Predictions I Am Totally Wrong About So Far

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Before we begin, a brief programming note. My original plan was to write some more season preview blogs on the USHL, CIS, and NCAA campaigns. However, because of my sports reporting job in Airdrie, that has taken a back seat. With that said, I do plan on hopefully doing more random thought pieces, starting with this little piece on the CHL.

We’re nearing the two month mark in major junior hockey, and some things are becoming clearer.

For starters, Connor McDavid is really good, which a stray cat who has never watched the Erie Otters play would have been able to tell you, and the Lethbridge Hurricanes aren’t terrible anymore, which is a nice surprise.

But for every prediction that is relatively straight forward, there are those pre-season prognostications that we make that end up being completely wrong, and I have certainly made a few of them.

So for today’s rambling blog post, I’ll be looking at one team each from the QMJHL, OHL, and WHL that have preformed better or worse than what my expectations were back in September.

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Let’s start off in the Ontario Hockey League with the Niagara IceDogs, who I thought would be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference with a strong defence leading the way.

Instead, the Ice Dogs are a lowly 3-13-0-0 following an upset win over the Erie Otters on November 6, which has them ninth in the Eastern Conference and 19th in the overall league table ahead of the Sudbury Wolves.

Now granted, there are some injury concerns. Arizona Coyotes first round pick Brendan Perlini hasn’t even played a game for the IceDogs this year with a hand injury, and Ryan Mantha (who was committed to go to North Dakota before signing in the summer) is currently sidelined with a shoulder issue.

But while those losses hurt, Niagara’s overall performances have been really sub-par. Okay, they’ve only been blown out once (a 7-2 loss to the Wolves at home on Nov. 1), but the number of three goal losses has piled up, and the early one-goal losses on the road are looking worse by the hour.

With that in mind, the IceDogs have already shaken things up by bringing in overage goalie Brandon Hope, who will more than likely take things over from Dallas draft pick Brent Moran, who hasn’t stepped up like many expected. However, I doubt that will change things that quickly.

Did I fall in love too much with the overall defensive depth and ignored the fact that this is a younger lineup? Quite possibly, but given the talent they had on paper and the weak conference they play in, I expected the IceDogs to make the post-season with ease. As of right now, I’m not convinced that will happen.

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Our next stop is the Western Hockey League, where the team that I picked to win it all is currently languishing at the bottom of the US Division with a 7-10-0-2 record.

The Portland Winterhawks’ run of dominance in the West was bound to end at some point with big name players like Ty Rattie and Derrick Pouliot now plying their trades in the pro ranks, but I certainly wasn’t expecting them to be struggling as much as they have.

Although things have been better lately with wins over the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Kelowna Rockets, a rough start with some shaky goaltending and a ton of players at NHL training camps put the Winterhawks in the cellar.

However, I don’t expect that to last much longer.

Heading into a home game against the Red Deer Rebels on Nov. 7, the Winterhawks are just one point out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference (held by the Seattle Thunderbirds) and are only four points behind the Tri-City Americans for second place in the US Division. The division leading Everett Silvertips are nine points up with games in hand, so that might be a tall task to catch them, but everyone else in the US Division is well within in range.

Barring a massive fire-sale, or a shock trade where another team in the division snags Greg Chase or Josh Morrissey, Portland should be back in the mix before long. That roster is far too talented not to be in the conference finals, though it probably wouldn’t matchup well with the juggernaut Rockets.

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Let’s wrap this up with a positive surprise, as we head East to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Saint John Sea Dogs.

Prior to the start of the season, I wasn’t expecting a lot out of the Sea Dogs. Sure they had some interesting young talent, but with former OHL first round picks Mitchell Dempsey and Adam Bateman being brought in for what seemed like a last chance saloon, I wasn’t expecting much other than a playoff experience.

Instead, the Sea Dogs are currently leading the Maritime Division with a 12-3-0-3 record ahead of a Nov. 7 road game against the Halifax Mooseheads, which has put them in second place in the overall league table with 27 points.

The Sea Dogs don’t have an elite scorer (Free Agent pickup Adam Marsh is tied for 27th in league scoring with 20 points), but everyone is playing solid right now. Nathan Noel and Luke Green are living up to their high draft selections, overage netminder Sebastian Auger is making save after save, and the aforementioned Dempsey is proving me wrong with a strong start in his new surroundings.

Will this last? I’m still not sure to be honest. I don’t think Saint John is going to fall off of the face of the earth, but the gap between the Sea Dogs and the 15th place Cape Breton Screaming Eagles is just 10 points. The margin for error is a small one in the QMJHL this year, especially with the Memorial Cup being held in Quebec City.

When all is said and done, I expect the Sea Dogs to be a solid mid-table side, unless they are able to strength their squad around the trade deadline. However, the stage is set for the team to be a contender come next season when Noel and Green will become the leaders, and the Sea Dogs won’t be as much as a surprise as they have been so far.


The Punkari Brothers 2014/15 NHL Preview

LA Kings Cup Champs

(Lucas here. As you probably know, I’m much more of a college and junior hockey fan than of the NHL, so I wasn’t really planning about doing a season preview post. However, my brother and I were discussing our thoughts, and I decided to have him lead the way, while I make comments along the way.)

A new NHL season is upon us,, and while most Canadian people are foaming at the mouth over the new Rogers TV deal (which basically means more Canadian team being talked about more than the Coyotes) us people with actual sanity will give you a preview of the season. Keep in mind my knowledge of NHL teams is not that great compared to curling teams.

(He’s already insulting fans, we’re off to a great start. Oh by the way, the rosters we have are based upon what was on the EliteProspects site on the eve of the NHL season.)

Corey Perry

Anaheim Ducks

Last Season: First in Pacific Division (54-20-8) – Lost 4-3 to Los Angeles in West Semis

Forwards: Matt Beleskey, Andrew Cogliano, Emerson Etem, Ryan Getzlaf, Dany Heatley, Tim Jackman, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Maroon, Kyle Palmieri, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Devante Smith-Pelly, Nate Thompson

Defencemen: Bryan Allen, Francois Beauchemin, Mark Fistric, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Ben Lovejoy, Sheldon Souray, Clayton Stoner, Sami Vatanen

Goalies: Frederik Andersen, John Gibson

Prediction: Third in Pacific Division (While they have Kitchener Rangers god John Gibson in net, the core looks pretty good as well.)

Lucas Says: Second in Pacific Division (My boy Teemu is gone, so I’m upset about that, but this is still a pretty solid squad from top to bottom. The one question may be with the goaltending, but John Gibson is the man so I think they will be fine.)

Mike Smith

Arizona Coyotes

Last Season: Fourth in Pacific Division (37-30-15) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Chipchura, BJ Crombeen, Shane Doan, Martin Erat, Sam Gagner, Martin Hanzal, Justin Hodgman, Rob Klinkhammer, Lauri Korpikoski, Brandon McMillan, David Moss, Antoine Vermette, Joe Vitale

Defencemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Zbynek Michalek, Connor Murphy, David Schlemko, Michael Stone, Chris Summers, Keith Yandle

Goalies: Devan Dubnyk, Mike Smith

Prediction: Fourth in Pacific Division (A pretty decent looking lineup, though all of the pressure will probably be on Mike Smith. All Hail The Yotes!)

Lucas Says: Fifth in Pacific Division (The back end is really solid, but the forward core leaves quite a lot to be desired. That will probably end up being the difference as to if this team will make the playoffs or not.)

Zdeno Chara

Boston Bruins

Last Season: First in Atlantic Division (54-19-9) – Lost 4-3 to Montreal in East Semis

Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg, Ryan Spooner

Defencemen: Matt Bartkowski, Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Dennis Seidenberg

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg

Prediction: First in Atlantic Division (The forwards are nothing really to fear about, although it’s a decent group. However, Zdeno Chara is someone that should be feared.)

Lucas Says: First in Atlantic Division (The roster is more or less the same, well minus Ryan Spooner, but if it’s good enough already, why fix it?)

Rick Jaerrette

Buffalo Sabres

Last Season: Eighth in Atlantic Division (21-51-10) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Nicolas Deslauriers, Tyler Ennis, Brian Flynn, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Brian Gionta, Cody Hodgson, Cody McCormick, Torrey Mitchell, Matt Moulson, Sam Reinhart, Drew Stafford, Chris Stewart

Defencemen: Andre Benoit, Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe, Andrej Meszaros, Tyler Myers, Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen, Mike Weber

Goalies: Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth

Prediction: Seventh in Atlantic Division (The rebuild has officially begun for the Retro Sabres after they traded away Ryan Miller. It’s going to be quite awhile before we see this team in playoff contention.)

Lucas Says: Eighth in Atlantic Division (There’s a team worse than Buffalo in the division? That’s news to me. They have added some veteran forwards, but this will be another bad year as the Sabres look to get either McJesus or Eichel in the NHL draft.)

Johnny Hockey

Calgary Flames

Last Season: Sixth in Pacific Division (35-40-7) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Brandon Bollig, Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, Joe Colborne, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Glencross, Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Brian McGrattan, Sean Monahan, Mason Raymond, Devin Setoguchi, Matt Stajan

Defencemen: TJ Brodie, Raphael Diaz, Deryk Engelland, Mark Giordano, Corey Potter, Kris Russell, Ladislav Smid, Dennis Wideman

Goalies: Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo

Prediction: Sixth in Pacific Division (Good luck trying to clean up the mess Jay Feaster left behind.)

Lucas Says: Sixth in Pacific Division (I don’t like the defensive depth one bit, but the young forward core is pretty solid, especially with my boy Johnny Hockey. Expect this season to be similar to last year.)

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Carolina Hurricanes

Last Season: Seventh in Metropolitan Division (36-35-11) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Patrick Dwyer, Nathan Gerbe, Elias Lindholm, Brad Malone, Jay McClement, Riley Nash, Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Chris Terry, Jiri Tlusty

Defencemen: Brett Bellemore, Justin Faulk, Tim Gleason, Ron Hainsey, Jay Harrison, John-Michael Liles, Ryan Murphy, Andrej Sekera

Goalies: Anton Khudobin, Cam Ward

Prediction: Sixth in Metropolitan Division (Although they have former Kitchener Rangers Jeff Skinner and Ryan Murphy, things to be progressing very slowly in terms of a rebuild.)

Lucas Says: Eighth in Metropolitan Division (Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal both have long-term injuries, and the Cam Ward trade rumours continue. That’s not a good sign.)

Patrick Kane

Chicago Blackhawks

Last Season: Third in Central Division (46-21-15) – Lost 4-3 to Los Angeles in West Finals

Forwards: Bryan Bickell, Daniel Carcillo, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Marcus Kruger, Jeremy Morin, Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw, Ben Smith, Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg

Defencemen: Kyle Cumiskey, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival, David Rundblad, Brent Seabrook

Goalies: Corey Crawford, Antti Raanta

Prediction: First in Central Division (After a tough exit last year, Chicago looks primed for another Cup run or two with what they have on the roster.)

Lucas Says: First in Central Division (Like Brett says, the Blackhawks are once again favourites to win the Stanley Cup, and are probably the class of the Western Conference. Mind you, the Kings might have something to say about that.)

Patrick Roy

Colorado Avalanche

Last Season: First in Central Division (52-22-8) – Lost 4-3 to Minnesota in West Quarters

Forwards: Patrick Bordeleau, Daniel Briere, Marc-Andre Cliche, Matt Duchene , Jarome Iginla, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Jamie McGinn, Cody McLeod, John Mitchell, Ryan O’Reilly, Maxime Talbot, Alex Tanguay, Jesse Winchester

Defencemen: Tyson Barrie, Nate Guenin, Jan Hejda, Nick Holden, Erik Johnson, Zach Redmond, Brad Stuart, Ryan Wilson

Goalies: Reto Berra, Semyon Varlamov

Prediction: Third in Central Division (It’s going to be interesting to see if this Colorado team can repeat last year’s great regular season form in Patrick Roy’s second year of coaching. Usually, that does not happen.)

Lucas Says: Third in Central Division (This is the popular pick for a team that will have a massive regression, but given the talented young forwards they have, and mad man Patrick Roy at coach, I still think they will make the playoffs.)

BOBROVSKY

Columbus Blue Jackets

Last Season: Fourth in Metropolitan Division (43-32-7) – First Wild Card – Lost 4-2 to Pittsburgh in East Quarters

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Cam Atkinson, Jared Boll, Matt Calvert, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Brian Gibbons, Scott Hartnell, Nathan Horton, Boone Jenner, Ryan Johansen, Mark Letestu, Jack Skille, Corey Tropp

Defencemen: Tim Erixon, Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray, Dalton Prout, David Savard, Fedor Tyutin, James Wisniewski

Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky, Curtis McElhinney

Prediction: Fourth in Metropolitan Division (All of the pressure will be on BOBROVSKY! to improve on the Blue Jackets’ near upset of Pittsburgh last year.)

Lucas Says: Fourth in Metropolitan Division (They got the Ryan Johansen contract situation solved just before the season, and with the roster being the same as it was a year ago, I expect another similar showing for the Jackets, as they aren’t quite at the same level yet as the other top teams in the East.)

Kari Lehtonen

Dallas Stars

Last Season: Fifth in Central Division (40-31-11) – Second Wild Card – Lost 4-2 to Anaheim in West Quarters

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Erik Cole, Cody Eakin, Patrick Eaves, Vernon Fiddler, Ryan Garbutt, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Valeri Nichushkin, Rich Peverley, Antoine Roussel, Colton Sceviour, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

Defencemen: Jordie Benn, Kevin Connauton, Trevor Daley, Brenden Dillon, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak

Goalies: Kari Lehtonen, Anders Lindback

Prediction: Sixth in Central Divsion (After making a surprise playoff appearance last year, and adding Jason Spezza in the off-season, things look to be on the up and up.)

Lucas Says: Fifth in Central Division (With Spezza and Hemsky both joining Dallas, the Stars forward core is going to be a tons of fun. However, given the strength of the Central Division, they will be in a fight to make the playoffs.)

NHL: Winter Classic-Toronto Maple Leafs at Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings

Last Season: Fourth in Atlantic Division (39-28-15) – Second Wild Card – Lost 4-1 to Boston in East Quarters

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Joakim Andersson, Daniel Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Tomas Jurco, Drew Miller, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Stephen Weiss, Henrik Zetterberg

Defencemen: Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, Brian Lashoff, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith

Goalies: Jonas Gustavsson, Jimmy Howard

Prediction: Fourth in Atlantic Division (Ho hum, probably another playoff appearance is upcoming. However, the defence does leave something to be desired.)

Lucas Says: Fourth in Atlantic Division (If the Red Wings were in the West, I don’t think I would have the making the post-season. But since the East isn’t as strong, the playoff streak will continue for another year.)

Taylor Hall

Edmonton Oilers

Last Season: Seventh in Pacific Division (29-44-9) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Will Acton, Mark Arcobello, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Luke Gazdic, Boyd Gordon, Taylor Hall, Matt Hendricks, Jesse Joensuu, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, David Perron, Benoit Pouliot, Teddy Purcell, Nail Yakupov

Defencemen: Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference, Brad Hunt, Oscar Klefbom, Nikita Nikitin, Darnell Nurse, Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz

Goalies: Viktor Fasth, Ben Scrivens

Prediction: Fifth in Pacific Division (Will this finally be the year the Oilers get their heads out of their butts and start winning? I doubt it with only a few good players. At least getting rid of Devan Dubnyk was a good start.)

Lucas Says: Seventh in Pacific Division (Oh Edmonton, how did it all go wrong, wait don’t tell me as that will be a great pick. I don’t expect things to be getting better for the Oilers after not seeing a playoff push since the rebuild began in 2010, so I am convinced nothing new will happen in 2014-15, well other than a fire sale.)

LeBrongo Twitter

Florida Panthers

Last Season: Seventh in Atlantic Division (29-45-8) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Sean Bergenheim, Nick Bjugstad, David Bolland, Brad Boyes, Tomas Fleischmann, Jimmy Hayes, Jonathan Huberdeau, Jussi Jokinen, Tomas Kopecky, Derek MacKenzie, Brandon Pirri, Shawn Thornton, Scottie Upshall

Defencemen: Brian Campbell, Aaron Ekblad, Erik Gudbranson, Dmitry Kulikov, Willie Mitchell, Dylan Olsen, Colby Robak

Goalies: Roberto Luongo, Al Montoya

Prediction: Sixth in Atlantic Division (As Roberto Luongo’s career comes full circle, he does have a challenge ahead of him. But hey, at least as he has an okay team to work with as Florida tries to build off of a playoff appearance from a couple of years ago.)

Lucas Says: Seventh in Atlantic Division (In the Hockey News season preview, they have the Panthers making the playoffs, which I think is slightly insane. Sure they have a ton of young talent, but Nick Bjugstad led the team in scoring with 38 points last year. Unless someone goes off big time, I just don’t see this team in the playoffs.)

Jonathan Quick

Los Angeles Kings

Last Season: Third in Pacific Division (46-28-8) – 2013-14 Stanley Cup Champions

Forwards: Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, Marian Gaborik, Dwight King, Anze Kopitar, Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan, Tanner Pearson, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll, Tyler Toffoli, Justin Williams

Defencemen: Drew Doughty, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb, Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Slava Voynov

Goalies: Martin Jones, Jonathan Quick

Prediction: First in Pacific Division (After a hard fought Cup victory last year, they have the target on their back, but they have been through this before so don’t be surprised if they win again.)

Lucas Says: First in Pacific Division (Yet another team that didn’t switch anything up after their success. If ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and the Kings will more than likely be in the Western Conference final mix once again.)

Niklas Backstrom

Minnesota Wild

Last Season: Fourth in Central Division (43-27-12) – First Wild Card – Lost 4-2 to Chicago in West Semis

Forwards: Cody Almond, Kyle Brodziak, Ryan Carter, Matt Cooke, Charlie Coyle, Justin Fontaine, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Jason Zucker

Defencemen: Keith Ballard, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Christian Folin, Nate Prosser, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter

Goalies: Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Darcy Kuemper

Prediction: Fourth in Central Division (A great looking forward core, but not so much on defence. They may have to depend on Niklas Backstrom, if he starts, for some wins.)

Lucas Says: Fourth in Central Division (When I told Brett that the Wild would be starting with Darcy Kuemper in goal for this season, he asked me if the team was drunk. At any rate, the Wild are a super solid team from front to back, and should easily make the post-season.)

Carey Price

Montreal Canadiens

Last Season: Third in Atlantic Division (46-28-8) – Lost 4-2 to NY Rangers in East Finals

Forwards: Michael Bournival, Rene Bourque, David Desharnais, Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Manny Malhotra, Travis Moen, Max Pacioretty, PA Parenteau, Tomas Plekanec, Brandon Prust, Jiri Sekac, Dale Weise

Defencemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Alexei Emelin, Tom Gilbert, Andrei Markov, PK Subban, Jarred Tinordi, Mike Weaver

Goalies: Carey Price, Dustin Tokarski

Prediction: Second in Atlantic Division (Canadiens fans have to thank Dustin Tokarski for keeping them in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now it’s up to Carey Price to return the favour and bring them a step or two further.)

Lucas Says: Third in Atlantic Division (Do I think the Habs are going to return to the Eastern Finals? Not really, but they are easily the top Canadian team to be a threat to win the Stanley Cup this season.)

Mustard Preds

Nashville Predators

Last Season: Sixth in Central Division (38-32-12) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Taylor Beck, Gabriel Bourque, Richard Clune, Matt Cullen, Mike Fisher, Filip Forsberg, Paul Gaustad, Calle Jarnkrok, Olli Jokinen, James Neal, Eric Nystrom, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, Craig Smith, Viktor Stalberg, Colin Wilson

Defencemen: Victor Bartley, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Anton Volchenkov, Shea Weber

Goalies: Carter Hutton, Pekka Rinne

Prediction: Fifth in Central Division (The Nashville Way from the early years is gone now, and its time for a new direction, and perhaps a return to the playoffs.)

Lucas Says: Sixth in Central Division (The defence is stellar, but the forwards don’t really match up with the rest of the Western Conference, at least not yet.)

Martin Brodeur

New Jersey Devils

Last Season: Sixth in Metropolitan Division (35-29-18) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Damien Brunner, Mike Cammalleri, Ryane Clowe, Patrik Elias, Stephen Gionta, Martin Havlat, Adam Henrique, Jaromir Jagr, Jacob Josefson, Tuomo Ruutu, Michael Ryder, Jordin Tootoo, Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus

Defencemen: Eric Gelinas, Andy Greene, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, Bryce Salvador, Marek Zidlicky

Goalies: Scott Clemmensen, Cory Schneider

Prediction: Seventh in Metropolitan Division (The Martin Brodeur era is officially over now. The current forwards are good, but the defence? Yeesh.)

Lucas Says: Sixth in Metropolitan Division (Overall, this isn’t a terrible team, though the defence like Brett says is a bit of an issue. But if the forwards start off well, this might be a Wild Card team.)

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins

New York Islanders

Last Season: Eighth in Metropolitan Division (34-37-11) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Josh Bailey, Eric Boulton, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Cory Conacher, Michael Grabner, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Matt Martin, Colin McDonald, Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Ryan Strome, John Tavares

Defencemen: Johnny Boychuk, Matt Carkner, Calvin De Haan, Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey, Nick Leddy, Brian Strait, Lubomir Visnovsky

Goalies: Jaroslav Halak, Chad Johnson

Prediction: Eighth in Metropolitan Division (Bleepin’ Isles. Enough said. Although having Jaroslav Halak now in goal is a nice addition.)

Lucas Says: Seventh in Metropolitan Division (Since the Isles traded away their first round pick for 2015 to the Sabres, they had to strength their roster to avoid giving away the chance of getting McJesus or Eichel. Have they done enough? It looks like it on paper, but given this team’s recent history, I’m not that convinced.)

Henrik Lundqvist

New York Rangers

Last Season: Second in Metropolitan Division (45-31-6) – Lost 4-1 to Los Angeles in Stanley Cup Finals

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Anthony Duclair, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Ryan Malone, JT Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Lee Stempniak, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello

Defencemen: Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Matt Hunwick, Kevin Klein, Ryan McDonagh, John Moore, Marc Staal

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot

Prediction: Second in Metropolitan Division (After losing the Stanley Cup final, the Rangers made some moves in the off-season. However, losing Brad Richards doesn’t help matters if they look to return to the final.)

Lucas Says: Second in Metropolitan Division (The defence has been strengthened slightly, but are they going to get back to the Cup final? Well given that it was a surprise that they made it to the dance a year ago, I don’t think they will repeat as Eastern Conference champions. However, the Rangers will probably make it to Round 2, unless they go up against a really strong opponent.)

Ottawa Mascot

Ottawa Senators

Last Season: Fifth in Atlantic Division (37-31-14) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Alex Chiasson, Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Mike Hoffman, Curtis Lazar, David Legwand, Clarke MacArthur, Milan Michalek, Chris Neil, Bobby Ryan, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad

Defencemen: Mark Borowiecki, Cody Ceci, Jared Cowen, Eric Gryba, Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Chris Phillips, Patrick Wiercioch

Goalies: Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner

Prediction: Eighth in Atlantic Division (The rebuilding process has begun after losing Jason Spezza, so if your looking for good tickets, come to a Senators game.)

Lucas Says: Sixth in Atlantic Division (I’m not sure why my brother thinks Ottawa will be terrible. Sure Jason Spezza is gone, but you still have Bobby Ryan,  Erik Karlsson, and my boy Robin Lehner around. They aren’t a playoff team, but they are far stronger than Florida and Buffalo.)

Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers

Last Season: Third in Metropolitan Division (42-30-10) – Lost 4-3 to NY Rangers in East Quarters

Forwards: Jason Akeson, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Blair Jones, Vincent Lecavalier, Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Zac Rinaldo, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, RJ Umberger, Jakub Voracek, Ryan White

Defencemen: Braydon Coburn, Michael Del Zotto, Nicklas Grossmann, Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Mark Streit, Kimmo Timonen

Goalies: Ray Emery, Steve Mason

Prediction: Third in Metropolitan Division (The Flyers look very solid all around, but the pressure is going to be on the goalies to get the job done.)

Lucas Says: Third in Metropolitan Division (Provided the Flyers don’t get off to a bad start, and Claude Giroux doesn’t wait until the second half to get going, they should be in the playoffs. Like Brett though, I’m not convinced on Steve Mason given his hot mess of a time during the latter parts of his tenure in Columbus.)

Geno Malkin

Pittsburgh Penguins

Last Season: First in Metropolitan Division (51-24-7) – Lost 4-3 to NY Rangers in East Semis

Forwards: Craig Adams, Beau Bennett, Blake Comeau, Sidney Crosby, Steve Downie, Pascal Dupuis, Marcel Goc, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Nick Spaling, Brandon Sutter

Defencemen: Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Christian Ehrhoff, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi

Goalies: Marc-Andre Fleury, Thomas Greiss

Prediction: First in Metropolitan Division (New Coach Mike Johnston inherits the same team as before, but can he lead them another Stanley Cup like Dan Bylsma in 2009? An improved performance from Marc-Andre Fleury would help with that.)

Lucas Says: First in Metropolitan Division (The forward core has been strengthened quite a bit, and the defence seems solid after they drafted a bunch in recent years. Marc-Andre Fleury needs to be on the top of his game, but overall, this team should make the conference finals with ease. Otherwise, we may see a massive roster shakeup.)

Sharks Collapse

San Jose Sharks

Last Season: Second in Pacific Division (51-22-9) – Lost 4-3 to Los Angeles in West Quarters

Forwards: Mike Brown, Adam Burish, Logan Couture, Andrew Desjardins, Tomas Hertl, Tyler Kennedy, Patrick Marleau, Matt Nieto, Joe Pavelski, John Scott, James Sheppard, Joe Thornton, Raffi Torres, Tommy Wingels

Defencemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Jason Demers, Taylor Fedun, Scott Hannan, Matt Irwin, Mirco Mueller, Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Goalies: Antti Niemi, Alex Stalock

Prediction: Second in Pacific Division (What is it going to take to get the Sharks to the Stanley Cup final like people have been predicting for the last few years? It beats me, but they better do it soon.)

Lucas Says: Third in Pacific Division (Given the disastrous 3-0 collapse to the Kings, I was expecting the Sharks to make some changes, but they elected to stick with the Status Quo. They should make the playoffs, but the Cup champions window has passed them by.)

Brian Elliott

St. Louis Blues

Last Season: Second in Central Division (52-23-7) – Lost 4-2 to Chicago in West Quarters

Forwards: David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Maxim Lapierre, Jori Lehtera, Joakim Lindstrom, TJ Oshie, Steve Ott, Magnus Paajarvi, Chris Porter , Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Alex Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko

Defencemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Ian Cole, Carl Gunnarsson, Barret Jackman, Jordan Leopold, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalies: Jake Allen, Brian Elliott

Prediction: Second in Central Division (After Brian Elliott had a great showing last year, can he perhaps get them a little bit further in the playoffs as the starter?)

Lucas Says: Second in Central Division (I have a feeling that this might be the new San Jose, as they will probably do well over the next few regular seasons, but fade in the playoffs. I hope to be proven wrong.)

Steven Stamkos

Tampa Bay Lightning

Last Season: Second in Atlantic Division (46-27-9) – Lost 4-0 to Montreal in East Quarters

Forwards: Brian Boyle, JT Brown, Ryan Callahan, Brett Connolly, Jonathan Drouin, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Brenden Morrow, Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, Steven Stamkos

Defencemen: Mark Barberio, Eric Brewer, Matt Carle, Jason Garrison, Radko Gudas, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Andrej Sustr

Goalies: Ben Bishop, Evgeni Nabokov

Prediction: Third in Atlantic Division (Steven Stamkos is basically God, but perhaps some help in net can propel them forward.)

Lucas Says: Second in Atlantic Division (You have the best pure goal-scorer in the game in Steven Stamkos, a young rookie that destroyed the QMJHL in Jonathan Drouin, and possibly the most underrated defender in the NHL in Victor Hedman. The future is very bright for the Bolts.)

Toronto Maple Leafs fans wear paper bags over their heads as they watch Maple Leafs lose to Philadelphia Flyers during their NHL game in Toronto

Toronto Maple Leafs

Last Season: Sixth in Atlantic Division (38-36-8) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Troy Bodie, David Booth, Tyler Bozak, David Clarkson, Matt Frattin, Peter Holland, Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel, Leo Komarov, Brandon Kozun, Josh Leivo, Joffrey Lupul, Mike Santorelli, James Van Riemsdyk, Daniel Winnik

Defencemen: Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner, Stuart Percy, Dion Phaneuf, Roman Polak, Morgan Rielly, Stephane Robidas

Goalies: Jonathan Bernier, James Reimer

Prediction: Fifth in Atlantic Division (When your ranked as the worst professional team by ESPN, you know you suck. Good work MLSE.)

Lucas Says: Fifth in Atlantic Division (I think the Leafs are somewhere in between the bright start of last year and the hot mess they were in the last couple of months. They have some talent, but just aren’t in the mix to be in the upper levels of the Eastern Conference. Plus, I’m still mad that they hired Kyle Dubas away from the Soo Greyhounds.)

Vancouver Riot

Vancouver Canucks

Last Season: Fifth in Pacific Division (36-35-11) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Nick Bonino, Alex Burrows, Derek Dorsett, Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins, Zack Kassian, Shawn Matthias, Brad Richardson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Tom Sestito, Radim Vrbata

Defencemen: Kevin Bieksa, Frank Corrado, Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Luca Sbisa, Ryan Stanton, Chris Tanev, Yannick Weber

Goalies: Eddie Lack, Ryan Miller

Prediction: Seventh in Pacific Division (Okay the Sedins are there, and they got Ryan Miller. But god, that defence makes you want to throw up, and the forwards aren’t much better. My pick for the worst team in the league.)

Lucas Says: Fourth in Pacific Division (Brett’s theory that the Canucks are going to be worse team in the league is going to be a barrel of laughs all winter. There is still a major transition process taking place here, but any team with the Sedins and Ryan Miller is in no way going to be worse than Buffalo.)

Alex Ovechkin

Washington Capitals

Last Season: Fifth in Metropolitan Division (38-30-14) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle, Troy Brouwer, Chris Brown, Andre Burakovsky, Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Brooks Laich, Michael Latta, Liam O’Brien, Alex Ovechkin, Aaron Volpatti, Joel Ward, Tom Wilson

Defencemen: Karl Alzner, John Carlson, John Erskine, Mike Green, Jack Hillen, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, Brooks Orpik, Nate Schmidt

Goalies: Braden Holtby, Justin Peters

Prediction: Fifth in Metropolitan Division (Alex Ovechkin can only do so much without good help, and the Capitals goaltending may not be the solution with that.)

Lucas Says: Fifth in Metropolitan Division (High powered foreign forwards working in a Barry Trotz coached system? I don’t think this is going to end well kids.)

Ondrej Pavelec

Winnipeg Jets

Last Season: Seventh in Central Division (37-35-10) – Missed Playoffs

Forwards: Dustin Byfuglien, Patrice Cormier. Michael Frolik, TJ Galiardi, Matt Halischuk, Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Anthony Peluso, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn, Blake Wheeler

Defencemen: Zach Bogosian, Grant Clitsome, Tobias Enstrom , Adam Pardy, Paul Postma, Mark Stuart, Jacob Trouba

Goalies: Michael Hutchinson, Ondrej Pavelec

Prediction: Seventh in Central Division (The Jets have not made many moves to improve since the move from Atlanta, so for now they will keep their Thrashers In Disguise nickname, which means another year without making the playoffs.)

Lucas Says: Seventh in Central Division (If the Jets were in the Eastern Conference, this might be a playoff contender. But since they are in the best division in the entire NHL, they are going to be eaten alive by much stronger opponents.)

ROY4

NHL Standings (Brett’s are on the Left/Lucas’s are on the Right)

Atlantic Division

  1. Boston Bruins/Boston Bruins
  2. Montreal Canadiens/Tampa Bay Lightning
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning/Montreal Canadiens
  4. Detroit Red Wings (Wild Card #1)/Detroit Red Wings (Wild Card #1)
  5. Toronto Maple Leafs/Toronto Maple Leafs
  6. Florida Panthers/Ottawa Senators
  7. Buffalo Sabres/Florida Panthers
  8. Ottawa Senators/Buffalo Sabres

Metropolitan Division

  1. Pittsburgh Penguins/Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. New York Rangers/New York Rangers
  3. Philadelphia Flyers/Philadelphia Flyers
  4. Columbus Blue Jackets (Wild Card #2)/Columbus Blue Jackets (Wild Card #2)
  5. Washington Capitals/Washington Capitals
  6. Carolina Hurricanes/New Jersey Devils
  7. New Jersey Devils/New York Islanders
  8. New York Islanders/Carolina Hurricanes

Pacific Division

  1. Los Angeles Kings/Los Angeles Kings
  2. San Jose Sharks/Anaheim Ducks
  3. Anaheim Ducks/San Jose Sharks
  4. Arizona Coyotes (Wild Card #2)/Vancouver Canucks
  5. Edmonton Oilers/Arizona Coyotes
  6. Calgary Flames/Calgary Flames
  7. Vancouver Canucks/Edmonton Oilers

Central Division

  1. Chicago Blackhawks/Chicago Blackhawks
  2. St. Louis Blues/St. Louis Blues
  3. Colorado Avalanche/Colorado Avalanche
  4. Minnesota Wild (Wild Card #1)/Minnesota Wild (Wild Card #1)
  5. Nashville Predators/Dallas Stars (Wild Card #2)
  6. Dallas Stars/Nashville Predators
  7. Winnipeg Jets/Winnipeg Jets

Willie Desjardins

First Coach Fired: Willie Desjardins (Simply because he’s in charge of a Canadian team that I think will struggle big time.)

Dallas Eakins

Lucas Says: Dallas Eakins (He’s looked like a man who was way in over his head throughout the 2013/14 season, and whatever momentum the club had has been flushed away. Things need to change in Edmonton and fast, otherwise guys like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will want out of town.)

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Biggest Name Traded: The Sedin Twins (If the Canucks suck early on, I can see it happening.)

Nail Yakupov

Lucas Says: Nail Yakupov (You know what’s a terrible idea, making an exciting goal scoring Russian a solid two-way player. The former number one pick, who I have been a fan of since he started playing in Sarnia back in 2010, needs to find a new home and quickly.)

Steven Stamkos 2

Rocket Richard Trophy: Steven Stamkos (If you allow him to shoot from the left face-off circle, he’s going to score at will.)

Lucas Says: Steven Stamkos (It would be foolish to pick anyone else, unless Pavel Bure make a shock return.)

Sidney Crosby

Art Ross Trophy: Sidney Crosby (As long as he stays healthy, he should win it easily.)

Lucas Says: Sidney Crosby (With Mike Johnston becoming the new head coach, and a lot better depth at forward, it’s Crosby’s award to lose.)

Patrick Roy 2

Jack Adams Trophy: Patrick Roy (Most people don’t think Colorado will do as well as they did last year, but I think he will prove them wrong.)

Mike Babcock

Lucas Says: Mike Babcock (With almost all of my top teams basically being the same as a year ago, and because I doubt they will pick Mike Johnston, why not pick the man most consider the sharpest bench boss in the business.)

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven

McDavid and Eichel Sweepstakes Winner: Vancouver Canucks (After the insanity of the goalie saga, the Canucks personnel will forget how to both play and win hockey games for a year. If they make the playoffs, I will eat my shoe.)

Winnipeg Jets

Lucas Says: Winnipeg Jets (Get ready to eat those Nikes there kid. I think Florida and Buffalo are worst teams overall, but playing in a super tough division has led me to pick the Jets. At least they get an elite prospect out of the deal.)

Anaheim Ducks v Phoenix Coyotes

Calder Trophy: John Gibson (After a decent showing in a pressure situation during the playoffs, he will rise up to the challenge with a good core ahead of him this year.)

Nashville at Tampa Bay

Lucas Says: Jonathan Drouin (Sure he will miss the start of the year because of an injury, but he basically destroyed the QMJHL last year in a half season for Halifax, so it’s hard to pick against him.)

Zdeno Chara Coke

Norris Trophy: Zdeno Chara (He destroys players and Coke bottle for breakfast.)

San Jose Sharks v Los Angeles Kings - Game Five

Lucas Says: Drew Doughty (How has he not won this award yet? Expect that to change this June.)

Henrik Lundqvist 2

Vezina Trophy: Henrik Lundqvist (The King will be up to his usual tricks in New York.)

Jonathan Quick 2

Lucas Says: Jonathan Quick (It’s really hard to go against a guy who just won the Stanley Cup yet again, plus I would look like a biased fan-boy by picking Marc-Andre Fleury.)

Steven Stamkos 3

Hart Trophy: Steven Stamkos (His scoring can perhaps carry the Bolts further into the playoffs than they have in the last couple of seasons.)

Sidney Crosby 2

Lucas Says: Sidney Crosby (I really wanted to pick John Tavares here, but since I don’t have the Islanders going far this year, I went with the boring old favourite.)

Penguins Hawks

Stanley Cup Champions: Pittsburgh Penguins over Chicago Blackhawks (The two top elite teams in the league will have seasons with no injuries or anything like that, which will lead to a showcase of pure skill in the finals.)

Chicago Boston

Lucas Says: Chicago Blackhawks over Boston Bruins (More than likely, the finals will end up being something like Tampa Bay versus Dallas, but for now I’ll go with a rematch of the 2013 championship series. If it’s as good as the six-game affair was two years ago, I’ll be quite fine with that.)


2014/15 OHL Preview

North Bay Battalion v Guelph Storm - Game Five

For the first time in awhile, this may be the most wide-open season in the Ontario Hockey League.

Sure, Guelph wasn’t the favourite to win it last year and Owen Sound certainly wasn’t when they won in 2011, but I feel like there is at least five to six teams that have a legit shot at winning the title this year, which is only a good thing.

While the Western Conference is again strong, the top teams in the Eastern Conference aren’t too shabby either. Yes, they probably aren’t going to be picked by many to end the West’s nearly decade long streak as league champions, but they won’t roll over and play dead either.

So who do I have winning it all? Well, it is once again time to make a full of myself in the league that I follow the most, as my OHL season preview lies below.

Brendan Lemieux

Barrie Colts

Last Season: Second in Central Division - Fourth in Eastern Conference (37-28-1-2) – Lost 4-2 to North Bay in East Semis

Departing: Andreas Athanasiou (F – 94 – 49-46-95 – Detroit), Mac Clutsam (D – 95 – 1-9-10), Jake Dotchin (D – 94 – 11-25-36 – Tampa Bay), Aaron Ekblad (D – 96 – 23-30-53 – Florida), Tyson Fawcett (F – 93 – 26-23-49), Zach Hall (F – 93 – 16-54-70), Liam Maaskant (D – 94 – 3-5-8 – Kitchener), Mitchell Theoret (F – 93 – 17-34-51 – EHC Bayreuth)

Arriving: Rasmus Andersson (D – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Kody Gagnon (D – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Belle River), Ben Hawerchuk (F – 98 – 6th in ’12), Rocky Kaura (D – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Mississauga Rebels), Roy Radke (F – 96 – 12th in ’12 – Shattuck St. Mary’s), Givani Smith (F – 98 – 1st in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Kevin Labanc (F – 95 – 11-24-35 – San Jose), Brendan Lemieux (F – 96 – 27-26-53 – Buffalo)

Rights Held: Karch Bachman (F – 97 – 11th in ’13 – Miami), Adrian Kempe (F – 96 – ’13 Import Draft – Modo – Los Angeles), Matt McLeod (F – 96 – 6th in ’12 – Canisius), Nicholas Santoro (F – 95 – 7th in ’11 – Robert Morris), Cash Seraphim (F – 95 – 5th in ’11 – Niagara)

Prediction: Third in Central Division (With Aaron Ekblad seemingly set to begin his pro career, it makes sense to expect a drop-off from the Colts. However, they still have a number of decent forwards on the roster, which should be enough to put them in the mix to be a home seed in the first round of the playoffs.)

Belleville Bulls v London Knights

Belleville Bulls

Last Season: Fourth in East Division – Ninth in Eastern Conference (23-38-4-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Adam Bignell (D – 94 – 0-6-6), Cameron Brace (F – 93 – 31-25-56 – New Brunswick), Michael Giugovaz (G – 95 – 4.57 – 8-12-2 – London), Mark Raycroft (D – 95 – 4-1-5), Scott Simmonds (F – 93 – 10-20-30), Jake Worrad (D – 93 – 5-9-14)

Arriving: Cole Candella (D – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Brett Gustavsen (F – 94 – 14-27-41 – Ottawa), Jack Hanley (D – 98 – 4th in ’14), Matt Luff (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Oakville), Brandon Saigeon (F – 98 – 1st in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Remi Elie (F – 95 – 29-39-68 – Dallas), Jake Marchment (F – 95 – 10-22-32 – Los Angeles), Jordan Subban (D – 95 – 12-30-42 – Vancouver)

Rights Held: Luke Martin (D – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Michigan), David Pastrnak (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Sodertalje – Boston), Stuart Pomeroy (D – 95 – 14th in ’11 – Princeton), Joe Wegwerth (F – 96 – 13th in ’12 – Notre Dame – Florida)

Prediction: Third in East Division (Even though the Bulls struggled last year, I still don’t think this is a bad team. They have a decent core of guys coming back, and given the relative weakness of the Eastern Conference, they should be able to bounce back into the playoffs this season.)

Connor McJesus

Erie Otters

Last Season: Second in Midwest Division - Third in Western Conference (52-14-2-0) – Lost 4-1 to Guelph in West Finals

Departing: Spencer Abraham (D – 93 – 8-27-35 – Queen’s), Connor Brown (F – 94 – 45-83-128 – Toronto), Michael Curtis (F – 93 – 29-27-56 – Saint Mary’s), Oscar Dansk (G – 94 – 2.39 – 29-9-1 – Columbus), Troy Donnay (D – 94 – 2-17-19 – NY Rangers), Jake Evans (F – 95 – 11-7-18), Justin Felker (D – 96 – 0-1-1), Dane Fox (F – 93 – 64-43-107 – Vancouver), Brendan Gaunce (F – 94 – 31-41-72 – Vancouver), Kurtis MacDermid (D – 94 – 7-12-19 – Los Angeles), Adam Pelech (D – 94 – 9-45-54 – NY Islanders)

Arriving: Shaun Bily (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Alex DeBrincat (F – 97 – 54-57-111 – Lake Forest Academy), Daniel Dekoning (G – 96 – 8th in ’12 – Listowel), Patrick Fellows (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Mississauga Rebels), TJ Fergus (D – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Milton), Trent Fox (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Ridley College), Kyle Maksimovich (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Mason Marchment (F – 95 – 22-21-53 – Cobourg), Cole Mayo (D – 97 – 3rd in ’13), Taylor Raddysh (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Jesse Saban (D – 97 – 2nd in ’13)

NHL Prospects: Andre Burakovsky (F – 95 – 41-46-87 – Washington), Kyle Petit (F – 96 – 5-5-10 – Vancouver)

Rights Held: Ryan Coulter (F – 95 – 6th in ’11 – Bowling Green), Owen Headrick (D – 97 – 14th in ’13 – Lake Superior State), Anton Karlsson (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Skelleftea – Arizona), Sean Kohler (F – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Penn State), Dylan Larkin (F – 96 – 10th in ’12 – Michigan – Detroit), Bryan Sienerth (F – 96 – 13th in ’12 – Miami), Dylan Sikura (F – 95 – 14th in ’11 – Northeastern – Chicago), Igor Vladykovsky (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft)

Prediction: First in Midwest Divison (There’s a lot of questions surrounding this team, and not just about what Connor McDavid does in his final season before going to the NHL. The Otters lost quite a lot up front in the points department as Connor Brown, Dan Fox, and Brendan Gaunce have all moved on, and the defence is a lot weaker on paper than it was last year. Plus, Andre Burakovsky may be turning pro with Washington, which would leave another big hole up front. However, I still feel confident that the Otters will make some moves to solidify its roster, and that what they have at the moment is still good enough to win the division in my opinion.)

Justin Nichols

Guelph Storm

Last Season: First in Midwest Division - First in Western Conference (52-12-2-2) – 2013-14 OHL Champions – Lost 6-3 to Edmonton in Memorial Cup Final

Departing: Nick Ebert (D – 94 – 13-40-53 – Los Angeles), Matt Finn (D – 94 – 14-47-61 – Toronto), Ryan Horvat (F – 93 – 15-14-29 – Manchester), Luke Kirwan (F – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Windsor) Scott Kosmachuk (F – 94 – 49-52-101 – Winnipeg), Brock McGinn (F – 94 – 43-42-85 – Carolina), Zack Mitchell (F – 93 – 31-52-83 – Minnesota), Kerby Rychel (F – 94 – 34-56-90 – Columbus), Steven Trojanovic (D – 93 – 7-33-40 – Saint Mary’s)

Arriving: Tyler Boston (F – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Aurora), Noah Carroll (D – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Guelph Hurricanes), Austin Hall (D – 97 – 7th in ’13 – LaSalle), Matthew Hotchkiss (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Jesse Hilton (F – 97 – 36-16-52 – Blyth Academy), James McEwan (F – 97 – 9th in ’13), Aleks Rapp (F – 97 – 12th in ’13 – Halton), Kyle Rhodes (D – 97 – 6th in ’13), Bradley Van Schubert (G – 97 – 13th in ’13 – Guelph Hurricanes)

NHL Prospects: Justin Auger (F – 94 – 11-12-23 – Los Angeles), Tyler Bertuzzi (F – 95 – 9-25-34 – Detroit), Jason Dickinson (F – 95 – 26-52-78 – Dallas), Robby Fabbri (F – 96 – 45-42-87 – St. Louis), Ben Harpur (D – 95 – 3-13-16 – Ottawa)

Rights Held: Derek Daschke (D – 97 – 10th in ’14 – Western Michigan), Zach Osburn (D – 97 – 11th in ’13 – Michigan State), Derian Plouffe (F – 95 – 8th in ’11 – Niagara), Nolan Stevens (F – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Northeastern), Alex Tuch (F – 96 – 5th in ’12 – Boston College – Minnesota)

Prediction: Second in Midwest Division (With so many players graduating from last year’s league champions, I expected that Guelph might go into a rebuild for the 2014/15 season. However, I’m starting to think that plan might not go into affect into the 2015/16 campaign. Now to be fair, the Storm may deal a Tyler Bertuzzi or a Ben Harper if things go sideways, but I don’t expect to see a massive drop-off from Guelph.)

Roland McKeown

Kingston Frontenacs

Last Season: Second in East Division - Third in Eastern Conference (39-23-3-3) – Lost 4-3 to Peterborough in East Quarters

Departing: Slater Doggett (F – 94 – 7-20-27 – Windsor), Darcy Greenaway (F – 93 – 35-27-62 – Queen’s), Ryan Huchinson (D – 95 – 0-2-2), Henrik Ikonen (F – 93 – 25-45-70 – Tampa Bay), Matt Mahalak (G – 93 – 3.59 – 28-19-2 – Tulsa), Michael Moffat (D – 93 – 6-45-51 – Waterloo), Devon Pallani (F – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Sudbury), Loren Ulett (F – 94 – 3-8-11), Mikko Vainonen (D – 94 – 4-14-18 – Nashville)

Arriving: Zach Dorval (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Chad Duchense (D – 95 – Mississauga’s 13th in ’11 – Sioux Falls), Sam Field (F – 98 – 6th in ’14), Jeremy Helvig (G – 97 – 3rd in ’13 – Toronto Lakeshore), Juho Lammikko (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft – Florida), Kris Myllari (D – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Penn State), Regan O’Grady (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Jarkko Parikka (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Shawn Tessier (D – 96 – North Bay’s 12th in ’12 – Pembroke)

NHL Prospects: Sam Bennett (F – 96 – 36-55-91 – Calgary), Ryan Kujawinski (F – 95 – 23-18-41 – New Jersey), Juho Lammikko (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft – Florida), Evan McEneny (D – 94 – 7-35-42 – Vancouver), Roland McKeown (D – 96 – 11-32-42 – Los Angeles), Spencer Watson (F – 96 – 33-35-68 – Los Angeles)

Rights Held: Warren Foegele (F – 96 – 7th in ’14 – New Hampshire – Carolina), Grant Gabriele (D – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Western Michigan), Marcel Godbout (F – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Des Moines), Jacob Hayhurst (F – 97 – 10th in ’13 – RPI), Keenan Suthers (F – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Western Michigan), Alex Tonge (F – 95 – 10th in ’11 – Robert Morris)

Prediction: Second in East Division (The forward core is arguably the best in the Eastern Conference (especially if Sam Bennett doesn’t stick in Calgary), and the defence looks pretty solid, but I have some major question marks about the goaltending. Jeremy Helvig may prove to be a starter after being selected in the third round in 2013, but I’m having a bit of a hard team believing that Lucas Peressini is the answer right now. That may prove to be an issue as the season develops.)

Gustaf Franzen

Kitchener Rangers

Last Season: Fifth in Midwest Division – Ninth in Western Conference (22-41-2-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Jacob Cascagnette (F – 97 – 0-1-1), Ben Fanelli (D – 93 – 3-7-10 – Referee), Dominik Kubalik (F – 95 – 18-11-29 – HC Plzen – Los Angeles), Paxton Leroux (F – 93 – 0-1-1 – Minnesota Swarm), Matia Marcantouni (F – 94 – 15-17-32 – Pittsburgh), James Mense-Dietrich (F – 96 – 0-2-2)

Arriving: Sean Allen (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Connor Bunnaman (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Mark Bzowey (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Oakville), Gustaf Franzen (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Adam Mascherin (F – 98 – 1st in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Justin Bailey (F – 95 – 25-18-43 – Buffalo), Ryan MacInnis (F – 96 – 16-21-37 – Arizona), Nick Magyar (F – 96 – 20-26-46 – Colorado), Liam Maaskant (D – 94 – 3-5-8 – Barrie), Brent Pedersen (F – 95 – 18-13-31 – Carolina)

Rights Held: Chris Birdsall (G – 96 – 14th in ’13 – Boston College), Jeremy Bracco (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Boston College), Jake Evans (F – 96 – 8th in ’12 – Notre Dame – Montreal), Adam Fox (D – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Harvard), Jake Henderson (F – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Providence), Hayden Lavigne (G – 96 – Belleville’s 6th in ’12 – Michigan), Griffin Luce (D – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Michigan), Charles McAvoy (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Boston), Luke Opilka (G – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Wisconsin), Ethan Spaxman (D – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Merrimack)

Prediction: Fourth in Midwest Division (The Rangers should be better than they were a year ago, but they aren’t quite back to a legit Western Conference contender just yet. While I like the forwards and am very curious to see how Gustaf Franzen and Adam Mascherin fair, I don’t think Jordan DeKort or Matt Greenfield are going to be turning things around into the second coming of John Gibson in goal. With that said, the Rangers should be able to make it to the playoffs.)

Mitchell Marner

London Knights 

Last Season: Third in Midwest Division - Fourth in Western Conference (49-14-1-4) – Lost 4-1 to Guelph in West Semis – Missed Playoffs at Memorial Cup

Departing: Josh Anderson (F – 94 – 27-24-51 – Columbus), Brady Austin (D – 93 – 9-24-33 – Buffalo), Alex Basso (D – 93 – 10-30-40), Zach Bell (D – 93 – 3-14-17 – St. John’s), Tim Bender (D – 95 – 2-5-7 – EHC Munchen), Jake Patterson (G – 94 – 2.15 – 22-9-3), Ryan Rupert (F – 94 – 21-53-73 – Toronto), Gemel Smith (F – 94 – 37-38-75 – Dallas), Anthony Stolarz (G – 94 – 2.52 – 25-5-2 – Philadelphia), Chris Tierney (F – 94 – 40-49-89 – San Jose)

Arriving: Julius Bergman (D – 95 – ’14 Import Draft – San Jose), Brandon Crawley (D – 97 – 5-6-11 – Selects Hockey Academy), Josh Defarias (D – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Waterloo), Tristan Elie (F – 96 – 15th in ’12 – London Nationals), Michael Giugovaz (G – 95 – 4.57 – 8-12-2 – Belleville), Ben Gleason (D – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Zach Grzelewski (F – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Thunder Bay), Kelly Klima (F – 97 – 7-11-18 – Little Caesars), Kevin Klima (F – 97 – 5-13-18 – Little Caesars), Mitchell Kreis (D – 97 – 3rd in ’13 – Georgetown), Christopher Marenet (D – 96 – 0-5-5 – Indiana), Victor Mete (D – 98 – Owen Sound’s 1st in ’14), Daniil Miromanov (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Tyler Nother (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Tyler Parsons (G – 97 – 2.54 – 8-4-1 – Little Caesars), Drake Rymsha (F – 98 – 5th in ’14), Ryan Valentini (F – 97 – 12-24-36 – Vaughan Kings)

NHL Prospects: Julius Bergman (D – 95 – ’14 Import Draft – San Jose), Max Domi (F – 95 – 34-59-93 – Arizona), Christian Dvorak (F – 96 – 6-8-14 – Arizona), Bo Horvat (F – 95 – 30-44-74 – Vancouver), Michael McCarron (F – 95 – 14-20-34 – Montreal), Chandler Yakimowicz (F – 96 – 3-4-7 – St. Louis), Nikita Zadorov (D – 95 – 11-19-30 – Buffalo)

Rights Held: Christian Evers (D – 97 – 5th in ’13 – North Dakota), Kevin Guiltinan (D – 95 – 8th in ’11 – Harvard), Trevor Hamilton (D – 95 – 11th in ’11 – Miami), Michael Latorella (G – 98 – 7th in ’14 – Ohio State), Anthony Louis (F – 95 – 13th in ’11 – Miami – Chicago), David Melaragni (D – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Northeastern), Sam Miletic (F – 97 – 15th in ’13 – Michigan), JJ Piccinich (F – 96 – 6th in ’12 – Boston – Toronto), Michael Prapavessis (D – 96 – Saginaw’s 10th in ’12 – RPI – Dallas), Alex Rasner (D – 96 – ’13 Import Draft – HC Olomouc), James Sanchez (F – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Michigan), Matthew Tkachuk (F – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Notre Dame), Zach Werenski (D – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Michigan)

Prediction: Third in Midwest Division (This is a team that I could see going a number of directions, and it depends on what happens to it’s top three NHL prospects. Nikita Zadorov is more than likely heading to Buffalo, but it’s still up in the air as to what happens with Max Domi in Arizona and Bo Horvat in Vancouver. If they both stick, London may be in some serious, but if one of them comes back, it may be enough to help them succeed before either Domi or Horvat moves on (possibly be a trade). It’s a transition year for the Knights, but they still shouldn’t be taken lightly, even if their goaltending leaves a lot to be desired.)

Sean Day

Mississauga Steelheads

Last Season: Fifth in Central Division - Eighth in Eastern Conference (24-38-1-5) – Lost 4-0 to Oshawa in East Quarters

Departing: Brandon Belding (F – 94 – 1-4-5 – Nepean), Chad Duchesne (D – 95 – 13th in ’11 – Kingston), Brett Foy (F – 93 – 11-15-26 – Queen’s), Jacob Jammes (G – 95 – 2-6-8), Artem Rasulov (F – 96 – 2-12-14 – Irbis Kazan)

Arriving: Brandon Devlin (D – 94 – 14-25-39 – Peterborough), Adam Donnelly (F – 96 – 1-1-2 – Lake Forest Academy), Stephen Gibson (D – 97 – 9th in ’13 – The Hill Academy), Michael McLeod (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Noah Robinson (F – 97 – Sudbury’s 6th in ’13 – Selects Hockey Academy), Jason Smith (F – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Brampton), Cameron Zanussi (G – 96 – 12th in ’12 – LaSalle)

NHL Prospects: Spencer Martin (G – 95 – 3.54 – 24-33-5 – Colorado)

Rights Held: David Bennett (D – 95 – 12th in ’11 – Canisius), Neil Doef (F – 97 – 3rd in ’13 – Princeton), Lukas Haudum (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – Sodertalje), William Nylander (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Toronto)

Prediction: Fourth in Central Division (Every year I bet against Mississauga making the playoffs, and they end up getting there, so I’ve decided to stop picking against them this season. They aren’t a team that will scare many opponents, but they do have some good young talent, especially in first round pick Michael McLeod and second year defender Sean Day.)

Ryan Mantha

Niagara IceDogs

Last Season: Fourth in Central Division - Seventh in Eastern Conference (24-35-3-6) – Lost 4-3 to North Bay in East Quarters

Departing: Eric Ming (F – 93 – 33-17-50 – Queen’s), Alexander Protapovich (F – 96 – 4-9-13 – Irbis Kazan)

Arriving: Mikkel Aagaard (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft), Logan Brown (F – 98 – 1st in ’14 – Windsor), Stephen Dhillon (G – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Ryan Mantha (D – 96 – Sault Ste. Marie’s 5th in ’12 – Indiana – NY Rangers), Christopher Paquette (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Cody Payne (F – 94 – 26-9-35 – Saginaw)

NHL Prospects: Aaron Haydon (D – 96 – 5-11-16 – Dallas), Ryan Mantha (D – 96 – Sault Ste. Marie’s 5th in ’12 – Indiana – NY Rangers), Brent Moran (G – 96 – 3.85 – 14-19-4 – Dallas), Brendan PerlinI (F – 96 – 34-37-71 – Arizona), Blake Siebenaler (D – 96 – 6-24-30 – Columbus), Carter Verhaeghe (F – 95 – 28-54-82 – Toronto)

Rights Held: Blaine Byron (F – 95 – 11th in ’11 – Maine – Pittsburgh), Trent Frederic (F – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Wisconsin), Edwin Minney (G – 96 – 8th in ’12 – Michigan State)

Prediction: First in Central Division (For me, this is easily the best team in the Eastern Conference. The defence is more or less loaded, especially with Ryan Mantha coming on board, and they have a number of impact forwards up front. Plus, even though he hasn’t been a full-season starter yet, Brent Moran should be a top goalie for Niagara this year. It’s a long way to go until the OHL finals, but I expect this team to be there when May rolls around.)

Nick Paul

North Bay Battalion

Last Season: First in Central Division – Second in Eastern Conference (38-24-4-2) – Lost 4-1 to Guelph in OHL Finals

Departing: Dylan Blujus (D – 94 – 4-26-30 – Tampa Bay), Barclay Goodrow (F – 93 – 33-34-67 – San Jose), Connor Jarvis (F – 94 – 4-9-13 – UOIT), Matt MacLeod (F – 93 – 15-24-39 – St. Thomas), Brendan O’Neill (G – 94 – 3.04 – 14-12-2 – UOIT), Vincent Praplan (F – 94 – 19-34-53 – Kolten), Shawn Tessier (D – 96 – 12th in ’12 – Kingston), Ben Thomson (F – 93 – 27-18-45 – New Jersey)

Arriving: Evan Cormier (G – 97 – 5th in ’13 – North Bay Trappers), Owen Green (F – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Buffalo Jr.), Kyle Moore (F – 98 – 5th in ’13), Hampus Olsson (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft), Zachary Poirier (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Zachary Shankar (D – 97 – 4th in ’13 – North Bay Trappers), David Sherman (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Mark Shoemaker (D – 97 – 11th in ’13 – Brampton)

NHL Prospects: Michael Amadio (F – 96 – 12-26-38 – Los Angeles), Miles Liberati (D – 95 – 9-4-13 – Vancouver), Nick Paul (F – 95 – 26-20-46 – Ottawa), Kyle Wood (D – 96 – 2-10-12 – Colorado)

Rights Held: Nathan Billitier (D – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Notre Dame), Brody Brunet (F – 97 – 12th in ’13 – Lake Superior State), Cameron Dineen (D – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Yale), Ryan Hitchcock (F – 96 – 10th in ’12 – Yale), Austin Kosack (D – 95 – 8th in ’11 – Ferris State), Dylan McLaughlin (F – 95 – 7th in ’11 – Providence)

Prediction: Second in Central Division (After a successful return to the Gateway City, the Battalion should have another strong season. While they did lose some talented veterans due to graduation, a number of players from last year’s conference champions are back, which puts them right in the mix once again.)

Michael Dal Colle

Oshawa Generals

Last Season: First in East Division - First in Eastern Conference (42-20-0-6) – Lost 4-0 to North Bay in East Finals

Departing: Daniel Altshuller (G – 94 – 2.56 – 31-13-3 – Carolina), Justice Dundas (F – 94 – 4-5-9 – Saint John), Scott Laughton (F – 94 – 40-47-87 – Philadelphia), Alex Lepkowski (D – 93 – 0-4-4), Dylan Smoskowitz (F – 93 – 29-17-46), Colin Sullentrop (D – 93 – 3-20-23 – New Brunswick)

Arriving: Jeremy Brodeur (G – 96 – 8th in ’13 – Shattuck St. Mary’s), Anthony Cirelli (F – 97 – 10-18-28 – Mississauga Reps), Sonny Hertzberg (D – 95 – ’14 Import Draft), Kenny Huether (F – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Listowel), Tobias Lindberg (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft – Ottawa), Cliff Pu (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Daniel Robertson (D – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Leamington), Stephen Seeger (F – 96 – 5-6-11 – Moncton), Stephen Templeton (D – 97 – 6th in ’13), Michael Turner (F – 95 – 7th in ’11 – Cushing Academy)

NHL Prospects: Josh Brown (D – 94 – 2-10-12 – Florida), Cole Cassels (F – 95 – 24-49-73 – Vancouver), Michael Dal Colle (F – 96 – 39-56-95 – NY Islanders), Tobias Lindberg (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft – Ottawa), Hunter Smith (F – 95 – 16-24-40 – Calgary)

Rights Held: Cory Caruso (F – 96 – 13th in ’12 – Mercyhurst), Joseph Cecconi (D – 97 – 8th in ’14 – Michigan), Patrick Grasso (F – 96 – 11th in ’13 – New Hampshire), Rory McGuire (D – 95 – 3rd in ’11 – Colgate), Brett Seney (F – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Merrimack), Kelly Summers (D – 96 – 6th in ’12 – Clarkson – Ottawa), Joseph Wolf (G – 98 – 9th in ’14 – Harvard)

Prediction: First in East Division (Even with Daniel Altshuler and Scott Laughton leaving for the pro ranks, I still think this is one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The forward core is still really strong, especially with Michael Dal Colle leading the way, and the defence isn’t too bad. Plus, I really like the goaltending duo of Kenny Appleby and Jeremy Brodeur, especially when compared to a team like Kingston.)

Leo Lazarev

Ottawa 67’s

Last Season: Fifth in East Division – Tenth in Eastern Conference (23-39-3-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Connor Brown (F – 95 – 12-2-14 – Saginaw), Taylor Davis (D – 95 – 0-2-2), Taylor Fielding (F – 94 – 5-11-16 – Brock), Brett Gustavsen (F – 94 – 14-27-41 – Belleville), Adrian Sloboda (D – 96 – 0-6-6), Philippe Trudeau (G – 93 – 4.03 – 22-32-6 – Bridgeport), John Ubranic (F – 95 – 3-0-3), Ryan Van Stralen (F – 93 – 29-29-58 – Carleton)

Arriving: Jeremiah Addison (F – 96 – 7-10-17 – Saginaw), Travis Barron (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Ben Fanjoy (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Kanata), Kevin Groulx (F – 96 – 8th in ’12 – Stittsville), Leo Lazarev (G – 97 – 2nd in ’14), Matthew Mercer (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Orangeville), Zack Pittman (D – 95 – 9th in ’12 – Lincoln), Nathan Todd (F – 95 – 5th in ’14), Artur Tyanulin (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Alex Lintuniemi (D – 95 – 4-17-21 – Los Angeles), Jacob Middleton (D – 96 – 2-21-23 – Los Angeles)

Rights Held: Ben Blacker (G – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Western Michigan), Adam Dauda (F – 95 – 13th in ’11 – Colgate), Mark Golberg (F – 95 – 7th in ’11 – RIT), Donovan Ott (F – 97 – 11th in ’13 – Cornell), Andrew Peeke (D – 98 – 15th in ’14 – Notre Dame), Steven Ruggiero (D – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Penn State), Brandon Salerno (F – 95 – 3rd in ’11 – Alabama-Huntsville), Ladislav Zikmund (F – 95 – ’12 Import Draft – HC Kosice)

Prediction: Fifth in East Division (The 67’s are heading back to the TD Place Arena (Ottawa Civic Centre) after two rough seasons at Corel Centre (wait, it’s not called that anymore), and should be much better in its homecoming. However, like many teams in the league, I’m not quite convinced yet on the goaltending and the overall depth of the roster. With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat out Mississauga for the eighth and final playoff spot.)

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Owen Sound Attack

Last Season: Fourth in Midwest Division - Seventh in Western Conference (31-29-3-5) – Lost 4-1 to Sault Ste. Marie in West Quarters

Departing: Gilbert Gabor (F – 95 – 5-4-9 – Malmo), Kurtis Gabriel (F – 93 – 16-35-51 – Minnesota), Kyle Hope (F – 93 – 24-24-48 – Springfield), Victor Mete (D – 98 – 1st in ’14 – London), Brayden Rose (D – 93 – 3-26-29 – Brampton)

Arriving: Jonah Gadjovich (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Nick Marois (F – 96 – 3-1-4 – Saint-Jerome), Michael McNiven (G – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Georgetown), Jarrett Meyer (D – 96 – 0-3-3 – New Jersey Bobcats), Petrus Palmu (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Daniel Pugliese (D – 96 – 11th in ’12 – Hamilton Red Wings), Keenan Reynolds (F – 98 – 4th in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Chris Bigras (D – 96 – 4-22-26 – Colorado), Jaden Lindo (F – 96 – 9-9-18 – Pittsburgh), Zach Nastasiuk (F – 95 – 23-28-51 – Detroit), Kyle Platzer (F – 95 – 22-14-36 – Edmonton)

Rights Held: Brent Gates (F – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Notre Dame), Cameron Hackett (G – 96 – 4th in ’12 – Cornell), William Knierim (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – Miami), Sean Malone (F – 95 – Rights from Erie – Harvard – Buffalo), Joseph Masonius (D – 97 – 12th in ’13 – New Hampshire), Connor Murphy (F – 96 – 7th in ’12 – Michigan), Evan Smith (F – 96 – 3rd in ’12 – Yale), Colin Tonge (F – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Princeton)

Prediction: Fifth in Midwest Division (I feel like a broken record here, but this is another team that will only go as far as its goaltending will take them. I like the majority of the lineup, especially the NHL prospects that they have, but I’m not convinced that a goaltending parring of Brandon Hope and Jack Flinn is enough to lead you to the promised land.)

Matt Spencer of the Peterborough Petes. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Peterborough Petes

Last Season: Third in East Division - Sixth in Eastern Conference (32-30-0-6) – Lost 4-0 to Oshawa in East Semis

Departing: Nelson Armstrong (D – 93 – 9-36-45 – UPEI), Andrew D’Agostini (G – 93 – 3.40 – 25-21-2 – Guelph), Brandon Devlin (D – 94 – 15-25-39 – Mississauga), Clark Seymour (D – 93 – 7-16-23 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), Jonatan Tanus (F – 95 – 13-22-35 – Leki), Jack Webb (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Saginaw), Mitchell Webb (F – 97 – 0-1-1 – Saginaw)

Arriving: Jonathan Ang (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Josh Coyle (F – 97 – 3rd in ’13 – St. Thomas), Dominik Masin (D – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Tampa Bay), Scott Smith (G – 97 – 9th in ’12 – Milton), Adam Timleck (F – 98 – 4th in ’14), Matthew Timms (D – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Artyom Vladimirov (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Dylan Wells (G – 98 – 2nd in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Eric Cornel (F – 96 – 25-37-62 – Buffalo), Dominik Masin (D – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Tampa Bay), Nick Ritchie (F – 95 – 39-35-74 – Anaheim)

Rights Held: Matthew Alvaro (F – 96 – 10th in ’12 – Providence), Connor Clifton (D – 95 – 4th in ’13 – Quinnipiac – Arizona), Hunter Racine (F – 96 – 4th in ’12 – Colgate), Steve Santini (D – 95 – 6th in ’11 – Boston College – New Jersey), Luke Shiplo (D – 95 – 12th in ’11 – Western Michigan), Zac Tierney (D – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Ferris State), Jake Walman (D – 96 – 6th in ’14 – Providence – St. Louis), Matt Weis (F – 95 – 13th in ’12 – Ohio State)

Prediction: Fourth in East Division (Following last season’s comeback from 3-0 down in the first round against Kingston, I expect the Petes that momentum to make a second straight trip to the post-season. I like the forwards a lot, and I expect Matt Spencer to have a strong sophomore season on defence. The goaltending isn’t all that great on paper though, and I expect that to be fixed via a trade.)

Sonny Milano

Plymouth Whalers

Last Season: Fourth in West Division - Eighth in Western Conference (28-38-0-7) – Lost 4-1 to Guelph in West Semis

Departing: Jordan Addesi (F – 96 – 2-0-2), Ryan Hartman (F – 94 – 25-28-53 – Chicago), Zach Lorentz (F – 93 – 27-27-54 – Waterloo), Nick Malysa (D – 93 – 1-6-7), Carter Sandlak (F – 93 – 24-24-48 – Carolina)

Arriving: William Bitten (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Nicholas Caamano (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Mathew Campagna (F – 94 – 15-59-74 – Sudbury), Sonny Milano (F – 96 – 4th in ’12 – US NTDP – Columbus), Tyler Sensky (D – 97 – 12th in ’13 – Honeybaked)

NHL Prospects: Connor Chatham (F – 95 – 13-18-31 – New Jersey), Sonny Milano (F – 96 – 4th in ’12 – US NTDP – Columbus), Matthew Mistele (F – 95 – 18-19-37 – Los Angeles), Alex Nedeljkovic (G – 96 – 2.88 – 26-27-7 – Carolina), Alex Peters (D – 96 – 3-6-9 – Dallas), Victor Crus Rydberg (F – 95 – 12-25-37 – NY Islanders), Joshua Wesley (D – 96 – 2-7-9 – Carolina)

Rights Held: Jordan Greenway (F – 97 – 1st in ’12 – Boston),  Dakota Joseph (F – 96 – 8th in ’13 – Ohio State – Toronto), Vasili Kolias (D – 97 – 12th in ’14 – Boston), Seamus Malone (F – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Wisconsin), Aaron O’Neill (F – 97 – 10th in ’13 – New Hampshire), Adam Parsells (D – 97 – 13th in ’13 – Wisconsin), Charlie Pelnik (D – 95 – 7th in ’11 – North Dakota), Jack Roslovic (F – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Miami), Mitchell Smith (F – 96 – 8th in ’12 – Yale), Keegan Ward (F – 97 – 13th in ’13 – Northern Michigan), Daniel Willett (D – 96 – 8th in ’12 – Northeastern)

Prediction: Second in West Division (Following a slight blip last season, the Whalers should return to form this year, despite losing Head Coach and General Manager Mike Vellucci to the Carolina Hurricanes. Newly acquired forwards Mathew Campagna and Sonny Milano should be a potent duo up front, while the rest of the line-up is rock solid, especially with Alex Nedeljkovic in goal.)

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Saginaw Spirit

Last Season: Third in West Division - Sixth in Western Conference (33-30-4-1) – Lost 4-1 to Erie in West Quarters

Departing: Jeremiah Addison (F – 96 – 7-10-17 – Ottawa), Andrey Alexeev (F – 95 – 12-12-24 – HK MVD), Jesse Graham (D – 94 – 11-43-54 – NY Islanders), Justin Kea (F – 94 – 22-27-49 – Buffalo), Kristoff Kontos (F – 93 – 25-50-75 – EC Salzburg), Eric Locke (F – 93 – 26-34-60 – St. Francis Xavier), Jake Paterson (G – 94 – 3.41 – 24-18-2 – Detroit), Cody Payne (F – 94 – 26-9-35 – Niagara), Justin Sefton (D – 93 – 16-21-37 – Orlando)

Arriving: Artem Artemov (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Kris Bennett (F – 96 – 3rd in ’12 – Oakville), Connor Brown (F – 95 – 12-2-14 – Ottawa), Marcus Crawford (D – 97 – 3rd in ’13 – Whitby), Tye Felhaber (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Adam McPhail (F – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Waterloo), David Ovsjannikov (G – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Oakland Jr. Grizzlies), Jack Webb (F – 97 – Peterborough’s 5th in ’13 – Fort Erie), Mitchell Webb (F – 97 – 0-1-1 – Peterborough)

NHL Prospects: Jimmy Lodge (F – 95 – 19-27-46 – Winnipeg), Nick Moutrey (F – 95 – 15-26-41 – Columbus), Dylan Sadowy (F – 96 – 27-9-36 – San Jose)

Rights Held: Tarek Baker (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Minnesota), JT Compher (F – 95 – 11th in ’11 – Michigan – Buffalo), Kyle Connor (F – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Michigan), Troy Crema (F – 95 – 15th in ’11 – Dartmouth), Ian McCoshen (D – 95 – 6th in ’11 – Boston College – Florida), Nick Pastujov (F – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Michigan)

Prediction: Fourth in West Division (This isn’t a bad team, but they aren’t just quite up to snuff to the rest of the strong squads in the Western Conference. If the youngsters get up to speed quickly, this might be a playoff team. If that doesn’t happen though, the rebuilding process in Saginaw may officially begin at the Trade Deadline.)

Pavel Zacha

Sarnia Sting

Last Season: Fifth in West Division - Tenth in Western Conference (17-44-2-5) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Brodie Barrick (G – 94 – 5.46 – 5-15-1), Nick Latta (F – 93 – 38-28-66 – Harford), Jimmy McDowell (D – 93 – 13-25-38 – Nipissing), Nicholas Sproviero (F – 95 – 1-0-1), Brendan Trottier (F – 97 – 0-1-1)

Arriving: Shayne Battler (G – 98 – 6th in ’14), Alex Black (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Cambridge), Jakob Chychrun (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Jordan Kyrou (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Troy Lajeunesse (F – 97 – 16-18-34 – Waterloo), Pavel Zacha (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Anthony DeAngelo (D – 95 – 15-56-71 – Tampa Bay), Nikolai Goldobin (F – 95 – 38-56-94 – San Jose)

Rights Held: Nick Boka (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Michigan), Michael Downing (D – 95 – 8th in ’11 – Michigan – Florida), Mitch Eliot (D – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Michigan State), Martin Frechette (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Vermont), Josh Jacobs (D – 96 – 4th in ’12 – Michigan State – New Jersey), Luke Kunin (F – 97 – 12th in ’13 – Wisconsin), Tyler Motte (F – 95 – 10th in ’11 – Michigan – Chicago), Mikey Soucier (F – 95 – 12th in ’11 – Bemidji State), Alex Talcott (F – 95 – 13th in ’11 – Michigan)

Prediction: Fifth in West Division (The high-impact players (Nikolai Goldobin, Pavel Zacha, Anthony DeAngelo, and Jakob Chyrchrun) are there, but the overall depth isn’t in my opinion. They won’t be as bad as they were last year, but I suspect it will be another long season in Sarnia, with a few bright spots along the way courtesy of the top players.)

Gabe Guertler

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Last Season: First in West Division - Second in Western Conference (44-17-2-5) – Lost 4-0 to Erie in West Semis

Departing: Dylan Corson (F – 94 – 7-18-25), Andrew Fritsch (F – 93 – 24-36-56 – St. Thomas), Tyler Gaudet (F – 93 – 26-35-61 – Arizona), Brandon Hughes (F – 96 – 1-4-5 – Oakville), Jorgen Karterud (F – 94 – 11-14-25 – Valerenga), Ryan Mantha (D – 96 – 5th in ’12 – Niagara – NY Rangers), Matt Murray (G – 94 – 2.57 – 32-11-6 – Pittsburgh), Patrick Watling (F – 93 – 18-36-54 – Toronto Marlies)

Arriving: Gustav Bouramman (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Timmy Gettinger (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Gabe Guertler (F – 95 – 6th in ’11 – Minnesota), Boris Katchouk (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Medric Mercier (D – 96 – 7th in ‘12 – Soo T-Birds), Joseph Raaymakers (G – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Anthony Salinitri (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Zachary Senyshyn (F – 97 – 3rd in ’13 – Smiths Falls), Hayden Verbeek (F – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Chatham)

NHL Prospects: Michael Bunting (F – 95 – 15-27-42 – Arizona), Tyler Ganly (D – 95 – 3-18-21 – Carolina), Alex Gudbranson (D – 94 – 7-8-15 – Minnesota), Brandon Halverson (G – 96 – 2.96 – 12-6-1 – NY Rangers), Kyle Jenkins (D – 96 – 7-18-25 – Carolina), Jared McCann (F – 96 – 27-35-62 – Vancouver), Darnell Nurse (D – 95 – 13-37-50 – Edmonton) Sergey Tolchinsky (F – 95 – 31-60-91 – Carolina)

Rights Held: Anthony Angello (F – 96 – 15th in ’12 – Cornell – Pittsburgh), Matt Buckles (F – 95 – 4th in ’11 – Cornell – Florida), Austin Cho (D – 97 – 12th in ’13 – RPI), Dawson Cook (F – 95 – 5th in ’11 – Notre Dame), Austin Dittenhafer (D – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Vermont),  Jake Gingell (D – 97 – 13th in ’13 – Michigan Tech), Justin Gregona (F – 97 – 13th in ’13 – New Hampshire), Cody Milan (F – 96 – 4th in ’12 – Michigan State), Michael Sabatini (F – 95 – 10th in ’11 – Canisius)

Prediction: First in West Division (Sure Brandon Halverson isn’t proven as a starter yet, and the defence may lose both Alex Gudbranson and Darnell Nurse to the pro ranks. However, the forward depth is beyond frightening, and has the Greyhounds as a legit title threat for the first time since they went to the Western Conference finals in 2008. As a Greyhounds fan, I’m slightly excited about this.)

Nicholas Baptiste

Sudbury Wolves 

Last Season: Third in Central Division - Fifth in Eastern Conference (33-24-3-8) – Lost 4-1 to Barrie in East Quarters

Departing: Mathew Campagna (F – 94 – 15-59-74 – Plymouth), Trevor Carrick (D – 94 – 22-29-51 – Carolina), Connor Crisp (F – 94 – 28-27-55 – Montreal), Nathan Cull (F – 94 – 5-4-9 – Lakehead), Craig Duinnick (D – 94 – 7-22-29 – St. Francis Xavier), Radek Faska (F – 94 – 21-27-48 – Dallas), Dominik Kahun (F – 95 – 9-22-31 – EHC Munich), Franky Palazzese (G – 93 – 2.97 – 27-23-9), Kevin Raine (D – 93 – 4-17-21), Noah Robinson (F – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Mississauga)

Arriving: Trenton Bourque (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Chase Hawley (D – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Gananoque), Pavel Jenys (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Minnesota), Ivan Kashtanov (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Jonathon Masters (D – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Kemptville), Brody Milne (F – 95 – 17-13-30 – Windsor), Devon Paliani (F – 96 – Kingston’s 14th in ’12 – LaSalle), Brady Pataki (F – 98  – 4th in ’14), Michael Pezzetta (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Sam Tanguay (G – 95 – 1.79 – 13-0-1 – Kingston Voyageurs)

NHL Prospects: Nicholas Baptiste (F – 95 – 45-44-89 – Buffalo)

Rights Held: Bradley Bell (D – 96 – Mississauga’s 3rd in ’12 – RPI)

Prediction: Fifth in Central Division (Firstly, if Nicholas Baptiste isn’t traded to another team this season, I’ll be slack-jawed. After loading up last year and crashing out in the first round, the Wolves look in rough shape at the moment. There’s a couple of decent players here, but there is not a lot to be desired, and I expect the Wolves to be at the bottom of the league standings.)

Josh Ho Sang

Windsor Spitfires

Last Season: Second in West Division - Fifth in Western Conference (37-28-3-0) – Lost 4-0 to London in West Quarters

Departing: Adam Bateman (D – 95 – 1-7-8 – Saint John), Chris Cobham (F – 96 – 1-0-1 – Moncton), Eric Diodati (D – 93 – 7-22-29 – St. Thomas), Remy Giftopoulos (F – 93 – 24-24-48 – Acadia), Cameron Hughes (F – 96 – 0-0-0 – Gloucester), Steven Janes (F – 93 – 12-18-30 – St. Thomas), Ben Johnson (F – 94 – 28-25-53 – New Jersey), Slater Koekkoek (D – 94 – 15-38-53 – Tampa Bay), Brody Milne (F – 95 – 17-13-30 – Sudbury)

Arriving: Logan Brown (F – 98 – Niagara’s 1st in ’14), Jalen Chatfield (D – 96 – 11-15-26 – Belle Tire), Slater Doggett (F – 94 – 7-20-27 – Kingston), Brendan Johnston (G – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Chatham), Luke Kirwan (F – 97 – Guelph’s 2nd in ’13 – US NTDP), Adam Luchuk (F – 97 – 4th in ’13 – LaSalle), Mark Manchurek (F – 96 – 31-34-65 – LaSalle), Brandon Shea (F – 95 – 2-3-5 – Quebec), Markus Soberg (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft – Columbus), Logan Stanley (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Danill Vertiy (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Cristiano DiGiacinto (F – 96 – 17-11-28 – Tampa Bay), Joshua Ho-Sang (F – 96 – 32-53-85 – NY Islanders), Patrick Sanvido (D – 96 – 1-7-8 – Dallas), Markus Soberg (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft – Columbus)

Rights Held: Evan Allen (F – 95 – 15th in ’11 – Michigan), Louie Belpedio (D – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Miami – Minnesota), Will Butcher (D – 95 – 10th in ’11 – Denver – Colorado), Liam Clare (D – 95 – 14th in ’11 – Sacred Heart), Jacob De La Rose (F – 95 – ’13 Import Draft – Leksand – Montreal), Robbie Demontis (F – 96 – 13th in ’12 – Yale), Chris Dodero (F – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Colorado College), Christian Fischer (F – 97 – 11th in ‘13 – Notre Dame), Mark Friedman (D – 95 – 13th in ’11 – Bowling Green – Philadelphia), Clayton Keller (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – Boston), Ryker Killins (D – 96 – 12th in ’12 – Ferris State), Nick Schmaltz (F – 96 – 4th in ’12 – North Dakota – Chicago), Brendan Warren (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Michigan)

Prediction: Third in West Division (I’m not quite convinced on the defence, but I really like the forwards Windsor has, especially in Joshua Ho-Sang, who is basically the equivalent of the anti-christ if you believe the mainstream pundits. Alex Fotinos is also a pretty solid goaltender, and with Luke Kirwan and Logan Brown both joining the team, I have the Spitfires as my sleeper team in the Western Conference.)

OHL Fight

OHL Standings

Eastern Conference

  1. Niagara IceDogs
  2. Oshawa Generals
  3. Kingston Frontenacs
  4. North Bay Battalion
  5. Barrie Colts
  6. Belleville Bulls
  7. Peterborough Petes
  8. Mississauga Steelheads
  9. Ottawa 67′s
  10. Sudbury Wolves

Western Conference

  1. Erie Otters
  2. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
  3. Plymouth Whalers
  4. Windsor Spitfires
  5. Guelph Storm
  6. London Knights
  7. Kitchener Rangers
  8. Owen Sound Attack
  9. Saginaw Spirit
  10. Sarnia Sting

Paul Fixter

First Coach To Be Fired: Paul Fixter (With last season being such a massive disappointment for the Wolves, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fixter is given the axe this year, especially if Sudbury gets off to a slow start.)

Anthony DeAngelo

Biggest Name To Be Traded: Anthony DeAngelo (With Sarnia still in the midst of a massive rebuilding, I’m expecting that DeAngelo will be dealt away to one of the top contenders in the West before the deadline.)

Pavel Zacha 2

Best First Year Import: Pavel Zacha (Despite agent Allan Walsh basically calling Sting General Manager Nick Sinclair a fool for taking Zacha, the potential first round pick in this year’s NHL draft is in Sarnia after all. If William Nylander or David Pastarnak show up, they become the front-runners, but I have my doubts on both of those fronts.)

Sergey Tolchinsky

Top Scorer: Sergei Tolchinsky (Russia Best. Nothing else really needs to be said)

Marty Williamson

Coach Of The Year: Marty Williamson (The annual snubbing of Sheldon Keefe is set to continue, but a rise from seventh to a possible conference championship team won’t go unnoticed.)

Mathew Campagna

Overage Player Of The Year: Mathew Campagna (The former first round pick by the Wolves had 74 points in Sudbury last year, and moves onto Plymouth to team up with Sonny Milano. That should only bode well for a strong final season in the league.)

Adam Mascherin

Rookie Of The Year: Adam Mascherin (I’m expecting a bounce back from the Rangers this year, and I think that Mascherin will be a big part of that rebound.)

Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds v London Knights

Top Defenceman: Darnell Nurse (Again, I’m assuming that Nurse is back with the Greyhounds after starting the year in Edmonton. If he doesn’t return, I’ll take Anthony DeAngelo to win this award.)

Devin Williams

Top Goalie: Devin Williams (He took the starting job away from Oscar Dansk in the later stages of the 2013/14 campaign, and should be even better in a starting role this season.)

Connor McJesus 2

Most Valuable Player: Connor McDavid (He’s the most hyped prospect since John Tavares, and the most well-known player before a draft since Sidney Crosby. I’d be stunned if his last year in the OHL doesn’t end with him winning the MVP.)

Soo Niagara

OHL Champions: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds over Niagara IceDogs (I went back and forth between the Greyhounds and the Otters, but in the end, my hometown bias prevailed. Outgoing general manager Kyle Dubas has left this team in great shape as he heads off to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, as the Greyhounds look to be the team to beat for the first time in ages. With that said, I can see Plymouth and the Soo beating the tar out of each other in Round 2, which allows the Otters to come away with the title.)


Saskatoon Sells Scherbak and New Names For The Steelheads

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It only took four days of the 2014/15 Western Hockey League season for the first big move to take place, and it’s one that isn’t much of a surprise, as the Saskatoon Blades dealt Nikita Scherbak to the Everett Silvertips on Monday for goaltender Nik Amundrud and a pair of draft picks (a first rounder in 2015 and a second rounder in 2016).

From the Blades side of things, it doesn’t look good optically. With 78 points to lead the team in scoring by a country mile (the highest point getter now from last year’s team is 95 born forward Cory Millette with 34), giving up a first round pick of the Montreal Canadiens isn’t going to sit well. If you’re a Blades fan, what’s the point of even going to watch the team now when the brass have more or less said we are rebuilding again.

With that said, the Blades weren’t left with much of a choice as they now have three imports and can’t deal the two players (Amil Krupic and Nikita Soshnin) they just drafted in June (more on that in a bit). Other than Winnipeg draft pick Nelson Nogier, Scherbak is the only tradable asset that they have following the 2013 Memorial Cup hosting experience, so you have to trade him as soon as you could for a good price.

For a team that lost its 2014 first round selection to Brandon (who ended up selecting Stelio Mattheos with the top overall pick), getting two high draft picks is key for a organizaton that needs to rebuild its prospect system is crucial. Plus, since Carolina draft pick and former Ohio State goalie Collin Olson is probably not going to report, the Blades now have someone who can ease into the starter role with Amundrud, even if he faces a ton of rubber this year.

As for Everett, getting Scherbak should guarantee the Silvertips one of the two wildcard spots in the Western Conference. I’m still not convinced that they have the depth to match a Tri-City or a Seattle yet, but they now have a top line forward that will score goals for them, and a highly touted import that will replace defender Mirco Muller, who is seemingly set to join the San Jose Sharks.

With the Blades import situation now solved, the Calgary Hitmen, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Edmonton Oil Kings are all now trying to figure what to do with their three import players, with Edmonton’s situation becoming more intriguing as Memorial Cup MVP Edgars Kulda will be back soon. Since the CHL has decided to not allow recently drafted import picks to be treaded any more, I’m convinced that this situation will happen more often as teams are handcuffed if a NHL prospect returns and the younger guys are screwed over from moving to team where they would get proper minutes. It’s not as foolish as the import goalie ban, but the no-movement rule is causing more harm than good.

mississauga_steelheads_introduce_new_jerseys

I haven’t seem much in an update on this story yet, but TSN reporter Rick Westhead tweeted last week that the Idaho Steelheads and the ECHL have sued the OHL and the Mississauga Steelheads for trademark violation.

This news reminded me of what happened last year when the Lethbridge Hurricanes had to change its logo because of the similarities to the Washington Capitals, so I suspect a new look Mississauga squad may happen in the not too distant future.

But what will be the new name for the Steelheads if they are forced to change? Well I have a couple of suggestions.

  • The Mississauga Hurricane Hazels (Long-time mayor Hazel McCallion is wrapping up her 36-year stint as the leader of the city, so why not name the team after her.)
  • The Mississauga Suburbs (Yes, I know that Mississauga is a massive city all of its own, but it’s still thought of as a suburb to the big smoke. Why not embrace it and have Arcade Fire come in once a year to play The Suburbs record before a game.)
  • The Mississauga Square Ones (Not only will you have a great marketing plan, but you can also play some games in the mall parking lot or on the roof to increase your attendance. Just because the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL were unable to get a roof-top rink at a casino doesn’t mean that an oddball idea should go by the wayside.)
  • The St. Michael’s Majors (Okay, it’s the old name, but there’s a method to my madness. With the CHL more or less changing the Memorial Cup hosting rotation so that the OHL hosts the 100th anniversary tournament in 2017, just give it to the Majors’ again and move the games into the super tiny St. Michael’s School arena. I mean, if we are going down the route of a one-and-done tournament, let’s go all the way in making the tournament a complete bit of craziness.)


2014/15 WHL Preview

Oil Kings Champs

When I moved out to Airdrie, Alberta from Fort Frances, Ontario in August of 2013, one of the things that I was excited about was the fact that I would finally get to see some Western Hockey League games in person.

Last season, I got a chance to see two regular season games, the CHL Top Prospects event, a tiebreaker contest between Red Deer and Prince Albert, and Game 1 of the Eastern Semis. I’m still getting used to the fact that I’m going to the CHL games and not cheering for a team like I do in the Soo, but I’m having a blast getting used to a new league.

So as such, I feel confident enough to actually make predictions for the 2014/15 WHL Season, and they are available for your viewing pleasure below.

John Quenneville

Brandon Wheat Kings

Last Season: Third in East Division – Seventh in Eastern Conference (34-29-6-3) – Lost 4-1 to Edmonton in East Semis

Departing: Curtis Honey (G – 94 – 4.07 – 12-14-2), Rene Hunter (D – 93 – 4-30-34 – Manitoba), Jens Meilleur (F – 93 – 11-15-26 – EC Kassel), Ryan Pulock (D – 94 – 23-40-63 – NY Islanders), Chad Robinson (F – 93 – 7-25-32 – Manitoba), Dominic Thom (D – 96 – 0-1-1 – Prince George)

Arriving: Duncan Campbell (F – 96 – 39-48-85 – Brandon Midget Wheat Kings), Kale Clague (D – 98 – 1st in ’13 – Lloydminster Bobcats), Tanner Kaspick (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Ty Lewis (F – 98 – 3rd in ’13), Kirkland Lycar (F – 97 – 4th in ’12 – Eastman Selects), Mark Matsuba (D – 97 – 4th in ’12 – St. Albert Raiders), Michael Mylchreest (D – 95 – 4-8-12 – Springfield Jr. Blues), Nolan Patrick (F – 98 – 1st in ’13), Ivan Provorov (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Mark Taraschuk (D – 97 – 6th in ’12 – Winnipeg Wild), Logan Thompson (G – 97 – 6th in ’12)

NHL Prospects: Jayce Hawryluk (F – 96 – 24-40-64 – Florida), Richard Nejezchleb (F – 94 – 32-25-57 – NY Rangers), John Quenneville (F – 96 – 25-33-58 – New Jersey), Peter Quenneville (F – 94 – 21-30-51 – Columbus)

Rights Held: Wade Allison (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Western Michigan), Joey Anderson (F – 98 – 9th in ’13 – Minnesota-Duluth), Colt Conrad (F – 97 – Lethbridge’s 3rd in ’12 – Western Michigan), Rhett Gardner (F – 96 – Spokane’s 2nd in ’11 – North Dakota), Ryan Lindgren (D – 98 – 8th in ’13 – Minnesota)

Prediction: Second in East Division (With a ton of highly touted prospects coming in from the 2013 draft, and the number one pick in 2014 (Stelio Mattheos) showing up next season, the Wheat Kings will probably be the favourite in a year’s time. For now though, I suspect the foundation will be put in place for the Wheat Kings to be a threat, but not quite close enough to win the Eastern title.)

Greg Chase

Calgary Hitmen

Last Season: Second in Central Division – Third in Eastern Conference (48-17-3-4) – Lost 4-2 to Kootenay in East Quarters

Departing: Brady Brassart (F – 93 – 35-50-85 – Minnesota), Chris Driedger (G – 94 – 2.64 – 28-14-7 – Ottawa), Kenton Helgesen (D – 94 – 10-41-51 – Anaheim), Joe Mahon (F – 94 – 9-9-18), Brennan Riddle (D – 97 – 1st in ’12 – Prince Albert), Jaynen Rissling (D – 93 – 8-29-37 – Nashville), Alex Roach (D – 93 – 12-32-44 – Los Angeles)

Arriving: Jake Bean (D – 98 – 27-42-69 – Edge School), Layne Bensmiller (F – 97 – 11-15-26 – Red Deer Chiefs), Marshall Donald (D – 95 – 3rd in ’10 – Sherwood Park), Aaron Hyman (D – 98 – 3rd in ’13), Evan Johnson (G – 96 – 1.27 – 17-3-2 – Winnipeg Wild), Pavel Karnaukhov (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Beck Malenstyn (F – 98 – 1st in ’13), Loch Morrison (D – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Prince Albert Mintos), Taylor Sanheim (F – 96 – 15-13-28 – Portage), Jordan Stallard (F – 97 – 4th in ’12 – Brandon Midget Wheat Kings), Carsen Twarynski (F – 97 – 13-16-29 – Calgary Buffaloes)

NHL Prospects: Greg Chase (F – 95 – 35-50-85 – Edmonton), Radel Fazleev (F – 96 – 5-20-25 – Philadelphia), Chase Lang (F – 96 – 10-15-25 – Minnesota), Travis Sanheim (D – 96 – 5-24-29 – Philadelphia), Adam Tambellini (F – 94 – 17-22-39 – NY Rangers), Ben Thomas (D – 96 – 7-24-31 – Tampa Bay), Jake Virtanen (F – 96 – 45-26-71 – Vancouver)

Rights Held: Keaton Thompson (D – 95 – 8th in ’10 – North Dakota – Anaheim)

Prediction: First in Central Division (I have a couple of questions about the defence with some new faces coming in, and I’m curious to see how Mack Shields does as a starter with Chris Driedger heading off to Ottawa. However, this forward core looks really good, especially with Adam Tambellini more than likely back as an overager, and that makes them the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.)

Tristan Jarry

Edmonton Oil Kings

Last Season: First in Central Division – First in Eastern Conference (50-19-2-1) – 2013-14 WHL Champions – 2014 Memorial Cup Champions

Departing: Garrett Armour (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Prince Albert) Cody Corbett (D – 93 – 17-44-61 – Colorado), Riley Kieser (F – 93 – 14-21-35 – Alberta), Mitchell Moroz (F – 94 – 35-28-63 – Edmonton), Reid Petryk (F – 93 – 17-39-56), Griffin Reinhart (D – 94 – 4-17-21 – NY Islanders), Henrik Samuelsson (F – 94 – 35-60-95 – Arizona)

Arriving: Brayden Brown (F – 97 – 5-9-14 – Calgary Buffaloes), Jordan Dawson (D – 98 – 4th in ’13), Patrick Dea (G – 97 – 1st in ’12 – St. Albert), Marsel Ibragimov (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Davis Koch (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Andrew Koep (F – 97 – 2nd in ’12), Garan Magnes (F – 97 – 10-15-25 – SSAC Athletics), Chance Patterson (D – 97 – 5th in ’12 – Saskatoon Blazers)

NHL Prospects: Brandon Baddock (F – 95 – 6-11-17 – New Jersey), Aaron Irving (D – 96 – 9-21-30 – Nashville), Tristan Jarry (G – 95 – 2.24 – 44-14-3 – Pittsburgh), Edgars Kulda (F – 94 – 30-30-60 – Arizona), Curtis Lazar (F – 95 – 41-35-76 – Ottawa), Dysin Mayo (D – 96 – 7-28-35 – Arizona), Brett Pollock (F – 96 – 25-30-55 – Dallas)

Rights Held: Alec Dillon (G – 96 – Swift Current’s 5th in ’12 – RPI – Los Angeles), Nelson Gadoury (F – 95 – 5th in ’10 – Quinnipiac), Logan Mick (F – 96 – 6th in ’11 – Quinnipiac)

Prediction: Second in Central Division (A lot of this is depending on what happens with Curtis Lazar, as I think he’s going to come back from Ottawa. If he doesn’t, then their might be a drop-off and Tristan Jarry may be traded away for future building blocks, though I think the Oil Kings should still make the playoffs if that happens.)

Austin Lotz

Everett Silvertips

Last Season: Third in US Division – Fifth in Western Conference (39-23-7-3) – Lost 4-1 to Seattle in West Quarters

Departing: Austin Adam (D – 95 – 1-3-4 – Moose Jaw), Daniel Cotton (G – 94 – 3.03 – 8-4-4), Darcy DeRoose (D – 95 – 1-5-6), Manraj Hayer (F – 93 – 15-28-43 – UBC), Jujhar Khaira (F – 94 – 16-37-43 – Edmonton), Matt Pufahl (D – 93 – 15-34-49 – Acadia), Joshua Winquist (F – 93 – 47-46-93 – Oklahoma City)

Arriving: Nik Amundrud (G – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – Melfort), Carter Cochrane (D – 96 – 16-31-47 – Chilliwack), Carter Hart (G – 98 – 8th in ’13 – Sherwood Park), Nik Malencia (F – 97 – 5-15-20 – North Island), Graham Millar (F – 96 – 7-6-13 – Saskatoon), Tristan Pfeifer (D – 96 – 9-6-15 – Phoenix Jr. Coyotes), Addison Runey (F – 97 – 9-11-20 – Dallas U16 Stars), Lucas Skrumeda (D – 96 – 3-14-17 – Winnipeg Blues), Gunnar Wegleitner (F – 98 – 7-5-12 – Greater Vancouver Canadians), Jordan Wharrie (D – 97 – 5th in ’12 – Port Moody)

NHL Prospects: Mirco Mueller (D – 95 – 5-22-27 – San Jose)

Rights Held: Cody DePourcq (D – 95 – 10th in ’10 – Denver), Alexander Zhebelev (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – Kristall Berdsk)

Prediction: Fourth in US Division (If Mirco Mueller ends up staying with the Sharks, the Silvertips might be in tough, but given how the other teams look near the bottom of the Western Conference, I think they should be in good enough shape to make it to the post-season as a wildcard team.)

Kamloops Blazers v Kelowna Rockets

Kamloops Blazers

Last Season: Fifth in BC Division – Tenth in Western Conference (14-53-2-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Matt Bellerive (F – 94 – 18-23-41 – Vancouver), Carson Bolduc (F – 96 – 5-8-13 – Salmon Arm), Austin Douglas (D – 96 – 1-1-2), Sam Grist (D – 93 – 2-13-15), Jayden Halbgewachs (F – 97 – 1st in ’12 – Moose Jaw), Edson Harlacher (D – 96 – 0-9-9 – Kloten), Joe Kornelsen (F – 93 – 9-10-19), Nathan Looysen (F – 96 – 2-7-9 – Victoria Grizzlies), Tyson Ness (F – 93 – 12-12-24), Matt Thomas (D – 95 – 0-5-5)

Arriving: Spencer Bast (F – 97 – 31-37-68 – Battlefords), Quinn Benjafield (F – 98 – 1st in ’13), Michael Fora (D – 95 – ’14 Import Draft), Brady Gaudet (D – 94 – 5-26-31 – Red Deer), Connor Ingram (G – 97 – 1.98 – 16-4-3 – Prince Albert Mintos), Jake Kryski (F – 98 – Prince Albert’s 1st in ’13), Jermaine Loewen (F – 98 – 3rd in ’13), Patrik Maier (D – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Travis Verveda (D – 97 – 4-9-13 – Red Deer Chiefs), Jesse Zaharichuk (F – 97 – 4-10-14 – Drumheller)

NHL Prospects: Ryan Rehill (D – 95 – 4-16-20 – New Jersey), Cole Ully (F – 95 – 30-42-72 – Dallas)

Rights Held: Kyler Nachtigall (F – 96 – 8th in ’11 – UMass)

Prediction: Fifth in BC Division (Legendary coach Don Hay is back with the Blazers, but I’m not expecting them to be back in the playoff mix quite yet. They will be better than last season, but I’m expecting that Cole Ully or Ryan Rehill will be traded at the deadline to a contender, and the younger players will gain experience as the rebuild continues.

Victoria Royals at Kelowna Rockets

Kelowna Rockets 

Last Season: First in BC Division – First in Western Conference (57-11-0-4) – Lost 4-2 to Portland in West Finals

Departing: Myles Bell (F – 93 – 42-35-77 – New Jersey), Jordan Cooke (G – 93 – 2.28 – 39-7-4 – Saskatchewan), Ryan Olsen (F – 94 – 30-34-64 – Winnipeg), Dalton Severson (D – 94 – 15-46-61 – New Jersey), Marek Tvrdon (F – 93 – 11-16-27 – Detroit)

Arriving: Tate Coughlin (F – 97 – 25-26-51 – Peninsula), Dillon Dube (F – 98 – 1st in ’13), Lucas Johansen (D – 97 – 6th in ’12 – Vancouver NE Chiefs), Jake Morrissey (G – 97 – 5th in ’12 – Delta Hockey Academy), Tomas Soustal (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Devante Stephens (D – 97 – 6-14-20 – Valley West), Tanner Wishnowski (F – 97 – 8-24-32 – Okanagan)

NHL Prospects: Madison Bowey (D – 95 – 21-39-60 – Washington), Rourke Chartier (F – 96 – 24-34-58 – San Jose), Tyrell Goulbourne (F – 94 – 17-20-37 – Philadelphia), Justin Kirkland (F – 96 – 17-31-48 – Nashville), Mitchell Wheaton (D – 95 – 7-21-28 – Detroit)

Rights Held: Christian Cakebread (F – 97 – 4th in ’12 – North Dakota), Hudson Fasching (F – 95 – 8th in ’10 – Minnesota – Buffalo)

Prediction: First in BC Division (Nearly the entire defence returns from last year’s squad, and players like Dillon Dube, Nick Merkley, Rourke Chartier, Tyson Baillie, and Justin Kirkland will fire a ton of goals into the net up front. The BC division is Kelowna’s to lose.)

Jaedon Descheneau

Kootenay Ice

Last Season: Fourth in Central Division – Sixth in Eastern Conference (39-28-2-3) – Lost 4-3 to Medicine Hat in West Semis

Departing: Tim Bozon (F – 94 – 33-36-69 – Montreal), Landon Cross (D – 94 – 2-9-11), Jagger Dirk (D – 93 – 10-38-48 – St. Francis Xavier), Zach Franko (F – 93 – 21-35-56 – Acadia), Zach McPhee (F – 93 – 6-7-13 – Regina), Landon Peel (D – 94 – 4-16-20), Sam Reinhart (F – 95 – 36-69-105 – Buffalo), Mackenzie Skapski (G – 94 – 2.70 – 28-20-4 – NY Rangers)

Arriving: Shane Allan (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Calgary Royals), Bryan Allbee (D – 97 – 16-21-37 – Caribou), River Beattie (F – 97 – 6th in ’12 – Lloydminster), Alexandre Chirva (F – 96 – 2-4-6 – Moose Jaw), Cale Fleury (D – 98 – 4th in ’13), Jared Legien (F – 98 – 1st in ’13), Vince Loschiavo (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Mark O’Shaughnessy (D – 97 – 2-25-27 – Pursuit Of Excellence), Dylan Overdyk (D – 97 – 2nd in ’12 – MLAC Maple Leafs), Jayden Sittler (G – 96 – 2.03 – 12-4-2 – Red Deer Chiefs), Austin Wellsby (F – 97 – 4th in ’12 – Fraser Valley), Keelan Williams (G – 96 – 2.39 – 8-3-1 – Okotoks)

NHL Prospects: Jaedon Descheneau (F – 95 – 44-54-98 – St. Louis), Tanner Faith (D – 95 – 0-1-1 – Minnesota), Rinat Valiev (D – 95 – 5-23-28 – Toronto)

Rights Held: Robert Johnson (F – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Air Force), Artturi Lehkonen (F – 95 – ’13 Import Draft – Frolunda – Montreal)

Prediction: Fifth in Central Division (With Sam Reinhart seemingly set to start off his NHL career in Buffalo, the Ice’s offence is going to be led by Jaedon Descheneau for the time being. I expect he will be traded if Reinhart doesn’t come back, which will probably prevent the Ice from making the playoffs.)

Reid Duke

Lethbridge Hurricanes

Last Season: Sixth in Central Division – Twelfth in Eastern Conference (12-55-2-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Josh Derko (F – 93 – 11-5-16 – Alberta), Macoy Erkamps (D – 95 – 5-26-31 – Awaiting Trade), Jonathan Hogue (G – 5.94 – 2-10-0), Spencer Meyer (F – 96 – 0-0-0 – Spokane), Reid Nemeth (D – 96 – 3-2-5), Kolten Olynek (F – 96 – 4-8-12 – Moose Jaw), Brady Ramsay (F – 93 – 15-27-42), Teagan Sacher (G – 94 – 4.45 – 4-15-1), Seth Swenson (F – 93 – 8-14-22)

Arriving: Dexter Bricker (F – 95 – 2-5-7 – Melfort), Zach Goberis (D – 97 – 4th in ’12 – Colorado Thunderbirds), Brandon Kennedy (D – 97 – 6th in ’12 – Delta) Thomas Lenchyshyn (D – 97 – 1st in ’12 – Eastman Selects), Nikita Milekhin (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Andrew Nielsen (D – 96 – 3-15-18 – Red Deer Chiefs), Zac Robidoux (G – 96 – Medicine Hat’s 6th in ’11 – Portage), Stuart Skinner (G – 98 – 1st in ’13), Pavel Skumatov (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Ryan Vandervils (F – 98 – 14-12-26 – Red Deer Chiefs), Miles Warkentine (F – 96 – 3-9-12 – Moose Jaw), Jaeger White (F – 98 – 4th in ’13)

NHL Prospects: Reid Duke (F – 96 – 15-25-40 – Minnesota)

Rights Held: N/A

Prediction: Sixth in Central Division (I don’t think things will be as bad as last season, but with Macoy Erkamps wanting out, and Reid Duke visiting a USHL camp before reporting to Lethbridge, it’s going to be another long winter in for the Hurricanes. I do hope they aren’t a laughing stock once again, as it may officially mark the beginning of the end of the WHL in the city.)

Tommy Vannelli

Medicine Hat Tigers

Last Season: Third in Central Division – Fourth in Eastern Conference (44-24-3-1) – Lost 4-1 to Edmonton in East Finals

Departing: Dylan Bredo (D – 93 – 4-42-46 – Alberta), Gavin Broadhead (F – 95 – 1-8-9), Jacob Doty (F – 93 – 10-13-23 – St. Louis), Marek Langhamer (G – 94 – 2.58 – 23-14-3 – Arizona), Zac Robidoux (G – 96 – Medicine Hat’s 6th in ’11 – Portage), Hunter Shinkaruk (F – 94 – 5-11-16 – Vancouver), Curtis Valk (F – 93 – 47-45-92)

Arriving: Matthew Bradley (F – 97 – 2nd in ’12 – Valley West), Zach Fischer (F – 97 – 14-28-42 – Lloydminster), Brad Forrest (D – 97 – 8th in ’12), David Quenneville (D – 98 – 1st in ’13), Jared Rathjen (G – 94 – 2.98 – 13-8-5 – Vancouver), Mark Rassell (F – 97 – 26-15-41 – Calgary Midget Flames), Ty Schultz (D – 97 – 1st in ’12 – Vancouver NW Giants), Mason Shaw (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13)

NHL Prospects: Tyler Lewington (D – 94 – 7-31-38 – Washington), Tommy Vannelli (D – 95 – 14-27-41 – St. Louis)

Rights Held: Daniel Hansen (D – 95 – ’12 Import Draft – Vojens), Michael Spacek (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – HC Pardubice)

Prediction: Third In Central Division (The final year for the Tigers in the Medicine Hat Arena should be another good one, as I think this is a pretty solid team from top to bottom. If Marek Langhamer happens to make a surprise return as a overage import goalie (much to the chagrin of David Branch), Medicine Hat may be a legit sleeper in the Eastern Conference playoffs.)

Moose Jaw Warriors at Kelowna Rockets

Moose Jaw Warriors

Last Season: Fifth in East Division – Tenth in Eastern Conference (21-42-3-6) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Alexander Chirva (F – 96 – 2-4-6 – Kootenay) Sam Fioretti (F – 93 – 20-35-55 – Acadia), Jesse Forsberg (D – 93 – 10-26-36), Bryson Gore (F – 95 – 11-7-18 – Calgary Canucks), Colton McCarthy (F – 96 – 6-5-11 – Prince Albert), Josh Uhrich (F – 96 – 9-11-20 – Saskatoon), Miles Warkentine (F – 96 – 3-9-12 – Lethbridge)

Arriving: Austin Adam (D – 95 – 1-3-4 – Everett), Blake Bargar (F – 98 – 7th in ’13), Ryan Gardiner (D – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – Winnipeg Thrashers), Noah Gregor (F – 98 – Victoria’s 3rd in ’13), Jayden Halbgewachs (F – 97 – Kamloops’ 1st in ’12 – Regina Pat Canadians), Brett Howden (F – 98 – 1st in ’13), Tanner Jeannot (F – 97 – 15-21-36 – Yorkton), Ethan Lazaro (F – 97 – 7th in ’12), Kolten Olynek (F – 96 – 4-8-12 – Lethbridge), Jiri Smejkal (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Jamien Yakubowski (F – 94 – 10-9-19 – Seattle), Christos Zinis (D – 97 – 8th in ’12 – Colorado Thunderbirds)

NHL Prospects: Brayden Point (F – 96 – 36-55-91 – Tampa Bay)

Rights Held: Kurt Keats (F – 95 – 5th in ’10 – UMass), Darren Rizzolo (D – 98 – 7th in ’13 – Northeastern), Frederik Tiffels (F – 95 – ’12 Import Draft – Western Michigan)

Prediction: Fifth in East Division (I went back and forth between the Warriors and the Pats over who will finish in fourth place in the final standings, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Moose Jaw that ends up making the post-season as a wild card team when March rolls around. Their defence looks pretty steady, Brayden Point should have another strong season on offence, and I’m expecting Zachary Sawchenko to improve in between the pipes.)

Nicolas Petan

Portland Winterhawks

Last Season: First in US Division – Second in Western Conference (54-13-2-3) – Lost 4-3 to Edmonton in WHL Finals

Departing: Corbin Boes (G – 93 – 3.56 – 18-25-5 – Dalhousie), Adam De Champlain (F – 94 – 6-4-10), Matt Dumba (D – 94 – 8-16-24 – Minnesota), Garrett Haar (D – 93 – 7-38-45 – Washington), Taylor Leier (F – 94 – 37-42-79 – Philadelphia), Brendan Leipsic (F – 94 – 39-52-91 – Philadelphia), Derrick Pouliot (D – 94 – 17-53-70 – Pittsburgh), Adam Rossignol (F – 93 – 4-9-13 – UBC)

Arriving: Michael Bullion (G – 97 – 9th in ’12 – Toronto Jr. Canadians), Carter Czaikowski (D – 98 – 6th in ’13), Brendan De Jong (D – 98 – 7th in ’13), Jack Flaman (F – 97 – 16-17-33 – Notre Dame Hounds), Nick Heid (D – 97 – 5-22-27 – Omaha U16 Lancers), Blake Heinrich (D – 95 – 12th in ’12 – Sioux City – Washington), Travis McEvoy (F – 94 – 9-8-17 – Vancouver), Skyler McKenzie (F – 98 – 8th in ’13), Reed Morison (F – 98 – 31-40-71 – Calgary Royals), Alex Overhardt (F – 97 – 11th in ’12 – Colorado Thunderbirds), Josh Smith (F – 94 – 7-16-23 – Okotoks), Colin Veloso (F – 97 – 7-17-24 – Winnipeg Wild), Evan Weinger (F – 97 – 13th in ’12 – Los Angeles Jr. Kings)

NHL Prospects: Oliver Bjorkstrand (F – 95 – 50-59-109 – Columbus), Brendan Burke (G – 95 – 2.75 – 34-10-4 – Arizona), Anton Cederholm (D – 95 – 4-12-16 – Vancouver), Chase De Leo (F – 95 – 39-42-81 – Winnipeg), Blake Heinrich (D – 95 – 12th in ’12 – Sioux City – Washington), Keegan Iverson (F – 96 – 22-20-42 – NY Rangers), Nicolas Petan (F – 95 – 35-78-113 – Winnipeg), Alex Schoenborn (F – 95 – 18-18-36 – San Jose), Dominic Turgeon (F – 96 – 10-21-31 – Detroit)

Rights Held: Kieffer Bellows (F – 98 – 7th in ’13 – Boston), Josh Blanchard (F – 96 – 7th in ’11 – St. Cloud State), Ryan Collins (D – 96 – 8th in ’11 – Minnesota – Columbus), Steen Cooper (F – 95 – 4th in ’10 – Minnesota State), Paul Stoykewych (D – 95 – 2nd in ’10 – Western Michigan), Garret Wait (F – 98 – 8th in ’13 – Minnesota)

Prediction: First in US Division (Even though Mike Johnston has left to coach the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Winterhawks are once again a strong team, especially with a scary looking offence. I’m not totally sure on the defensive depth as of yet, but I’m suspecting that will be strengthened at the trade deadline.)

2013 CHL Top Prospects Game

Prince Albert Raiders 

Last Season: Fourth in East Division – Eighth in Eastern Conference (35-32-3-2) – Lost 4-0 to Edmonton in East Quarters

Departing: Chance Braid (F – 94 – 7-17-24 – Prince George), Cole Cheveldave (G – 93 – 3.57 – 23-24-3 – Saint Mary’s), Shane Danyluk (F – 94 – 7-17-24 – Salmon Arm), Leon Draisaitl (F – 95 – 38-67-105 – Edmonton), Graeme Craig (D – 93 – 5-26-31 – Oklahoma City), Jake Kryski (F – 98 – 1st in ’13 – Kamloops), Carson Perreaux (F – 94 – 18-11-29), Collin Valcourt (F – 93 – 28-44-72 – HK Hradec Kralove), Lance Yaremchuk (F – 96 – 1-2-3 – Prince George)

Arriving: Colton McCarthy (F – 96 – 6-5-11 – Moose Jaw), Sean Montgomery (F – 98 – 6th in ’13), Rylan Parenteau (G – 96 – 3rd in ’11 – Weyburn), Brennan Riddle (D – 97 – Calgary’s 1st in ’12 – Tisdale), Curtis Roach (D -97 – 2-26-28 – Saskatoon Contacts), Dylan Stewart (F – 97 – 5th in ’12 – Edmonton Canadians), Simon Stransky (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Jordan Tkatch (F – 95 – 16-30-46 – Prince George), Ben Verrall (D – 96 – 1-8-9 – Moose Jaw Generals), Hunter Warner (D – 95 – 2-10-12 – Fargo), Dylan Williamson (F – 98 – 4th in ’13)

NHL Prospects: Josh Morrissey (D – 95 – 28-45-73 – Winnipeg), Mackenze Stewart (D – 95 – 5-4-9 – Vancouver)

Rights Held: N/A

Prediction: Third in East Division (Even with Leon Draisaitl more than likely not coming back to Prince Albert, the Raiders will still be a playoff team in my opinion. I don’t expect the Jets will bring up Morrissey early in the race for McJesus, so he should be a big leader on the back-end. No one’s going to replace The Deutschland Dangler’s goal scoring, but the forwards on the team are no slouches. Plus, Nick McBride is a solid goaltender.)

 Prince George Cougars v Kelowna Rockets

Prince George Cougars

Last Season: Fourth in BC Division – Ninth in Western Conference (27-37-3-5) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Adam Beukeboom (G – 94 – 4.25 – 5-8-0), Troy Bourke (F – 94 – 29-56-85 – Colorado), Todd Fiddler (F – 93 – 50-48-98), Alex Forsberg (F – 95 – 6-22-28 – Saskatoon), Peter Kosterman (D – 93 – 0-7-7), Zach Pochiro (F – 94 – 27-39-66 – St. Louis), Brett Roulston (F – 94 – 1-7-8 – Nanaimo), Jordan Tkatch (F – 95 – 16-30-46 – Prince Albert), Klarc Wilson (F – 93 – 27-33-60 – Calgary Dinos), Brett Zarowny (G – 95 – 4.23 – 3-10-2)

Arriving: Josh Anderson (D – 98- 1st in ’13), Aaron Boyd (F – 97 – 2nd in ’12 – Winnipeg Thrashers), Chance Braid (F – 94 – 7-17-24 – Prince Albert), Shane Collins (D – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – Moose Jaw Generals), Tavin Grant (G – 98 – 2.04 – 15-2-2 – Vancouver NW Giants), Haydn Hopkins (F – 97 – Saskatoon’s 12th in ’12 – South Island), Colby McCauley (F – 96 – 13-16-29 – Sherwood Park), Koby McDonald (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Jordan Ross (F – 96 – Seattle’s 9th in ’11 – Yorkton), Dominic Thom (D – 96 – 0-1-1 – Brandon), Lance Yaremchuk (F – 96 – 1-2-3 – Prince Albert)

NHL Prospects: Marc McNulty (D – 95 – 17-25-42 – Detroit)

Rights Held: Tyler Busch (F – 96 – 8th in ’11 – Ohio State), Rem Pitlick (F – 97 – 11th in ’12 – Minnesota)

Prediction: Fourth in BC Division (With a new ownership group that includes Dan Hamhius, there is a nice buzz around Prince George regarding the Cougars. It might be a little bit before they are a legit contender, but the Cougars should be right in the mix to make it into the playoffs this season with a fairly exciting forward core.)

Haydn Fleury

Red Deer Rebels

Departing: Patrik Bartosak (G – 93 – 2.80 – 33-26-5 – Los Angeles), Kirk Bear (D – 95 – 0-0-0), Rhyse Dieno (F – 93 – 25-41-66), Brady Gaudet (D – 94 – 5-26-31 – Kamloops), Vukie Mpofu (F – 96 – 9-6-15), Aspen Sterezer (F – 94 – 19-24-53 – Calgary Dinos), Lukas Sutter (F – 93 – 10-13-23 – NY Islanders)

Arriving: Brayden Burke (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Edmonton Canadians), Brett Cote (D – 94 – 6-28-34 – Victoria), Jeff De Wit (F – 98 – 1st in ’13), Mario Grman (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Eduards Jansons (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Joshua Mahura (D – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Mason McCarty (F – 97 – 4th in ’12 – UFA Bisons), Austin Strand (D – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – Calgary North Stars), Rylan Toth (G – 96 – 2.43 – 11-4-1 – Battlefords)

NHL Prospects: Conner Bleackley (F – 96 – 29-39-68 – Colorado), Haydn Fleury (D – 96 – 8-38-46 – Carolina)

Rights Held: Blake Weyrick (G – 96 – 10th in ’11 – Brown)

Prediction: Fourth in Central Division (I’m quite convinced that the Rebels will be the host city for the Memorial Cup in 2016 (especially since it hasn’t been in Alberta since Edmonton hosted the event in 1965), so this will be a year that will be used to help build Red Deer into being a legit title threat. Conner Bleackley and Haydn Fleury will lead the way, but my one question mark has to do with the team’s goaltending as Patrik Bartosak heads off to the pro ranks.)

Sam Steel

Regina Pats

Last Season: First in East Division – Second in Eastern Conference (39-26-4-3) – Lost 4-0 to Brandon in East Quarters

Departing: Tye Hand (D – 95 – 0-0-0), Boston Leier (F – 93 – 33-39-72 – Acadia), Dawson MacAuley (G – 94 – 3.24 – 25-16-4 – Yorkton), Griffin Mumby (D – 96 – 1-3-4), Isaac Schacher (D – 95 – 1-8-9 – Saskatoon), Dmitry Sinitsyn (D – 94 – 10-34-44 – Dynamo Moscow), Chander Stephenson (F – 94 – 30-59-89 – Washington), Dyson Stevenson (F – 93 – 38-38-76 – Portland Pirates), Jesse Zgraggen (D – 93 – 5-32-37 – HC Ambri-Piotta)

Arriving: Rykr Cole (F – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – Moose Jaw Generals), Tyler Fuhr (G – 95 – 3.68 – 13-21-0 – La Ronge), Jesse Hilsendager (D – 97 – 9th in ’12 – Lloydminster), Colton Kroeker (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Delta), Ryan Krushen (D – 98 – 4-12-16 – Sherwood Park), Jared McAmmond (F – 97 – 10th in ’12 – Grande Prairie Storm), Luc Smith (F – 98 – 3rd in ’12), Sam Steel (F – 98 – 1st in ’12), Sergei Zborovsky (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Kyle Burroughs (D – 95 – 8-32-40 – NY Islanders), Morgan Klimchuk (F – 95 – 30-44-74 – Calgary)

Rights Held: Nolan De Jong (D – 95 – 7th in ’10 – Minnesota), Nikolas Koberstein (D – 96 – 7th in ’11 – Alaska-Fairbanks – Montreal), Alec McCrea (D – 95 – 10th in ’10 – Harvard)

Prediction: Fourth in Eastern Division (I’m not totally convinced about the Pats’ back-end, and I still think Morgan Klimchuk will be dealt before the trade deadline. But the Sam Steel hype train is currently going out of control, so I might as well jump on board and have the Pats as a playoff team.)

Nikita Scherbak

Saskatoon Blades 

Last Season: Sixth in East Division – Eleventh in Eastern Conference (16-51-2-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Dylan Busenius (D – 93 – 9-20-29 – Calgary Dinos), Nick Gomerich (F – 96 – 1-4-5), Logan Harland (F – 95 – 10-8-18), Haydn Hopkins (F – 97 – 12th in ’12 – Prince George), MacKenzie Johnston (D – 93 – 5-22-27 – Mount Royal), Clayton Kirichenko (D – 96 – 3-9-12 – Vancouver), Amil Krupic (D – 95 – ’14 Import Draft), Mitch Lipon (F – 96 – 6-7-13 – Spokane), Graham Millar (F – 96 – 7-6-13 – Everett), Alex Moddie (G – 95 – 4.29 – 7-18-2 – Saskatoon), David Nemecek (D – 95 – 5-10-15 -TPS), Connor Sanvido (F – 93 – 16-24-40 – St. Thomas)

Arriving: Garrett Armour (F – 97 – Edmonton’s 7th in ’12 – Winnipeg Thrashers), Chaseton Braid (F – 97 – 15-17-32 – Lloydminster Bobcats), Alex Forsberg (F – 95 – 6-22-28 – Prince George), Michael Herringer (G – 96 – Victoria’s 9th in ’11 – Abbotsford), Schael Higson (D – 98 – 8-12-20 – Grande Prairie Storm), Ty Mappin (F – 96 – 8-17-25 – Olds), Trevor Martin (G – 96 – Spokane’s 9th in ‘11 – Whitecourt), Nolan Reid (D – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Isaac Schacher (D – 95 – 1-8-9 – Regina), Wyatt Sloboshan (F – 97 – Swift Current’s 3rd in ’12 – Okanagan Hockey Academy), Nikita Soshnin (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Josh Uhrich (F – 96 – 9-11-20 – Moose Jaw)

NHL Prospects: Nelson Nogler (D – 96 – 1-5-6 – Winnipeg), Nikita Scherbak (F – 95 – 28-50-78 – Montreal)

Rights Held: N/A

Prediction: Sixth in East Division (The rebuild from the hot mess that was the 2013 Memorial Cup hosting experience is still on in Saskatoon, and with the team already putting Nikita Scherbak on the market and bringing in Alex Forsberg and Ty Mappin as reclamation projects, that should show you where the Blades will end up this year.)

Seattle Thunderbirds v Kelowna Rockets

Seattle Thunderbirds

Last Season: Second in US Division – Fourth in Western Conference (41-25-2-4) – Lost 4-1 to Portland in West Semis

Departing: Alexander Delnov (F – 94 – 29-34-63 – Yugra – Florida), Mitch Elliot (F – 93 – 4-4-8 – Waterloo), Conor Honey (F – 94 – 2-4-6), Roberts Lipsbergs (F – 94 – 33-19-52), Russell Maxwell (F – 93 – 15-22-37), Jordan Ross (F – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Yorkton), Branden Troock (F – 94 – 24-38-58 – Dallas), Jaimen Yakubowski (F – 94 – 10-9-19 – Moose Jaw)

Arriving: Florian Baltram (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Kaden Elder (F – 98 – 1st in ’13), Logan Flodell (G – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – Regina Pat Canadians), Nicholas Holowko (D – 97 – 2-9-11 – North Delta), Shavan Khaira (D – 98 – 9th in ’13), Donovan Neuls (F – 97 – 8th in ’12 – Moose Jaw Generals), Luke Osterman (D – 97 – 8th in ’12 – Omaha U16 Lancers), Lane Pederson (F – 97 – 5th in ’12 – Saskatoon Blazers), Alexander True (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Nolan Volcan (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13)

NHL Prospects: Shea Theodore (D – 95 – 22-57-79 – Anaheim)

Rights Held: John Edwardh (F – 95 – 7th in ’10 – UMass-Lowell)

Prediction: Third in US Division (With forwards such as Ryan Gropp and Matthew Barzal, and a top-notch defender in Shea Theodore, the T-Birds will be fun to watch. I’m not quite convinced on the goaltending though, and that may prove to be the one issue the prevents this team from hosting a playoff series.)

Jason Fram

Spokane Chiefs

Last Season: Fourth in US Division – Sixth in Western Conference (40-26-3-3) – Lost 4-2 to Victoria in West Quarters

Departing: Mike Aviani (F – 93 – 38-43-81 – Saint Mary’s), Reid Gow (D – 94 – 6-56-62), Adam Hascic (F – 96 – 1-4-5 – EC Salzburg), Mitch Holmberg (F – 93 – 62-56-118 – Oklahoma City), Trevor Martin (G – 96 – 9th in ’11 – Whitecourt), Jeremy McIntosh (D – 95 – 4-6-10), Carter Proft (F – 94 – 11-12-23 – EC Kassel), Eric Williams (G – 93 – 2.67 – 33-19-4 – UBC)

Arriving: Evan Fiala (D – 97 – 1st in ’12 – Saskatoon Contacts), Dalton Hamaliuk (D – 98 – 2nd in ’13) Tyson Helgesen (D – 97 – 5th in ’12 – Whitecourt), Jordan Henderson (D – 97 – 4th in ’12 – Vancouver NE Chiefs), Tamas Laday (D – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Mitch Lipon (F – 96 – 6-7-13 – Saskatoon), Spencer Meyer (F – 96 – 0-0-0 – Lethbridge), Curtis Miske (F – 97 – 2nd in ’12 – Leduc), Alex Moodie (G – 95 – 4.29 – 7-18-2 – Saskatoon), Tyson Verhelst (G – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – Neepawa), Kailer Yamamoto (F – 98 – 5th in ’13)

NHL Prospects: N/A

Rights Held: Rhett Gardner (F – 96 – 2nd in ’11 – North Dakota), Tanner McMaster (F – 96 – 1st in ’11 – Quinnipiac), Marcus Vela (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – New Hampshire)

Prediction: Fifth in US Division (When you a lose a 60 plus point defenceman (Reid Gow) because he doesn’t want to play his overage season, that may be a sign of trouble. The Chiefs have some exciting players in the pipeline, such as 2014 first round pick Jaret Anderson-Dolan, but this has all the makings of a long season in Spokane.)

Coda Gordon

Swift Current Broncos

Last Season: Second in East Division – Fifth in Eastern Conference (38-25-3-6) – Lost 4-2 to Medicine Hat in East Quarters

Departing: Graham Black (F – 93 – 34-63-97 – New Jersey), Nathan Burns (F – 93 – 27-50-77 – Gwinnett), Eetu Laurikainen (G – 93 – 2.90 – 25-20-6 – Blues), Geordie Maguire (F – 95 – 8-7-15), Wyatt Sloboshan (F – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – Saskatoon), Justin Spagrud (F – 95 – 0-0-0)

Arriving: Tyler Adams (F – 97 – 10-21-31 – Regina Canadians), Austin Calladine (F – 95 – 17-17-34 – Flin Flon), Travis Child (G – 97 – 2nd in ’12 – Sherwood Park Kings), Jaydan Gordon (D – 97 – 4-31-35 – Bow Valley), Cole Johnson (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Max Lajoie (D – 97 – 5th in ’12 – Calgary Royals), Luca Leone (F – 96 – 2-4-6 – Vancouver), Andreas Schumacher (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Colby Sissons (D – 98 – 9-22-31- SSAC Bulldogs), Tyler Steenbergen (F – 98 – 1st in ’13)

NHL Prospects: Dillon Heatherington (D – 95 – 6-29-35 – Columbus), Julius Honka (D – 95 – 16-40-56- Dallas), Brett Lernout (D – 95 – 8-14-22 – Montreal), Brycen Martin (D – 96 – 6-31-37 – Buffalo)

Rights Held: Viktor Dombrovskiy (D – 96 – 8th in ’11 – Yale), Cameron Hughes (F – 95 – 9th in ’11 – Wisconsin), Igor Leonenko (F – 95 – ’13 Import Draft – Battlefords), Maxim Letunov (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Youngstown – Boston – St. Louis)

Prediction: First in East Division (Even if Julius Honka turns pro early, this defence is loaded. Landon Bow should be even better this year in goal, and they have a number of forwards who can find the back of the net. They might not have the sexiness of the Wheat Kings, but the Broncos are a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly.)

Tri City Americans v Kelowna Rockets

Tri-City Americans

Last Season: Fifth in US Division – Eighth in Western Conference (29-33-4-6) – Lost 4-1 to Kelowna in West Quarters

Departing: Jessey Astles (F – 93 – 11-9-20), Matthew Gelinas (F – 95 – 0-3-3), Justin Marreck (F – 96 – 0-1-1 – Revelstoke), Mitch Topping (D – 93 – 7-17-24 – Alberta), Philip Tot (F – 93 – 15-23-38 – Calgary Dinos)

Arriving: Nathan Alalouf (G – 96 – 3.19 – 10-2-0 – Osoyoos), Zack Andrusiak (F – 98 – 35-47-82 – Pursuit Of Excellence), Dylan Coghlan (D – 98 – 3rd in ’13), Maxwell James (F – 97 – 6th in ’12 – Kamloops Storm), Semyon Krasheninnikov (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Vladislav Lukin (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Brendan O’Reilly (D – 97 – 3-10-13 – Dallas U16 Stars), Austyn Playfair (F – 97 – 9-8-17 – Phoenix Jr. Coyotes), Kurtis Rutledge (D – 97 – 8th in ’12 – Calgary Midget Flames), Jordan Topping (F – 97 – 8th in ’12 – Cowichan Valley)

NHL Prospects: Eric Comrie (G – 95 – 2.57 – 26-25-9 – Winnipeg)

Rights Held: Brandon Hickey (D – 96 – 4th in ’11 – Boston – Calgary), Jakub Illes (F – 95 – ’13 Import Draft – HC Vitkovice), Robby Jackson (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – St. Cloud State), Andrew Oglevie (F – 95 – 11th in ’10 – Notre Dame), Ryan Tait (F – 96 – 9th in ’11 – Providence)

Prediction: Second in US Division (The Americans have a pretty young lineup that may not come to full fruition until next season, but they do have a top-notch goalie in Eric Comrie on their side. If the youngsters hit the ground running, this might be a dark horse for a league championship.)

Tyler Benson

Vancouver Giants

Last Season: Third in BC Division – Seventh in Western Conference (32-29-7-4) – Lost 4-0 to Portland in West Quarters

Departing: Cain Franson (F – 93 – 30-33-63 – Calgary Dinos), Brett Kulak (D – 94 – 14-46-60 – Calgary), Luca Leone (F – 96 – 2-4-6 – Swift Current), Trent Lofthouse (F – 94 – 11-6-17), Travis McEvoy (F – 94 – 9-8-17 – Portland), Jared Rathjen (G – 94 – 2.98 – 13-8-5 – Medicine Hat), Dalton Thrower (D – 93 – 12-27-39 – Montreal), Tim Traber (F – 93 – 12-11-23 – Geneve-Servette), Rob Trzonkowski (F – 94 – 3-1-4 – Mount Royal), Dominik Volek (F – 94 – 20-16-36 – Sparta Prague)

Arriving: Matt Bellerive (F – 94 – 18-23-41 – Kamloops), Tyler Benson (F – 98 – 1st in ’13), Vladimir Bobylyov (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), David Brumm (F – 97 – 18-23-41 – Omaha U16 Lancers), Brenden Holterhus (F – 97 – 12-17-29 – Edmonton Canadians), Clayton Kirichienko (D – 96 – 3-9-12 – Saskatoon), Ryan Kubic (G – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Jack McClelland (F – 96 – 15-10-25 – Wichita Jr. Thunder), Ryely McKinstry (D – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Brennan Menell (D – 97 – 10-17-27 – Chicago Young Americans), Cody Porter (G – 97 – 3.55 – 8-5-1 – West Kelowna), Jesse Roach (F – 97 – 2nd in ’12 – Cariboo), Jakob Stukel (F – 97 – 2nd in ’12 – 0-0-0 – ACL Injury)

NHL Prospects: Mason Geertsen (D – 95 – 4-19-23 – Colorado), Jackson Houck (F – 95 – 34-27-61 – Edmonton)

Rights Held: Dexter Dancs (F – 95 – 12th in ’10 – Michigan), Scott Savage (D – 95 – 9th in ’10 – Boston College), Zach Walker (F – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Boston College)

Prediction: Third in BC Division (The McJesus of the West has arrived and the Tyler Benson era is set to start in Van City. I don’t think they have the depth of Victoria or Kelowna to be in the division championship mix, but the Giants have a pretty exciting lineup besides Benson, and they will be looking to impress all year long as they try to upend Red Deer’s bid of hosting the Memorial Cup in 2016.)

Axel Blomqvist

Victoria Royals

Last Season: Second in BC Division – Third in Western Conference (48-20-1-3) – Lost 4-1 to Portland in West Semis

Departing: Brett Cote (D – 94 – 6-28-34 – Red Deer), Jordan Fransoo (D – 93 – 4-13-17), Noah Gregor (F – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Moose Jaw), Michael Herringer (G – 96 – 9th in ’11 – Saskatoon), Steven Hodges (F – 94 – 21-26-47 – Florida), Jake Kohlhauser (D – 96 – 0-3-3), Logan Nelson (F – 93 – 23-31-54), Patrik Polivka (G – 94 – 2.56 – 28-12-2 – HC Plzen), Ben Walker (F – 93 – 24-30-54)

Arriving: Matthew Campese (F – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – Okanagan Hockey Academy), Jared Dmytriw (D – 98 – 4th in ’13), Kristian Ferletak (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Dante Hannoun (D – 98 – 1st in ’13), Ralph Jarratt (D – 98 – 2nd in ’13), Regan Nagy (F – 97 – 2nd in ’12 – Moose Jaw Generals), Evan Smith (G – 97 – 1.95 – 7-4-2 – Pikes Peak Miners)

NHL Prospects: Austin Carroll (F – 94 – 34-23-57 – Calgary), Keegan Kanzig (D – 95 – 3-5-8 – Calgary)

Rights Held: Ethen Frank (F – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Western Michigan), Demico Hannoun (F – 95 – Regina’s 9th in ’10 – Michigan Tech), Matt Hellickson (D – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Notre Dame), Chris Wilkie (F – 96 – 4th in ’11 – North Dakota)

Prediction: Second in BC Division (They aren’t as loaded as Kelowna, but Victoria should have another strong campaign after a season that saw Dave Lowry win coach of the year honours. They have lost Patrik Polivka to Europe, but Coleman Vollrath is highly thought of and should shoulder the load for the Royals in goal.)

WHL Fight

WHL Standings

East Division

  1. Swift Current Broncos
  2. Brandon Wheat Kings
  3. Prince Albert Raiders
  4. Regina Pats (Second Wild Card)
  5. Moose Jaw Warriors
  6. Saskatoon Blades

Central Division

  1. Calgary Hitmen
  2. Edmonton Oil Kings
  3. Medicine Hat Tigers
  4. Red Deer Rebels (First Wild Card)
  5. Kootenay Ice
  6. Lethbridge Hurricanes

BC Division

  1. Kelowna Rockets
  2. Victoria Royals
  3. Vancouver Giants
  4. Prince George Cougars (First Wild Card)
  5. Kamloops Blazers

US Division

  1. Portland Winterhawks
  2. Tri-City Americans
  3. Seattle Thunderbirds
  4. Everett Silvertips (Second Wild Card)
  5. Spokane Chiefs

Drake Berhowsky

First Coach To Be Fired: Drake Berehowsky (I know I said that the Hurricanes will be better this year when compared to last season, but with the situation around Lethbridge being the equivalent of a stubborn tire fire, I suspect their will be a switch behind the bench near the halfway point if things are still going badly.)

Nikita Scherbak 2

Biggest Name Traded: Nikita Scherbek (I still think Morgan Klimchuk will be dealt at the deadline, but with the trade rumours already swirling around the Montreal Canadiens first round pick, I opted to go with the safe option.)

Simon Stransky

Best First Year Import: Simon Stransky (There isn’t a really highly-touted guy coming into the WHL this year from the Import Draft, so I decided to take a complete shot in the dark and go with the player who will be replacing Leon Draisaitl.)

Nicolas Petan 2

Top Scorer: Nicolas Petan (He was second in league scoring with 113 points in 63 games last season, so it would seem silly to bet against him. He might end up missing some games to play for Canada at the World Juniors, but I don’t think that will slow him down any.)

Mark Lamb

Coach Of The Year: Mark Lamb (As I mentioned earlier, I’m really high on Swift Current’s chances this year to be a top team in the Eastern Conference. If that goes according to plan, I think Lamb will be rewarded for it.)

Coda Gordon 2

Overage Player Of The Year: Coda Gordon (Sticking with the Broncos, Gordon wasn’t signed by the Calgary Flames this summer, so he’ll be gunning for a pro contract. Plus, since his younger brother Jaydan now on Swift Current’s blue-line, he’ll probably be even more fired up to finish off his WHL career on a high note.)

Steel and Benson

Rookie Of The Year: Sam Steel and Tyler Benson (Wait, I can’t pick a tie between the two? Okay, fine…)

Tyler Benson 2

Rookie Of The Year: Tyler Benson (You can flip a coin between Benson and Steel as to who will be the better freshman. But in the end, I went with the number one pick in the 2013 draft, mainly because I have the Giants finishing higher up in the standings. Either way, both guys will be fun to watch all winter and I’m going to try and see them as much as I can in person.)

Kamloops Blazers at Kelowna Rockets

Top Defenceman: Madison Bowey (I talked earlier about how loaded the Rockets defence is, and Bowey’s the leader of it. Shea Theodore and Josh Morrissey will also be in the mix for this award, but being a part of a team that should once again be a league title threat pushes the award in Bowey’s direction.)

Tristan Jarry 2

Top Goalie: Tristan Jarry (When it comes down to it, it’s kind of hard to go against the guy who won the league title and the Memorial Cup last May. If Edmonton is struggling and Jarry gets dealt to a legit title threat at the trade deadline, this honour is all but his.)

Curtis Lazar

Most Valuable Player: Curtis Lazar (This is based upon the fact that I think Lazar will return to Edmonton for the duration of the 2014/15 season instead of starting off his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators. If he doesn’t return though, I suspect Nicolas Petan and Greg Chase will be fighting it out for the MVP award.)

Portland Calgary

WHL Champions: Portland Winterhawks over Calgary Hitmen (To steal the phrase of Twitter hero Fake Mike Johnston, it’s time for everyone else in the WHL to kiss the ring once again. I went back and forth between these two teams, and I also considered the Oil Kings to return to the finals as well, but I decided to go with Portland based upon the goal scoring that they have up front. No matter who is in the finals though, I’m expecting a seven-game thriller between the East and West champs.)


2014/15 NAHL Preview

Fairbanks Champions

Way back in 1998, I was lucky enough to attend two NAHL games in Soo, Michigan, and I remembered the experience for a long time, though that was partly because Ryan Miller was the starting goalie for the Soo Indians before he went to Michigan State.

When I looked back on the the 1999/00 season a few weeks back, I was surprised with the people that I knew that were there. Jeff Jackson, Rick Zombo, and Mike Vellucci were all behind the bench, and George Parros, Jim Slater, Craig Anderson, and RJ Umberger were all out on the ice. Perhaps the league was better than I gave it credit for.

So with that in my mind, I’m going to attempt to try and predict the NAHL season. It’s quite hard to do since I’m in Alberta and I only saw two Soo Eagles games during a trip to the Soo at Christmas in 2012, but I figured I should give it a spin anyways.

Kyle Haak

Aberdeen Wings

Last Season: Second in Central Division (39-18-4) – Lost 3-0 to Bismarck in Central Semis

Departing: Erik Baskin (F – 93 – 21-16-37 – Air Force), Ryan Cook (D – 95 – 2-11-13 – Cedar Rapids), Davis DeKorte (F – 93 – 8-15-23 – Lake Forest), Henry Dill (G – 95 – 2.26 – 20-7-1 – UMass), Zach Doerring (F – 94 – 7-16-23 – Concordia-Moorhead), Dillon Eichstadt (D – 94 – 4-31-35 – Sioux Falls), Erik Gollenbeck (F – 95 – 2-2-4 – EC Salzburg), Jonathan Grebosky (F – 93 – 15-27-42 – Concordia-Moorhead), Jordan Heller (F – 94 – 21-28-49 – Bemidji State), Jake Horton (D – 94 – 21-25-46 – UMass), Lennart Palausch (F – 94 – 3-5-8 – Adler Mannheim), TJ Roo (F – 94 – 22-32-54 – Fargo), Patrick Steinhauser (F – 93 – 6-6-12 – St. Lawrence)

Arriving: Tucker DeYoung (D – 96 – 1-4-5 – Culver Academy), Will Hammer (F – 96 – 23-35-48 – St. Cloud Cathedral), Michael Heidkamp (D – 95 – 3rd in ’14), Ronnie Hein (F – 97 – 16-14-30 – Lansing Capitals – Ferris State), Collin Hughes (F – 96 – 9-9-18 – Centennial High), Adam Kresl (F – 95 – 2nd in ’14), Eric Moser (D – 96 – 0-5-5 – Team Illinois), Andrew Noel (D – 96 – 5th in ’14), Gavin Paczosa (G – 96 – 1st in ’14), Colin Raver (F – 96 – 0-0-0 – Culver Academy), Brendan Riordan (D – 95 – 6-10-16 – Chicago Mission), Matthew Sherman (D – 96 – 4th in ’14), Andrew Shortridge (G – 95 – 2.60 – 7-7-0 – Phoenix Jr. Coyotes), Mike Soucier (F – 95 – 7th in ’14 – Bemidji State)

NCAA Recruits: Ronnie Hein (F – 97 – 16-14-30 – Lansing Capitals – Ferris State), Mike Soucier (F – 95 – 7th in ’14 – Bemidji State)

Rights Held: Scott Moldenhauer (D – 94 – 3rd in ’12 – Cedar Rapids – Western Michigan)

Prediction: Fifth in Central Division (The forward core isn’t bad, especially with two college recruits in Soucier and Hein coming in, but I’m not quite convinced yet about the goaltending and defence compared to some of the other teams in their division.)

Ben Jentsch

Amarillo Bulls

Last Season: First in South Division (40-14-16) – Lost 3-2 to Topeka in South Finals

Departing: Roman Ammirato (F – 93 – 17-30-47 – Union), Paul Berrafato (G – 93 – 2.12 – 18-7-6 – Holy Cross), Mike Davis (F – 93 – 28-35-63 – Neumann College), Collin Delia (G  – 94 – 1.60 – 22-7-0 – Merrimack), Brady Ferguson (F – 94 – 19-29-48 – Robert Morris), Kyle Gattelaro (F – 93 – 17-28-45 – Wisconsin-River Falls), Tyler Gernhofer (F – 95 – 31-22-53 – Bloomington – Vermont), Joseph Grabowski (D – 94 – 8-26-34 – Princeton), Brendan McGuire (F – 93 – 4-18-22 – Army), Timmy Moore (F – 94 – 6-4-10 – Robert Morris), Carter Penzien (F – 93 – 9-10-19), Patrick Pollock (D – 93 – 4-10-14), Stuart Pomeroy (D  – 95 – 0-2-2 – Princeton), Eric Purcell (F – 93 – 15-22-37), Matt Sieckhaus (F – 93 – 17-28-45 – Bentley), Ryan Stevens (F – 94 – 2-8-10 – Dubuque), Brett Szajner (D – 93 – 3-24-27 – Utica College), Brendan Vetter (D – 94 – 7-25-32)

Arriving: Elijiah Barriga (F – 96 – 13-31-44 – Anaheim Jr. Ducks), Ryan Cagnoni (F – 95 – 12-18-30 – Omaha U18 Lancers), Riley Christiensen (F – 94 – 9th in ’14), Charlie Combs (F – 96 – 30-23-53 – St. Louis U18 Blues), Brady Crabtree (F – 95 – 1st in ’14), Michael Damien (D – 95 – 2nd in ’14), Joey DiBenedetto (F – 95 – 0-1-1 – Tri-City Storm), Kasper Emanuelsson (D – 95 – 3-14-17 – Mora), Thomas Fazio (F – 95 – 14-34-48 – Minnesota Iron Rangers), Cody Gibson (G – 96 – 2.67 – 18-3-2 – Belle Tire), Kyle Hartman (D – 96 – 3rd in ’14), JJ Huerena (F – 95 – 19-34-53 – Colorado Rampage), Jesse MacIntyre (F – 95 – 26-22-48 – Philadelphia Little Flyers), Justin Misiak (F – 96 – 3rd in ’14), Johnny Panvica (F – 95 – 4th in ’14), Ruslan Rakhmatov (D – 95 – 3-6-9 – Des Moines), Tristan Rostagno (D – 96 – 1-2-3 – Lincoln – Michigan Tech), Jesper Synnelius (D – 94 – 6-4-10 – Rogle), Paul Vella (F – 96 – 3-1-4 – New Jersey Rockets), Corey Siwula (D – 95 – 7th in ’14), Wayland Williams (D – 94 – 2nd in ’14), Jacob Weatherly (G – 96 – 1.43 – 6-1-0 – Colorado Rampage), Connor Wood (F – 96 – 6-15-21 – TPH Thunder)

NCAA Recruits: Tristan Rostagno (D – 96 – 1-2-3 – Lincoln – Michigan Tech)

Rights Held: N/A

Prediction: Seventh in South Division (I think I just listed the entire team in the new faces category, and that is my issue with this team being lower in the standings after last year’s success. With so many new players, it may take awhile for everyone to connect.)

Luke Dietsch

Austin Bruins

Last Season: First in Central Division (40-19-1) – Lost 2-0 to Fairbanks in Robertson Cup Finals

Departing: Drew Anderson (F – 93 – 9-19-28), Josh Bretner (D – 93 – 7-32-39), Jay Dickman (F – 93 – 28-36-64 – Bemidji State), Trey Dodd (F – 96 – 11-6-17 – Fargo), Niko Hildenbrand (F – 95 – 8-13-21 – Waterloo), Casey Jerry (F – 95 – 6-6-12 – Cedar Rapids – Minnesota State-Mankato), Sam Kauppila (F – 96 – 10-5-15 – Green Bay – St. Lawrence), Dillon Kelley (G – 94 – 3.16 – 10-10-3 – Adrian College), Lucas Kohls (F – 16-18-34 – UMass-Lowell), Guillaume Leclerc (F – 96 – 21-25-46 – Madison – UMass-Lowell), Nick Lehr (G – 93 – 1.84 – 35-13-1 – Minnesota), Charlie Manley (D – 96 – 1-3-4 – Waterloo – RPI), Eli May (D – 93 – 5-11-16 – Minnesota State-Mankato), Austin Nelson (F – 93 – 7-9-16), Scott Nelson (F – 93 – 1-3-4), Kody Reuter (D – 93 – 2-11-13), Joe Schuldt (D – 93 – 1-2-3 – Michigan Tech), Easton Viitala (F – 93 – 8-9-17 – Northern Michigan)

Arriving: Nate Bastian (F – 94 – 5-8-13 – New York Apple Core), Trevor Boyd (F – 94 – 6-11-17 – Soo Eagles), John Chorzempa (D – 96 – 3-13-16 – Andover High), Zachary Driscoll (G – 97 – 1st in ’14 – St. Cloud State), Luke Forfar (F – 96 – 13-10-23 – Chicago Mission), Hugo Gallet (D – 97 – 10-13-23 – Amiens), Jake Kielly (G – 96 – 2.64 – 14-6-3 – Victory Honda), Jakob Kullberg (F – 94 – 3-6-9 – Frolunda), Patrick Lauderdale (F – 96 – 17-26-43 – Lakeview South), Landen Letwin (D – 95 – 0-0-0 – Corpus Christi), John Carter MacLean (F – 97 – 12th in ’14), Derek Olmschenk (D – 95 – 7-16-23 – Cretin-Derham Hall), Nico Sturm (F – 95 – 1-2-3 – Corpus Christi), Joshua Wilkins (F – 97 – 21-15-36 – TPH Thunder)

NCAA Recruits: Zachary Driscoll (G – 97 – 1st in ’14 – St. Cloud State)

Rights Held: Michael Davies (D – 97 – 5th in ’14 – Dubuque – Ohio State), Kyle Mackey (D – 94 – 9th in ’13 – Youngstown – Air Force), Matt Mendelson (F – 95 – 8th in ’13 – Bloomington – Penn State), Evan Peterson (F – 94 – 3rd in ’13 – Carleton Place – Colgate)

Prediction: Third in Central Division (This isn’t a bad team, but they lose a lot of guys from last year and I think that will hurt them. I am curious to see how Driscoll does in goal, especially since he was a high draft pick and is a St. Cloud State recruit.)

Harrison Aide

Bismarck Bobcats

Last Season: Third in Central Division (31-24-5) – Lost 3-2 to Austin in Central Finals

Departing: Matt Anders (F – 93 – 11-17-28), Seth Blair (F – 93 – 4-5-9), Levi Blom (D – 93 – 0-6-6), Chris Diver (D – 94 – 1-20-21), Tyler Dunagan (F – 93 – 14-26-40), Stanislav Dzakhov (F – 93 – 25-23-48 – Niagara), Nathan Flynn (F – 93 – 9-11-20), Daniel Kovar (D – 93 – 6-21-27), Jacob McDowell (F – 93 – 16-11-27 – Nipissing), Aaron Nelson (D – 98 – 5-11-16 – Bismarck High), Nate Repensky (D – 93 – 12-38-50 – Yale), Tanner Salsberry (D – 95 – 1-12-13), Huba Sekesi (F – 93 – 16-22-38), Filip Starzynski (F – 93 – 13-24-37 – Alabama-Huntsville)

Arriving: Harrison Aide (F – 95 – 52-40-98 – Bottineau-Rugby), Alex Bitsakis (G – 94 – 3.40 – 16-17-0 – Elliot Lake), Keaton Leininger (F – 96 – 32-30-62 – Bismarck Century), Cody Longie (D – 94 – 1-5-6 – Fargo), Garrett Nelson (F – 95 – 6-4-10 – Wisconsin Wilderness), Jared Pike (F – 95 – 2nd in ’14), Logan Rivard (F – 95 – 25-24-49 – Brainerd), Tanner Skaja (F – 95 – 28-30-58 – St. Cloud Tech), Anthony Song (F – 96 – 8th in ’14), Cole Souto (D – 95 – 0-6-6 – Los Angeles Jr. Kings), Jared Spooner (F – 96 – 26-25-51 – Bismarck High), Alex Strand (F – 95 – 25-43-68 – Roseau), Jared Turcotte (F – 97 – 17-18-35 – California Titans), Joe Tyran (D – 96 – 2-10-12 – Team Illinois – Air Force), Nate Werhane (D – 95 – 1st in ’14), Johnny Witzke (D – 98 – 5-11-16 – Bismack High)

NCAA Recruits: Evan Giesler (F – 93 -16-26-42 – Air Force), Matt Perry (F – 95 – 2-5-7 – Air Force), Joe Tyran (D – 96 – 2-10-12 – Team Illinois – Air Force)

Rights Held: N/A

Prediction: First in Central Division (With a number of high school forwards that put up points for days a year ago joining the roster, it should be enough to put the former home of Fort Frances goalie Ryan Faragher into the title mix.)

Joey Lindberg

Brookings Blizzard

Last Season: Fifth in Central Division (18-34-8) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Conor Andrle (F – 93 – 16-18-34 – Army), Nick DeCenzo (F – 93 – 9-23-32 – Army), Jeff Flicker (F – 93 – 5-12-17 – St. John’s), Garrett Forrest (G – 97 – 3.08 – 2-1-1 – Honeybaked), Miguel Genest (G – 95 – 5.52 – 0-2-1), Connor Girard (G – 3.12 – 10-16-1 – Air Force), Andrew Herlofsky (D – 94 – 1-3-4) Evan Hesse (F – 93 – 16-28-54), Russell Jordan (F – 93 – 10-15-25), Michele Marchetti (F – 94 – 6-4-10), Victor Munter (D – 93 – 2-9-11), Brandon Parker (D – 93 – 10-24-34 – Alabama-Huntsville), Branislav Rapac (F – 93 – 2-3-5), Conrad Sampair (F – 93 – 8-8-16), Wyatt Schmidt (D – 94 – 4-10-14)

Arriving: Sander Berg (G – 96 – 1.62 – N/A – HV71), Brandon Bistodeau (F – 94 – 20-27-47 – Philadelphia Elite Flyers), Alex Copa (D – 96 – 3-17-20 – Blaine High School), Carter Dahl (F – 97 – 7th in ’14), Eddie Eades (D – 95 – 7-9-16 – East Grand Forks), Garrett Elmore (F – 96 – 1-1-2 – Springfield), Tyler Frischmon (F – 95 – 9th in ’14), Truman Gonzales (F – 95 – 2-2-4 – Janesville), Eric Hancock (G – 95 – 3.52 – 7-15-5 – Odessa), Justin Ketola (G – 95 – 1.33 – 39-8-1 – Omaha U18 Lancers), Zach Kramer (D – 96 – 6th in ’14), Joshua Larson (F – 95 – 10th in ’14), Joey Lau (F – 96 – 11-29-40 – Blaine High School), Viktor Lindell (F – 95 – 2nd in ’14), Oscar Odd (F – 94 – 10-11-21 – Farjestad), Caleb Pola (F – 95 – 1st in ’14), TJ Samec (D – 95 – 1-6-7 – Minnesota Iron Rangers), Andrew Scofield (F – 95 – 34-21-55 – Peoria Mustangs), Connor Spetz (D – 95 – 2nd in ’14), Jordan Williamson (F – 95 – 0-3-3 – Lausanne)

NCAA Recruits: N/A

Rights Held: Dylan Plitt (F – 94 – 8th in ’13 – Brooks – Vermont), Andy Sturtz (F – 94 – 1st in ’14 – Tri-City Storm – Penn State)

Prediction: Fourth in Central Division (Okay it’s not a great improvement over last season, but getting into the playoffs will be a big deal for the Blizzard, especially after last year’s struggles.)

Anthony Cortese

Corpus Christi IceRays

Last Season: Sixth in South Division (19-31-10) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Lucas Bennett (F – 95 – 7-10-17), Maurin Bouvet (F – 95 – 10-15-25 – Kenai River), Jake Durflinger (F – 97 – 12-17-29 – Sioux City), Kyle Froese (D – 94 – 6-16-22 – Alaska-Fairbanks), Landen Letwin (D – 95 – 0-0-0 – Austin),  Michael Mahan (F – 97 – 0-4-4), Lucas McDiarmid (F – 93 – 1-7-8 – Lawrence), Nick Monfils (F – 94 – 7-7-14 – Minot), Ben Myers (G – 93 – 2.72 – 10-18-8 – St. Thomas), Caleb O’Brien (D – 93 – 0-9-9 – Wisconsin-River Falls), Joey Palumbo (F – 95 – 6-6-12), Forbes Ploszaj (G – 96 – 2.70 – 8-13-1 – Bloomington), Tony Roisum (F – 95 – 7-14-21), Jesse Shelton (D – 94 – 1-4-5), Nico Sturm (F – 95 – 1-2-3 – Austin), Malo Ville (F – 95 – 8-9-17)

Arriving: Nathan Bryer (F – 96 – 11-21-32 – Victory Honda – Mercyhurst), Connor Bucsis (F – 95 – 7-7-14 – Flin Flon), Isaac Ceh (F – 96 – 14-8-22 – Belle Tire), Anthony Cortese (D – 94 – 8-25-33 – Charlottetown), Ryan Cusin (F – 95 – 1st in ’14), Logan Gestro (D – 96 – 1-11-12 – Victory Honda), Travis Howe (D – 94 – 2-15-17 – Amherst), Jack Jenson (F – 96 – 16-32-48 – Eagan High), Tyler Johnson (F – 96 – 16-13-29 – Bloomington Jefferson), Taylor Karel (D – 96 – 1-3-4 – Eagan High), Markus Kojo (D – 94 – 0-3-3 – Asaat), Mason Krueger (F – 96 – 11-11-22 – Omaha U18 Lancers), Nic LaBurn (F – 94 – 2nd in ’14), Andrew Lindgren (G – 96 – 7th in ’14), Tanner Lomsnes (F – 94 – 8th in ’14), Brendan Murphy (D – 95 – 9-19-28 – Peoria), Luke Pickar (G – 96 – 1.54 – N/A – Anaheim Jr. Ducks), Keenan Spillum (D – 97 – 0-1-1 – Arizona Bobcats)

NCAA Recruits: Nathan Bryer (F – 96 – 11-21-32 – Victory Honda – Mercyhurst)

Rights Held: Eric Israel (D – 95 – 9th in ’14 – Brockville – Robert Morris)

Prediction: Fifth in South Division (They do have a player coming from the QMJHL on defence, and some interesting high school talent, but I don’t see this as a playoff team.)

Adam Carlson

Coulee Region Chill

Last Season: Fifth in Midwest Division (31-28-1) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Dunk Abbott (D – 93 – 6-16-22), Cam Bleck (F – 94 – 11-11-22 – Johnstown), Brett Bukowski (D – 93 – 1-4-5), Lance Carney (D – 94 – 4-8-12), Blake Cates (G – 94 – 2.96 – 18-16-0), Andy Faust (F – 94 – 2-5-7 – Army), Carter Horwitz (D – 94 – 0-2-2 – Bay State), Mac Jansen (F – 93 – 28-21-49), Sean Kalbak (F – 93 – 4-15-19), Bryan Kronberger (D – 93 – 5-11-16), James McGing (F – 93 – 16-12-18), Brogan Rafferty (D – 95 – 3-19-22 – Fargo), Curtis Simonson (D – 94 – 1-3-4 – Minnesota Magicians), Jesse Tredinnick (F – 93 – 15-22-37), Gordon Wells (F – 93 – 16-12-18), Jake Zeleznikar (D – 94 – 3-5-8 – Langley)

Arriving: Jordan Bochinski (F – 96 – 5th in ’14), Jackson Charlesworth (D – 97 – 2nd in ’14), Matthew Doran (D – 97 – 4-6-10 – Omaha U16 Lancers), Ryan Dunner (F – 96 – 2-4-6 – New Jersey Titans), Brady Ferner (D – 97 – 4th in ’14), Dominik Florian (F – 95 – 11-16-27 – North Iowa), Sean Lang (D – 94 – 1st in ’14), Nico Luka (D – 95 – 4th in ’14), Vince Marinaro (F – 97 – 11-17-28 – Team Illinois), Aussie Miller (F – 95 – 3rd in ’14), Ryan O’Connor (D – 96 – 3-5-8 – Shattuck St. Mary’s), Garrett Riebling (F – 95 – 11-25-36 – Chicago Fury), Joe Rutkowski (D – 97 – 3-15-18 – Chicago Mission), Charlie Singerhouse (F  96 – 1-2-3 – New Jersey Titans), Jack Sorenson (F – 95 – 16-9-25 – Wayzata), Isaac Theisen (F – 96 – 6th in ’14), Jimmy Thomas (G – 96 – 3rd in ’14)

NCAA Recruits: N/A

Rights Held: Travis Brown (D – 95 – 3rd in ’13 – Sioux Falls – Michigan Tech,) Charley Graaskamp (F – 96 – 5th in ’13 – Sault Ste. Marie)

Prediction: Fourth in Midwest Division (Graaskamp would be fun in this league, but alas, he’s up in the Soo trying to kill it. The Chill do have a decent amount of guys back from last year, and it should be enough to get into the post-season.)

Jacob Hetz

Fairbanks Ice Dogs

Last Season: First in Midwest Division (45-14-1) – 2013/14 NAHL Champions

Departing: Kevin Aldridge (G – 94 – 2.22 – 31-10-1 – Lake Superior State), Willie Brooks (D – 94 – 0-8-8 – Carleton Place) Jake Bushey (D – 93 – 3-20-23), Wyatt Ege (D – 95 – 3-17-20 – Dubuque – Alaska-Anchorage), Brett Gervais (F – 94 – 25-19-44 – Clarkson), Nick Hinz (D – 3-19-22 – Alaska-Fairbanks), David Kaplan (F – 94 – 5-2-7), Duggie Lagrone (D – 94 – 10-17-27 – Colorado College), Kyle Lee (F – 93 – 19-25-44), Viktor Liljegren (F – 94 – 18-17-45 – RPI), Tayler Munson (F – 93 – 24-34-58 – Alaska-Fairbanks), Ross Olsson (F – 94 – 4-7-11 – Islanders), Doug Rose (D – 93 – 7-27-34 – Sacred Heart), Colton Wolter (F – 93 – 12-39-51 – Wisconsin-Eau Clare)

Arriving: Adam Anderson (F – 95 – 7-19-26 – Centennial High), Mitchell Baumann (F – 95 – 2nd in ’14), Cayden Cahill (F – 96 – 7th in ’14), Joshua Gabriel (F – 96 – 3rd in ’14 – Canisius), Ryner Gorowsky (F – 96 – 20-15-35 – Centennial High), Samuel Kany (G – 96 – 2.56 – N/A – Phoenix Jr. Coyotes) Robin Karlsson (D – 94 – 5-19-24 – AIK), Adam Kleven (D – 95 – 1st in ’13 – Phoenix Jr. Coyotes), Drew Michals (G – 95 – 3.40 – 1-1-0 – Middlebury College), Jesper Ohrvall (F – 94 – 6th in ’14), Caleb Schroer (F – 96 – 42-45-87 – Wisconsin Rapids), Dalton Skelly (D – 95 – 8-7-15 – Texas Tornado), Jakob Stridsberg (D – 95 – 4th in ’14), John Teets (D – 96 – 6-8-14 – Fort McMurray)

NCAA Recruits: Todd Burgess (F – 96 – 5-11-16 – RPI), Joshua Gabriel (F – 96 – 3rd in ’14 – Canisius), Hans Gorowsky (F – 94 – 9-23-32 – Lake Superior State), Ethan Somoza (F – 96 – 10-11-21 – Bemidji State)

Rights Held: Ryan Kuhn (F – 95 – 3rd in ’14 – Dubuque – Niagara), Patrick Newell (F – 96 – 5th in ’12 – Penticton – St. Cloud State)

Prediction: First in Midwest Division (Even though they lost players to the college ranks, I think this is still a top team. Granted, the goaltending will be in a transition stage with Aldridge heading to LSSU, but things should be fine with the  rest of the team to make another deep push.)

Drew Callin

Janesville Jets

Last Season: Third in North Division (32-24-4) – Lost 3-2 to Michigan in North Semis

Departing: Jeff Alderfer (D – 95 – 0-1-1 – Dubuque), Zach Avolio (F – 94 – 6-14-20), Michael Bigelbach (D – 95 – 4-12-16 – Omaha – Minnesota State-Mankato), AJ Duggan (F – 94 – 6-9-15), Grant Frederic (D – 95 – 2-6-8 – Green Bay), Truman Gonzales (F – 95 – 2-2-4 – Brookings), Logan Halladay (G – 96 – 2.26 – 18-8-2 – Bloomington – Minnesota), Jordan Himley (F – 93 – 25-24-49 – Air Force), Robin Hoglund (F – 93 – 24-23-47 – Minnesota), Jesse Junttila (D – 95 – 1-5-6 – Northern Michigan), Brock Kautz (G – 94 – 2.95 – 14-15-2 – Minnesota Wilderness), Rob Marsanico (F – 96 – 4-2-6), Tyler Rehm (F – 93 – 10-6-16), Alex Shuchuk (F – 94 – 1-5-6 – Wisconsin), Grant Stueve (F – 95 – 3-2-5), Mike Sullivan (F – 95 – 0-4-4), Carson Vance (D – 96 – 4-14-18 – Youngstown)

Arriving: Mario Bianchi (F – 94 – 10-9-19 – Minnesota Magicians), Robert Click (D – 94 – 1-5-6 – Alberni Valley), Chris Deprez (F – 94 – 14-18-32 – Cleveland U18 Barons), Nicolas Erb Ekholm (F – 95 – 14-8-22 – Malmo), Mitchell Fossier (F – 96 – 1st in ’14 – Maine), Zac Goodrich (D – 96 – 1-6-7 – Honeybaked), Kip Hoffmann (F – 97 – 3-3-6 – Chicago Mission), Connor Hutchins (F – 95 – 8-8-16 – Pikes Peak Miners), Joe Immormino (D – 96 – 4-8-12 – Cleveland U18 Barons), Yegor Ivanov (D – 96 – 2-14-17 – RCOP Raubichi), Matt Jurusik (G – 97 – 4th in ’14), Stephen Kelly (F – 95 – 20-36-56 – Minnesota Owls), Zach Lavalle (F – 94 – 1st in ’14), Cullen Munson (F – 96 – 17-17-34 – Edina High – Army), David Radke (D – 94 – 3-25-28 – Soo Thunderbirds), Adam Roeder (D – 96 – 9-22-31 – St. Louis Jr. Blues), Nils Rygaard (F – 95 – 7-17-24 – Linkoping), Johan Skantz (G – 95 – 2.48 – N/A – Farjestad) Zac Solow (F – 98 – 13-12-15 – St. Louis U16 Blues), Quinton Wunder (D – 95 – 1-4-5 – Alberni Valley)

NCAA Recruits: Mitchell Fossier (F – 96 – 1st in ’14 – Maine), Cullen Munson (F – 96 – 17-17-34 – Edina High – Army)

Rights Held: David Drake (D – 95 – 1st in ’13 – Des Moines – UConn – Philadelphia), Ryan Galt (F – 95 – 8th in ’12 – Des Moines – Nebraska-Omaha), Charlie Pelnik (D – 95 – 2nd in ’13 – Cowichan Valley – North Dakota)

Prediction: Third in North Division (Personally, I think the North Division might be the tightest in the NAHL this season. This roster looks solid, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets finish higher in the standings than where I have them.)

Alex Jaeckle

Johnstown Tomahawks 

Last Season: Fourth in North Division (28-27-5) – Lost 3-0 to Port Huron in North Semis

Departing: Tyler Basham (F – 93 – 6-11-17 – Simon Fraser), Shane Bednard (F – 94 – 19-32-51 – Bloomington), Cody Bentzel (D – 93 – 2-6-8), Forest Donovan (F – 94 – 2-1-3), Joe Drabin (F – 95 – 10-16-26 – Youngstown), Zach Geiger (F – 94 – 0-0-0), Mitch Hall (D  – 93 – 6-37-43), Casey Linkenheld (F – 95 – 3-5-8), Matthew Meier (F – 95 – 21-22-43 – Air Force), Jake Moore (G – 94 – 2.96 – 5-5-0), Alex Okicki (G – 93 – 2.54 – 21-15-3), Brandon Reinholz (F – 93 – 18-21-39), Zach Wallace (F – 93 – 5-7-12), Jordan Watt (F – 93 – 22-13-34 – Neumann)

Arriving: Peter Bates (F – 96 – 11-19-30 – Team Illinois), Ryan Bednard (G – 97 – 1.62 – N/A – Victory Honda), Cam Bleck (F – 94 – 11-11-22 – Coulee Region), Ryan Bochert (F – 95 – 13-11-24 – Colorado Rampage), Connor Eckenrod (F – 95 – 0-1-1 – The Gunnery), Jacob Gwillim (G – 97 – 1.85 – N/A – Lansing Capitals) Jake Houston (D – 96 – 1-11-12 – Pittsburgh U18 Penguins), Dalton Hunter (F – 97 – 1st in ’14), Alex Jaeckle (D – 94 – 2-5-7 – Air Force), Brendan Logan (F – 95 – 17-9-26 – Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks), Luke Lynch (F – 96 – 19-18-37 – Pittsburgh U18 Penguins), Ivan Osko (F – 94 – 4-7-11 – SHK Hodonin), Steven Quagliata (D – 96 – 6-4-10 – Chicago Fury), Zac Robbins (F – 96 – 18-14-32 – Team Illinois), Andrew Romano (F – 95 – 17-31-48 – Philadelphia Jr. Flyers), Zander Sorenson (F – 96 – 20-16-36 – West Michigan Hounds), Zach Zech (F – 96 – 15-12-27 – Victory Honda)

NCAA Recruits: Alex Jaeckle (D – 94 – 2-5-7 – Air Force)

Rights Held: N/A

Prediction: Fifth in North Division (The defence is a veteran one, but a younger forward and goalie core may be a bit of a problem, especially since the North Division is really good.)

Zach Quinn

Kenai River Brown Bears 

Last Season: Fourth in Midwest Division (28-24-8) – Lost 3-2 to Fairbanks in West Semis

Departing: Alec Butcher (F – 94 – 24-42-66 – Sacred Heart), Austin Chavez (D – 96 – 0-4-4 – Sioux City), Nathan Colwell (F – 96 – 9-12-21 – Dubuque), Jacob Davidson (D – 93 – 7-10-17), Conor Deal (F – 93 – 8-12-20), Tommy Dierl (F – 95 – 2-9-11), Sebastian Fuchs (F – 96 – 12-26-38 – Madison – Denver), Jack Gessert (F – 95 – 13-18-31), Albin Karlsson (F – 94 – 14-29-43 – Niagara), Judd Lowenstein (D – 94 – 3-8-11), Christian Luiten (D – 95 – 2-4-6), Kris Oldham (G – 97 – 3.17 – 11-6-4 – Omaha), RJ Salvato (F – 94 – 3-8-11), Frankie Spellman (F – 95 – 7-8-15 – Prince George Spruce Kings), Vincent Stefan (D – 93 – 7-10-17), Jacob Wolter (F – 93 – 5-2-7), Zack Zulkanycz (F – 94 – 7-16-23 – Dubuque)

Arriving: Maurin Bouvet (F – 95 – 10-15-25 – Corpus Christi), Sam Carlson (F – 96 – 1-4-5 – Bemidji High), Collin Charyszyn (D – 96 – 1-5-6 – Philadelphia Jr. Flyers), Clay Cross (D – 95 – 5-14-19 – Phoenix Jr. Coyotes), Manfred Ehlers (F – 96 – 9-4-13 – Mora), Doc Gentzler (F – 95 – 3-7-10 – Los Angeles Jr. Kings), Jacob Gerson (F – 95 – 6th in ’14), Miles Giorgione (D – 96 – 0-2-2 – Alaska Jr. Aces), Sean Healy (G – 95 – 1.88 – 28-3-2 – Idaho Jr. Steelheads), Nick Klishko (F – 96 – 3rd in ’13 – Los Angeles Jr. Kings), Jack Nickels (D – 97 – 0-2-2 – Team Illinois), Danny O’Donnell (F – 96 – 3-12-15 – California Titans), Joey Sardina (F – 96 – 5-3-8 – Texas Tornado), Tanner Schachle (F – 97 – 2nd in ’14), Will Schwartz (D – 96 – 2-8-10 – Centennial High), Logan Wendling (F – 95 – 8-12-20 – Springfield Jr. Blues), Matt Wikman (F – 96 – 27-17-44 – Fairfield Prep)

NCAA Recruits: N/A

Rights Held: Ryan McMurphy (F – 94 – 2nd in ’13 – Tri-City Storm – Bentley), August Von Ungren-Sternberg (F – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Lincoln – Brown)

Prediction: Fifth in Midwest Division (It’s a younger team this year, but I don’t think they have enough horses to match the two Minnesota teams and Fairbanks in the race for the playoffs. They might beat Coulee Region for fourth, but won’t go much farther than that.)

Ice Miners

Keystone Ice Miners

Last Season (As Port Huron Fighting Falcons): First in North Division (35-15-10) – Lost 3-1 to Michigan in North Finals

Departing: Zach Badalamenti (F – 93 – 13-25-38), Nick Horne (F – 93 – 6-9-15), Matt Jones (F – 96 – 6-15-21 – Madison), Jonathan Kopacka (D – 93 – 11-21-32 – Air Force), Logan Lambdin (F – 95 – 19-19-38 – Bloomington), Lucas Linville (F – 94 – 0-5-5), Max Milosek (G – 93 – 2.38 – 18-10-7), Matt Seidel (F – 94 – 10-11-21), Elliot Tisdale (F – 93 – 3-8-11 – Wentworth), Bryan Yim (F – 94 – 20-30-50 – New Jersey Hitmen)

Arriving: Jacob Coleman (F – 97 – 2nd in ’14 – Robert Morris), Dylan DeCandia (F – 96 – 51-17-68 – Verona High School), Scott Donahue (F – 96 – 10-19-29 – Cleveland Barons), Jacob Gammicchia (F – 96 – 9-12-21 – Honeybaked), LordAnthony Grissom (F – 96 – N/A – Grosse Pointe), Garrett Hallford (F – 97 – 15-15-30 – Honeybaked), Brian Hodges (F – 94 – 3-1-4 – Los Angeles Jr. Kings),  Robert Jaworski (F – 96 – 19-28-47 – Montclair Kimberley), Nick Kossoff (G – 97 – 2.73 – 3-12-2 – Colorado Thunderbirds), Keenan Sabatini (D – 97 – 0-0-0 – Little Caesars), Brandon Schieman (D – 97 – 0-4-4 – Honeybaked), Cameron Smith (F – 97 – 4th in ’14 – Dartmouth), Joe Sofo (D – 96 – 6-9-15 – Honeybaked)

NCAA Recruits: Jacob Coleman (F – 97 – 2nd in ’14 – Robert Morris), Cameron Smith (F – 97 – 4th in ’14 – Dartmouth)

Rights Held: Bo Brauer (F – 95 – 2nd in ’13 – Naniamo – Notre Dame), Drew Newmeyer (D – 94 – 4th in ’13 – Arizona State)

Prediction: Second in North Division (Personally, if they had gone by the Huffy Kings, Port Huron would still have a team. Either way, Keystone looks pretty solid from top to bottom with youth and experience, and I expect another strong season from this franchise.)

Pat Egan

Lone Star Brahmas

Last Season: Fifth in South Division (23-33-4) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Thomas Aldworth (F – 95 – 3-3-6 – Vernon), Nick Blase (D – 94 – 3-3-6), Jeremy Briscoe (D – 96 – 0-0-0), Alex Dagnal (F – 94 – 2-7-9), Conner Enciso (F – 93 – 12-16-28 – Milwaukee School of Engineering), Gordie Helmuth (F – 96 – 3-2-5), Jan Hudecek (F – 94 – 7-13-20 – EC Salzburg), Matt Lison (F – 93 – 19-14-33), Anthony Mousseau (D – 94 – 4-25-29), Ben Owen (D – 93 – 1-4-5), Jett Salinas (G – 94 – 3.53 – 3-5-1), Austin Thielges (D – 94 – 0-9-9), Kellen Wasell (F – 93 – 10-16-26), Ryan Watson (F – 94 – 7-4-11)

Arriving: Brian Baker (G – 95 – 1.00 – N/A – Esmark), Mark Bowen (F – 95 – N/A – Canterbury – Mercyhurst), Eric Carreras (F – 95 – 10th in ’14), Quinn Carroll (F – 94 – 4th in ’14), Pat Egan (F – 94 – 31-47-78 – Buffalo Jr. Sabres), Nick Ford (F – 95 – 6th in ’14), Sean Giles (D – 96 – 4-9-13 – Colorado Rampage), Hayden Hanson (D – 94 – 6-16-22 – Kemptville), Peter Kessel (F – 96 – 8th in ’14), Jake Kupsky (G – 95 – 1.60 – 17-4-1 – Waukesha), Andrew Madej (D – 95 – 5-16-21 – Chicago Mission), Anton Santesson (D – 94 – 2-11-13 – Rogle), Kurt Thiele (D – 96 – 0-4-4 – Oakland Jr. Grizzlies), Caleb Thompson (D – 94 – 3rd in ’14), AJ Vanderbeck (F – 97 – 41-20-61 – Colorado Rampage – Colorado College), Cody Wickline (F – 95 – 13-20-33 – Dallas U18 Stars)

NCAA Recruits: Mark Bowen (F – 95 – N/A – Canterbury – Mercyhurst), AJ Vanderbeck (F – 97 – 41-20-61 – Colorado Rampage – Colorado College)

Rights Held: Bryan Basillico (F – 95 – 5th in ’13 – Trail – Lake Superior State), Chris Leibinger (D – 94 – 1st in ’13 – Michigan Tech)

Prediction: Third in South Division (It’s playoff time for the Brahmas, and that’s because of the new faces. When you get a 78-point guy from the OJHL joining the team in Egan, that should be enough to put you over the top, along with a stronger back end.)

Trevor Gorsuch

Michigan Warriors

Last Season: Second in North Division (30-20-10) – Lost 2-0 to Fairbanks in Robertson Cup Semis

Departing: Sean Campbell (D – 93 – 4-13-17), Jake Faiella (D – 93 – 4-13-17), Jake Fairchild (D – 93 – 0-5-5 – Lindenwood), Jon Farkas (F – 94 – 11-24-35), Wes Guenther (D – 95 – 1-1-2), Jake Hopfner (F – 93 – 15-16-31), Colin Larkin (F – 93 – 23-14-37), Connor Lyons (F – 93 – 6-13-19), Alec Pellegrino (F – 95 – 6-10-16), Josh Shellman (D – 94 – 8-22-30), TJ Stuntz (F – 93 – 18-18-36), Zach Szajner (F – 93 – 13-27-40 – Ferris State), Mitch Wedding (D – 94 – 1-14-15)

Arriving: Andrew Barbeau (D – 97 – 2nd in ’14), Alex Berardinelli (F – 95 – 3-4-7 – Pittsburgh Vengeance), Ryan Bloom (F – 95 – 16-8-24 – Compuware U18), Ryan Burr (D – 95 – 5-19-24 – Flint Jr. Generals), Zed Dietrich (F – 96 – 3rd in ’14), Conor Durgan (F – 94 – 23-23-46 – Flint Jr. Generals), Jon Evans (F – 96 – 0-0-0 – Flint Jr. Generals), Derek Frentz (F – 96 – 1st in ’14), Ryan Larkin (G – 97 – 2.49 -  – Honeybaked – Miami), Mark McGee (F – 94 – 3rd in ’14), Anthony Parrucci (F – 95 – 12-7-19 – Pittsburgh U18 Penguins), Shane Switzer (D – 95 – 6-15-21 – Victory Honda), Brandon Wolfe (F – 95 – 5-10-15 – Honeybaked), Mark Whitney (F – 96 – 4-4-8 – Omaha U18 Lancers)

NCAA Recruits: Ryan Larkin (G – 97 – 2.49 -  – Honeybaked – Miami)

Rights Held: N/A

Prediction: Fourth in North Division (A little bit of a drop-off might be in store here, but the Warriors do have a veteran lineup at forwards and well seasoned goalie in Gorsuch that will prevent a total free-fall.)

Matt Colford

Minnesota Magicians

Last Season: Sixth in Midwest Division (21-31-8) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Nick Anderson (F – 94 – 2-3-5 – Minnesota Wilderness), Mario Bianchi (F – 94 – 10-9-19 – Janesville), Dylan Dailey (F – 93 – 2-2-4 – Milwaukee School Of Engineering), Alex Funk (F – 94 – 4-8-12), Colin Hernon (F – 94 – 10-22-22), Will Johnson (F – 96 – 19-16-35 – Madison – Air Force), Eetu Karvinen (F – 93 – 10-22-32 – Tuto), Travis Koepke (F – 95 – 2-2-4), Derick Kuchera (D – 94 – 6-8-14), Nicholas Kuchera (F – 94 – 12-26-38) Cody Milligan (F – 93 – 8-9-17), Bryan Nies (G – 93 – 3.30 – 9-8-4), Atte Tolvanen (G – 94 – 2.78 – Minot), Nick Uglem (F – 94 – 1-3-4), Jack Weiss (D – 94 – 1-6-7), Sam Wolfe (D – 93 – 1-5-6)

Arriving: Vaughan Aherns (G – 97 – 1.43 – Wayzata), Chris Amsden (G – 94 – 1.89 – 16-1-0 – North Iowa), Taylor Brierly (F – 96 – 4-7-11 – East Grand Forks), Jack Christensen (F – 95 – 5th in ’14), Braxton Collins (F – 96 – 34-21-65 – Regis/McDonell), Jacob Dittel (D – 96 – 13th in ’14), Kane Durment (F – 95 – 3rd in ’14), Brady Heppner (F – 95 – 28-17-45 – Crookston High), Casey Johnson (D – 96 – 9-23-32 – Grand Forks Central), Brock Kautz (G – 94 – 2.95 – Janesville), Nathan Krusko (F – 96 – 18-16-34 – TPH Thunder), Lukas Laub (F – 94 – 16-14-30 – Odessa), Francois Lemelin (F – 96 – 11th in ’14 – Harvard), Brandon Loven (F – 95 – 11-11-22 – East Grand Forks), Marc Michaelis (F – 95 – 6th in ’14), Nolan Schaeffer (D – 97 – 1-11-12 – Team Illinois), Curtis Simonson (D – 94 – 1-3-4 – Coulee Region), Paige Skoog (G – 94 – 2.77 – 8-12-2 – Soo), Ryan Solomon (D – 96 – 4th in ’14)

NCAA Recruits: Francois Lemelin (F – 96 – 11th in ’14 – Harvard)

Rights Held: Cole Bjugson (D – 95 – 10th in ’13 – Fargo – Bemidji State), Adam Johnson (F – 94 – 7th in ’13 – Sioux City – Minnesota-Duluth), Beau Starrett (F – 95 – 9th in ’13 – South Shore – Cornell – Chicago)

Prediction: Third in Midwest Division (I don’t think they are on the same level as the Wilderness or Ice Dogs, but the Magicians lineup isn’t that bad, and they should make their way into the post-season.)

Tyler Cline

Minnesota Wilderness

Last Season: Second in Midwest Division (37-14-9) – Lost 3-2 to Wentachee in Midwest Semis

Departing: Brett Bockman (F – 94 – 3-5-8), Eric Brenk (F – 94 – 21-22-43 – New Jersey Hitmen), Richard Buri (D – 94 – 4-7-11 – Alabama-Huntsville), Ivan Chukarov (F – 95 – 4-8-12), Nolan Culver (F – 93 – 5-10-15), Alex Fredberg (F – 96 – 2-5-7 – Point Mallard), Kasimir Kaskisuo (G – 93 – 1.48 – 21-6-5 – Minnesota-Duluth), Jesse Kessler (D – 93 – 1-4-5), Terry Leabo (D – 93 – 5-16-21), Thomas Lindstrom (F – 95 – 19-22-41), John May (F – 93 – 9-18-27 – American International), Jaycob McCombs (F – 93 – 9-8-17), Frank Oplinger (G – 94 – 2.04 – 16-8-4), Will Peterson (D – 94 – 5-2-7), Darian Romanko (F – 94 – 20-21-41 – Madison), Jakob Romo (F – 95 – 18-24-42 – Dubuque), Dominik Tiffels (D – 94 – 2-14-16 – Heilbronner Falken)

Arriving: Joe Anderson (F – 94 – 39-33-72 – Alexandria), Nick Anderson (F – 94 – 2-3-5 – Minnesota Magicians), Ryan Anderson (G – 95 – 2.20 – 17-7-1 – Roseau), Isak Bergland (F – 95- 8th in ’14), Tobias Bjorklund (D – 94 – 10-29-39 – Farjestad), Tyler Cline (F – 95 – 13th in ’13 – Blaine High – Alaska-Fairbanks), Troy Grahl (D – 95 – 5-15-20 – Philadelphia Little Flyers), Nick Hedemyr (F – 94 – 11th in ’14), Brock Kautz (G – 94 – 2.95 – 14-15-2 – Janesville), Ryan Lind (D – 96 – 6-14-20 – Cloquet), Brandon Notermann (F – 95 – 12-28-40 – Blaine High), Julius Koskinen (G – 94 – 14th in ’14), Michael Orke (F – 96 – 9th in ’14), Austin Rueschhoff (F – 97 – 12-17-19 – St. Louis Selects), Robb Stautz (F – 94 – 5-8-13 – Odessa), Tyler Tate (D – 96 – 3-15-18 – TPH Thunder), Alex Trapp (D – 95 – 4-16-20 – Duluth East High)

NCAA Recruits: Tyler Cline (F – 95 – 13th in ’13 – Blaine High – Alaska-Fairbanks), Brett Heikkila (F – 95 – 7-8-15 – Northern Michigan)

Rights Held: Phil Boje (D – 94 – 4th in ’13 – Dubuque – Air Force), Chris Buchanan (D – 94 – 14th in ’13 – Fargo – Bentley), Kyle Hayton (G – 94 – 10th in ’13 – Sioux City – St. Lawrence), Patrick Holway (D – 96 – 12th in ’14 – Maine), Bradley Johnson (D – 96 – 10th in ’14 – Omaha – Ohio State), Wade Novak (F – 97 – 7th in ’14 – Union), Blake Winiecki (F – 94 – 8th in ’13 – Waterloo – St. Cloud State)

Prediction: Second in Midwest Division (The former SIJHL juggernauts seem to be doing just fine in their new surroundings, and they should have another strong year. I’m really curious to see how Tyler Cline does as well, after he posted some monster numbers last year in the Minnesota high school ranks.)

Lucas Debenedet

Minot Minotauros

Last Season: Fourth in Central Division (24-33-3) – Lost 3-1 to Austin in Central Semis

Departing: Tim Donohue (F – 93 – 10-9-19), Scott Dornbrock (D – 93 – 7-17-24 – Miami), Jake Johnson (F – 94 – 6-9-15 – Wisconsin-Superior), Michael Louria (F – 94 – 26-25-52 – UMass-Lowell), Jadin Martin (F – 93 – 5-10-15), Merrick Madsen (G – 95 – 2.75 – Harvard – Philadelphia) Jake McCann (F – 93 – 12-12-24), Max Pernhem (D – 93 – 2-5-7 – Augsburg), Beau Ricketts (F – 94 – 2-2-4), Cameron Rowat (F – 94 – 8-5-13), Tyler Shipstad (F – 93 – 6-11-17), Jordan Stejskal (D – 93 – 2-7-9), Luke Voltin (F – 95 – 1-3-4 – Vernon – North Dakota)

Arriving: Tim Athley (F – 94 – 6-9-15 – Vaxjo), Darren Banks (F – 94 – 17-24-41 – Gillette Wild), David Becker (F – 94 – 4-11-15 – Abitibi), Sander Boroczky (F – 95 – 5-16-21 – Connecticut Jr. Rangers), Lucas Debenedet (F – 95 – 2nd in ’14), Quinn Fuchs (F – 95 – 9th in ’14), Bo Gronseth (F – 94 – 9th in ’13 – Alexandria), Tanner Holmes (G – 95 – 2.41 – 14-10-1 – Thief River Falls), Austin Kilian (F – 95 – 18-12-30 – New Prague High), Blake Lizotte (F – 97 – 11-29-40 – Chicago Lakes), Max Mettler (D – 96 – 14-27-41 – Mankato West High), Christian Mohs (F – 94 – 18-15-33 – Granite City), Nick Monfils (F – 94 – 7-7-14 – Corpus Christi), John Snodgrass (F – 96 – 6th in ’14), Chase Springman (F – 96 – 20-21-41 – Elk River), Atte Tolvanen (G – 94 – 2.78 – 12-23-4 – Minnesota Magicians)

NCAA Recruits: N/A

Rights Held: Hayden Hawkey (G – 95 – 9th in ’13 – Omaha – Providence – Montreal), Joey Marooney (F – 96 – 11th in ’14 – Sioux Falls – Alabama-Huntsville)

Prediction: Second in Central Divison (I’m not sure about how the goaltending will be, but the forwards and the defence look pretty sharp to be a top team in the division. Plus, they have a Fort Frances Lakers forward joining the team.)

Alex Agler

Odessa Jackalopes

Last Season: Seventh in South Division (15-40-5) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Dylan Adler (D – 95 – 1-6-7), Mathieu Briand (F – 93 – 11-13-24 – Dijon), Connor Chambers (D – 95 – 1-12-13), David Chavis (D – 95 – 0-2-2 – Metro Jets), Eric Hancock (G – 95 – 3.52 – 7-15-5 – Brookings), Trace Jablin (F – 94 – 8-6-14), Jake Kreutzer (D – 93 – 6-10-16), Lucas Laub (F – 94 – 16-14-30 – Minnesota Magicians), Leo Lumm (F – 95 – 12-6-18 – Omaha), Jefferson Martin (D – 95 – 1-6-7 – Soo), Michael O’Reilly (D – 95 – 0-1-1 – Palm Beach) Robb Stautz (F – 94 – 5-8-13 – Minnesota Wilderness), Tate Sykes (D – 93 – 3-10-13 – Wisconsin-Eau Claire), Chris Taff (D – 94 – 3-13-16), Connor Thie (F – 95 – 3-13-16)

Arriving: Parker Butler (G – 95 – 10-4-0 – New Jersey Hitmen), Zachary Feldman (D – 95 – 5-7-12 – Oakland Jr. Grizzlies), Jake Hamilton (D – 95 – 2nd in ’14), Christian Hausinger (D – 96 – 1st in ’14 – Sacred Heart), Kenny Hausinger (F – 95 – 1st in ’14 – Sacred Heart), Corey Hoffmann (F – 96 – 6-5-11 – New York Bobcats – Cornell), Robin Johansson (G – 95 – 2.27 – N/A – Troja), Christopher Kusch (F – 96 – 1-2-3 – Oakland Jr. Grizzlies), Ryan MacKellar (F – 96 – N/A – Lawrence North), Tyler Nabozny (F – 95 – 2nd in ’13 – Bay State), Rhys Phelps (D – 98 – 2-1-3 – Selects Hockey Academy), Colton Schmidt (F – 96 – 9-9-18 – Eden Prairie High), Hampus Sjodahl (F – 95 – 6-7-13 – Djurgarden – 0-1-1), Andreas Soje (D – 94 – 3rd in ’14), Matthew Wolf (F – 96 – 8-15-23 – Chicago Mission)

NCAA Recruits: Jesse Juntilla (D – 95 – 0-1-1 – Northern Michigan), Ian Mansfield (F – 94 – 3-6-9 – Army)

Rights Held: Kenny Hausinger (F – 95 – 1st in ’14 – Sacred Heart), Bo Pieper (F – 94 – 3rd in ’12 – Coquitlam – Quinnipiac), Matt Staples (D – 95 – 2nd in ’12 – Medicine Hat

Prediction: Eighth in South Division (Although they have some decent looking players, the depth compared to a lot of the other teams is lacking. It’s hard for me to come out and say a team will be bad when I don’t know the league that well, but I think this might be a squad that ends up near the bottom.)

Nick Schmit

Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees

Last Season: Third in South Division (35-18-7) – Lost 3-0 to Topeka in South Semis

Departing: Dylan Abood (D – 93 – 0-16-16 – Air Force), Kevin Antipov (F – 95 – 3-7-1-0), Luke Bafia (D – 96 – 1-5-6 – Green Bay), Tyler Bruneteau (F – 93 – 13-10-23), RJ Burns (F – 93 – 2-5-7), Brendan Dunning (F – 96 – 4-9-13 – Fargo), Marcus Ericsson (D – 93 – 5-8-13 – Morrums), Ben Greiner (F – 93 – 22-29-51 – Bowling Green), Olli Kalkaja (G – 93 – 1.86 – 18-8-6 – UMass-Lowell) Joe Llaurado (F – 94 – 5-1-6 – Army), Aleski Luhtalampi (F – 93 – 9-17-26 – Leki), Matt McArdle (D – 95 – 0-9-9 – Fargo), Sean Mostrom (D – 94 – 6-12-18 – Fargo – Denver), Connor Pelkey (F – 93 – 3-4-7), Evan Schmidbauer (F – 93 – 17-20-37)

Arriving: Trevor Abbott (D – 96 – 1-6-7 – Wellington), Dean Balsamo (F – 95 – 12-8-20 – Oakland Jr. Grizzlies), Evan Bell (D – 97 – 5th in ’14), Zach Bennett (F – 97 – 9th in ’14), Carter Cerretani (D – 96 – N/A – Novi Detroit Catholic), Mason Corliss (F – 95 – 1-5-6 – Compuware), Josh Erickson (G – 94 – 3.41 – 13-9-4 – Bonnyville) Nick Eytcheson (D – 94 – 12th in ’14), Luke Formica (D – 94 – 1-3-4 – Boston Jr. Bandits), Dallas Gerads (F – 96 – 15-21-36 – Blaine High), Tommy Horn (F – 96 – 6th in ’14), Lionel Mauron (F – 94 – 9-20-29 – Lausanne), Dylan Robertson (F – 95 – 26-33-59 – Banff), Guy Roby (F – 96 – 21-30-51 – Team Comcast), Ian Spencer (D – 94 – 2-15-17 – Philadelphia Elite Flyers), Kyle Stephan (F – 95 – 8-12-20 – Newmarket), Parker Wood (F – 94 – 1st in ’14)

NCAA Recruits: N/A

Rights Held: Jason Cotton (F – 95 – 16th in ’13 – West Kelowna – Northeastern), Ryan Coulter (F – 95 – 10th in ’14 – Langley – Bowling Green), Andrew Dorantes (F – 94 – 10th in ’13 – Powell River – Ferris State), Jake Larson (F – 94 – 11th in ’13 – Chilliwack – Alaska-Anchorage), Cody Milan (F – 96 – 11th in ’14 – Tri-City Storm – Michigan State), Derek Pratt (D – 94 – 13th in ’13 – Waterloo – UConn), Matt Utaski (F – 94 – Langley – Wisconsin – Winnipeg)

Prediction: Sixth in South Division (If half of the guys who have their rights by the Killer Bees showed up and played for them, this could be a really good squad. But alas, I think it will be up to the goaltending pair of Erickson and Schmit to keep this team in it on most nights.)

Michael Caruso

Soo Eagles

Last Season: Sixth in North Division (25-27-8) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Trevor Boyd (F – 94 – 6-11-17 – Austin), Colin Brennan (G – 93 – 3.12 – 5-6-4), Bradley Mueller (D – 93 – 2-5-7 – Lawrence), Scott Cuthrell (F – 93 – 16-22-38 – Nichols College), AJ Jarosz (F – 93 – 6-12-18), Nathan Klebe (G – 94 – 2.79 – 7-5-0), Derek Lodermeier (F – 95 – 7-15-22 – Brooks), Kyle Loridon (F – 93 – 1-5-6), Matthew Montemurro (D – 94 – 0-6-6 – Lawrence) Jeremy Norway (F – 95 – 1-2-3), Michael Sabatini (F – 95 – 19-22-41 – Canisius), Paige Skoog (G – 94 – 2.77 – 8-12-2 – Minnesota Magicians), Dante Suffrendini (D – 95 – 1-6-7) Ryan Urso (F – 93 – 6-21-17)

Arriving: Jack Berry (G – 96 – 4th in ’14), Darren Brady (D – 96 – 2-12-14), Raymond Brice (F – 95 – 31-30-61 – Houghton) Trevor Cope (F – 94 – 2nd in ’14 – Michigan Tech), Carmen Dalesandro (F – 95 – 8-11-19 – Esmark), Chase Gamelin (F – 96 – N/A – Sault High – Lake Superior State), Will Gauthier (F – 96 – N/A – Sault High – Lake Superior State), Eric Hillock (F – 94 – 14-13-27 – Soo Thunderbirds), Sean Keating (G – 94 – 2.42 – 11-3-2 – Pembroke), Nicholas Keck (F – 95 – 5-8-13 – Team Comcast), Jefferson Martin (D – 95 – 1-6-7 – Odessa), Nick Meress (D – 96 – 0-9-9 – Honeybaked), Keegan Miller (F – 96 – 6th in ’14), John O’Connor (D – 95 – 2-12-14 – Belle Tire), Jeff Solow (D – 96 – 3-7-10 – Florida Jr. Blades)

NCAA Recruits: Nick Belger (F – 94 – 15-13-28 – Sacred Heart), Trevor Cope (F – 94 – 2nd in ’14 – Michigan Tech), Denver Pierce (F – 95 – 10-12-22 – Northern Michigan)

Rights Held: Owen Headrick (D – 95 – 3rd in ’14 – Lake Superior State)

Prediction: First in North Division (This might be a little bit of a homer pick, but I think the Eagles have a really good squad. Sure they weren’t that great last year, but they have a ton of guys coming back and I like a lot of the players they have coming in.)

Josh Lammon

Springfield Jr. Blues

Last Season: Fifth in North Division (26-26-8) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Sandro Aeschlimann (G – 94 – 3.42 – 4-5-1), Nick Dotolo (D – 94 – 3-6-9 – Bay State), Garrett Elmore (F – 96 – 1-1-2 – Brookings), Brycon Johnson (F – 96 – 2-1-3), Michael Mylchreest (D – 95 – 4-8-12 – Brandon), William Scherer (D – 96 – 0-6-6), Mike Severson (F – 95 – 8-20-28), Jack Sloan (D – 94 – 5-9-14), Trevor Stone (F – 96 – 10-16-26 – New Jersey Hitmen), Oliver Takacsi-Nagy (F – 95 – 4-6-10), Igor Vladykovsky (F – 95 – 3-2-5), Logan Wendling (F – 95 – 8-12-10 – Kenai River), Ji Young Li (D – 95 – 2-4-6)

Arriving: Mike Behm (F – 96 – 5th in ’14), Jason Dhooghe (F – 97 – 19-8-27 – Chicago Mission – Ohio State), Victor Ekk (F – 97 – 6-4-10 – Nacka), Tim Faulkner (D – 96 – 1-9-10 – St. Louis Amateur Blues), TJ Freidmann (F – 98 – 16-14-30 – St. Louis Selects), Petr Kuznetsov (D – 97 – 5-12-17 – Okanagan Hockey Academy), Trevor Jestadt (F – 96 – 16-19-35 – Soo Indians), Matt Long (F – 97 – 11-13-24 – Chicago Young Americans), Joey Lupo (F – 95 – 9-11-20 – St. Louis Selects), Andrew McGlynn (F – 97 – 16-19-35 – St. Louis Jr. Blues), Dryden McKay (G – 97 – 6th in ’14), Brian Rigali (F – 97 – 7th in ’14), Anthony Scarsella (D – 96 – 4-16-20 – St. Mary’s Prep), Brady Tomlak (F – 96 – 2-12-14 – Victory Honda)

NCAA Recruits: Jason Dhooghe (F – 97 – 19-8-27 – Chicago Mission – Ohio State)

Rights Held: Robby Jackson (F – 97 – 10th in ’12 – Chicago Steel – St. Cloud State), Danny Lopez (F – 94 – 3rd in ’12 – New Jersey Hitmen – Holy Cross), Griffin Molino (F – 94 – 4th in ’13 – Muskegon – Western Michigan)

Prediction: Sixth in North Division (This is probably the youngest team in the league, and while I think they should do well, having a lack of 94′s and breaking in so many new guys may prove to be the Blues undoing.)

Jasen Fernler

Topeka RoadRunners

Last Season: Second in South Division (39-15-8) – Lost 2-1 to Austin in Robertson Cup Semis

Departing: Avni Berisha (D – 94 – 0-14-14 – Sioux City), PJ Bridges (G – 93 – 1.54 – 26-5-3 – Western Michigan), Cody Champagne (D – 94 – 7-16-23 – Alabama-Huntsville), Clint Garris (D – 93 – 5-6-11), Jake Kamrass (F – 94 – 24-35-59 – UMass-Lowell), Phillip Middleton (D – 95 – 1-1-2 – Salmon Arm), Tomas Nechala (D – 93 – 4-13-17), Tyler Poulsen (F – 93 – 29-31-61 – Alabama-Huntsville), James Ring (F – 93 – 12-20-32), Andrew Roye (D – 95 – 5-16-21 – Bloomington), Jerad Tafoya (F – 93 – 8-15-23), Michal Uhrik (F – 93 – 9-13-22 – Liptovsky)

Arriving: Daniel Brickley (D – 95 – 1st in ’14), Dawson DiPietro (F – 95 – 11-26-37 – Belle Tire), Beau Dommer (F – 95 – 6-13-19 – Colorado Thunderbirds), Joe Hall (F – 95 – 8-11-19 – Belle Tire), Tyler Hayes (D – 96 – 7-13-20 – Brighton), Tyler Irvine (F  – 96 – 26-54-80 – Livonia Stevenson), Seth Kamrass (D – 95 – 3-11-14 – Atlanta Fire), Jack Kelly (D – 97 – 1-0-1 – Cleveland Barons), Dominic Lutz (F – 96 – 43-38-81 – Livonia Stevenson), Luka Maver (F – 97 – 24-22-46 – Ljubljana), Ted Rotenberger (D – 96 – 0-4-4 – TPH Thunder – Alabama-Huntsville), Cam Strong (F – 95 – 12-14-26 – Colorado Rampage), Matej Tomek (G – 97 – 2.34 – N/A – SKP Poprad)

NCAA Recruits: Shawn Brennan (D – 96 – 0-3-3 – Merrimack), Ted Rotenberger (D – 96 – 0-4-4 – TPH Thunder – Alabama-Huntsville), Drew Vogler (G – 96 – 2.30 – 10-9-2 – Merrimack)

Rights Held: N/A

Prediction: Second in South Division (Topeka’s is usually a pretty consistent team in the NAHL, and I expect nothing different this year. They have a ton of guys coming back, and they also have a player from Japan in forward Yu Hikosaka. What’s not to like.)

David Polowski

Wenatchee Wild

Last Season: Third in Midwest Division (29-23-8) – Lost 3-2 to Fairbanks in Midwest Finals

Departing: Alex Bontje (D – 94 – 0-5-5 – Robert Morris), Gadel Gumerov (F – 95 – 4-9-13 – Reaktor Nizhnekamsk), Brendan Harris (F – 96 – 5-12-17 – St. Cloud State), Gustaf Johansson (G – 93 – 2.39 – 10-6-1 – Tierps) Chris Jones (D – 96 – 0-8-8 – Green Bay), Chris Koukis (F – 96 – 4-6-10), Troy Loggins (F – 95 – 23-30-53 – Sioux Falls – Northern Michigan), Omar Mullan (F – 93 – 12-22-34), Matthew Nuttle (D – 95 – 4-27-31 – Bloomington),  Chase Perry (G – 95 – 2.34 – 15-12-6 – Colorado College – Detroit), Austin Priebe (G – 93 – 3.02 – 6-12-1 – Air Force), Alex Rauter (F – 94 – 6-6-12 – Cornell), Nicholas Rivera (F – 96 – 18-9-27 – Omaha), River Rymsha (D – 96 – 4-12-16 – Dartmouth), Christian Salvato (D – 93 – 1-20-21), Brandon Schrader (D – 94 – 1-2-3), Parker Tuomie (F – 95 – 24-25-49 – Sioux Falls – Minnesota State-Mankato)

Arriving: Dan Bailey (D – 96 – 2nd in ’14), Shane Bennett (F – 95 – 2-8-10 – Summerland), Johan Blomquist (G – 95 – 1.91 – N/A – Northwood School), Ivan Bondarenko (F – 97 – 5th in ’14), Stevie Bryant (F – 97 – N/A – Arizona Bobcats), Colin Burston (F – 97 – 20-24-44 – Notre Dame Argos), Soren Colstrup (F – 96 – 10th in ’14), Logan Fauber (D – 97 – 4th in ’14), Alex Forbes (F – 96 – 11-14-25 – OHA Mavericks), Jacob Hamacher (F – 97 – 14-26-40 – Wilkes Barre/Scranton Knights), Damon Hanson (F – 95 – 23-34-57 – Helena), David Lappin (F – 95 – 3-6-9 – Brockville), Jacob Lijeroos (F – 96 – 3-15-18 – Nacka HK), Anthony Mangano (F – 96 – 0-0-0 – Little Caesars), Donovan Ott (F – 97 – 8-11-19 – Selects Hockey Academy – Cornell), Tyler Rockwell (D – 96 – 8-31-39 – Shattuck St. Mary’s), Andrew Rohkohl (G – 96 – 1.84 – 23-4-1 – Edina) Lane Valimont (D – 94 – 11th in ’14)

NCAA Recruits: Donovan Ott (F – 97 – 8-11-19 – Selects Hockey Academy – Cornell)

Rights Held: Taylor Maruva (F – 96 – 7th in ’13 – Salmon Arm – Army), Janik Moser (F – 95 – 8th in ’13 – Muskegon – Ohio State), Matt Nelson (D – 94 – 2nd in ’13 – Omaha – Princeton), Jacob Pritchard (F – 95 – 12th in ’13 – Powell River – St. Lawrence), Matt Serratore (F – 94 – 18th in ’13 – Penticton – Air Force)

Prediction: Fourth in South Division (They’ve moved to the South Division this year, and while they aren’t in bad shape, I don’t think the Wild have enough firepower to match the other teams in the division. I do like the forwards though, especially with the number of 97′s they have.)

Colin Staub

Wichita Falls Wildcats

Last Season: Fourth in South Division (31-25-4) – Lost 3-0 to Amarillo in South Semis

Departing: Kyle Bauman (F – 93 – 21-20-41 – Bemidji State), Kristaps Bazevics (D – 94 – 1-5-6 – Assat), Josh Haverstrom (F – 93 – 11-14-25 – UMass-Boston), Alfred Johansson (F – 93 – 2-3-5 – Marian), Rudy Junda (F – 93 – 11-14-25 – Denver), Jack Kelly (D – 97 – 0-2-2), Andrew Kerr (D – 95 – 1-10-11 – Dubuque), Todd Koritzinsky (F – 93 – 8-15-23), Ben Kucera (F – 95 – 12-19-31 – Air Force), Tyler Ledford (F – 94 – 9-31-40 – Air Force), Josh Owings (D – 96 – 0-2-2), Sam Piazza (D – 94 – 11-26-37 – Michigan), Stan Sojka (F – 93 – 1-4-5), Kirk Van Arkel (F – 93 – 7-6-13), Will Vosejpka (F – 94 – 19-19-38 – Air Force)

Arriving: Austin Albrecht (F – 96 – 18-10-28 – New Jersey Rockets), Tommy Apap (F – 96 – 5th in ’14), Austin Beaulieu (F – 96 – 1st in ’14 – Alabama-Huntsville), Kevin Charyszyn (F – 96 – 19-18-37 – Philadelphia Jr. Flyers), Alex Falconer (F – 96 – 8-11-19 – Shattuck St. Mary’s), Austin Hingtgen (D – 95 – 4-4-8 – Lake Forest Academy), Erich Jaeger (F – 96 – 16-22-38 – Missoula), Cam Knight (D – 95 – N/A – Lawrence Academy – Alabama-Huntsville), Shane Kuzemski (D – 96 – N/A – Northwood School), Daniel LaFontaine (F – 95 – 3-9-12 – Buffalo Jr. Sabres – Canisius), Jonathan Lazarus (F – 96 – 15-16-31 – New Jersey Rockets), Nikita Litvyak (F – 95 – 23-28-51 – Bradford), Cole Nichols (D – 95 – 11th in ’14), Turk Scatliff (D – 94 – 1-16-17 – Bradford), Austin Shaw (G – 96 – 7th in ’14), Paul Soubry (F – 95 – 6-4-10 – Flin Flon), Wilson Vershay (D – 95 – 3-2-5 – Buffalo Jr. Sabres)

NCAA Recruits: Austin Beaulieu (F – 96 – 1st in ’14 – Alabama-Huntsville), Cam Knight (D – 95 – N/A – Lawrence Academy – Alabama-Huntsville), Daniel LaFontaine (F – 95 – 3-9-12 – Buffalo Jr. Sabres – Canisius), Evan Okeley (F – 95 – 4-13-17 – Air Force)

Rights Held: Henry Hart (F – 94 – 1st in ’13 – Phillips Academy – Yale), Bryce Hatten (D – 97 – 12th in ’14 – Cedar Rapids – Miami)

Prediction: First in South Division (They have a lot of new guys coming in, including some NCAA recruits, and both goalies are back from a year ago. For me, that’s good enough for a division crown and an improvement over the 2013/14 season.)

NAHL Fight

NAHL Standings

Central Division

  1. Bismarck Bobcats
  2. Minot Minotauros
  3. Austin Bruins
  4. Brookings Blizzard
  5. Aberdeen Wings

Midwest Division

  1. Fairbanks Ice Dogs
  2. Minnesota Wilderness
  3. Minnesota Magicians
  4. Coulee Region Chill
  5. Kenai River Brown Bears

North Division

  1. Soo Eagles
  2. Keystone Ice Miners
  3. Janesville Jets
  4. Michigan Warriors
  5. Johnstown Tomahawks
  6. Springfield Jr. Blues

South Division

  1. Wichita Falls Wildcats
  2. Topeka RoadRunners
  3. Lone Star Brahmas
  4. Wenatchee Wild
  5. Corpus Christi IceRays
  6. Rio Grande Killer Bees
  7. Amarillo Bulls
  8. Odessa Jackalopes

Evan Giesler

Top Scorer: Evan Giesler (Giesler is the highest point getter coming back from last year with 42 points, and with Bismarck getting a ton of high school scorers, that should help him increase his point output.)

Soo Eagles

Coach Of The Year: Bruno Bragagnolo (Other than a small thumbnail, no photo of Bruno exists on the internets, which is sort of weird. Anyways, Bruno has always done a good job with the Eagles since he took them over in the NOJHL in 2010/11, and I’m expecting this team to have a huge bounce back year.)

Dudley Hewitt Cup, Central Canadian Jr "A" Championship. Toronto Lakeshore Patriots vs. Fort Francis Lakers.

Rookie Of The Year: Lucas DeBenedet (Time for some SIJHL bias. Lucas had a ton of points both in Fort Frances and at International Falls High School across the border. He arguably should have won both the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the SIJHL last year, and I expect him to take his scoring skills straight to Minot.)

Alex Archibald

Top Defenceman: Alex Archibald (Not only is Alex a pretty solid defender, but he’s also the brother of former OHLer Brandon Archibald. That’s good enough for me.)

Chase Munroe

Top Goalie: Chase Munroe (Since I have the Wildcats doing well this year, I figured I should go with one of their two netminders as my pick for this award. I took the younger of the two netminders, mainly because I think he can get even better with a stronger lineup.)

Evan Giesler 2

Most Valuable Player: Evan Giesler (I talked about Giesler a lot earlier in my pick for top scorer, and I have the same reasoning here for my MVP pick. To be fair though, I’m expecting that a rookie to the league will end up taking it in the end, but it’s hard for me to just take a stab in the dark there.)

Fairbanks Bismarck

NAHL Champions: Fairbanks Ice Dogs over Bismarck Bobcats (There’s four or five teams that I can see winning the title, but in the end, I’ll stick with last year’s champs. In order to be the man, you have to beat the man, and this year’s championship is going to run right through Fairbanks.)


2014/15 QMJHL Preview

Vald'or Champions

As the host league for the 2015 edition of the Memorial Cup, the latest campaign in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League seems rather straight-forward.

The dominant teams of the past couple years in Halifax and Baie-Comeau look set to drop off, and the defending champions from Val-d’Or are seemingly set for a championship hang-over despite an opening night victory over Rouyn-Noranda on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Rimouski and Quebec seem set to be on a collision course as the top dogs in the league, especially with the Remparts hosting the best teams in major junior hockey come next May.

So how do I see things playing out? Well, since this is the one CHL league I don’t know very well, it will probably be the opposite of what I have for you below.

Andrew Ryan

Acadie-Bathurst Titan

Last Season: Fourth in Maritimes Division – Fourteenth in QMJHL (22-40-4-2) – Lost 4-0 to Val-d’Or in First Round

Departing: Matthew Boudreau (F – 93 – 15-30-45), Vytal Cote (F – 95 – 2-4-6 – Val-d’Or), Simon Fortier (F – 95 – 8-4-12 – Drummondville), Lucas Grundy (D – 93 – 3-2-5), Liam Hynes (F – 96 – 1-1-2), Grant Janes (F – 96 – 1-0-1), Raphael Lafontaine (F – 94 – 14-17-31 – Sherbrooke), Scott Oke (F – 93 – 17-23-40 – Concordia), Jake Primeau (D – 94 – 1-3-4), Riley Scott (F – 97 – 1-0-1), Alexandros Soumakis (F – 94 – 19-19-38), Miguel Sullivan (G – 95 – 4.08 – 1-4-1 – Cape Breton), Patrick Walsh (F – 94 – 4-10-14)

Arriving: Bronson Beaton (F – 95 – 5-16-21 – Cape Breton), Raphael Corriveau (F – 94 – 23-15-38 – Cape Breton), Jacob Garon-Landry (D – 97 – 8-13-21 – Sherbrooke Harfangs), Alexandre Lagace (G – 97 – 8th in ’14), Nathan Medeiros (F – 96 – 18-25-43 – Omaha U18 Lancers), Juraj Mily (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Egor Popov (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Andrew Ryan (F – 94 – 27-28-55 – Halifax), Mark Simpson (F – 95 – 8-12-20 – Moncton), Jeffrey Truchon-Viel (F – 97 – Sherbrooke’s 4th in ’13 – College Antoine-Griouard), Tucker White (D – 96 – 0-2-2 – Moncton)

NHL Prospects: N/A

Rights Held:  Jamie Armstrong (F – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Northeastern), Ryan Dmowski (F – 97 – 10th in ’14 – UMass-Lowell), Erik Foley (F – 97 – 10th in ’14 – Providence), Frederic Foulem (G – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Harvard), Ara Nazarian (F – 96 – 8th in ’12 – New Hampshire)

Prediction: Sixth in Maritimes Division (For a team that doesn’t have a whole lot to begin with, there is still isn’t a whole lot here. Corriveau and Ryan are two nice pickups to have at forward, but the rest of the squad leaves a lot to be desired, for now at least.)

Baie Comeau Drakkar v Drummondville Voltigeurs

Baie-Comeau Drakkar

Last Season: First in East Division – First in QMJHL (47-16-2-3) – Lost 4-3 to Val-d’Or in Finals

Departing: Alec Jon Banville (F – 94 – 8-10-18), Alexandre Chenevert (D – 93 – 3-10-13 – McGill), Felix Girard (F – 94 – 11-32-43 – Nashville), Denis Gorbunov (F – 94 – 21-30-51 – Yugra), Robbie Graham (F – 94 – 4-9-13), Nick Halagian (F – 95 – 4-1-5), Charles Hudon (F – 94 – 26-50-76 – Montreal), Simon Lemieux (G – 94 – 2.54 – 11-3-2), Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau (F – 95 – 16-19-35 – Chicoutimi – San Jose), Charles Poulin (F – 94 – 8-9-17), Dominic Poulin (D – 94 – 15-22-37 – McGill), Alexander Ranger (F – 95 – 21-25-46 – Chicoutimi) Francis Turbide (D – 93 – 2-12-14 – Concordia), Gabriel Verpaelst (D – 93 – 9-19-28 – Bakersfield)

Arriving: Dmitri Ambrozheichik (F – 95 – ’14 Import Draft), Jasmin Boutet (F – 95 – 2-10-12 – Chicoutimi), Simon Chevrier (F – 97 – 9th in ’14), Luca Ciampini (F – 94 – 15-26-41 – Halifax), Jamie Clavet (F – 97 – 10th in ’14), Andrew Cordssen-David (D – 97 – 12-31-43 – Shattuck St. Mary’s), Mathieu Desautels (D – 95 – 6-23-29 – Gloucester), Daniel DiCristofaro (D – 97 – N/A – North York Rangers), Vincent Lavoie (F – 97 – 4th in ’14), Tobie Paquette-Bisson (D – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Saint-Eustache) Reilly Pickard (G – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Antoine Pouliot (F – 96 – 5th in ’12 – Levis), Skylar Strumas (D – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Lac St-Louis), Samuel Thibault (D – 96 – 11th in ’13 – Princeville)

NHL Prospects: Alexis Vanier (D – 95 – 15-21-36 – San Jose), Valentin Zykov (F – 95 – 23-40-63 – Los Angeles)

Rights Held: Ryan Bliss (D – 96 – 7th in ’12 – Cornell), Anthony Wyse (D – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Dartmouth)

Prediction: Fourth in East Division (Although Zykov, Vanier, forward Jeremy Gregoire, and goaltender Philippe Cadorette are still around, the Drakkar still had to replace four players on defence from last year’s team that had the best record in the league. Plus, with Head Coach Eric Veilleux moving on to the Norfolk Admirals and the possible hang-over of losing two straight league finals, the Drakkar may fall down to earth a bit this season.)

Danick Martel

Blainville-Boisbriand Armada

Last Season: Second in West Division – Fifth in QMJHL (41-17-5-5) – Lost 4-3 to Baie-Comeau in Semis

Departing: Federic Bergeron (F – 94 – 19-19-38), Matthew Boucher (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Drummondville), Matthew Bursey (F – 94 – 5-10-15), Christopher Clapperton (F – 94 – 26-36-62 – Rimouski – Florida), Robert Dray (F – 96 – 1-0-1), Antoine Durfort-Plante (F – 96 – 4-2-6), Samuel Hodhod (F – 94 – 18-40-58 – Chicoutimi), Aaron Hoyles (D – 94 – 2-16-18 – Sherbrooke), Etienne Marcoux (G – 93 – 2.84 – 26-15-7 – Utah), Olivier Picard (D – 93 – 7-19-26 – Toledo), Marc-Olivier Roy (F – 94 – 14-21-35 – Quebec – Edmonton), Philippe Sanche (F – 95 – 10-31-41), Joseph Strong (F – 95 – 0-1-1 – Chicoutimi), Ryan Tesink (F – 93 – 13-23-36 – St. Louis)

Arriving: Morgan Adams-Moisan (F – 97 – 4th in ’14), Alexandre Delisile-Houlde (F – 96 – 3-4-7 – Shawinigan), Michael Fratangelo (D – 95 – 5-19-24 – Saint-Leonard), Brendan Hamelin (F – 97 – 4th in ’13 – College Esther-Blondin), Tyler Hylland (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Alex Katerinakis (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Colin MacSween (F – 96 – 8th in ’13 – Saint John Vito’s), TJ Melancon (D – 96 – 2-16-18 – Cobourg), Yves Mongo (F – 97 – 2nd in ’13  – Gatineau L’Intrepide), Miguel Picard (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Fabrizio Ricci (F – 95 – 13-16-29 – Trenton), Charlie Roy (D – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Saint-Eustache), Pierre-Luc Sanche (F – 97 – 11-11-22 – Chateauguay), Olivier Schingh-Gomez (F – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Gatineau L’Intrepide), Marc-Antoine Turcotte (G – 95 – 4.84 – 10-12-2 – Vaudreuil-Dorion), Guillaume Viens (D – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Lachine)

NHL Prospects: Daniel Walcott (D – 94 – 10-29-39 – NY Rangers)

Rights Held: Philippe Bureau-Blais (D – 95 – 10th in ’14 – Bowling Green), Cameron Lee (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Providence), Jason Kalinowski (F – 95 – 13th in ’12 – New Hampshire), David Kase (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – Chomutov), Liam Pecararo (F – 96 – 7th in ’12 – Maine)

Prediction: Sixth in West Division (As of writing, the Armada still have five overagers on their roster, and almost half of their team are newcomers to the squad. With so many question marks on the team, and with the overagers probably going to be sold off like many of them were during the off-season, it might be a rough year for this squad.)

Maxim Lazarev

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles

Last Season: Second in Maritimes Division – Ninth in QMJHL (37-27-1-3) – Lost 4-0 to Gatineau in First Round

Departing: Bronson Beaton (F – 95 – 5-16-21 – Acadie-Bathurst), Jeremy Beaudry (D – 93 – 19-34-53 – Allen), Alex Bureau (G – 96 – 3.78 – 21-16-3 – Sherbrooke), Raphael Corriveau (F – 94 – 23-15-38 – Acadie-Bathurst), Cameron Darcy (F – 94 – 25-47-82 – Tampa Bay), Guillaume Gauthier (F – 95 – 17-36-53 – Quebec), Justin Hache (D – 94 – 5-41-46 – Arizona), Max Lindsay (F – 94 – 3-5-8), Michael Lyle (F – 95 – 3-7-10 – Weeks), Chase Marchand (G – 95 – 2.85 – 5-6-0 – Victoriaville), Stephen Woodworth (D – 93 – 1-11-12 – Acadia)

Arriving: Dillon Bouchier (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Halifax McDonald’s), Francois Brassard (G – 94 – 2.95 – 28-12-9 – Quebec), Jonathan Deschamps (D – 96 – 0-3-3 – Sherbrooke), Pierre-Luc Dubois (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Mason Gray (F – 2-0-2 – Shawinigan), Phelix Martineau (F – 97 – 5th in ’14), Duncan MacIntyre (D – 96 – 2-9-11 – Quebec), Matthew Paul (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Fredericton Canadiens), Miguel Sullivan (G – 95 – 4.08 – 1-4-1 – Acadie-Bathurst), Evgeny Svechnikov (F – 96 – ’13 Import Draft – AK Bars Kazan), Colby Tower (F – 98 – 1st in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Clark Bishop (F – 96 – 8-14-22 – Carolina), Julien Pelletier (F – 96 – 25-25-50 – Columbus)

Rights Held: Mike Lee (D – 96 – 14th in ’14 – Vermont), Michael O’Leary (F – 98 – 1st in ’14 – Cornell), Billy Sweezey (D – 96 – 13th in ’14 – Yale), James Winkler (F – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Northeastern)

Prediction: First in Maritimes Division (Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel like this team’s pretty underrated at the moment. Okay, maybe I’m biased because they have two Russian forwards, but they should score a number of goals, and Francois Brassard could prove to be a great pickup in goal. The defence might be the one issue to some, but all but two of the players have QMJHL experience, so I don’t think that will be a major problem. Keep an eye on this team as a possible sleeper this year.)

Daniel Sprong

Charlottetown Islanders

Last Season: Fifth in Maritimes Division – Fifteenth in QMJHL (21-39-3-5) – Lost 4-0 to Halifax in First Round

Departing: Liam Alcalde (F – 95 – 0-1-1), Zach Beaton (F – 95 – 2-1-3), Eric Brassard (G – 95 – 3.56 – 7-20-1 – Quebec), Anthony Cortese (D – 94 – 8-25-33), Michael DiPaolo (D – 94 – 0-4-4), Kevin Laliberte (D – 96 – 0-13-13 – Drummondville), Vladislav Lysenko (D – 95 – 1-10-11 – Vityaz Podolsk), Craig MacLauchlan (F – 94 – 2-4-6), Robert Pelletier (F – 94 – 4-12-16), Troy Vance (D – 93 – 8-21-29 – Dallas), Nathan Yetman (F – 96 – 1-2-3)

Arriving: Mitchell Balmas (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Filip Chlapik (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), David Comeau (F – 97 – 11th in ’14), Olivier Cooper (F – 95 – 28-29-57 – Saint John), Keith Getson (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Samuel Guilbault (D – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Ross Johnston (F – 94 – 10-15-25 – Victoriaville), Daryl MacCallum (G – 96 – 3.81 – 4-13-0 – Charlottetown Midget Islanders), Ryan MacKinnon (D – 94 – 4-18-22 -Rimouski), Filip Rydstrom (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Lucas Sangster (D – 97 – 5th in ’14), Will Thompson (D – 97 – 3-7-10 – Saint John), Dexter Weber (D – 95 – 2-20-22 – Drummondville)

NHL Prospects: Mason McDonald (G – 96 – 3.44 – 8-15-3 – Calgary)

Rights Held: Joshua Courturier (D – 95 – 10th in ’12 – Northeastern), Ace Cowans (F – 96 – 14th in ’14 – Vermont), Mitchell Vanderlaan (F – 95 – 11th in ’12 – Cornell)

Prediction: Third in Maritimes Division (After a youth movement of sorts in the second half of last season, and with McDonald and Sprong leading the way, Charlottetown should be a lot better this year. However, I don’t think they will be a legit contender until next year, when McDonald will be in his final junior season and Sprong will more than likely be coming off of being a high draft pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.)

Nicolas Roy

Chicoutimi Sagueneens

Last Season: Fifth in East Division – Thirteenth in QMJHL (27-40-1-0) – Lost 4-0 to Rimouski in First Round

Departing: Philippe Archambault (D – 93 – 4-4-8), Dominic Beauchemin (F – 93 – 25-28-53 – Moncton), Ludovic Beaupre (F – 94 – 0-3-3), Jasmin Boutet (F – 95 – 2-10-12 – Baie-Comeau), Jeremy Carignan (F – 95 – 2-5-7), Domenic Graham (G – 94 – 3.69 – 17-13-0), Eric Leger (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Moncton), Julien Lepage (D – 94 – 2-9-11 – Cowichan Valley), Victor Provencher (F – 93 – 9-16-25 – Concordia), David Storto (F – 95 – 4th in ’12 – St. Paul’s School), Simon Tremblay (F – 94 -11-14-25)

Arriving: Sebastien Dube-Rochon (G – 95 – 4.04 – 21-20-1 – Terrebonne), Charles Guevremont (F – 95 – 35-58-93 – Saint-Jerome), Reid Halabi (F – 95 – 2-4-6 – Moncton), Alexandre Leclerc (F – 94 – 3-12-15 – Rouyn-Noranda), Brian Lovell (D – 95 – 1-5-6 – Halifax), Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau (F – 95 – 16-19-35 – Baie-Comeau – San Jose), Alexandre Ranger (F – 95 – 21-25-46 – Baie-Comeau), Landon Schiller (F – 95 – 12-17-29 – Cobourg), Joseph Strong (F – 95 – 0-1-1 – Blainville-Boisbriand)

NHL Prospects: Laurent Dauphin (F – 95 – 24-30-54 – Arizona), Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau (F – 95 – 16-19-35 – Baie-Comeau – San Jose)

Rights Held: William Brophy (D – 96 – 13th in ’14 – Holy Cross), Eddie Ellis (F – 95 – 14th in ’12 – Harvard), Connor Light (F – 95 – 13th in ’12 – Union)

Prediction: Third in East Division (It’s a bit of a bummer that Chicoutimi is in the same division as Quebec and Rimouski, because this is quite a good team. They have a ton of 95′s at forward, and Julio Billia might have a better season in goal, which should give them a chance to be one of the top seeds in the playoffs. But if they face the Oceanic or Remparts in the spring, that might be as far as they get.)

Jerome Verrier

Drummondville Voltigeurs

Last Season: Third in West Division – Sixth in QMJHL (43-21-1-3) – Lost 4-2 to Val-d’Or in Quarters

Departing: Cameron Askew (F – 97 – 5-9-14 – Moncton), Matthew Boudens (F – 93 – 24-35-59 – New Brunswick), Nikolas Brouillard (D – 95 – 12-49-61 – Quebec), Olivier Caouette (F – 94 – 15-13-28 – Shawinigan), William Carrier (F – 94 – 22-43-65 – Buffalo), Ryan Culkin (D – 93 – 8-42-50 – Calgary), Matthew Donnelly (D – 95 – 3-3-6), Frederick Gaudreau (F – 93 – 32-39-71 – Milwaukee), Alexandre Grand-Maison (F – 94 – 14-7-21), Felix Landry (F – 95 – 0-2-2), Dexter Weber (D – 95 – 2-20-22 – Charlottetown)

Arriving: Alex Barre-Boulet (F – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Levis), Matthew Boucher (F – 97 – Blainville-Boisbriand’s 7th in ’13 – Seminaire St-Francois), Marc-Antoine Bouillon (F – 95 – Quebec’s 5th in ’11 – College Lionel-Groulx), Trevor Bush (D – 97 – 8-7-15 – Ridley College), Michael Carcone (F – 96 – 12-25-37 – Stouffville), Justin Doucet (F – 97 – 3rd in ’14), Simon Fortier (F – 95 – 8-4-12 – Acadie-Bathurst), Benjamin Gagne (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Kevin Laliberte (D – 96 – 0-13-13 – Charlottetown), Hunter Leishman (F – 96 – 9-14-23 – Fort Frances), Philippe Pelletier-Leblanc (F – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Gatineau L’Intrepide), Mathieu Sevigny (F – 98 – 1st in ’14)

NHL Prospects: N/A

Rights Held: Mark Dufour (F – 95 – 13th in ’12 – Union), Jake McCarthy (D – 96 – 14th in ’13 – UMass)

Prediction: Third in West Division (This is an interesting team for me, and not just because they have a player from Fort Frances on the roster. The squad is fairly young on both forward and defence, but they have two 1995-born goalies who had strong seasons a year ago. If the duo of Joe Fleschler and Louis-Philip Guindon match their performances from last season, the team might end up higher in the West than I have predicted.)

Anthony Brodeur

Gatineau Olympiques

Last Season: Fourth in West Division – Eighth in QMJHL (41-23-1-3) – Lost 4-1 to Halifax in Quarters

Departing: Taylor Burke (F – 94 – 22-26-48 – Quebec), Alexandre Chenier-Allard (D – 94 – 7-9-16), Jean-Simon Deslauriers (D – 95 – 5-12-17), Vincent Dunn (F – 95 – 31-20-51 – Rimouski – Ottawa), Felix Gagnon (F – 97 – 0-1-1), Tommy Lapierre (F – 96 – 4-5-9), Emile Poirier (F – 94 – 43-44-87 – Calgary), Martin Reway (F – 95 – 20-42-62 – Sparta Prague – Montreal), Frank Schumacher (D – 93 – 9-18-27), Derek Sheppard (F – 94 – 7-6-13 – York), Brandon Smith (D – 96 – 0-4-4), Robert Steeves (G – 93 – 3.19 – 28-13-2 – Acadia), Adam Stevens (F – 94 – 16-25-41 – St. Francis Xavier), Simon Tardif-Richard (F – 93 – 18-24-42 – McGill)

Arriving: Alexandre Alain (F – 97 – 1st in ’13 – St-Francois Blizzard), Pascal Laberge (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Louick Marcotte (F – 94 – 42-58-100 – Val-d’Or), Gabriel Parent (G – 96 – 5.42 – 1-11-3 – Sherbrooke), Felix Paquet (F – 97 – 7th in ’14), Phil Pietroniro (D – 94 – 6-11-17 – Val-d’Or), Joey Richard (F – 96 – 3-2-5 – Saint John), Matt Sartoris (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Yakov Trenin (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Fraser Turner (D – 95 – 3-5-8 – Pembroke), Benoit Villeneuve (D – 96 – Val-d’Or’s 5th in ’12 – Gatineau L’Intrepide), Noah Zilbert (F – 95 – 16-8-24 – Saint John)

NHL Prospects: Anthony Brodeur (G – 95 – 2.90 – 13-10-2 – New Jersey), Vaclav Karabacek (F – 96 – 21-26-47 – Buffalo), Alexis Pepin (F – 96 – 17-17-34 – Colorado)

Rights Held: Tyler Drevitch (F – 95 – 13th in ’12 – Merrimack), Benjamin Freeman (F – 96 – 12th in ’13 – UConn)

Prediction: First in West Division (For me, this is the clear-cut favourite to win the West Division title. Getting both Marcotte and Pietroniro from Val-d’Or are good veteran pickups to go with the high amount of 1996-born players in the lineup, and Anthony Brodeur should have a good season as the main starter. They aren’t on the same level as the elite teams in the league, but Gatineau should be a legit threat to make the semi-finals.)

Zach Fucale

Halifax Mooseheads

Last Season: First in Maritimes Division – Second in QMJHL (47-18-0-3) – Lost 4-3 to Val-d’Or in Semis

Departing: Brent Andrews (F – 93 – 28-41-69 – UPEI), Darcy Ashley (F – 93 – 30-50-80 – UPEI), Brennan Bailey (F – 94 – 0-2-2), Luca Ciampini (F – 94 – 15-26-41 – Baie-Comeau), Kevin Darveau (G – 94 – 3.30 – 11-9-0), Jonathan Drouin (F – 95 – 29-79-108 – Tampa Bay), Brendan Duke (D – 93 – 3-14-17), Jacob Jacques (D – 96 – 2-5-7), Brian Lovell (D – 95 – 1-5-6 – Chicoutimi), Andrew Ryan (F – 94 – 27-28-55 – Acadie-Bathurst), MacKenzie Weegar (D – 94 – 12-47-59 – Florida)

Arriving: Kelly Bent (F – 95 – 4-2-6 – Saint John), Brett Crossley (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Cavan Fitzgerald (D – 96 – 9-24-33 – Summerside), Josh Fitzgerald (D – 96 – 7-16-23 – Central Ice Pak), Taylor Ford (D – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Lac St. Louis), Maxime Fortier (F – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Lac St-Louis), Jordan King (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Western Kings), Morgan Nauss (D – 98 – 5th in ’14), Kevin Resop (G – 97 – 9th in ’14), Jean-Sebastien Taillefer (D – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Chateauguay)

NHL Prospects: Nikolaj Ehlers (F – 96 – 49-55-104 – Winnipeg), Zach Fucale (G – 95 – 2.26 – 36-9-3 – Montreal)

Rights Held: Bob Carpenter (F – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Boston), John Hayden (F – 95 – 12th in ’12 – Yale – Chicago), John Marino (D – 97 – 3rd in ’14 – Yale)

Prediction: Fourth in Maritimes Division (With Nathan MacKinnon now tearing it up for the Colorado Avalanche, and Jonathan Drouin being the pre-season favourite to win the Calder Trophy this year for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the core of the 2013 Memorial Cup champions is all but gone. Zach Fucale is still there, and Nikolaj Ehlers is back for a second season after being drafted by Winnipeg, but it’s a massive drop-off from where they were in the past. A new era may officially start in Halifax sooner rather than later.)

Ivan Barbashev

Moncton Wildcats

Last Season: Third in Maritimes Division – Twelfth in QMJHL (33-32-0-3) – Lost 4-2 to Blainville-Boisbriand in First Round

Departing: Christopher Caissy (F – 93 – 16-27-43 – New Brunswick), JC Campagna (F – 93 – 21-24-45), Dillon Donnelly (D – 93 – 0-10-10), Kyle Haas (D – 94 – 1-9-10 – Woodstock), Reid Halabi (F – 95 – 2-4-6 – Moncton), Josh Pugsley (F – 96 – 6-9-15 – Amherst), Stephan Seeger (F – 96 – 5-6-11), Mark Simpson (F – 95 – 8-12-20 – Acadie-Bathurst), Tucker White (D – 96 – 0-2-2 – Acadie-Bathurst)

Arriving: Cameron Askew (F – 97 – 5-9-14 – Drummondville), Lane Cormier (F – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Weeks), Benji Curtis (F – 96 – 3-7-10 – Dieppe), Eric Leger (F – 97 – Chicoutimi’s 5th in ’13 – College Esther-Blondin), Zachary Malatesta (D – 96 – 11th in ’13 – Boston Jr.), Liam Murphy (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Marcus Tesink (D – 98 – 5th in ’14), Kyle Tibbo (Rouyn-Noranda’s 8th in ’12 – Truro)

NHL Prospects: Ivan Barbashev (F – 95 – 25-43-68 – St. Louis)

Rights Held: Anthony Florentino (D – 95 – 10th in ’12 – Providence – Buffalo), Miles Gendron (D – 96 – 10th in ’13 – UConn – Ottawa), Johnathan MacLeod (D – 96 – 10th in ’13 – Boston – Tampa Bay), Luke McInnis (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Boston College), Frankie Vatrano (F – 94 – 8th in ’11 – UMass), Lewis Zerter (F – 95 – 10th in ’12 – Harvard)

Prediction: Second in Maritimes Division (Like Cape Breton, Moncton has a pair of Russian forwards in Barbashev and Tkachev, so I love them already. Other than that though, this seems like a pretty mid-level team for me. But given the rest of the lineups in the league, they should have home ice advantage in the first round, and may even win their division if they get off to a good start.)

Anthony Dulcair

Quebec Remparts

Last Season: Third in East Division – Seventh in QMJHL (39-17-5-7) – Lost 4-1 to Rouyn-Noranda in First Round

Departing: Olivier Archambault (F – 93 – 19-27-46), Lucas Batt (F – 96 – 5-6-11), Alexandre Bolvin (F – 94 – 4-15-19), Marc-Antoine Bouillon (F – 95 – 5th in ’11 – Drummondville), Francois Brassard (G – 94 – 2.95 – 28-12-9 – Cape Breton), Tyler Brown (F – 95 – 4-4-8), Alexandre Caron-Roy (F – 95 – 3-5-8), Maxime Chevalier (D – 96 – 1-7-8), Francois Godin (D – 93 – 3-34-37 – Concordia), Mikhail Grigorenko (F – 94 – 15-24-39 – Buffalo), Marc-Olivier Groleau (F – 94 – 2-4-6), Fabrice Herzog (F – 94 – 32-36-58 – Zug – Toronto), David Hunter (D – 94 – 1-5-6), Hubert Lamarre (F – 95 – 1-2-3), Francis Lambert-Lemay (D – 93 – 1-6-7 – McGill), Vincent Lanoue (D – 97 – 0-7-7 – Val-d’Or), Duncan MacIntyre (D – 96 – 2-9-11 – Cape Breton), Brandon Shea (F – 95 – 2-3-5 – Windsor), Nick Sorenson (F – 94 – 31-30-61 – Skelleftea – Anaheim)

Arriving: Simon Boudreau (D – 95 – 3-6-9 – Shawinigan), Eric Brassard (G – 95 – 3.56 – 7-20-1 – Charlottetown), Nikolas Brouillard (D – 95 – 12-49-61 – Drummondville), Taylor Burke (F – 94 – 22-26-48 – Gatineau), Giancarlo Fiori (D – 97 – 6th in ’14), Olivier Garneau (F – 98 – 4th in ’14), Guillaume Gauthier (F – 95 – 17-36-53 – Cape Breton), Ryan Graves (D – 95 – 5-17-22 – Val-d’Or – NY Rangers), Nicolas Hebert (F – 96 – 8-5-13 – Saint John), Alexander McQuaid (D – 96 – 0-3-3 – Saint John), Donovan Rehill (F – 97 – 7th in ’14), Marc-Olivier Roy (F – 94 – 14-21-35 – Blainville-Boisbriand – Edmonton), Jesse Sutton (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Olivier Thibodeau (D – 97 – 4th in ’13 – College Esther-Blondin), Dmytro Timashov (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Anthony Dulcair (F – 95 – 50-49-99 – NY Rangers), Adam Erne (F – 95 – 21-41-62 – Tampa Bay), Ryan Graves (D – 95 – 5-17-22 – Val-d’Or – NY Rangers), Marc-Olivier Roy (F – 94 – 14-21-35 – Blainville-Boisbriand – Edmonton)

Rights Held: Joey Dudek (F – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Boston College – New Jersey), Noah Hanifin (D – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Boston College), Vladislav Kamenev (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Metallurg Magnitogorsk – Nashville), Colin White (F – 97 – 9th in ’14 – Boston College), Spenser Young (D – 97 – 14th in ’14 – Providence)

Prediction: Second in East Division (So will this year’s Memorial Cup hosts actually contend for the league championship, or will they be knocked early from the playoffs like Saskatoon and London over the last couple of years? Well, while I was a fan of their forward core, and I think Callum Booth will have a strong year in goal, I wasn’t convinced on their defence. But thanks to grabbing Boudreau, Brouillard, and Graves in trades, this is a team is strong in all aspects of the lineup and are a strong favourite to be in the QMJHL finals. Now if only they can snag Noah Hanifin somehow.)

Fredrik Gauthier

Rimouski Oceanic

Last Season: Second in East Division – Fourth in QMJHL (45-15-3-4) – Lost 4-3 to Blainville-Boisbriand in Quarters

Departing: Samuel Courtemanche (F – 94 – 9-8-17), Ryan MacKinnon (D – 94 – 4-18-22 – Charlottetown), Jimmy Oligny (D – 93 – 7-29-36 – Milwaukee), Felix-Antoine Savage (F – 96 – 4-3-7), Sebastien Sylvestre (F – 93 – 30-46-76), Peter Trainor (F – 93 – 28-34-62 – New Brunswick), Brett Turnbull (F – 94 – 10-16-26), Patrik Zdrahal (F – 95 – 13-19-32 – HC Vitkovice)

Arriving: Christopher Clapperton (F – 94 – 26-36-62 – Blainville-Boisbriand – Florida), Vincent Dunn (F – 95 – 31-20-51 – Gatineau – Ottawa), Samuel Laberge (F – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Chateauguay), Jean-Michel Leblanc (F – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Saint John Vito’s), Hunter Moreau (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Eduard Nasybullin (D – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), Xavier St-Pierre (D – 96 – 12th in ’13 – College Lafleche), Justin Vachon (F – 95 – 0-0-0 – Sherbrooke)

NHL Prospects: Christopher Clapperton (F – 94 – 26-36-62 – Blainville-Boisbriand – Florida), Philippe Desrosiers (G – 95 – 2.65 – 31-14-7 – Dallas), Vincent Dunn (F – 95 – 31-20-51 – Gatineau – Ottawa), Frederik Gauthier (F – 95 – 18-34-52 – Toronto) Jan Kostalek (D – 95 – 5-22-27 – Winnipeg), Loic Leduc (D – 94 – 6-9-15 – NY Islanders), Samuel Morin (D – 95 – 7-24-31 – Philadelphia)

Rights Held: Tyler Bird (F – 96 – 14th in ’13 – Brown – Columbus), Ryan Donato (F – 96 13th in ’13 – Harvard – Boston), Tyler Kelieher (F – 95 – 13th in ’12 – New Hampshire)

Prediction: First in East Division (When the first edition of the CHL Top Ten came out on Wednesday, the Oceanic were the top team on the list, and for good reason. This is a team that is loaded with talented players, and after losing a wild Game 7 to the Armada last season, Rimouski will be hungry to win the title this year. Anything less than a Memorial Cup berth will be a disappointment.)

Alexandre Belanger

Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

Last Season: Fifth in West Division – Tenth in QMJHL (35-28-3-2) – Lost 4-0 to Baie-Comeau in Quarters

Departing: Victor Baldaev (D – 95 – 2-11-13 – Atlant Mytischi), Francis Beauvillier (F – 93 – 22-36-58 – Florida), Jean-Sebastien Dea (F – 94 – 49-26-75 – Pittsburgh), Guillaume Decelles (G – 94 – 2.62 – 9-6-2 – Nanaimo), Jason Fuchs (F – 95 – 14-31-45 – Ambri-Piotta), Alexandre Leclerc (D – 94 – 3-12-15 – Chicoutimi), Jack Nevins (F – 93 – 19-29-48 – Montreal), Liam O’Brien (F – 94 – 20-15-35- Sherbrooke), Marcus Power (F – 93 – 31-78-109), Kyle Tibbo (F – 96 – 8th in ’12 – Moncton)

Arriving: Jeremy Auger (F – 96 – 5-11-6 – Shawinigan), Jean-Christophe Beaudin (F – 97 – 4th in ’13 – College Antoine-Girouard), Jeremy Belisle (G – 97 – 7th in ’13 – College Esther-Blondin), Mathieu Boucher (F – 97 – 4th in ’14), Danil Dolgushkin (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Alexandre Fortin (F – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – College Esther-Blondin), Marc-Antoine Germain (F – 96 – Sherbrooke’s 4th in ’12 – College Lionel-Groulx), Samuel Harvey (G – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Johnny Jones (F – 97 – 5th in ’14), Jacob Neveu (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Alexandre Sills (F – 95 – 8-6-14 – Sherbrooke)

NHL Prospects: Alexandre Belanger (G – 95 – 3.23 – 28-18-3 – Minnesota), Julien Nantel (F – 96 – 14-20-34 – Colorado), Francis Perron (F – 96 – 16-39-55 – Ottawa)

Rights Held: Taggart Corriveau (F – 97 – 13th in ’14 – St. Lawrence), AJ Greer (F – 96 – 11th in ’13 – Boston), Bryan Lemos (F – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Providence), Denis Malgin (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – GCK Lions), Mark Upton (D – 95 – 12th in ’12 – Bates College)

Prediction: Fifth in West Division (This isn’t a bad team, but when you a lose a 109 point player in Marcus Power and watch Jean-Sebastien Dea head off to the pro ranks, it’s hard to replace that kind of offence. I’m expecting the Huskies to be in the middle of the road again this year, though Belanger may help to steal a few games in between the pipes.)

Daniel DelPaggio

Saint John Sea Dogs

Last Season: Sixth in Maritimes Division – Seventeenth in QMJHL (19-44-2-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Michael Abbott (D – 94 – 6-10-16), Stephen Anderson (F – 94 – 11-14-25 – Val-d’Or), Kelly Bent (F – 95 – 4-2-6 – Halifax), Mackenzie Brown (F – 95 – 3-2-5), Jason Cameron (F – 93 – 7-6-13 – St. Thomas), Oliver Cooper (F – 95 – 28-29-57 – Charlottetown), Marcus Cuomo (F – 95 – 4-9-13), Nicolas Hebert (F – 96 – 8-5-13 – Quebec), Jurij Repe (D – 94 – 7-13-20 – AZ Havirov), Joey Richard (F – 96 – 3-2-5 – Gatineau), Will Thompson (D – 97 – 3-7-10 – Charlottetown), Lukas Walter (F – 93 – 0-1-1), David Weckworth (D – 93 – 2-13-15 – Carleton), Noah Zilbert (F – 95 – 16-8-24 – Gatineau)

Arriving: Adam Bateman (D – 95 – 1-7-8 – Windsor), Braydon Blight (D – 95 – 9-20-29 – St. Mary’s), Daniel DelPaggio (F – 96 – 39-69-105 – Thunder Bay), Mitchell Dempsey (F – 95 – 0-5-5 – Kitchener Dutchmen – Boston), Bobby Dugan (G – 97 – 2.05 – 14-3-0 – Buffalo Jr. Sabres), Taylor Fielding (F – 94 – 5-11-16 – Ottawa), Luke Green (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Matthew Green (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Alexander Kealey (F – 97 – 12-16-28 – Ottawa Midget Senators), Nikita Li (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Blade Mann-Dixon (G – 97 – 11th in ’14), Adam Marsh (F – 97 – 6-2-8 – Chicago Young Americans), Julien Tessier (F – 98 – 1st in ’14), Mark Tremaine (F – 94 – 8-22-30 – Victoriaville), Jack VanBoekel (D – 96 – 1-10-11 – Strathroy), Jakub Zbroil (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Mitchell Dempsey (F – 95 – 0-5-5 – Kitchener Dutchmen – Boston), Olivier LeBlanc (D – 96 – 7-26-33 – Columbus)

Rights Held: Jack Eichel (F – 96 – 10th in ’13 – Boston), Drew Michals (D – 95 – 9th in ’12 – Middlebury)

Prediction: Fifth in Maritimes Division (With a roster of OHL rejects, a highly touted first overall pick in Luke Green, and a SIJHL MVP, the Sea Dogs might be the most intriguing team for the 2014/15 season. If Nathan Noel increases his scoring output from his rookie year and the newcomers gel, the Sea Dogs should return to the playoffs, even if #TeamEichel doesn’t come to join them.)

Anthony Beauvillier

Shawinigan Cataractes

Last Season: Sixth in East Division – Sixteenth in QMJHL (20-39-4-5) – Lost 4-0 to Baie-Comeau in First Round

Departing: Jeremy Auger (F – 96 – 5-11-16 – Rouyn-Noranda), Simon Boudreau (D – 95 – 3-6-9 – Quebec), Alexandre Delisle-Houde (F – 96 – 3-4-7 – Blainville-Boisbriand), Bruno-Carl Denis (D – 96 – 1-0-1), Alex Fillatreault (F – 93 – 2-5-7 – UQTR), Mason Gray (F – 95 – 2-0-2 – Cape Breton), Lucas Lajoie (F – 96 – 1-2-3), David Perklin (F – 95 – 2-1-3)

Arriving: Pascal Aquin (F – 97 – Gatineau’s 5th in ’13 – College Esther-Blondin), Olivier Caouette (F – 94 – 15-13-28 – Drummondville), Alex Coulombe (D – 95 – 3-9-12 – Penticton), Samuel Girard (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Antoine Samuel (G – 97 – 3rd in ’13 – Levis), Gabriel Sylvestre (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Dennis Yan (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Dylan Labbe (G – 95 – 9-18-27 – Minnesota)

Rights Held: Matt Filipe (F – 97 – 11th in ’14 – Northeastern), Philippe Klitirinos (F – 95 – 14th in ’12 – Colby College), Samuel Vigneault (F – 95 – 12th in ’12 – Clarkson)

Prediction: Sixth in East Division (The rebuilding process continues for the 2012 Memorial Cup champions, but they’ll probably remain near the bottom of the QMJHL standings. A lot of the players are young and intriguing to see how they develop, and I’m a big fan of second year forward Anthony Beauvillier after seeing him at the Ivan Hlinka camp in Calgary in August. But the one exciting veteran is defender Dylan Labbe, and he’ll probably be dealt for more young players at the deadline.)

Daniel Audette

Sherbrooke Phoenix

Last Season: Sixth in West Division – Eighteenth in QMJHL (16-43-4-5) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Matej Beran (F – 93 – 19-20-39 – HC Plzen), Jonathan Deschamps (D – 96 – 0-3-3 – Cape Berton), Francis Desrosiers (G -93 – 3.68 – 13-22-3 – UQTR), Marc-Antoine Germain (F – 96 – 4th in ’12 – Rouyn-Noranda), Nathan Glass (D – 94 – 2-5-7), Gabriel Labbe (D – 95 – 0-4-4), Jean-Christophe Laflamme (F – 93 – 11-14-25), Mathieu Laverdure (D – 94 – 3-3-6), Cole Murphy (F – 95 – 3-5-8 – Weeks), Gabriel Parent (G – 96 – 5.42 – 1-11-3 – Gatineau), Alexandre Sills (F – 8-6-14 – Rouyn-Noranda), Jeffrey Truchon-Viel (F – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Acadie-Bathurst), Justin Vachon (F – 95 – 0-0-0 – Rimouski)

Arriving: Alex Bureau (G – 94 – 3.78 – 21-16-3 – Cape Breton), Evan Fitzpatrick (G – 98 – 1st in ’14), Thomas Gregoire (G – 98 – 1st in ’14), Aaron Hoyles (D – 94 – 2-16-18 – Blainville-Boisbriand), Raphael Lafontaine (F – 94 – 14-17-31 – Acadie-Bathurst), Liam O’Brien (F – 94 – 20-15-35 – Rouyn-Noranda), Nicolas Poulin (F – 98 – 5th in ’14), Mikael Sabourin (D – 97 – 6th in ’14), Kay Schweri (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft), David Storto (F – 95 – Chicoutimi’s 4th in ’12 – St. Paul’s School)

NHL Prospects: Daniel Audette (F – 96 – 21-55-76 – Montreal)

Rights Held: Cal Burke (F – 97 – 12th in ’14 – Notre Dame), Shane Eiserman (F – 95 – 11th in ’12 – New Hampshire – Ottawa), Casey Fitzgerald (D – 97 – 9th in ’14 – Boston College)

Prediction: Fourth in West Division (In it’s third year of existence, the Phoenix will finally turn the corner this season in my opinion. Okay, it’s not going to be a rise like the Erie Otters, but with Audette and second-year defender Jeremy Roy leading the way, Sherbrooke shouldn’t be a cellar-dweller any more. Also, keep an eye out for first round draft pick Evan Fitzpatrick, who some have said may start in goal for the Phoenix right away.)

Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Val-d’Or Foreurs

Last Season: First in West Division – Third in QMJHL (46-20-1-1) – 2013-14 QMJHL Champions – Lost 4-3 to Edmonton in Memorial Cup Semis

Departing: Antoine Bibeau (G – 94 – 3.17 – 21-18-6 – Toronto), Randy Gazzola (D – 93 – 16-58-74 – New Brunswick), Guillaume Gelinas (D – 93 – 23-69-92 – Minnesota), Thomas Gobeil (F – 94 – 8-10-18 – Cowichan Valley), Maxime Gravel (D – 95 – 0-7-7), Ryan Graves (D – 95 – 5-17-22 – Quebec – NY Rangers), Samuel Henley (F – 93 – 30-39-69 – Colorado), Anthony Mantha (F – 94 – 57-63-120 – Detroit), Louick Marcotte (F – 94 – 42-58-100 – Gatineau), Phil Pietroniro (F – 94 – 6-11-17 – Gatineau), Timotej Sille (F – 95 – 11-17-28 – EC Salzburg), Lukas Sladkovsky (D – 96 – 0-0-0 – Sparta Prague), Benoit Villeneuve (D – 96 – 5th in ’12 – Gatineau)

Arriving: Stephen Anderson (F – 94 – 11-14-25 – Saint John), Guillaume Archambault (F – 96 – 10th in ’13 – Saint-Laurent), Gabriel Bilodeau (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Christopher Cochrane (F – 97 – 9th in ’14), Vytal Cote (F – 95 – 2-4-6 – Acadie-Bathurst), Olivier Desjardins (D – 97 – 6th in ’14), Tyler Higgins (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14), Daniel Krenzelok (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft), Vincent Lanoue (D – 97 – 0-7-7 – Quebec), Etienne Montpetit (G – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Chateauguay), Nathan Tremblay (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Nicolas Aube-Kubel (F – 96 – 22-31-53 – Philadelphia), Keven Bouchard (G – 96 – 2.95 – 17-6-1 – Edmonton)

Rights Held: Damien Riat (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – Malmo)

Prediction: Second in West Division (Although the defending QMJHL champions won’t be quite as loaded as they were last season, they won’t have a drop-off like Shawinigan did after their Memorial Cup trip. Despite losing Anthony Mantha and Guillaume Gelinas to the pro-ranks, Nicolas Aube-Kubel is still around, and Keven Bouchard showed what he could do in a relief effort at the Memorial Cup. The much younger defence might be a problem, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this team makes it into the quarter-finals.)

Cameron Yarwood

Victoriaville Tigres

Last Season: Fourth in East Division – Eleventh in QMJHL (33-27-5-3) – Lost 4-1 to Drummondville in First Round

Departing: Felix Boucher (D – 95 – 1-2-3), Carl-Antoine Delisle (F – 93 – 21-28-49 – UQTR), Jonathan Diaby (D – 94 – 9-19-28 – Nashville), Philippe Hudon (F – 93 – 19-12-31 – Greenville), Ross Johnston (F – 94 – 10-15-25 – Charlottetown), Jean-Francois Plante (F – 93 – 52-23-75), Lukas Pozgay (D – 94 – 2-15-17 – EC Salzburg), Petr Sidlik (F – 94 – 2-21-23 – Dukla Jihlava), Luke St-Amand (F – 94 – 2-5-7), Mark Tremaine (F – 94 – 8-22-30 – Saint John), Francois Tremblay (G – 94 – 2.88 – 32-14-1 – Lake Erie)

Arriving: Greg Allen (D – 96 – 8-11-19 – Oakville), Jake Barter (D – 97 – 5th in ’14), Guillaume Beck (D – 98 – 1st in ’14), Martin-Olivier Cardinal (F – 96 – 15-20-35 – Chateauguay), Danick Crete (D – 96 – 11th in ’13 – Chateaguay), Jordan Ty Fournier (F – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Lac St-Louis), Felix Lauzon (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Chase Marchand (G – 95 – 2.85 – 5-6-0 – Cape Breton), Filip Pyrochta (D – 96 – ’14 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Samuel Blais (F – 96 – 4-10-14 – St. Louis), Yan-Pavel Laplante (F – 95 – 23-19-42 – Arizona), Tommy Veilleux (F – 95 – 4-4-8 – Nashville)

Rights Held: Ryan Cloonan (F – 95 – 13th in ’12 – Maine), Jeremy Davies (D – 96 – 6th in ’13 – Northeastern)

Prediction: Fifth in East Division (Like a number of teams in the league, the Tigres are a squad that doesn’t look all that impressive at first glance, but may be better than one might expect. For starters they have three NHL prospects at forward, and there’s number of high draft picks who may hit the ground running. I have them fifth in their division, but that may end up being way too low to where they end up when March rolls on.)

QMJHL Brawl

QMJHL Standings

  1. Rimouski Oceanic
  2. Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
  3. Gatineau Olympiques
  4. Quebec Remparts
  5. Chicoutimi Sagueneens
  6. Moncton Wildcats
  7. Charlottetown Islanders
  8. Val-d’Or Foreurs
  9. Baie-Comeau Drakkar
  10. Drummondville Voltigeurs
  11. Sherbrooke Phoenix
  12. Halifax Mooseheads
  13. Victoriaville Tigres
  14. Saint John Sea Dogs
  15. Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
  16. Shawinigan Cataractes
  17. Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
  18. Acadie-Bathurst Titan

Martin Bernard

First Coach Fired: Martin Bernard (Even though I have Acadie-Bathurst and Blainville-Boisbriand missing the post-season, both teams have first year coaches. As such, I think Bernard may get the axe, especially if Shawinigan stays near the bottom of the league standings.)

Zach Fucale 2

Biggest Name Traded: Zach Fucale (Since Fucale is leaving the junior ranks at year’s end to turn pro with the Montreal Canadiens, the more-than likely starter of Canada’s World Junior team this winter will probably get a king’s ransom on the market if he becomes available. I don’t think Rimouski, Cape Breton, or Gatineau would make a move for him, but I expect Quebec, Chicoutimi, and Moncton to take a long look at Fucale if their goaltending isn’t up to snuff in the run-up to the playoffs.)

Evgeny Svechnikov

Best First Year Import: Evgeny Svechnikov (First of all, he’s Russian, so I love him already. Secondly, he was drafted in the 2013 Import Draft and has experience in the KHL already, which will be a big help. Thirdly, he’ll be teaming up with Maxim Lazarev, setting up a deadly duo for the Screaming Eagles along the lines of the Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tkachev pairing in Moncton. Fourthly, why the heck was Tkachev not drafted last year?)

Quebec Remparts v Drummondville Voltigeurs

Top Scorer: Anthony Duclair (In the middle of Jonathan Drouin laying the QMJHL to waste and Anthony Mantha basically scoring goals whenever he wanted to, Duclair was the only other player besides Mantha to reach the 50-goal plateau. With more weapons around him this year, he should continue to find the back of the net, even if he goes to the World Juniors.)

Marc-Andre Dumont

Coach of the Year: Marc-Andre Dumont (As I mentioned above, I’m really high on Cape Breton this year, and I think Dumont will get rewarded as a result. Mind you, as I don’t know the QMJHL all that well, I may be way off base here.)

Christopher Clapperton

Overage Player Of The Year: Christopher Clapperton (In addition to having the best name in the league, Clapperton is moving from the Armada to a loaded Oceanic team. With so many forwards that can score, he should fit right in and have a great last QMJHL season before moving on to the Florida Panthers.)

Luke Green

Rookie Of The Year: Luke Green (Like the Coach of the Year, it’s hard for me to pick this one as I don’t know my QMJHL prospects like the ones in Ontario or out West. So, since #TeamEichel isn’t coming to the league as of yet, I might as well go with the top overall pick in the 2014 QMJHL Draft.)

Samuel Morin

Top Defenceman: Samuel Morin (Since Rimouski has a pretty stacked defensive core with three NHL prospects, it makes sense to go with the Philadelphia Flyers first round pick as the main man here. With that said, I wouldn’t be shocked if Ryan Graves gets into the mix.)

Anthony Brodeur 2

Top Goalie: Anthony Brodeur (Rimouski’s Phillipe Desrosiers would probably be the most sensible pick here, but I didn’t want to make this an all Oceanic show. Even though he has the pressure of trying to live up his father’s massive shadow, I’m pretty sure that Brodeur will thrive as the main starter for Gatineau this year.)

Anthony Dulcair 3

Most Valuable Player: Anthony Dulcair (I talked about Dulcair already in the scoring race, but I truly feel that he’s the favourite for this award with Jonathan Drouin leaving for the NHL. Despite his numbers, I feel like Dulcair is underrated a little bit when it comes to his ability, though that will change with his team hosting the Memorial Cup.)

Rimouski Quebec

QMJHL Champions: Rimouski Oceanic over Quebec Remparts (In an all-East Division final, I’ll take the Oceanic to win its first league title since 2005, when that Sidney Crosby fellow was the star of the team. You can make a case that Oceanic are the most loaded team in the CHL this year, and even though Quebec will add more pieces before hosting the Memorial Cup in May, Rimouski will be extremely hard to try and beat.)


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