Mitch Marner is destroying the Memorial Cup, so what can we expect from him next season?

Mitch Marner (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The London Knights are steamrolling the competition at the Memorial Cup and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner is leading the way, just as he did in the OHL playoffs. All told, the right winger has 57 points in his past 21 games (13 in three Memorial Cup wins). Add in the 116 points he had during the regular season and you’ve got a weaponized threat on the ice.

The Knights have already clinched a spot in the Memorial Cup final thanks to a 3-0 record (in which they have outscored their opponents 20-5), so with one game left on the docket for the team, it’s hard not to speculate what Marner’s future holds next season.

So let’s speculate, shall we?

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Wheat Kings’ Quenneville scores goal of the year, and it’s not even close

Jared Clinton
John Quenneville (via Kathryn Jean/Twitter)

The WHL champion Brandon Wheat Kings didn’t open up the Memorial Cup the way they would have wanted, dropping their first game of the tournament 5-3 at the hands of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. There was one positive to come out of the contest for Wheat Kings fans, though, and that was John Quenneville’s absolutely unbelievable third-period goal.

With the Wheat Kings trailing 5-2 with less than 10 minutes left, Quenneville was sprung on a breakaway following a spectacular stretch pass from defenseman Ivan Provorov and went in alone on Huskies goaltender Chase Marchand. Quenneville could have thrown down a simple deke to try to pull the score closer, but instead went for the highlight-reel tally.

Quenneville received the pass by going skate-to-stick, split the defense, threw a leg kick, moved the puck to his backhand, pulled it between his legs and fired a Marek Malik-like shot over Marchand’s right shoulder. If it sounds like a lot, it’s because it was: Read more

Bleackley pledges $20 for every Rebels goal at Memorial Cup to support those affected by Fort McMurray fires

Jared Clinton
Connor Bleackley (Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Red Deer Rebels center Connor Bleackley isn’t likely to suit up for the opening games of the Memorial Cup this weekend, but the 20-year-old will be watching the games intently in hopes the Rebels can run up the score in support of those affected by the wild fires in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Bleackley announced Thursday via his Twitter account that he will be donating $20 for every goal the Rebels score at the Memorial Cup to the Canadian Red Cross in support of the organizations efforts in Fort McMurray. He’ll continue his drive up until May 30, which is the day before the Canadian government is closing its window to match all donations. A native of High River, Alta., which lies more than 800 kilometers south of Fort McMurray, Bleackley said he knows how much the support can mean.

“The devastation these people have and will face is unimaginable,” Bleackley wrote. “Having gone through the 2013 floods in High Rivers with my family, I know how important and uplifting it is to receive the support from everyone across Canada and the world.”

The Rebels pivot also asked his Twitter followers to support in any way they can. Read more

Memorial Cup players to watch for all 30 NHL teams

Ryan Kennedy
Ivan Provorov (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

The Memorial Cup begins today in Alberta, with the hosts from Red Deer taking on the OHL champs from London. Along with the Rebels and Knights, fans will be treated to performances by the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings and QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. These teams didn’t get here by employing a bunch of scrubs, so there are many players to get excited for.

A lot of those kids have already been drafted by NHL teams and for franchises that don’t have any prospects in the tournament, there is also a raft of talent eligible for this summer’s draft in Buffalo. With that in mind, here’s my list of who to watch, no matter which NHL team you follow.

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OHL appoints longtime coach George Burnett as GM of Flint Firebirds

Jared Clinton
Flint Firebirds (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

After a rocky inaugural season, the OHL is trying to establish some solid footing for the Flint Firebirds. That will begin with longtime OHL coach and GM George Burnett, who was named the GM of the Firebirds Tuesday.

Burnett, 54, comes into Flint with a hefty resume that could help immediately give the Firebirds a solid base upon which to build. Burnett is coming off of a 12-year stint with the Belleville Bulls and Hamilton Bulldogs franchise, over which time he acted as both the coach and GM of the club, as well as four years as coach and GM of the Oshawa Generals and another decade-plus experience behind the bench in the OHL, AHL and NHL.

OHL commissioner David Branch said appointing Burnett, who has been a familiar face in OHL circles, “will provide the players, parents, billets and team staff with stability and expertise.” Branch continued by saying Burnett will be joined by a “strong team in hockey operations,” will will include Joe Stefan, 50, who will be back as assistant GM after spending the 2015-16 campaign as part of the Firebirds’ front office. Read more

Prospect of the Year: meet the best for all 30 NHL teams

Ryan Kennedy
Brock Boeser (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

It’s about that time, folks. The Memorial Cup field has been set, the AHL is into the conference finals and the NCAA champs were crowned long ago. So which players repped their franchises the best? The following list is made up of the prospects I believe had the best seasons for their parent franchises.

These are not necessarily the most NHL-ready players or the top prospects in the organizational pecking order, but these guys had the most success overall (but yeah, a lot of the top guys are here anyway). Factors include individual stats and growth, plus team success – so don’t be surprised to find some North Dakota Fighting Hawks and Brandon Wheat Kings on the list. One more note: any player who is Calder-eligible for the current NHL season does not count – that means no Frankie Vatrano for Boston or Connor Hellebuyck for Winnipeg, as examples.

Let’s get to it:

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Rouyn-Noranda Huskies win QMJHL championship for the first time

Jared Clinton
Francis Perron (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies ran roughshod through the post-season after a dominant end to the regular season, and now the Huskies have captured the first President Cup championship in the 20 years the franchise has spent in Rouyn-Noranda. Making it that much sweeter, they captured the title in front of the home crowd at the IAMGOLD Arena.

Thursday night in Rouyn-Noranda, the Huskies dominated the visiting Shawinigan Cataractes in Game 5 to take a 4-1 series victory. The Huskies got out to an early lead when Anthony-John Greer scored less than two minutes into the contest on a power play, and before the first period was out Rouyn-Noranda had added goals from Timo Meier, Martins Dzierkals and Philippe Myers to take a 4-1 lead into first intermission. It didn’t stop there, as the Huskies added three more tallies to lock up the QMJHL title and skate away with a 7-2 victory in the series-deciding game.

It’s not exactly a shocking victory for Rouyn-Noranda given that the team finished with a league-best 113 points during the regular season, but the way the Huskies got to their first title was incredibly impressive. Beginning Feb. 19, the Huskies won 14 straight regular season contests before sweeping their first-round series against the Drummondville Voltigeurs. It wasn’t until Game 1 of the second round, almost two months from their last loss, that the Huskies finally had their 18-game winning streak broken. Read more

London Knights sweep OHL championship; look unstoppable

From left: Matthew Tkachuk, Mitch Marner (with Red Tilson Trophy) and Christian Dvorak of London (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Right now, the Brandon Wheat Kings and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are in control of their respective championships in the WHL and QMJHL, with 3-1 series leads over Seattle and Shawinigan. The Wheaties lost yesterday, the Huskies the day before.

The OHL’s London Knights, on the other hand, haven’t lost a hockey game since the first day of April.

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