MVP! Remembering key WHL Stafford Smythe Trophy winners ahead of the 2024 Memorial Cup

MVP! Remembering key WHL Stafford Smythe Trophy winners ahead of the 2024 Memorial Cup

May 23, 2024 at 11:37 am  Kamloops Blazers, Sports

MVP! Remembering key WHL Stafford Smythe Trophy winners ahead of the 2024 Memorial Cup

The 2024 Memorial Cup presented by Dow runs from Thursday, May 23 to Sunday, June 2 in Saginaw, Mich. Hosted by the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit, the 2024 Memorial Cup will feature the WHL Champion Moose Jaw Warriors, OHL Champion London Knights, and QMJHL Champion Drummondville Voltigeurs.

In the lead-up to the 2024 Memorial Cup, the WHL is looking back through tournament history to highlight key performances and events with prominent WHL connections.


Game breakers.

Captains.

Hall-of-Famers.

Legends.

Some of the greatest junior hockey players of all time have clinched the Stafford Smythe Trophy as the Memorial Cup’s Most Valuable Player.

Awarded since 1972, a total of 50 players- 21 from the WHL- have been recognized as the player of the tournament- some of whom were even named MVP despite not winning the Memorial Cup.

In fact, the WHL’s two most recent winners are preparing to face off against each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

2018- Sam Steel, Regina Pats

Sam Steel had a long time to plot his revenge.

The Regina Pats Captain had a goal and 11 assists in an exhausting seven-game series as the Swift Current Broncos eliminated their neighbours to the East in Round One of the 2018 WHL Playoffs.

Forty-seven days after being eliminated, Steel and the host Pats had a second shot at their opponents, beating the battered Broncos 6-5 to secure a berth in the Memorial Cup Semifinal.

Steel tallied five assists in the match, tying Dan Hodgson (Prince Albert Raiders) and Jonathan Drouin (Halifax Moosehawks) for the Memorial Cup record for most assists in a single game.

The Sherwood Park, Alta. product also scored the game-winning goal to lift Regina past the OHL Champion Hamilton Bulldogs to advance to the final, though the Acadie-Bathurst Titan would ultimately prevail.

Steel led the entire tournament in scoring with two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in five games, cementing his status as a Pats great and closing out his WHL career with a final piece of hardware.

The former WHL Player of the Year is currently playing for the Dallas Stars, where he has a goal and three assists in 13 playoff matches, highlighted by a one-goal, one-assist effort against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 4 of their second-round series.

Steel and the Stars are slated to face off against none other than…

2015- Leon Draisaitl, Kelowna Rockets

Listen, it’s Leon Draisaitl.

You know the deal.

After making his NHL debut in the 2014-15 season, the German superstar joined the Rockets for a final chance at junior hockey glory.

Draisaitl netted 10 goals and 28 assists in 19 playoff games to seal the Ed Chynoweth Cup for Kelowna and continued his run at the Memorial Cup in Quebec City, where he led the tournament with four goals and three assists for seven points in five games.

However, Draisaitl also has the dubious honour of being named playoff MVP despite not winning the Memorial Cup itself.

The Rockets would fall to the Oshawa Generals in an overtime heartbreaker, with Draisaitl firing a team-leading six shots on Ken Appleby.

Fresh off of his fifth 100-plus point regular season campaign in the NHL, the Oilers alternate captain currently leads the NHL in postseason points with 24 (eight goals, 16 assists) in 12 games.

1995- Shane Doan, Kamloops Blazers

This one was special.

Kamloops was midway through its decade of dominance and hosting the Memorial Cup on home ice, though they’d also win the WHL Championship in dominant fashion.

Doan was emerging as a superstar after a 94-point regular season and another 16 points in the playoffs.

At Memorial Cup, the Halkirk, Alta. product led the tournament with four goals and five assists in four contests- including a pair of helpers in the final.

The Blazers didn’t drop a single game and demolished the Detroit Junior Red Wings 8-2 to claim a second-straight Memorial Cup and the third in four seasons.

There was added significance for Doan, considering he’d missed the 1994 final with a knee injury.

Doan went on to set the Coyotes franchise record for goals, assists and points while winning the NHL’s Mark Messier Leadership Award and King Clancy Trophy.

On the international stage, he’s won two World Championship gold medals and a World Cup gold medal for Canada.

1994- Darcy Tucker, Kamloops Blazers

Tucker helped the Blazers to a WHL-record 29 straight home victories to win the Scotty Munro Trophy as regular-season champions for the sixth time in 10 years as Kamloops established its mid-90s dynasty.

Kamloops crushed the Saskatoon Blades 8-1 in the WHL Championship match and cruised to a 3-0 round-robin record at the Memorial Cup in Laval, Que.

Tucker and the Blazers spoiled the host Titan’s party with a 5-3 victory, with Tucker leading tournament scoring with six goals and three assists in four games.

The formidable forward went on to score 215 goals and add another 261 assists over 947 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche.

STAFFORD SMYTHE MEMORIAL TROPHY WINNERS FROM THE WHL

1974- Greg Joly, Regina Pats

1975- Barry Smith, New Westminster Bruins

1977- Barry Beck, New Westminster Bruins

1978- Stan Smyl, New Westminster Bruins

1979- Bart Hunter, Brandon Wheat Kings

1983-Alfie Turcotte, Portland Winter Hawks

1985- Dan Hodgson, Prince Albert Raiders

1988- Rob Dimaio, Medicine Hat Tigers

1989- Dan Lambert, Swift Current Broncos

1991- Pat Falloon, Spokane Chiefs

1992- Scott Niedermayer, Kamloops Blazers

1994- Darcy Tucker, Kamloops Blazers

1995- Shane Doan, Kamloops Blazers

2001- Kyle Wanvig, Red Deer Rebels

2004- Kelly Guard, Kelowna Rockets

2007- Milan Lucic, Vancouver Giants

2008-Dustin Tokarski, Spokane Chiefs

2014- Edgars Kulda, Edmonton Oil Kings

2015- Leon Draisaitl, Kelowna Rockets

2018- Sam Steel, Regina Pats

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