (Portland Winter Hawks and Brandon Wheat Kings, 1982-84)
#12 – Bernie Federko (Saskatoon Blades, 1973-76)
#13 – Shea Weber (Kelowna Rockets, 2002-05)
#14 – Brian Propp (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1976-79)
#15 – Wendel Clark (Saskatoon Blades, 1983-85)
#16 – Jordan Eberle (Regina Pats, 2006-10)
#17 – Theoren Fleury (Moose Jaw Warriors, 1984-88)
#18 – Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1974-78)
#19 – Dale Derkatch (Regina Pats, 1981-85)
#20 – Trevor Linden (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1986-88)
#21 – Rob Brown (Kamloops Junior Oilers/Blazers, 1983-87)
#22 – Brad McCrimmon (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1976-79)
#23 – Mark Recchi (New Westminster Bruins and Kamloops Blazers, 1985-88)
#24 – Clark Gillies (Regina Pats, 1971-74)
#25 – Ryan Getzlaf (Calgary Hitmen, 2001-05)
#26 – Barry Beck (New Westminster Bruins, 1974-77)
#27 – Dan Hodgson (Prince Albert Raiders, 1982-85)
#28 – Ray Allison (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1975-79)
#29 – Reggie Leach (Flin Flon Bombers, 1967-70)
#30 – Doug Wickenheiser (Regina Pats, 1977-80)
#31 – Mike Vernon (Calgary Wranglers, 1980-83)
#32 – Dennis Sobchuk (Regina Pats, 1971-74)
#33 – Jamie Benn (Kelowna Rockets, 2007-09)
#34 – Patrick Marleau (Seattle Thunderbirds, 1995-97)
#35 – Ron Chipperfield (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1970-74)
#36 – Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver Giants, 2008-12)
#37 – Shane Doan (Kamloops Blazers, 1992-95)
#38 – Brad Moran (Calgary Hitmen, 1995-2000)
#39 – Tom Lysiak (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1970-73)
#40 – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels, 2009-11)
#41 – Marian Hossa (Portland Winter Hawks, 1997-98)
#42 – John Davidson (Calgary Centennials, 1971-73)
#43 – Sam Reinhart (Kootenay ICE, 2011-15)
#44 – Brent Sutter (Lethbridge Broncos, 1980-82)
#45 – Pavel Brendl (Calgary Hitmen, 1998-2001)
#46 – Cliff Ronning (New Westminster Bruins, 1983-85)
#47 – Duncan Keith (Kelowna Rockets, 2002-03)
#48 – Darcy Tucker (Kamloops Blazers, 1991-95)
#49 – Ray Whitney (Spokane Chiefs, 1988-91)
#50 – Stu Barnes (New Westminster Bruins and Tri-City Americans, 1987-90)