Ottawa 67’s forward Sasha Chmelevski is the 2016-17 recipient of the Bobby Smith Trophy as the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year, the League announced on Wednesday.
Chmelevski receives the honour on the heels of his first full season in the nation’s capital where, in addition to his talents on the ice, he highlighted his talents in the classroom achieving a 98% average across his six Grade 12 courses. The 67’s forward studied British Literature, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Anatomy and Physiology, Probability and Statistics, Psychology, and Physical Education through Michigan’s Virtual Charter Academy.
“I’m very humbled and honoured to win the Bobby Smith Award,” said Chmelevski. “I would like to thank my family, my school and teachers, our academic advisor and the Ottawa 67’s organization for allowing me to receive an education while playing hockey.”
In his first full season with the 67’s after coming to Ottawa as the centerpiece of the Travis Konecny deal with Sarnia last year, the 17-year-old Chmelevski added a needed scoring punch to the lineup, finishing the 2016-17 regular season with 21 goals and 43 points in 58 games. In his first taste of OHL postseason action, Chmelevski tallied two goals and two assists in a hard-fought first round series with the Mississauga Steelheads. He also managed to lead the Ivan Hlinka Memorial U-18 tournament in scoring en route to a silver medal with the American team prior to the start of the OHL season.
The 17-year-old Northville, MI native is now among the top OHL players eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft listed 43rd among North American players by NHL Central Scouting. Last season he was a finalist for the Ivan Tennant Award for Top High School Student.
“Sasha embodies the true meaning of dedication to hockey and academics,” said 67’s Academic Advisor Eileen Duffin. “He approaches his studies as a mature, disciplined and self-motivated student. An American player who wanted to complete his high school studies with a Michigan State Diploma, Sasha took advantage of the opportunity to take online university level courses and completed his Diploma almost a term earlier than his peers. Few players can manage to work as independently as Sasha does with a regular daily schedule at home or on the road. His post-secondary goals are lofty, as he investigates studying medicine or optometry, all dependent on his equally lofty hockey goals.”
Chmelevski becomes just the fourth Ottawa 67’s player to receive the Bobby Smith Trophy and the first since fan-favourite Danny Battochio in 2005-06.
Each year the Bobby Smith Trophy is presented to the OHL Scholastic Player of the year who best combines high standards of play and academic excellence. The trophy is in honour of Bobby Smith, a former Ottawa 67’s star who exhibited a standard of excellence in both of these areas. First presented in 1980, Chmelevski is the fourth member of the 67’s to receive the honour and first since Danny Battochio in 2005-06 who was preceded by Ryan Kuwabara (1989-90) and Doug Smith (1980-81). Past winners also include three-time winner Dustin Brown (Guelph 2001-03), Steven Stamkos (Sarnia 2007), Matt Duchene (Brampton 2009), Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2011), Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie 2013), back-to-back recipient Connor McDavid (Erie 2014-15), and Nicolas Hague (Mississauga 2016).
Finalists for the award include fellow 2017 NHL Draft prospects Alex Formenton of the London Knights and Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack.