Ryan Kennedy

Ryan Kennedy is the associate senior writer and draft/prospect expert at The Hockey News. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all called his house. He lives in Toronto with his wife and kids where he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.

CHL playoffs: The most intriguing first-round matchups

Quebec's Anthony Duclair  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

The CHL playoffs begin tonight and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Connor McDavid has one last chance to win it all with the Erie Otters in the Ontario League, but the powerfully-built Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have designs of their own. Out in the Western League, Kelowna and Brandon seem to be on a collision course for the final, while the Quebec League has the added wrinkle of sending two teams to the Memorial Cup – one being the host Quebec Remparts, who won’t want to crawl in through the back door.

Here’s a look at all the first-round matchups in the CHL, with a bit more info on one series per league that has me riveted from the get-go.

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Saskatoon traded away the first overall pick in the WHL for the second year in a row

Ryan Kennedy
Saskatoon's Brett Stovin (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

There was a lot of hand-wringing in Toronto when the first draft pick traded to the Boston Bruins in the Phil Kessel deal turned out to be No. 2 overall, netting the B’s Tyler Seguin. But hey; at least the Leafs got one of the top scorers in the NHL in Kessel.

Now gently and kindly turn your eyes to the Western League’s Saskatoon Blades, who, thanks to their own trades, have accidentally given away the first overall pick in the bantam draft for the second year in a row.

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Why bother winning a lot of games in the Western Conference?

Mark Scheifele and Tyler Myers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong has done a lot of roster building over the past few years and if the franchise is going to win its first-ever Stanley Cup, the window is open. Of course, the Blues could also get knocked out in the first round again and no one would bat an eye – the West is just that competitive.

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Prospect Hot List: Casey Fitzgerald’s deep hockey roots

Casey Fitzgerald (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Since I did a big NCAA dig on Monday, it’s time to focus on some other circuits. Major junior playoff brackets are set and there will be some barnburners – Quebec vs. Cape Breton is intriguing, while a potential second-round match between Erie and the Soo Greyhounds is dizzying to think of. But the big story right now is Youngstown of the United States League. The Phantoms just broke a USHL record by winning 17 straight – and Chicago gave them a good game in that last one. But enough about teams, here are the players making noise in the prospect world right now.

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NCAA Frozen Four: Players to watch from every team in the tournament

Minnesota State goalie Stephon Williams (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

College hockey’s Frozen Four kicks off this week with 16 teams gunning for a spot in Boston, where the semifinal and final will be held in April. Regionals spread the squads across four cities and there is a lot of firepower at this year’s installment. But who are the players to watch for? Here’s a primer for every school, with an admitted bias towards NHL prospects.

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Is the next Logan Couture at the OHL Cup?

Ryan Kennedy
Quinte's Brady Gilmour (photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

The OHL Cup has been dominated by teams from Toronto and its suburbs for years, but that doesn’t mean every player to watch hails from around the Big Smoke. This year’s edition of the minor midget showcase tournament includes a pretty solid Quinte Red Devils team, representing the area around Belleville and Cobourg, a couple hours east of Toronto.

And the leader of that Quinte squad is captain Brady Gilmour, who is also expected to go as high as top-five in the OHL draft this summer. Gilmour actually comes from Grafton, which is even smaller than Belleville and Cobourg.

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Prospect Hot List: Hunting for Hobey in Denver

Joey LaLeggia (Photo By Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The playoffs are almost upon us in major junior, while the NCAA conference tournaments are in full swing. Since some teams have already been eliminated, early signing season has begun too, with Brandon Montour leaving UMass for Anaheim and Ben Hutton ending his career in Maine to ink a deal with Vancouver. More are sure to come, but until then, here’s a look around the world of prospects.

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