This year may not present the most star-studded NHL draft class in recent memory, but with a legitimate argument to be made between the top two prospects for the first time in years, it’s sure to provide some added excitement when the New Jersey Devils take the podium in Chicago on June 23.
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.
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.
Entering the Mastercard Memorial Cup, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ No. 1 goalie spot was Carl Stankowski’s to lose. That in itself is pretty remarkable since he started this season as a true 16-year-old rookie and was thrown into the fire through the entire WHL playoffs as he replaced injured starter Rylan Toth and backed the Thunderbirds to their first ever WHL championship.
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.
The Seattle Thunderbirds are up against the brink for the first time in more than a year. The Memorial Cup host Windsor Spitfires truly had their way with the WHL champions Sunday at the WFCU Centre, sending the Thunderbirds to the bottom of the standings while placing themselves firmly on top.
Carl Stankowski continues to be the story for the Seattle Thunderbirds. The T-Birds left the WFCU Centre with a 4-2 loss to the OHL champion Erie Otters in the first all-American Memorial Cup matchup since 2007, but Stankowski was the reason Seattle stayed in the conversation until the final buzzer.
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.
The Seattle Thunderbirds defied all odds in the Western Hockey League playoffs. From missing out on a divisional banner to the Everett Silvertips, to losing starting goaltender Rylan Toth due to injury and being an overwhelming underdog against the CHL’s top-ranked Regina Pats — the T-Birds have heard it all before, but none of that stopped them from avenging last season’s heartbreaking loss in the final and punching their ticket to the Memorial Cup.
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