Here’s a breakdown of all four contenders for the Memorial Cup
WINDSOR — For NHL scouts, the four teams playing in the 99th MasterCard Memorial Cup have already drawn plenty of attention. A total of 28 players competing in this event have been drafted by NHL teams over the past two seasons, while another 11 are rated for next month’s NHL draft in Chicago.
All that talent hits the ice starting on Friday when the host Windsor Spitfires open the tournament against the Saint John Sea Dogs at the WFCU Centre at 4 p.m. The Seattle Thunderbirds and Erie Otters get into action on Saturday.
Here is a look at the four teams competing for the title, how each made its way to Windsor and some of the names that could play a key role over the 10-day tourney.
Regular season: 50-15-2-1 Playoffs: 16-6 Final CHL ranking: No. 2 Road to Windsor: Swept Sarnia in first round, beat London in seven games in the second round, defeated Owen Sound in six games in the conference final and beat Mississauga in five games to earn first title since 2002. NHL prospects: D Jordan Sambrook (5th round Detroit), D Erik Cernak (2nd round Los Angeles), RW Alex DeBrincat (2nd round Chicago), RW Taylor Raddysh (2nd round Tampa Bay), C Dylan Strome (1st round Arizona), C Anthony Cirelli (3rd round Tampa Bay) and C Warren Foegele (3rd round Carolina). 2017 NHL draft prospects: RW Ivan Lodnia (No. 36 among North American skaters) and C German Poddubnyi (No. 130 among N.A. skaters) Head coach: Kris Knoblauch (fifth season with Otters) Fast fact: Otters are the first team in CHL history to post four straight seasons of 50 wins or more.
Saint John Sea Dogs
Regular season: 48-14-5-1 Playoffs: 16-2 Final CHL ranking: No. 3 Road to Windsor: Swept Rimouski in the first round and Val d’Or in the second before knocking off Chicoutimi in six games and sweeping Blainville-Boisbriand in the final. NHL prospects: G Callum Booth (4th round Carolina), D Simon Bourque (6th round Montreal), D Thomas Chabot (1st round Ottawa), D Jakub Zboril (1st round Boston), C Nathan Noel (4th round Chicago), C Samuel Dove-McFalls (4th round Philadelphia), RW Spencer Smallman (5th round Carolina), RW Mathieu Joseph (4th round Tampa Bay) and LW Bokondji Imama (6th round Tampa Bay) 2017 NHL draft prospects: C Cedric Pare (No. 145 among N.A. skaters), G Alex D’Orio (No. 13 among N.A. goaltenders). Head coach: Danny Flynn (second season with Sea Dogs) Fast fact: Sea Dogs have won QMJHL title three times in the past seven years.
Regular season: 41-19-5-3 Playoffs: 3-4 Final CHL ranking: Honourable mention Road to Windsor: Spitfires were awarded host rights to 99th MasterCard Memorial Cup on May 2, 2016. NHL prospects: D Logan Stanley (1st round Winnipeg), D Mikhail Sergachev (1st round Montreal), D Sean Day (3rd round New York Rangers), LW Jeremiah Addison (7th round Montreal Canadiens), C Logan Brown (1st round Ottawa), C Julius Nattinen (2nd round Anaheim), LW Graham Knott (2nd round Chicago), RW Jeremy Bracco (2nd round Toronto) and D Jalen Chatfield (signed as a free agent by Vancouver). 2017 NHL draft prospects: C/RW Gabriel Vilardi (No. 4 among N.A. skaters), G Michael Di Pietro (No. 4 among N.A. goalies), RW Cole Purboo (No. 189 among N.A. skaters) and RW Luke Boka (No. 201 among N.A. skaters). Head coach: Rocky Thompson (second season with Spitfires) Fast fact: Windsor is trying to become the first team to win three Memorial Cups in a decade since the Kamloops Blazers (1992, 1994 and 1995).
Regular season: 46-20-4-2 Playoffs: 16-4 Final CHL ranking: Honourable mention Road to Windsor: Swept Tri-City in the first round and Everett in the second. Beat Kelowna in six games in the conference final and Regina in six games. NHL prospects: D Ethan Bear (5th round Edmonton), LW Ryan Gropp (2nd round New York Rangers), C Mathew Barzal (1st round New York Islanders) and RW Keegan Kolesar (3rd round Columbus) 2017 NHL draft prospects: D Jarret Tyszka (No. 51 among N.A. skaters), RW Sami Moilanen (No. 110 among N.A. skaters) and C Matthew Wedman (No. 210 among N.A. skaters). Head coach: Steve Konowalchuk (sixth season with Thunderbirds) Fast fact: Seattle won its first league title in 40 seasons in the WHL.
From left: Erie Otters’ Alex DeBrincat, Saint John Sea Dogs’ Spencer Smallman, Windsor Spitfires’ Logan Brown and Seattle Thunderbirds’ Mathew Barzal.