Found March 21, 2013 on
The Prospect Park:
The Memorial Cup
Thursday marks the beginning of the Canadian junior's playoff season or as the Medicine Hat Tigers call it "Four Rounds To Glory" as New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects begin a quest to earn a spot in the 2013 Memorial Cup. Two Ranger prospects Josh Nicholls (2013 UFA) and Shane McColgan (2011 5th) have already qualified as their Saskatoon Blades are the hosts of this year's event.
Not going to waste your time trying to go through 24 different playoff series spread out through the 3 leagues that make up the CHL. Instead I will talk about those teams with Ranger or Islander prospects on them and the chances they have at making a trip to Saskatoon in May.
The Baie-Comeau Drakkar with Ranger prospect defenseman Samuel Noreau (2011 5th) go into the QMJHL playoffs as the 2nd seed which is a huge jump from being the 13th seed last season. They face the expansion and 15th seeded Sherbrooke Phoenix in what on paper should be a huge mismatch.
The Drakkar have the advantage of having last year's Memorial Cup winning coach Eric Veilleux behind their bench and he will make sure the Drakkar don't take the Phoenix lightly. The Drakkar have been in the QMJHL since 1997 and never won the QMJHL championship.
Having Veilleux behind the bench is a huge advantage for the Drakkar as both coach and franchise have something to prove. That they don't have to face the Halifax Mooseheads until the QMJHL finals works for them.
The key to the QMJHL finals might be which team shows up healthy but also which coach gets the most out of his entire bench. I like the job Veilleux can do behind the bench not to give the Drakkar a chance to win their first QMJHL championship in their franchise history.
The Barrie Colts have Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) and they finished 2nd in the OHL's Eastern conference. Adding Mark Scheifele to their lineup (39-40-79 in 45 games) turns a middle of the pack team into a serious OHL contender.
The Colts have what it takes to make it to the OHL Finals but it is doubtful they have what it takes to defeat whichever team comes from the OHL's Western Conference. The Western Conference has been owning the OHL championship the last few years and that is not changing.
The Niagara IceDogs have Ryan Strome (NYI 2011 1st) and Jesse Graham (NYI 2012 6th) on the roster but they just don't have the talent to get out of their first round series against the Oshawa Generals. If you are an Islander fan, the good news is that Strome can join Bridgeport for the rest of their season.
On the western conference side is Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd) leading his Guelph Storm up against the Kitchener Rangers. While most are predicting Kitchener because of their 12-2 record against the Storm over the last 2 seasons; this will a series decided by goalies and which team can maintain their composure the best.
IF Pedan plays under control then the Storm could steal their first round series but if not then Pedan will be joining Strome in Bridgeport sooner rather than later.
It is really this simple, no matter how Saskatoon does in the WHL they will be in the Memorial Cup but they still could have a say in which other WHL team joins them at the Cup. The way the rules work is if Saskatoon were to reach the WHL finals that no matter the outcome, the team they face also earns a berth in the Memorial Cup.
The Edmonton Oil Kings with Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and team captain Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) have played this regular season as a means to get back to what they call "unfinished business" at the Memorial Cup. They have played the 2nd half of this season with an almost machine precision and there is no reason why they can't get that chance to take care of unfinished business.
The one possible roadblock just might be the expected rematch in the WHL finals against the Portland Winterhawks. Last year it was the Oil Kings who had Game 7 in their house; this year it is in Portland and don't think for a moment that might just wind up being the deciding factor.
For the heck of it
Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL-- Coach Eric Veilleux proved himself to be one heck of a coach last year. He coached a team that defied the odds last year but this year he has a much more talented team to work with.
London in OHL-- London wants to host the 2014 Memorial Cup in their house and have assembled a team that can win now and tomorrow. If they get past Plymouth it won't matter who they face in the OHL finals as they won't stand a chance against the Knights.
Edmonton in the WHL-- I know I have been saying that for Portland "Third time is the charm" but I saw a couple of things when I watched Edmonton rally to defeat Portland in the last minute that changed my mind. Yes I know I am biased because I have a self-interest with the Oil Kings but I can live with that.
I also get accused of being biased for the Portland Winterhawks since they are by right my home team. I can live with that too but Portland is not the only ones playing with a chip on their shoulder.
BEST OF MAXIM
Brenden Kichton (Spokane Chiefs)
It is that time of the year as New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects in the playoffs but for some the bigger question is do I sign or do I say no? For the teams they, too have to decide whether or not to offer contracts to their prospects especially for those selected in the 2011 NHL draft.
One prospect has reportedly already made...
The Canadiens finally found their way around the New York Islanders last night, battling hard through 40 minutes of play before delivering a 3 goal outburst in the third period that earned the Habs their 20th win of the year.
Beating the Isles, 5-2, Montreal jumped out to a lead for the 22nd time in 30 games. Though they would trade goals before the Habs third frame...
I'm still reeling from last night.
Not so much that the Islanders lost once again by falling apart in the third period. But more because I still cannot get over the embellishment call on Keith Aucoin. I used to love this game. LOVE it. This season the officiating has made it bearly tolerable.
This morning I heard there was talk of creating a "divers list"...
from Jesse Spector of The Sporting News,
“On every icing, the winger goes in (for the draw) and gets thrown out on purpose,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “You see that everywhere you go. He’s getting thrown out so the center can take the draw and it buys five more seconds (after a team is not allowed to make a line change following an icing). That should be a rule...
Shane McColgan (Steve Hiscock)
The race for the 2013 Memorial Cup began on Thursday evening with mixed results for the Ranger and Islander prospects in action on Thursday evening. In the case of the Ranger prospects in action; it was as if the Ranger/Panther game spilled over into theirs.
Shane McColgan (NYR 2011 5th) and Josh Nicholls (NYR 2013 UFA) saw their 2nd seeded Saskatoon...