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The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League released the finalists for the best defensive defenseman on Friday afternoon. Today, the league highlights the three blueliners nominated for the Émile-Bouchard Trophy, awarded to the Defenseman of the Year. This year’s finalists are Justin Bergeron (Rimouski), Jordan Spence (Moncton) and William Villeneuve (Saint John).

The award is named after Montreal Canadiens alumnus and Hall of Famer Émile “Butch” Bouchard, who excelled in the National Hockey League from 1941 to 1956. He won four Stanley Cups and was voted on the NHL All-Star Team four times. Past recipients of the award include some of the NHL’s top defensemen, such as Kristopher Letang, Samuel Girard and Thomas Chabot.

Justin Bergeron was a key component during the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies’ Memorial Cup run last year. Following an invitation to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ rookie camp, Bergeron kicked off his season on the right foot in Rouyn-Noranda by posting no less than 24 points in 32 games. He was dealt to Rimouski during the Christmas trade period and became a cornerstone on their contending team. The 19-year-old defenseman didn’t disappoint his new fans with 18 points in 25 games while maintaining a +21 differential.

Jordan Spence was announced as one of the Kevin-Lowe Trophy finalists on Friday. In addition to being one of the league’s best defensive blueliners, the 2018-2019 Rookie of the Year also demonstrated his versatility throughout the last campaign. The Los Angeles Kings prospect proved that he’s able to play a two-way role by collecting nine goals and forty-three assists while posting a remarkable +49 ratio.

It is fair to say that William Villeneuve exploded offensively in 2019–2020. After registering 19 points in his rookie season, the Sherbrooke native followed that up by scoring nine goals and adding forty-nine helpers in 64 games this year. He finished first among QMJHL defensemen for points (58), assists (49) and point per game average (0.91), while also finishing as the Sea Dogs’ top scorer.

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