Memorial Cup Preview

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Memorial Cup Preview

Post by Macker88 on Fri May 16, 2014 8:12 pm

This should be one of the most exciting Memorial Cups in recent years, the QMJHL & WHL champion both needed 7 games to clinch their respective championships, while the Guelph Storm fought through 4 really close games with the North Bay Battalion. Sure there was the 1 blow out, but a bounce in the Battalion direction in the other games an that series easily could have gone 7 games. The host London Knights are no slouch themselves having been to the Memorial Cup the past two seasons and return a strong nucleus from those previous championships. They bowed out in round 2 of the playoffs to the Guelph Storm, but where without key contributors Zach Bell, Christian Dvorak, Brady Austin & staring goalie Anthony Stolarz. One could argue with those guys in the lineup things could be dramatically different. With that being said we should be in for 10 days of outstanding junior hockey.

Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL Champion) -
The Oil Kings went 16-5 through the WHL playoffs, having swept Prince Albert in round 1, Beating Brandon 4-1 in round 2, Medicine Hat 4-1 in the Conference finals and Portland 4-3 in the WHL final.
Henrik Samuelsson lead the Oil Kings in playoff scoring with 8 goals 15 assists for 23 points in 21 games. Ottawa Senators prospect Curtis Lazar was right behind him with 22 points on 10 goals & 12 assists. Edmonton Oilers 2nd round pick Mitch Moroz had a great playoff contributing 19 points in 21 games while adding grit and the sand paper any championship team needs. Import Edgars Kulda & Draft eligible prospect Brett Pollock rounded out the top 5 in playoff scoring for the Oil Kings.
The D core is led by NY Islanders 1st round pick Griffin Reinhart, he and Overager Cody Corbett could be one of the top shutdown pairs in the tournament. Dysin Mayo, who's draft eligible also had a great playoff offensively for the Oil Kings with 15 points in 21 games.
In goal Tristan Jarry is arguably the best goaltender in the tournament. Jarry a 2nd round pick of the Penguins posted a 16-4-1 record in the playoffs with 3 shutouts and a 2.19GAA.
The Oil Kings have a strong top 6 offensively & and a Gritty bottom 6 to go along with a good mixture on the back end and very strong goaltending. They could easily find themselves in the Memorial Cup Final.
My prediction is they will at the very least be competing in the Semi-Final.

Val-d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL Champion)
The Foreurs road the hot goaltending of Toronto Maple Leafs 6th round pick Antonie Bibeau and the potent goal scoring of Detroit 1st round pick Anthony Mantja to become the QMJHL Champions. Val-d'Or took out Acadie-Bathurst 4-0 in round 1, Drummondville in round 2, a very tough & skilled Halifax Mooseheads team 4-3 in the QMJHL semi final and finally Baie-Comeau 4-3 in the QMJHL final. The Foreurs are certainly battled tested having twice been in crucial game 7 elimination games an coming through with the W. Both Baie-Comeau & Halifax where expected to dispose of Val-d'Or but that Foreurs solid play and timely goal scoring pushed them past teams with far more depth. For Val-d'Or to have a legitimate chance in this Memorial Cup that will need to continue, along with the outstanding goaltending from Antonie Bibeau, an the torrid goal scoring pace that Anthony Mantha is on. Speaking of Mantha, He put up 120 points in just 57 regular season games on 57 goals and 63 assists, he continued that torrid pace in the playoffs with 38 points in 24 games on 24 goals and 14 assists. Louick Marcotte followed Mantha in scoring in both the regular season and playoffs, having a 100 point regular season and 37 point playoff. After those two the production falls off a bit with Samuel Henley (69 Reg Sea PTS), Anthony Richard (52 Reg Sea PTS) & Pierre-Maxime Poudrier (47 Reg Sea PTS) rounding out the top five in scoring for forwards. Defensemen Guillaume Gelinas had 92 points in the regular season & another 34 in the playoffs, he will be counted on to continue to produce in the Memorial Cup, & he will need to as 1 scoring line will not cut it in this talent filled tournament. Another D-Man Randy Gazzola had 74 points in the regular season and he to will need to keep on scoring for the Foreurs to contend. Ryan Graves a NY Rangers prospect is there beat overall D-Man and he'll be counted on to shut down other teams top lines.
Antonie Bibeau got hot at the right time, an if he's able to steal the opener against London it could put Val-d'Or in a great position, as I think the loser of game 1 will likely go 0-3 an be out of the tournament.

Guelph Storm (OHL Champions)
The Storm basically rolled through the OHL regular season and playoffs. They disposed of Plymouth 4-1 in round 1, London 4-1 in round 2, a very skilled Erie Otters 4-1 in round 3 and a very physical and gritty North Bay Battalion 4-1 in the OHL finals. The Storm are arguably the deepest team in the Memorial Cup and have used that depth to their advantage all year long. They consistently role 4 lines and 6 D and wear down their opponents with size, Physicality and last but not least & most importantly skill ! Their one weak spot could be goaltending, but Justin Nicholas has really solidified his game since being pulled in a round 2 game. He was the difference for me in the OHL final and he'll once again need to be the difference in the Memorial Cup. The Storm are led offensively by Columbus Blue Jacket first round pick Kerby Rychel and draft eligible prospect Robbi Fabbri, who was named OHL playoff MVP. The storm have solid offensive depth as the boast The talents of Jason Dickinson, Scott Kosmachuk, Brock McGinn, Zack Mitchell, Tyler Bertuzzi, & Justin Auger. Defensively there led by Matt Finn and Nick Ebert but are just as deep and boast NHL draft picks Zack Leslie & Ben Harpur. If Nicholas can shut it down in goal I see no reason why Guelph can't go 3-0 in the round robin an go straight to the Mem Cup Final.

London Knights (Host)
London wanted to go in through the front door, and they very well could of if not for injuries and suspensions. But they won't dwell on that, those things are part of hockey and there here now and ready to go. The month of may hurt them, but it may help them as the other teams have gone through gruelling playoff runs. Anthony Stolarz will need to be on top of his game as their are many potent goal scorers that will be opposing him. Goaltending has been the weakness of the Knights since last Years memorial cup & if the knights what to win this year they need that to change. Along with Guelph, London has a very deep roster at forward and defence. With 10 NHL draft picks an 3 more guys expected to be drafted this season & Marner a top 10 pick next year these guys will be hard to beat. I think the Knights when healthy where the 2nd best team in the OHL this season, so the best 4 teams in the CHL are truly in this tournament. I expect London to come out hard and fired up in game 1 and Go from there. If they lose they could go 0-3 in the tournament as Guelph & Edmonton are tough draws. I expect to see the London Knights to get to the Semi Final at the very least.

Memorial Cup Champions - Guelph Storm

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Re: Memorial Cup Preview

Post by StingRay5 on Sun May 18, 2014 10:48 am

Macker; You really make this forum!

I enjoy reading your very thorough preview reports. To me as well Guelph is the favorite and should win.
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Re: Memorial Cup Preview

Post by Macker88 on Thu May 22, 2014 4:47 am

Well London is out after going 0-3. Just some thoughts on the Knights in this tournament and as a whole this season.
First off I'd like to say for any team to reach 3 straight Memorial Cups regardless of if the 3rd was as a host is a miraculous feet.
Secondly, I really think losing game 1 vs Val-d'Or really killed an momentum the Knights had mustard up. They ran into a hot goalie who shut them out, stopping over 50 shots. I feel like mentally after that game the outlook really changed for them.

Three reasons the Knights failed, goaltending, bad penalties & individual play.
The Knights consistently fell behind the opponent and guys like Domi, Anderson & Tierney started to try an do everything themselves and that just doesn't work against the top teams in Junior hockey.
Bad penalties, time an time again they put themselves behind the 8-ball with bad penalties. Took them while on the PP, took them with little time to play left in close games and most importantly took them when they had momentum in there favour.
Goaltending, as I said goaltending will be a big factor, an they just did not get it from Stolarz, for the 2nd straight year goaltending let them down.

Throughout the year the London Knights made many moves to improve their team, but they did not address the biggest area of need, goaltending. I know the goaltending market was sparse, but Jake Paterson from Saginaw & Spencer Martin from Mississauga where to be had at the right price. Now the Knights traded Centorame & Platzer for Gemel Smith, is he a great player at the junior level, absolutely. But was he needed, the team was filled with offensive superstars. So in my opinion, No. The Knights could have sent Jake Patterson & those two players to either Mississauga or Saginaw for their starting goalie. Maybe would have needed to add a draft pick or a depth forward but it would have made a hell of a difference.

With all that being said, London again will be in contention for an OHL title next season. Brady Austin, Alex Basso & Zach Bell all are gone to overage. Nikita Zadorov will be in the NHL and Tim Bender will be released, so their back end will need some additions. Dakota Mermis is undrafted and un-signed at the Pro level so he'll be back as an OA. Rookie Aidan Jamieson will also be back, although he played very spairingly this year. An the Knights recently signed 2014 2nd round pick Ben Gleason, who was a top 15 talent but slipped due to NCAA commitment possibilities. After Mermis, Jamieson & Gleason that still leaves big holes to be filled. In goal Jake Patterson is eligible to return as an OA an likely will. Anthony Stolarz is Philadelphia Flyers property, an eligible to turn pro, but really is he ready, usually guys that turn pro have proved they're to talented for Junior, Stolarz hasn't done that. Between backing up a the World Juniors, injuries & suspensions he really didn't play much this season. Throw in the fact the Flyers have a cluster of
Goalies at the AHL level and I believe Stolarz will return. He will be moved if he returns, the guys love playing in front of Patterson and I believe after two Memorial Cup let downs the Hunters will prefer to go with Patterson.
Up front, captain Chris Tierney will be moving to the AHL
along with Josh Anderson who's a Columbus pick. Gemel
Smith is yet to be signed by the Dallas Stars, but I expect he will be, or re drafted in this years draft. He'll turn pro it's just a matter of who with. Bo Horvat and Max Domi are 1st round NHL picks who cannot be sent to the AHL. I believe Domi will be back, he's still far to one dimensional to make the jump to the NHL, especially with the Phoenix Coyotes who expect their players to play two way hockey. On top of that guys like Jordan Schwarz and Andy Miele are out of options and will likely be kept up over Domi. Throw in a guy like Former General Lucas Lessio and there are better options for the Yotes. Plus Domi will play on Team Canada this year, the subway super series and that will only improve his game. Horvat, depends what the Canucks do in the off season. If they trade Kesler it's very likely he cracks the squad. If not then I think there is a 75% chance he's back. Horvat I compare to Scott Laughton, they're capable of being NHL players in their 4th year of junior, but do you want them playing 6 minutes a game on the 4th line. Horvat likely gets the 9 game tryout and then is sent back or is sent back at the World Junior time like Matt Dumba was this past season. Both Rupert's will be in the AHL, I often forget which one is drafted by the Leafs, I believe it's Matt, but you can imagine where one goes the other will. Both players are AHL quality and won't return. They may spend time in the ECHL depending on what happens with the Leafs & Marlies. Brett Welychka will be the 3rd OA. He's really a utility man for the Knights, kid plays D, QB's a power play unit, plays on every line, I expect him to have a very good OA year. Likely will earn an AHL contract once all is said an done next season. Chandler Yakimowicz had a really great playoff an memorial cup, he'll see an added increase in ice time, likely a 3rd line checking role. Mitchell Marner will be a top 20 NHL pick next year an should only improve offensively. Michael McCarron will be back, he needs to use his size to dominate before he can become a useful professional player. One more year of junior, as a top guy will work wonders for this kid. Guys like Tait Seguin & Owen McDonald will play regular minutes next year. McDonald is small but has some good offensively skill, good speed and hockey sense. Seguin is a grinder, who hits an will drops the glove. He'll be an important 4th liner. An lastly Christian Dvorak, he had a serious knee injury early on this year, but returned for the Memorial Cup an was consistently one of the more exciting players on the ice for London. He'll be a top 6 guy and potential a USA world junior performer.

Don't expect to see first round pick Max Jones in the lineup for the Knights next season, at least not until after Christmas, most likely the 15-16 season. Third round pick In 2014 Emmanuel Vella could push for a backup job with the Knights, as they really don't have anyone in their pipelines. Tyler Norther a mid round pick in 2014 is currently committed to the NCAA route, but rumours have him coming to London, he'd be a big addition. Drake Rymsha and Nick Stuckless are two other '14 draft picks that have shots at cracking the Knights lineup next year. I'd put Rymsha at 35%, Stuckless at 15%. 2013 picks with chances are, Zach Werenski. Werenski is a 2013
2nd round pick currently playing in the USNTDP so likely
Going the NCAA route, but I've heard rumour floating that the Knights are in hard on him. Josh De Farias played a few games with London this year, an was hanging around at the Mem Cup I'd be shocked if he wasn't a bottom pairing D-Man with the Knights next year. Mitchell Kreis, 2013 3rd round pick, played with a very successful Georgetown Raiders club this year an played well, even suited up for 1 game with the Knights this year. He'll be around next year. Cam Garrow a 2012 7th round pick also got into one game with Knights this year, he'll battle
With Kreis and De Farias for a spot on the Knights back end. Zach Grzelewski absolutely tore up the SIJHL with Thunder Bay, putting up 79 points in 53 games as a rookie. Played one game with Knights, will be on the roster next year.
It will be interesting to see what 2013 American born Christian Evers & Mattew Tkachuk do. Evers a 6'2 200lbs '97 born d-man is committed to North Dakota and Tkachuk a 5'11, 183 LW is committed to Notre Dame an is the son of Keith Tkachuk. If London gets them to commit, 4 memorial cup appearances in 4 years is not out of the question.

Here is my projected London Knights roster

Domi - Horvat - Marner
Dvorak - Welychka - McCarron
Grezelewski - Yakimowicz - McDonald
Seguin - Rymsha - Stuckless

Mermis - Gleason
Jamieson - Werenski
De Farias - Norther
Kreis - Garrow

Patterson
Vella

Of course if guys like Norther & Werenski don't commit it will change things. As would Tkachuk or Evers deciding the OHL. Or if Horvat & Domi crack the NHL.

You know on top of this projected roster two highly touted imports will come in an a couple trades will be made.
London looks to be in pretty good shape for 2014-2015

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Re: Memorial Cup Preview

Post by jaycro on Thu May 22, 2014 9:53 am

Really enjoy your insightful comments, observations and summaries. Keep it up for us " non-twitter folk". Thanks Macker!

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