ESPN presents the best player in the world of the week. Each Tuesday, we’ll honor the skater or goalie from around the hockey world — every league, every level, every player — who had the best previous week, Monday through Sunday. If there’s a player you’d like to nominate, from your local team to a high school team to your beer league, email us here. And remember: Stats only tell part of the story, so tell us why he or she deserves this honor.
Best player in the world of the week (for the week ending Dec. 3)
Calen Addison, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Addison, a defenseman who is NHL draft-eligible next summer, had a goal and seven assists in four games last week for the Hurricanes. Five of those assists came during a 7-2 drubbing of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Alex Barré-Boulet, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)
The 20-year-old forward now leads the Q in scoring after posting eight points in two games. He had two goals and two assists against both Charlottetown and Drummondville. By scoring what was his ninth game-winning goal of the year, Barré-Boulet has already tied the Armada’s franchise record for most winning goals in a season. And we have a bit of season left to go.
Joseph Garreffa, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Garreffa had one of many eight-point efforts during the past week, but his was a bit different: they were all assists, over three games for the Rangers. This 2016 profile of Garreffa by the Waterloo Region Record compared him to “Mr. Wolf from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction'” in that “like that character, Garreffa too solves problems, only he does it by playing defence or forward depending on the club’s needs.” Instead of cleaning up after a horrific murder, we guess.
Nic Petan, Manitoba Moose (AHL)
The Moose played three games last week. In those three games, Petan scored eight points. He had two goals and six assists for the Moose during three consecutive wins, as the team continued on a nine-game winning streak overall. Good to see this 22-year-old thriving with ice time rather than wasting away in the bottom six for the Jets.
Ben Scrivens, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
We have a Ben Scrivens sighting! The former NHL netminder helped Ufa to two wins in three starts, and shut out his opponents in both of those wins. Scrivens, 31, in those three starts, had a save percentage of .966, a goals-against average of 1.01 and his shutout streak currently stands at 125 minutes and 27 seconds.
Daryl Watts, Boston College (NCAA)
The Boston College first-year star had five goals and two assists in her team’s past three games, mounting a serious challenge for the NCAA scoring title this season. Watts is a forward from Toronto who is a two-time member of Canada’s Under-18 national team. She considers Canadian Olympic hero Marie-Philip Poulin as her favorite player, which makes her OK by us.
The Jets have been one of the season’s best stories, and Wheeler is one of the main reasons. He had 10 points (!) in four games, propelling the Jets to a 3-0-1 week and the top of the Western Conference standings. That includes two three-point games, against the Minnesota Wild and the Vegas Golden Knights. Through 27 games, Wheeler has 35 points.
He’d be a worthy choice for the top spot this week. But sometimes sportsmanship trumps stats.
And the best player in the world of the week is …
Kaiden Whaley. Who is Kaiden Whaley?
Well, he’s 9 years old. He started playing hockey in McDonough, Georgia, in an inline hockey league, where he fell in love with the sport and, specifically, with being a goalie. He now lives in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, and plays for the U10 Jr. Bulldogs out of Hagerstown, Maryland. It’s his first season playing on ice.
The Bulldogs faced the Georgetown Titans last weekend. The Titans’ goalie was sick, so forward Leopold Hylton was forced into action as their netminder. One problem: He had never played goalie, nor had he even ever worn the equipment before.
Hylton’s coaches told him that he was probably going to surrender some goals. He gave up seven. He came back to the bench, distraught, after the first period.
During intermission, Whaley skated over and did something that sliced right through the ferocious, competitive clichés of youth sports: He gave his opponent an impromptu goaltending clinic. He taught Leopold how to move properly when facing shots, how to better use his gear in making saves.
While it didn’t turn him into Dominik Hasek, the chat helped calm Leopold down and allowed him to enjoy the next two periods.
Witnessed heart warming event today…our goalie was sick, so we had another child play goalie for the 1st time. The opposing team’s goalie came over at intermission to teach him how to move properly without being asked by anyone. #Sportsmanship pic.twitter.com/pxuCpbiOlJ
— Bill Schultheiss (@schlthss) December 3, 2017
Were this a “Mighty Ducks” movie, the angry self-centered coach probably calls Whaley a traitor and benches him for helping the enemy. Luckily, life doesn’t always imitate art, and youth sports don’t always imitate other levels of hockey. Every so often, we’re reminded that the game is a game, and that sportsmanship can thrive in it.
“He has always had a big heart and has been taught that good sportsmanship is No. 1,” says Stephanie Whaley, his mother.
Congrats to Kaiden Whaley, the best hockey player in the world this week.