Portland Winterhawks left wing Joachim Blichfeld, Sudbury Wolves goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, and Rimouski Oceanic left wing Alexis Lafreniere are the 2019 finalists for the Sportsnet Player of the Year Award.
Blichfeld is the 2019 recipient of the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the Western Hockey League’s Player of the Year after he led the league with 114 points, while his 53 goals topped the charts.
In early November, the Danish left winger was honored as the CHL Player of the Week following a three-game set in which he collected four goals and five assists for nine points. Across three seasons with the Winterhawks, the 20-year-old has recorded 105 goals and 123 assists for 228 points in just 187 career games.
Prior to coming to North America, the budding scorer was a seventh-round selection by the San Jose Sharks in the 2016 NHL Draft. The Winterhawks originally chose Blichfeld with the 85th pick in the 2016 CHL Import Draft.
Luukkonen rewrote the record book in his first season in North America as he strapped on the pads for the Wolves and set new franchise highs in goals-against average (2.50), save percentage (.920), and shutouts (six). The Finnish netminder also tied for first league-wide with 38 victories and later helped guide the Wolves to their first playoff series win since 2013.
For his efforts, Luukkonen was awarded the Red Tilson Trophy, presented to the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player, as he also became the first European import to claim the award – the Wolves selected Luukkonen third overall in the 2018 CHL Import Draft. A year earlier, the Buffalo Sabres chose him in the second round of the NHL draft.
In early December, Luukkonen was also recognized as the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week after he stopped 48 shots across two contests to come away with two victories, including one shutout and a .960 save percentage.
The Michel Briere Memorial Trophy, presented to the QMJHL regular season MVP, is the latest accolade for Lafreniere, who last year was named the CHL Rookie of the Year after putting up 80 points in 60 games as a freshman.
This season, Lafreniere recorded 37 goals and 68 assists for 105 points in just 61 games to not only lead the Oceanic in scoring but he also finished just six points shy of the league scoring lead. In mid-February, he was named the CHL Player of the Week after he notched five goals and three assists in just two outings. The 17-year-old then added another 23 points in 13 playoff appearances. In all, Lafreniere has tallied 185 points in 121 career regular-season contests.
The native of St-Eustache, Que., is a projected top selection in the 2020 NHL Draft.