One thing is for sure at this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Nico Hischier won’t be waiting a long time to hear his name called by a big league team. The native of Naters, Switzerland is expected to be a top three selection and will best fifth overall, the highest draft record for a Swiss player, held by Nino Niederreiter (2010, Minnesota Wild).
While many young NHL prospects will hear their names called this weekend in Chicago for the NHL Draft, there will also be those players who will not hear their name called.
A CHLer’s season is never really over. While NHL draft-eligibles tested their physical capacity this week at the NHL combine, young goaltenders are beginning the evaluation process for the upcoming year’s national junior teams.
Taylor Raddysh hopes he has one more big game left in him on Sunday. But if he doesn’t, he’ll be perfectly fine with one of his Erie Otters teammates having a moment of their own too. “None of the guys care who scores, so long as we come out with the win in the end,” said Raddysh, the leading scorer at the Mastercard Memorial Cup with 11 points as the Otters get set to face the host Windsor Spitfires in Sunday’s final.
One thing everyone can count on is a different Saint John Sea Dogs team showing up Friday night in the Mastercard Memorial Cup semifinal. Armed with a second wind, the QMJHL champs will face off against the OHL champion Erie Otters, a team that ran away with a 12-5 thrashing the last time the teams met on Monday.
There’s a good chance the head coaches of the Saint John Sea Dogs and Seattle Thunderbirds gave somewhat of the same pre-game pep talk prior to their pivotal round robin game at the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Maybe it’s a coincidence that Dylan Strome, Mathew Barzal and Thomas Chabot are all at the Mastercard Memorial Cup playing prominent roles for their teams.
Judging from the Windsor Spitfires performance on opening night of the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup, their 44 day layoff from the CHL postseason suited them just fine. On April 4, Windsor was eliminated from the OHL playoffs after losing in seven games to the London Knights.
After 68 games (72 in the WHL), four playoff rounds, countless hours spent at practices and on the bus, it all comes down to this. The Erie Otters, Saint John Sea Dogs and Seattle Thunderbirds all captured championships in their respective leagues and will push a little further through four to six games in an effort to claim junior hockey supremacy at the Memorial Cup.
Robert Thomas has inched his way up the rankings all year and finds himself in the top 25 with just over a month to draft day. Moving 43 spots since December where he debuted at #64, the London Knights high-scoring forward has made the steady rise to now sit at #21.
Rack up another QMJHL championship for the Saint John Sea Dogs. During the second week of May, the Sea Dogs captured their third league crown since 2011 when they swept the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (4-0) in this season’s President’s Cup final.
Major junior coaches demand a lot of their players and three teams delivered in a big way with championship seasons. They’ll now join the host Windsor Spitfires at this year’s Memorial Cup, where it’s up to the coaches to guide the way as everyone gives an extra push towards national glory.
Many expected that the 2017 Memorial Cup would feature 1, 2 and 3 from CHL’s Top Ten. But Seattle defeated the No. 1 Regina Pats to leave us with 2 and 3 in the Otters and Sea Dogs – and to remind us that anything can happen.
1) ISS Hockey Releases May Top 31 Rankings for 2018 NHL Draft
2) 2018 RBC Cup Kicks Off in Chilliwack
3) Ontario Hockey Association Announces 2017-18 Prospects
4) Western Canada Cup No More
5) Meet Matthew Savoie, the NAX Forward Taking the CSSHL by Storm