Hamilton Bulldogs forward Robert Thomas has been named the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 OHL Playoffs and is the recipient of the Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award.
The St. Louis Blues first round selection finished the OHL Playoffs with 12 goals, 20 assists and 32 points in 21 games, collecting seven of those points in the Rogers OHL Championship Series.
“It shows how much character and how much desire we have to win,” said Thomas following his club’s third period comeback to defeat the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 5-4 in Game 6. “When you have those two, you’ll do good things.”
A midseason acquisition from the London Knights, Thomas was a central figure in Hamilton’s playoff run. The Aurora, Ont. native finished third in OHL playoff scoring, starting with a bang by registering 10 points in Hamilton’s five-game series triumph over the Ottawa 67’s. He also factored prominently into Hamilton’s Eastern Conference Championship Series victory over the Kingston Frontenacs, registering nine points over five games. He recorded 11 different multi-point outputs and won 54.4 percent of his faceoffs throughout the postseason.
Thomas becomes the first Bulldogs player to ever win the award and the second in all-time franchise history after Belleville’s Justin Papineau was the inaugural recipient back in 1999.
The OHL introduced the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award in 1999 to honour the Most Valuable Player in the OHL Playoffs as selected by the media. Gretzky, a native of Brantford, graduated from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to become the most prolific scorer in the history of the NHL. The league created the award in tribute of ‘The Great One’ shortly after he announced his retirement from the NHL in 1999.
Wayne Gretzky 99 Award winners:
2018 – Robert Thomas (Hamilton Bulldogs)
2017 – Warren Foegele (Erie Otters)
2016 – Mitchell Marner (London Knights)
2015 – Connor McDavid (Erie Otters)
2014 – Robby Fabbri (Guelph Storm)
2013 – Bo Horvat (London Knights)
2012 – Austin Watson (London Knights)
2011 – Robby Mignardi (Owen Sound Attack)
2010 – Adam Henrique (Windsor Spitfires)
2009 – Taylor Hall (Windsor Spitfires)
2008 – Justin Azevedo (Kitchener Rangers)
2007 – Marc Staal (Sudbury Wolves)
2006 – Daniel Ryder (Peterborough Petes)
2005 – Corey Perry (London Knights)
2004 – Martin St. Pierre (Guelph Storm)
2003 – Derek Roy (Kitchener Rangers)
2002 – Brad Boyes (Erie Otters)
2001 – Seamus Kotyk (Ottawa 67’s)
2000 – Brian Finley (Barrie Colts)
1999 – Justin Papineau (Belleville Bulls)