Briggins lets you know who to watch for at the 2013 Memorial Cup.
This year’s edition of the Memorial Cup features a plethora of players who will hear their names called on the first day of the NHL draft this year. In fact, there is an excellent chance the first three names called will be players from this tournament. Potentially, seven players from the best CHL teams could end up going in the first round. In this week’s article, I examine the top eight ranked players from the Halifax Mooseheads, Portland Winterhawks and London Knights, and get you up to speed on how they performed in the playoffs this year. The host team Saskatoon did not have any players ranked in the top 50. All ranking numbers come from NHL Central Scouting Services’ final rankings.
#2 - Nathan MacKinnon, Center
The Mooseheads rolled through the playoffs winning 16 games and only losing one. Much of that was due to the success of the team’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, and Marty Frk. MacKinnon finished with 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points in 17 games. This includes a hat-trick versus Rouyn-Noranda in the second round. While he was held scoreless in the first three games of the final versus Bai-Comeau, he scored big goals in the final two games. Through my work covering the team for sportsandmoore.com, I had the chance to hear different NHL scouts opinions on MacKinnon and Drouin. All the scouts I talked to say MacKinnon is more NHL ready than Drouin. In an earlier column I said I would take Drouin ahead of MacKinnon and I still stand by that. You can’t go wrong with either one in fantasy drafts this season.
#3 - Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing
Jonathan Drouin was named MVP for the QMJHL playoffs and finished with 12 goals and 23 assists for 35 points in 17 games. That number was boosted in the first game of the first series when he had 6 assists in the teams 11-1 victory against Saint John.
#1* - Zach Fucale, Goalie
Zach Fucale will be the first goalie called up at the draft. His name may be called earlier than initially projected by scouts after an impressive playoffs. He only lost one game while recording 16 wins, three shutouts, a 0.918 save percentage and 2.02 goals against average. In the league final, he recorded 28 saves in each of the first two games and was named the teams best player in game one. Of all the rookie goalies this year, he’s the one to draft in fantasy leagues. But as always with goalies, it’s hard to project exactly how many years it will take before they get to the NHL. Even then, there’s no guarantee as to when they’ll have a starting gig.
#1 - Seth Jones, Defenseman
At this point, it would be a surprise to not see Seth Jones go number one overall to the Avalanche. He’s going to be an NHL superstar and you’ll be happy to have him on your fantasy team. While he may not have scored any goals in the final versus Edmonton, he finished the playoffs with five goals and 10 assists for 15 points.
#33 - Nic Petan, Center
Nic Petan finished behind teammate and St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie in WHL playoff scoring. He had nine goals and 19 assists for a total of 28 points. This includes game four versus Kamloops where he scored two goals and added an assist in Portland’s 3-1 victory. He tied for the WHL regular season scoring title, but there are questions and concerns whether his lack of size and speed will allow his success to go beyond the junior level. He’s 5-9 and only 166 pounds. Certainly don’t reach for him in your fantasy drafts as attractive as those regular season stats may be.
#36 - Oliver Bjorkstrand , Left Wing
The Danish forward Oliver Bjorkstrand had a solid playoff scoring just under a point-per-game with eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points in 21 games. He plays on Portland’s second line, a line assigned to shutting down Edmonton’s top line and also a line that contributed offensively. At 5-11 and 164 pounds, much like teammate Nic Petan, Bjorkstrand needs to fill out his frame to succeed at the pro level. He could end up as a top-six forward, but fantasy managers will need to be patient and let him develop for quite a few seasons.
#15 - Bo Horvat, Center
A good way to get noticed is by scoring the game-winning goal with under a second to go in game seven of the OHL final against Barrie. The big goal by Bo Horvat capped a series where the Knights overcame being down 3-1 in the series. He stepped up in that series scoring seven of his sixteen goals in the final. He finished the playoffs with 16 goals and seven assists for 23 points. This was good enough to capture the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as playoff MVP. He plays an excellent two-way game and excels at faceoffs. Whatever NHL team lands him will undoubtedly be excited to land such a complete player. While this will increase his chances of making it to the NHL, he won’t necessarily translate to a reliable fantasy option if he ends up playing as a bottom six two-way forward. If he ends up on the top two lines, he could become a very useful fantasy asset.
#19 - Max Domi, Center
Max Domi finished second in OHL playoff scoring behind Mark Scheifele of the Barrie Colts. Domi had 11 goals and 21 assists for 32 points. This included the overtime winner against Plymouth in the semi-finals, a team that clinched the five game series for the Knights. Domi was quieter in the final against Barrie, only scoring one assist although he did have a three assist night in game six including an assist on the overtime goal by Rupert. The 5-11 and 194 pound center may be small, but he works hard and has an impressive skill set. Don’t be surprised to see him go higher than #19 and don’t be scared off by his size in fantasy drafts. Draft with confidence.
#22 - Nikita Zadorov, Defenseman
First of all, Nikita Zadorov is huge. Seeing him in person, he’s noticeable as he towers above the competition on the ice. The 6-5 and 228 pound Russian forward finished the playoffs with two goals and four assists for six points in 20 games. In fantasy leagues, you’re only grabbing Zadorov if it is a deep league that has multiple stat categories such as blocked shots, hits and height.
Bo Horvat’s series game winning goal
The 2013 DobberHockey Prospects Report will be released on June 1st. More information on all of the above players (as well as hundreds of other prospects you need to know about) will be in there. And for only $2.50 more, pick up the 2013 DobberHockey Keeper League Pack, which includes the 2013-14 Fantasy Guide and the 2013-14 Draft List.