Calgary, AB - As part of the Western Hockey League’s 50th Season celebrations, a panel of historians selected the top 125 players in WHL history this past September. From this list, WHL fans voted at Top50.whl.ca to select the Top 50 WHL Players of All-Time. This week, the fan and panel voting results revealed the following placements:
#20 – Trevor Linden (Medicine Hat Tigers)
#19 – Dale Derkatch (Regina Pats)
#18 – Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings)
#20 Trevor Linden (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1986-88)
Linden spent two full seasons with his hometown Medicine Hat Tigers from 1986 to 1988. The Tigers captured two consecutive WHL Championships as well as back-to-back Memorial Cups in that span. Linden scored his first two WHL regular season goals along with one playoff marker in a short stint as a 15-year-old. During the 1987 WHL Playoffs, Linden contributed nine points as a rookie before potting two key goals in the Memorial Cup Final.
Drawing upon his experience from the previous season, 17-year-old Linden finished among the top 20 in WHL scoring with 110 points (46g-64a) in 67 regular season games in 1987-88. The WHL Eastern Conference Second Team All-Star then notched 13 goals and 25 points in the postseason. After a seven-point effort at the Memorial Cup, Linden was named to the tournament all-star team as the Tigers repeated as national champions. Linden was also one of five Tigers players that won a gold medal for Team Canada at the 1988 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Throughout his abbreviated two-year WHL career, Linden registered 148 points (62g-86a) in 144 regular season games and 35 playoff points (19g-16a) in 42 outings. Following his success in Medicine Hat, the Vancouver Canucks selected Linden second overall in the 1988 NHL Draft.
Linden stepped right into the Canucks’ lineup as an 18-year-old and was named the captain of the Club at the age of 21. In 1996-97, he was recognized for his leadership abilities on and off the ice, as well as his contributions in the community, receiving the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The 6-4, 210 lb forward played the majority of his 19-year NHL career with the Canucks. When Linden retired in 2008, he had collected 867 points (375g-492a) in 1382 regular season games and recorded 99 points (34g-65a) in 124 postseason appearances. On the international stage, Linden was a member of Team Canada’s silver medal-winning team at the 1991 IIHF World Championship. The 45-year-old returned to the Canucks organization after his playing career ended and is currently the President of Hockey Operations.
#19 Dale Derkatch (Regina Pats, 1981-85)
Derkatch was a scoring machine in his three full seasons with the Regina Pats and is the only player in WHL history to have three consecutive 60-goal campaigns. In 1981-82, Derkatch was named the WHL’s Rookie of the Year. His impressive 142 points (62g-80a) in 71 regular season games is second all-time for most points by a rookie in a season. The freshman then tallied 34 points in the WHL Playoffs to guide the Pats to the WHL Final. His best statistical campaign was in 1982-83 when “The Rat” notched 179 points (84g-95a) in 67 games to claim the WHL’s Top Scorer Award and a spot on the WHL First All-Star Team. Derkatch also won a bronze medal at the 1983 IIHF World Junior Championship with Team Canada.
As a 19-year-old, Derkatch placed third in League scoring with 159 points (72g-87a) in 62 regular season games. The 5-5, 145 lb forward then recorded a League-best 53 points, including 41 helpers, in the WHL Playoffs to lead the Pats to the championship series. The Pats were unable to win the League title in 1983-84, falling in seven games to Kamloops, but Derkatch would set the WHL record for the most assists and points in a postseason run.
At the conclusion of his WHL career, Derkatch had collected 491 points (222g-269a) in 204 regular season games and 103 points (30g-73a) in 54 playoff outings. Over his regular season career, Derkatch ranks fifth all-time in goals, seventh all-time in points and also holds the Regina Pats’ records for most goals, assists and points. A true playoff performer, Derkatch sits alone atop the lists for most career playoff assists and points.
A seventh round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1983 NHL Draft, Derkatch was unable to translate his success in junior to the professional leagues in North America. The product of Winnipeg, MB would head overseas to play in Europe for 14 seasons which including stops in Finland and Germany.
Derkatch, whose jersey has been retired by the Regina Pats, returned to the organization in 2008-09 as the head coach. The 51-year-old is currently a scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs after serving for six seasons as the Director of Player Personnel for the Prince Albert Raiders.
#18 Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1974-78)
Derlago topped the century mark in points during three of his four campaigns as a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings. In 1976-77, Derlago finished as the League’s top scorer with 178 points in 72 regular season games. The sniper lit the lamp 96 times which ranks second all-time for most goals in a season. The WCHL First Team All-Star also recorded a League-best 30 playoff points (14g-16a) to lead Brandon to the League Final.
The Wheat Kings finished first in the regular season standings for the second year in a row in 1977-78. Derlago’s line with Brian Propp and Ray Allison led the way offensively as they became the first team in WHL history to boast three 70-goal scorers. Derlago potted 89 markers in only 52 games to lead the League in goals for the second consecutive season that year and also became the fastest player in League history to score 50 goals as he hit the mark in just 27 games. Even though Derlago’s 1977-78 campaign was abbreviated due to an injury, the WCHL Second Team All-Star still finished fifth in the scoring race with 152 points.
Over his regular season career, Derlago ranks third all-time with 234 goals and 16th all-time with 437 points in 209 games. In addition, Derlago notched 60 points (27g-33a) in 34 postseason outings. The Vancouver Canucks selected Derlago fourth overall in the 1978 NHL Draft.
The Birtle, MB native also went on to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques. When he hung up his skates, Derlago had accumulated 416 points (189g-227a) in 555 regular season games along with five playoff goals in 13 contests.
WHL Top 50 Players of All-Time (as of March 31st)
#18 - Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1974-78)
#19 - Dale Derkatch (Regina Pats, 1981-85)
#20 - Trevor Linden (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1986-88)
#21 - Rob Brown (Kamloops Junior Oilers/Blazers, 1983-87)
#22 - Brad McCrimmon (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1976-79)
#23 - Mark Recchi (New Westminster Bruins and Kamloops Blazers, 1985-88)
#24 - Clark Gillies (Regina Pats, 1971-74)
#25 - Ryan Getzlaf (Calgary Hitmen, 2001-05)
#26 - Barry Beck (New Westminster Bruins, 1974-77)
#27 - Dan Hodgson (Prince Albert Raiders, 1982-85)
#28 - Ray Allison (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1975-79)
#29 - Reggie Leach (Flin Flon Bombers, 1967-70)
#30 - Doug Wickenheiser (Regina Pats, 1977-80)
#31 - Mike Vernon (Calgary Wranglers, 1980-83)
#32 - Dennis Sobchuk (Regina Pats, 1971-74)
#33 - Jamie Benn (Kelowna Rockets, 2007-09)
#34 - Patrick Marleau (Seattle Thunderbirds, 1995-97)
#35 - Ron Chipperfield (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1970-74)
#36 - Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver Giants, 2008-12)
#37 - Shane Doan (Kamloops Blazers, 1992-95)
#38 - Brad Moran (Calgary Hitmen, 1995-2000)
#39 - Tom Lysiak (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1970-73)
#40 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels, 2009-11)
#41 - Marian Hossa (Portland Winter Hawks, 1997-98)
#42 - John Davidson (Calgary Centennials, 1971-73)
#43 - Sam Reinhart (Kootenay ICE, 2011-15)
#44 - Brent Sutter (Lethbridge Broncos, 1980-82)
#45 - Pavel Brendl (Calgary Hitmen, 1998-2001)
#46 - Cliff Ronning (New Westminster Bruins, 1983-85)
#47 - Duncan Keith (Kelowna Rockets, 2002-03)
#48 - Darcy Tucker (Kamloops Blazers, 1991-95)
#49 - Ray Whitney (Spokane Chiefs, 1988-91)
#50 - Stu Barnes (New Westminster Bruins and Tri-City Americans, 1987-90)