The IIHF has named seven finalists for the organization’s inaugural player of the year award, made up of players from five different nations.
The players are:
Andres Ambuhl (F, Switzerland)
Connor Bedard (F, Canada)
Adam Fantilli (F, Canada)
Dominik Kubalik (F, Czechia)
JJ Peterka (F, Germany)
Moritz Seider (D, Germany)
Arturs Silovs (G, Latvia)
Voting will occur between the media and other IIHF members, with the winner being announced on Monday, June 19. Like the women’s award announced last week, voters are allowed to select players outside of these seven candidates.
Criteria for the award include having played in one official IIHF event, as well as playing in a high-level domestic league.
Bedard, the projected No. 1 pick, had one of the best seasons of a junior prospect ever. He led the world juniors with 23 points in seven games, earning him MVP and best forward honors with a dominant performance en route to gold. He then finished the season as the first CHLer to ever win the top prospect, top player and top scorer awards in the same season after recording 71 goals and 143 points.
His Canadian teammate, Fantilli, is the lone player on the list to have won gold at two major tournaments. He was on the same team as Bedard at the world juniors, and then won gold again at the men’s World Hockey Championship late last month. Fantilli became just the second Canadian to win both in the same year after Jonathan Toews. He was also the NCAA’s best player, becoming the third freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award as the top male collegiate player.
Silovs, the lone goaltender, catalyzed Latvia’s bronze medal effort at the World Championship. The 22-year-old AHLer had a 7-3-0 record with a .921 save percentage, standing tall against teams like Czechia, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States. He won the World Championship MVP and top goalie honors in his first year as starter with Latvia. There’s a chance SIlovs could be Vancouver’s backup next year after a good showing with Abbotsford.
Ambuhl, the senior player on this list at 39 years old, was a huge reason for Switzerland’s round-robin success at the World Championship. He had four goals, including two game-winners against Canada and Czechia, to help the Swiss take top spot in Group B. He also broke the all-time Swiss national team scoring record with his 144th point.
Kubalik was in the running for the MVP honors at the World Championship before the team’s untimely exit in the quarterfinal. The Detroit Red Wings forward led the tournament with eight goals, including six on the power play. After getting let go from the Chicago Blackhawks last year, Kubalik rebounded for a solid 20-goal, 45-point campaign in his first season in Michigan.
Peterka helped Germany win silver after finishing as the World Championship’s best forward. He had six goals and 12 points to finish second in scoring while leading the way with 29 shots. Peterka was always involved in the team’s offense, making up for the absence of Tim Stutzle. He played his first full season in the NHL with Buffalo this past year, registering 12 goals and 32 points.
Seider, a star defender with the Red Wings, was named to the World Championship all-star team after helping the Germans win silver. He had five points, but it was his typical physical nature that made him so feared. He had 42 points in his second NHL season with the Red Wings, giving him 92 points in 164 games in his short NHL tenure.