The Memorial Cup has its third competitor as the Kelowna Rockets will be heading to Quebec to compete for major junior’s grandest prize following a sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL final.
The Rockets, who defeated the Wheat Kings 3-0 in the fourth game of the final, captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the fourth time in the last twelve seasons and will go on to the Memorial Cup tournament in Quebec City. Both the Quebec Remparts and Rimouski Oceanic have secured a spot in the tournament, and are battling for seeding now, since the Remparts are hosting.”
In light of the Montreal Canadiens exiting the playoffs with a whimper Tuesday night, now is as good a time to ask the question. What exactly are the Montreal Canadiens? Are they a team on the rise that is a couple of pieces away from being a Stanley Cup winner or has their success been a mirage orchestrated by an all-world goaltender and a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman in the prime of his career?
The Canadiens will have to answer those questions this off-season. More specifically, GM Marc Bergevin will. On one hand, they were three points away from winning the Presidents’ Trophy. On the other hand, they were one of the worst possession teams in the NHL, had a terrible power play and looked very ordinary against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
Major junior playoffs have reached the final series, while the AHL post-season is well into the second round. An incredibly exciting 2014-15 campaign is nearing its end, so I’m opening up the Hot List a bit to younger prospects. Like those that came before them, they are the players you’ll want to know and that we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
When Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz compared Alex Ovechkin to Hall of Famer Mark Messier after Game 1 of his team’s second-round series against the New York Rangers, he probably didn’t realize how soon his captain would have to prove him right.
Messier and Ovechkin are the only two players in NHL history to be named a first-team all-star at two different positions. Like Messier, Ovechkin has a rare blend of speed, skill and physicality. And now, like Messier, Ovechkin is putting himself out there by guaranteeing a victory, the way Messier did 21 years ago for the Rangers in the Eastern Conference final against the New Jersey Devils. Read more
OSHAWA – Speed kills. You figure they’d know that in a city that exists because of the car industry. But instead of being an assembly line of sleek speedsters, the Oshawa Generals are driving the Erie Otters and their superstar nuts by commandeering the slow lane.
There are many, many reasons why Connor McDavid is special. One of the main ones is that he can do so many things at top speed. His ability to gain the zone with the puck and with speed is legendary. But he’s done next to nothing in the OHL final because the Generals have taken that aspect of the game almost completely away from him. Sure, the kid had some pretty good looks in Game 2 of the OHL championship series, a 5-1 drubbing of the Erie Otters by the Generals, but the Generals had an incredible amount of gap control. Almost non-existent were McDavid’s blinding zone entries and only a few times was he able to jump on loose pucks in the offensive zone. Read more
Based on his record-breaking year with the U.S. National Team Development Program, Auston Matthews is looking like a game-changer for the 2016 draft. But where he plays next season may be just as revolutionary.
For weeks, speculation has built as to the destination of Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor, an unrestricted free agent highly-regarded and hotly pursued by a number of NHL teams. The 23-year-old made his decision early Saturday afternoon, rejecting overtures from the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers to sign a two-year contract with the Ottawa Senators.
The signing of the Toronto native to a two-year deal crowds the Sens’ crease to an even greater degree than it was already. Ottawa has – for now, anyway – three netminders with NHL experience in its employ, including veteran and starter Craig Anderson, 23-year-old Robin Lehner, and recent sensation Andrew “The Hamburlgar” Hammond, and O’Connor will be aiming to get there as soon as possible. Hammond is an unrestricted free agent and Senators GM Bryan Murray could deal his rights before he hits the market, but if Ottawa plans on retaining Hammond’s services, something will have to give with either Anderson (who has three years left on his contract and a $4.2 million salary cap hit) or Lehner (signed for two more years at a $2.25 million cap hit).
But enough about the future. The present-day news is the Senators landed a big body in the 6-foot-5 O’Connor, but they also signed a young man with a big brain and every intention to make his mark on and off the ice. Read more
The Oshawa Generals knew they had a tall task on their hands. Facing Erie in the OHL final, the Gens had to figure out a way to stop Otters superstar Connor McDavid, who came into Game 1 with a dizzying 42 points in 15 playoff games. At the end of the night, McDavid had been on the ice for more goals-against than goals-for and the Gens thrilled their fans with a 4-1 win.
If Game 1 was any indication, this series will be fought in both the trenches and the war rooms. Oshawa’s strategy for battening down McDavid was to have Vancouver Canucks prospect Cole Cassels on against the consensus No. 1 pick overall in the NHL draft this summer as much as possible.