April 14, 2023

Honzek among list of top Western Hockey League rookies

The Western Hockey League has announced its finest freshmen.

The WHL has announced the divisional nominees for the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy for the 2022-23 season, given annually to the WHL Rookie of the Year.

Samuel Honzek of the Vancouver Giants is the nominee from the B.C. Division, and Cayden Lindstrom of the Medicine Hat Tigers has been given the nod from the Central Division. Ryder Ritchie of the Prince Albert Raiders has been nominated from the East Division, and Berkly Catton of the Spokane Chiefs is the representative from the U.S. Division.

The nominees were chosen based on their outstanding performances throughout the regular season, with each player making significant contributions to their respective teams.

The winner of the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy will be announced on Tuesday, May 9.

Honzek, a 2023 NHL Draft prospect from Trencin, Slovakia, recorded 56 points (23 goals, 33 assists) in 43 games for the Giants. The 18-year-old forward, who also competed for his country at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, is No. 46 in FCHockey’s Midterm ranking for the 2023 draft. Honzek was originally selected 10th-overall by the Giants in the 2022 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

“One look at Honzek on the ice and it’s easy to see why there are those who are extremely high on his NHL potential,” FCHockey scout Donesh Mazloum said. “You don’t find many prospects his size with the finesse and skill that he shows. His smooth stride and unflappable nature gives one flashes of Aleksander Barkov-lite and while he has a lot of development left to go he has the ceiling of an impact top-six winger.”

Lindstrom, a 17-year-old forward from Chetwynd, B.C., totalled 42 points (19 goals, 23 assists) in 61 games his first full WHL campaign — the second-highest total among Central Division rookies for the Tigers. Lindstrom, was originally selected by Medicine Hat in the third round of the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, is eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft.

Ritchie tied for the league lead among 2006-born skaters with 55 points (20 goals, 35 assists) — third among Raiders skaters. The 5-foot-10, 157-pound forward, who was the Raiders’ 14th-overall selection in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, is also eligible in 2024.

Catton, a forward from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, also had 55 points (23 goals, 32 assists) and second among Chiefs offensive leaders in goals and points. The 17-year-old was selected No. 1 by Spokane in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, and is a top prospect for the 2024 draft.

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