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Top Players to Watch in the Second Half of the CHL Playoffs

By Kristopher Bras on April 20, 2017

Regina Pats defenceman Connor Hobbs is one of the best playmakers in the CHL. (Keith Hershmiller photo)     

The CHL playoffs have made it through two rounds. In each league, several noteworthy players have turned in clutch efforts to help their teams advance. Here are the top performers to watch from each league in Round Three—at every position

QMJHL 

Forward: Alex Barré-Boulet, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
The Armada were an effective team in the regular season, but they’ve made it to the final four largely due to the efforts of the undrafted Barré-Boulet. With 10 goals and 11 assists in just 11 games, he is scoring at a rate that eclipses (by far) the rate at which he has ever tallied.

Defence: Thomas Chabot, Saint John Sea Dogs
Right now, Ottawa Senators fans must be elated to watch Erik Karlsson take over an entire playoff series versus the Bruins. Frighteningly, they have a similar type of player developing in Saint John. Chabot could be the best player outside of the NHL right now, and he changes the game every time he jumps over the boards. He has a league-leading plus/minus of +13, and 13 points in 8 games. 

Goaltender: Samuel Montembeault, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
You can’t talk about the Armada’s playoff success without highlighting Montembeault. The Florida Panthers prospect has been the class of the league through the first two rounds. Although he doesn’t have any shutouts in the goal-happy Q, his .939 save percentage has ushered Blainville-Boisbriand into the semifinals. 

OHL

Forward: Alex DeBrincat, Erie Otters
Who else? DeBrincat has had a season for the ages, and he’s showing no signs of fatigue here in the playoffs. Although he has always been known primarily as a goal scorer, DeBrincat leads the OHL in assists with 16, three more than the nearest comer. His 22 points also lead the league.

Defence: Matt Spencer, Peterborough Petes
Matt Spencer might not have the points that a guy like Darren Raddysh does, but no defenceman in the OHL has been as dominant a presence. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect leads the OHL with a plus-18 rating, and his Petes haven’t lost a game.

Goaltender: Michael McNiven, Owen Sound Attack
It’s tempting to give this honour to Peterborough’s Dylan Wells, but McNiven is the only goaltender in the OHL to put up two shutouts. His 1.92 goals-against is the best mark in the league, and if the Attack are to stand a chance against the Otters in Round 3, McNiven will need to stay in top form.

WHL

Forward: Reid Gardiner, Kelowna Rockets
Gardiner probably wasn’t happy to leave the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and return to the WHL, but if his playoff performance is any indication, it won’t be long before he gets another chance to contribute as a professional. The pure shooter has scored at more than a goal-per-game clip, and has 22 points (12G, 10A) in 11 playoff games. 

Defence: Connor Hobbs, Regina Pats
Hobbs may not be the best pure defender in the WHL, but he has been such a great playmaker that it doesn’t matter. His 13 assists are four better than the next best defender and the Pats rely on him on the power play perhaps more than any other player in any situation.

Goaltender: Tyler Brown, Regina Pats
Tyler Brown has taken his game to a level that’s… maybe two or three higher than that of his regular season play. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great goalie for the best team all year—but now he’s the best goalie for the best team. Regina hasn’t lost a game, something Brown deserves a “Pat” on the back for. 

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