Written by Compose.ly's Gaurav Bhatt
One of the three major junior hockey leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League, the Western Hockey League has long been a launchpad for the stars of tomorrow, with Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard looking like the next big thing. Here is a list of the most dominant individual seasons in WHL history.
Rob Brown (1986-87)
Playing for the Kamloops Blazers, Brown finished the 1986-87 season on top of the scoring charts, registering a mind-blowing 212 points with 76 goals and a spectacular 136 assists in only 63 games. Not only did he lead the pack in points, Brown's 136 assists and 212 points in a season still stand as WHL records. He received the WHL Player of the Year, Top Scorer and the inaugural Plus Minus awards.
Brown also helped Canada capture gold at the 1988 World Junior Championships. The right winger played for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1987-1990, during which he had an outlier 44-goal, 115-point season in 1988-89. He hit 80 points the following season but never scored more than 42 for the remainder of his career, which included stints with the Hartford Whalers, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings before finishing his career in Pittsburgh.
Ray Ferraro (1983-84)
The Brandon Wheat Kings' forward scored 108 goals (a league record) and 84 assists to finish the 1983-84 season with 192 points. Dan Hodgson of the Prince Albert Raiders ended second on the list at 181 points (62 goals, 119 assists). Ferraro was awarded the WHL’s Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer awards.
The year prior, he had helped Portland win the Memorial Cup.
In an interview with the Regina Leader-Post, WHL goaltenders Jamie Reeve and Doug Lunney recalled facing Ferraro during his prolific season. Reeve remembered thinking, "‘What’s up with this guy?’ He was really positive and upbeat," while Lunney called Ferraro "the friendliest opponent I ever had."
The BC Hall of Famer was drafted fifth in the 1982 NHL Draft by the Hartford Whalers, and spent an 18-year-long stint in the league, during which he also played for the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Atlanta Thrashers and St. Louis Blues. He finished his career with 408 goals and 898 points.
Cliff Ronning (1984-85)
In his first year for the Westminster Bruins, Ronning scored 136 points with 69 goals and 67 assists and clinched the Rookie of the Year award. The second year was even better.
During the 1984-85 season, Ronning put 197 points on the board (89 goals, 108 assists). The points tally was the highest before Brown's aforementioned record-setting run. The season saw Ronning score 27 goals during a record 18-game goal-scoring streak.
Ronning enjoyed a 17-year stay in the NHL with seven franchises, including his home team Vancouver Canucks. He collected 333 regular season points (158 goals, 175 assists) and 45 postseason points (18 goals, 27 assists).
Brian Propp (1978-79)
Such was Propp's dominance that a stellar 135-point rookie season was his lowest tally with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He scored 182 points in his second year and 194 points in the 1978-79 season. Those two seasons remain in the WHL's top 10 regular season performances of all time.
His third season in which he recorded 194 points (94 goals, 100 assists) is third all-time for most goals and points in a season. Riding on Propp's heroics, the Wheat Kings finished with a league-record 125 points, leading the league for the third straight year. Propp's magic continued in the playoffs as he racked up 38 points (15 goals, 23 assists) to lead Brandon to its first WHL championship.
Kyle Reeves (1990-91)
Reeves scored 129 points for the Tri-City Americans in 1990-91, bettering his haul of 103 from the preceding year. In 63 games, Reeves scored a league-best 89 goals, the fourth-highest single-season total in league history. His 1.413 goals per game ranks as the second-best mark of all time.
When Reeves found that he couldn't play in the NHL, he took his skills to the roller hockey rink.
Troy Mick (1987-88)
The defenceman led from the back, collecting 147 points for the Portland Winter Hawks in 1987-88. In 72 games, Mick scored 63 goals and 84 assists. His goal and point totals still stand as the most ever by a defenceman in league history.
He played in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) from 1990 to 1993 before multiple knee surgeries forced him to retire.
Carter Hart (2017-18)
Hart had a five-year stint with Everett Silvertips, during which the goaltender established himself as a future NHL star. In 2015-16, Hart played 63 of his team’s 72 regular season games, finishing with a 35-23-4 record, a 2.14 goals-against average, and a .918 save percentage. His numbers earned Hart the CHL goaltender of the year award. He was also listed as the top North American goalie prospect in the 2016 NHL draft.
Drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2016, Hart returned to play for Everett. In 2017-18, despite missing a chunk of the season due to mononucleosis, Hart finished with an astonishing 31-6-1-3 record, 1.60 GAA, .947 SV%, and league-high seven shutouts. His .947 SV% is a WHL single-season record, while his 1.60 GAA ranks second. Hart also won his second goalie of the year award, becoming the first player to receive the award twice.
Jock Callander (1981-82)
Playing for the Regina Pats, Callander scored a staggering 190 points — the fifth highest total ever — with 79 goals and 111 assists in 1981-82. The season came after a fruitful 1980-81, during which the forward racked up 153 points (67 goals, 86 assists).
In 1992, Callander was called upon by an injury-ravaged Pittsburgh Penguins. Callander and his Muskegon Lumberjacks teammates, Mike Needham and Dave Michayluk, played in the Stanley Cup playoffs and scored a goal to help the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
Connor Bedard (2021-22)
A phenom in the making, Bedard became the youngest player to score 50 or more goals in a season, getting the job done with his 50th and 51st goals in the regular season's last game. He finished 2021-22 with 51 goals and 49 assists for an impressive tally of 100 points. He was only the third 16-year-old to manage a 100-point season in the WHL, and the first to achieve the feat in the 21st century.
While the Regina Pats failed to make the playoffs, Bedard cemented his status as the next generational talent.
Len Barrie (1989-90)
With a remarkable haul of 185 points (85 goals and 100 assists), Barrie finished the 1989-90 season on top of the charts, outscoring the next closest player (Glenn Goodall) by 23 points. His gaudy points and goals total that year rank sixth and seventh all time, respectively.
Barrie’s prolific season didn’t translate to NHL success, as he appeared in only 184 career games, compiling 64 points.
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