2016 Curling Provincial Blowout Spectacular (Part 4)

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Written by Brett Punkari (with cameos by Lucas Punkari)

Before we get to this week’s playdowns, let’s recap how we did on our Scotties picks. Brett and I picked the same curlers across the board this year, so our picks are on the left and the winners are on the right.

Alberta: Val Sweeting/Chelsea Carey

British Columbia: Kelly Scott/Karla Thompson

Manitoba: Kerri Einarson/Kerri Einarson

New Brunswick: Sylvie Robichaud/Sylvia Robichaud

Newfoundland & Labrador: Heather Strong/Stacie Curtis

Northern Ontario: Tracy Fleury/Krista McCarville

Nova Scotia: Mary-Anne Arsenault/Jill Brothers

Ontario: Rachel Homan/Jenn Hanna

Prince Edward Island: Suzanne Birt/Suzanne Birt

Quebec: Marie-France Larouche/Marie-France Larouche

Saskatchewan: Stefanie Lawton/Jolene Campbell

Northwest Territories: Kerry Galusha/Kerry Galusha

Nunavut: No Playdowns/Geneva Chislett

Yukon: Jenna Duncan/Nicole Baldwin

Oi vey, that didn’t go well for Brett and I. Let’s see how the men’s playdowns goes for us.

With the Scotties field set, it’s time to fill the remaining spots for the Tim Hortons Brier. Part 4 covers a couple of provincials that are happening this week with Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Ontario Men’s Provincial – Feb. 1-7 (Last year’s Brier finish – Tied for 7th)

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 The field (Skip to Lead)

Scott Bailey, Joe Frans, Craig Van Ymeren, Travis Fanset

Greg Balsdon, Don Bowser, Jonathan Beuk, Scott Chadwick

Mark Bice, Aaron Squires, Tyler Morgan, Steve Bice

Dayna Deruelle, Kevin Flewwelling, David Staples, Sean Harrison

Ian Dickie, Tyler Stewart, Evan Lilly, Robert Currie

John Epping, Matt Camm, Patrick Janssen, Tim March

Pat Ferris, Andrew Fairfull, Craig Fairfull, Nathan Small

Mike Harris, Mike Anderson, Scott Hodgson, Scott Foster

Mike Mclean, Jake Higgs, Kevin Langerquist, Nathan Crawford

Glenn Howard, Richard Hart, Adam Spencer, Scott Howard

Wayne Tuck Jr, Chad Allen, Andrew Tournay, Ian Parker

(Note: Wayne Middaugh, who is the third for Glenn Howard, suffered a leg injury in a skiing accident and is out for the remainder of the season.)

Ontario is basically a two horse race between John Epping and Glenn Howard. Howard is making a bit of a resurgence. He’s had a decent year thus far on tour by making the playoffs in four of seven events, including two runner up finishes. Epping, meanwhile, got off to a bit of a rough start but has caught fire with a third place finish at the Canada Cup and is now riding a 13 game winning streak to with two event wins. It will be a close one but Epping should breakthrough and get his first Brier appearance as a skip.

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If it wasn’t for Mike McEwen’s annual struggles in the Manitoba provincials, Epping would easily hold the title of the best skip who’s yet to make it to the Brier. He finally made it to the provincial final last year but was upset by Mark Kean. With former Kean vice Mathew Camm joining the lineup, and a Howard rink that has been shaken up due to an injury, this seems like Epping’s title to lose. 

Saskatchewan Men’s Provincial – Feb. 3-7 (Last Year’s Brier finish – 3rd)

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Jason Ackerman, Curtis Horwath, Brent Goeres, Mike Armstrong

Brad Heidt, Drew Heidt, Mitch Heidt, Regis Neumeier

Scott Bitz, Jeff Sharp, Aryn Schmidt, Derek Ryan

Randy Bryden, Troy Robinson, Trent Knapp, Kelly Knapp

Darren Camm, Dean Grindheim, Mark Steckler, Anthony Sepke

William Coutts, Stuart Coutts, Dean Clark, Todd Bakken

Ryan Deis, Scott Manners, Jason McPhee, Kalin Deis

Brent Gedak, Clint Deino, Derek Owens, Shawn Meyer

Kody Hartung, Tyler Hartung, Jeff Hartung, Claire Decock

Joshua Heidt, Brock Montgomery, Matt Ryback, Dustin Kidby

Jason Jacobson, Dustin Kalthoff, Carl deConinck Smith, Rory Golanowski

Shawn Joyce, Michael Carss, Jason Barnhart, Tyler Matheson

Dean Kleiter, Warren Jackson, Quinn Hersikorn, Jayden Shwaga

Bruce Korte, Kevin Marsh, Daniel Marsh, Matthew Lang

Steve Laycock, Kirk Muyers, Colton Flasch, Dallan Muyers

Shawn Meachem, Catlin Schneider, Brady Scharback, Aaron Shutra

It’s a pretty big field for Saskatchewan this year and of course the favourite is last year’s third place finisher at the Brier as Steve Laycock is putting together another solid season. One team to perhaps keep an eye on is Josh Heidt, who does have former Brier competitor Dustin Kidby playing at the lead spot. Although nothing is certain in provincial play, especially with what we saw in the Scotties, it should be Steve Laycock’s to lose.

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As we saw with Jolene Campbell’s win last week, anything can happen in the Saskatchewan provincials. However, it’s hard to see Laycock not repeating as champion. Like Pat Simmons before him, he’s the one guy in the province that is succeeding on the World Curling Tour and I think that makes a major difference. 

New Brunswick Men’s Provincial – Feb. 3-7 (Last year’s Brier finish – 11th)

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Rene Comeau, Andrew Burgess, Trevor Crouse, Ryan Freeze

Mike Kennedy, Scott Jones, Marc Lecocq, Jamie Brannen

Terry Odishaw, Grant Odishaw, Mark Kehoe, Robert Daley

Jason Roach, Andy McCann, Darren Roach, Brian King

James Grattan, Tom Sullivan, Steve Burgess, Jamie Korab

Jeremy Mallais, Zach Eldridge, Chris Jeffery, Jaren Bezansen

Rick Perron, Marcel Robichaud, Marc Belliveau, Scott Nelais

Wayne Tallon, Spencer Watts, Chris Wagner, Alex Kyle

If it weren’t for Jamie Koe going winless at last year’s Brier we’d be perhaps talking about New Brunswick fighting in the relegation round, but Jeremy Mallais did just enough to squeak in for his province.

This year’s provincial boils down to two perhaps three teams. James Grattan is one of the favorites especially with the addition of Jamie Korab at the lead spot and has been to the Brier many times. Of course the defending champion Mallais has to be in the conversation as well even though he has had just an okay year thus far. The other team that could be a sleeper is former Canadian Junior runner up Rene Comeau who failed to qualify for the Canadian Juniors this year so expect him to come in with a chip on his shoulder. I do expect Grattan with his experience to come through and get New Brunswick above the relegation zone.

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New Brunswick has okay depth but the addition of Korab should be enough to win the event. Whether or not they survive the round-robin and avoid the relegation pool remains to be seen, however if it’s someone else that wins the title, it could get ugly. 


2016 Curling Provincial Blowout Spectacular (Part 3)

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Written by Brett Punkari (with cameos by Lucas Punkari)

Well the theme thus far in terms of provincial championship is that if you are the favorite you are most likely going lose the final. Just ask Val Sweeting, Rachel Homan and Kelly Scott. This time around, we will wrap up our Scotties provincial previews and throw in a couple of Brier previews as well.

Of note, there is going to be a Nunavut team at the Scotties skipped by Geneva Chislett with vice Denise Hutchings, second Robyn Mackey and lead Jenine Bodner. They will be part of the relegation round.

(Yeah no comment on Rachel Homan losing the Ontario final. Ugh)

Saskatchewan Scotties – Jan. 27-31 (Last year’s Scotties finish – 4th)

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Michelle Englot, Candace Chisholm, Stephanie Schmidt, Brooklyn Lemon

Sherry Anderson, Jessica Hanson, Elyse Lafrance, Brie Spilchen

Jolene Campbell, Ashley Howard, Callan Hamon, Ashley Williamson

Kristie Moore (Chantelle Eberle injured), Cindy Ricci, Larissa Murray, Debbie Lozinski

Robyn Silvernagle, Dayna Demers, Cristina Goertzen, Kara Kilden

Penny Barker, Deanna Doig, Melissa Hoffman, Danielle Sicinski

Stefanie Lawton, Trish Paulsen, Sherri Singler and Marliese Kasner

Nancy Martin, Taryn Schachtel, Sherry Just, Jinaya Yanota

Mandy Selzer, Erin Selzer, Kristen Sauter, Megan Selzer

Kelsey Dutton, Kaitlyn Bowman, Chelsey Peterson, Ashley Resler

Nancy Inglis, Carla Anaka, Jade Ivan, Brandi Clarke

In the land of the Green Riders, Stefanie Lawton is the favorite once again especially now with the addition of Trish Paulsen and things have gone pretty well this season with one win and three additional playoff appearances.  The other teams that could challenge Lawton are Michelle Englot, who has Lawton’s fifth from last year Stephanie Schmidt, Jolene Campbell and Sherry Anderson. However it looks like an easy walk to the Scotties for Lawton. I just jinxed her didn’t I.

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While I think Englot can give Lawton a good challenge and although I’m rooting for Jolene Campbell, this does seem like Lawton’s title to lose. She has had some strange losses in the past, but that seems to be a thing of the past. With how this year’s field is looking, this might be Lawton’s best chance yet to win a medal. 

Newfoundland & Labrador Scotties – Jan. 26-31 (Last year Scotties finish – Tied for 8th) 

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Heather Strong, Stephanie Guzzwell, Sarah Paul, Kathryn Cooper

Stacie Curtis, Erin Porter, Julie Devereaux, Carrie Vautour

Shelley Hardy, Michelle Jewer, Kelli Turpin, Rhonda Whalen

Unfortunately the Newfoundland provincial only has three teams this year and it’s basically down to two former provincial champions in Heather Strong and Stacie Curtis. Both rinks have competed in two tour events this year.  They each went 1-3 at the Tier II Tour Challenge but Strong won the Bally Haly Cashspiel while Curtis went 1-3. Strong is a longtime veteran and a pretty good shooter as well. She should win the provincials again and might be a mid-pack team at the Scotties.

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No Shelley Nichols in the playdowns is a bit of a bummer, but like Brett said, Strong should have a good showing and be a good mid-level team at the Scotties if she gets there once again. 

New Brunswick Scotties – Jan. 27-31 (Last year’s Scotties finish – Tied for 8th)

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 Melissa Adams, Jennifer Armstrong, Cathlia Ward, Kendra Lister

Shelly Graham, Anna Brinson, Connie Nichol, Jane McGinn

Sarah Mallais, Stacey McCormack-Lacey, Carol Whitaker, Leah Thompson

Sylvie Robichaud, Rebecca Atkinson, Marie Richard, Jane Boyle

Shannon Tatlock, Abby Burgess, Emily MacRae, Shelby Wilson

Over in New Brunswick, it’s basically a two horse race between last year’s finalists Melissa Adams and Sylvie Robichaud. In terms of tour success Adams has had a better year overall and is also 1-0 against Robichaud head to head. Although those stats are in her favour I think the past Scotties experience for Robichaud will help her in the end.

Team New Bruswick, skip Sylvie Robichaud waits for the shot to develope at the Scotties 2015

If you remember last year’s Scotties, Robichaud had a slow start but bounced back over the last final days, including an upset of Rachel Homan that put Team Canada on the brink. With that run, and the strong play of third Rebecca Atkinson, I expect the provincials to be easy for her before a possible better showing at the Scotties. 

Prince Edward Island Men’s Provincial – Jan. 29-Feb. 2 (Last year’s Brier finish – Tied for 7th)

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Robert Campbell, Tyler MacKenzie, Matt Nabuurs, Sean Ledgerwood

Adam Casey, David Mathers, Anson Carmody, Robert Doherty

Tyler Harris, Sam Ramsay, Cody Dixon, Sean Clarey

Eddie MacKenzie, Blair Weeks, Phillip Gorveatt, Mike Dillon

Jamie Newson , John Likely, Mark O’Rourke, Mark Butler

Tyler Smith, Brooks Roche, Dylan Lowery, Ryan Lowery

Last year Prince Edward Island had to fight through the relegation round, but thanks to Adam Casey, he got through that event and had a decent debut as a skip in the Brier. This year, we have not seen Casey as much on the Grand Slam circuit, although he has played in 10 events this year with one playoff appearance. He still is the big favorite to win PEI this year though don’t count out former champ Eddie Mackenzie.

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Thank goodness for Casey if your a PEI curling supporter, otherwise this province would be a similar situation as Nova Scotia is at the moment. I think the addition of David Mathers has only made this rink stronger and they should run through the provincials without any trouble.

Newfoundland and Labrador Men’s Provincial – Jan. 26-31 (Last year’s Brier finish -4th)

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Andrew Symonds, Mark Healy, Cory Ewart, Keith Jewer

Adam Boland, Ross Young, Zach Young, Andrew Taylor

Matthew Hunt, Mark Fajertag, Evan Kearley, Andrew Taylor

Rick Rosewell, David Noftall, Craig Dowden, Ken Peddigrew

Brad Gushue, Mark Nicholls, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker

Colin Thomas, Cory Schuh, Chris Ford, Spencer Wicks

This year the Newfoundland provincial has six teams which is a big improvement after only two were in it last year. Of course the favorite by a landslide is Brad Gushue who is arguably the top team in the world on the men’s side. He should win this one easily and the question now will be if he can finally get that elusive Brier win considering the year he has been enjoying.

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As long as Gushue doesn’t smash his head into the ice again he should be fine. As Brett said, the bigger question is if he can finally win the title, especially since the Brier will be in Newfoundland in 2017. 

NWT Scotties- Jan. 28-31 (Last year’s Scotties finish – 13th – Lost Play-In Game)

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Kerry Galusha, Megan Cormier, Danielle Derry, Shona Barbour

Lora Browne, Brittany Brasser, Patty Hartlen, Courtney Kaeser

Judy Goucher, Candis Carleton, Kandis Jameson, Kelsey Gill

Deborah Stanley, Betti Delorey, Katrina Delorey, Rayna Hunt

This year’s Northwest Territories provincial has four teams and the obvious favorite is Kerry Galusha who came close to getting out of the relegation round last year. Galusha should win this easily and she has got a real good shot at getting into the main show.

NWT skip Kerry Galusha and teammate Shona Barbour in pre-qualifying action against Team Northern Ontario at the Scotties 2015

It was a bummer that Galusha wasn’t in the field in Moose Jaw but it was going to be tough come out of a group that included Sarah Koltun and Tracy Fleury. This year, with no Koltun and no Kelly Scott, this looks to be Galusha’s best chance yet to get in the main field, provided she wins the playdowns of course.

NWT Men’s Championship – Jan. 28-31 (Last year’s Brier finish – 12th)

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Jamie Koe, Chris Schille, Brad Chorostkowski, Robert Borden

Glen Hudy, Brian Kelln, Ben McDonald, Rich Klakowich

Stephen Moss, Michael Moss, Brett Zubot, Chris Kelln

Greg Skauge, Tom Naugler, Brad Patzer, Jim Sosiak

Darcy Delorey, Darcy Moschenko, Bruce Powder, Glenn Smith

Paul Delorey, Jack MacKinnon, Gary Stoby, Dallas Weaver

Bruce McArthur, Nick Kaeser, Craig Browne, Robert Mills

Jamie Koe is again the favourite on the men’s side to make the Brier and perhaps the best challenger could be many time Canadian Mixed competitor Stephen Moss. Koe should win this easily and is among the favourites to get out of the relegation zone as he will probably be battling Nova Scotia men’s champion Jamie Murphy.

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Our cult hero needs to be back at the Brier, especially with Newfoundland being the hosts in 2017. He’ll be the king of the Patch. As for this year, he’ll be in tough against Nova Scotia, but the addition of Chris Schille should help out quite a bit, especially in these playdowns.


2016 Curling Provincial Blowout Spectacular (Part 2)

 

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Written by Brett Punkari (With Cameos by Lucas Punkari)

With provincial playdowns now officialy in full swing we continue with the 2016 blowout spectacular. We’re only looking at two provinces but it’s two of the biggest curling powerhouse provinces in terms of national success, with one province seemingly wide open and another one where it’s a three way street fight.

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Alberta Scotties – Jan. 20-24 (Last year’s Scotties finish – 2nd)

The Field (skip to vice)

Val Sweeting, Lori Olson-Johns, Dana Ferguson, Rachelle Brown

Casey Scheidegger, Cary-Anne McTaggert, Jessie Scheidegger, Stephanie Enright

Chelsea Carey, Amy Nixon, Jocelyn Peterman, Laine Peters

Jodi Marthaller, Tessa Ruetz, Nicole Larson, Valerie Ekelund

Jessie Kaufmann, Erin Carmody, Lynnelle Mahe, Kim Curtin

Shannon Kleibrink, Lisa Eyamie, Sarah Wilkes, Alison Kotylak

Trisha James, Michelle Gnam, Josie Jorgensen, Patty Pryzbylski

Nicky Kaufmann, Holly Baird, Deena Benoit, Pamela Appleman

Barb Lund, Patty Hayes, Eileen Lund, Diane Wiebe

Nadine Chyz, Heather Jensen, Whitney Eckstrand, Heather Rogers

Deanne Nichol, Candace Read, Chana Martineau, Jennifer Sheehan

Kelsey Rocque, Laura Crocker, Taylor McDonald, Jen Gates

In terms of Scotties provincials, Alberta has been one of the toughest in terms of predicting a winner and this year is no exception. It is a very tight fight between three teams, defending champ Val Sweeting, Chelsea Carey who once again has a new rink this year and Two time Canadian junior champion Kelsey Rocque.

In terms of success on the tour this year, Val has one win, two semi-finals and has qualified for playoffs in eight of nine events. With the said, this team in terms of consistency can either be very good or just bad especially at starts of games/events and it seems like Dana Ferguson seems to be off a bit this year, though she has had moments of brilliance.

Kelsey Rocque got off to a bit of a slow start at the first two events this year, but then went on a terror by going 23-5 in the next four events including a win and three semi-final appearances. Recently though things have gone downhill as she’s gone 7-10 in the last three events. One more glaring stat is the team’s record on arena ice going into provincials is 10-12, but luckily the provincial is at a curling club where they are much better.

Finally the wildcard of three is Chelsea Carey who we have not seen a lot in terms of Grand Slam events, but she has played a lot on tour this year as she takes over the Heather Nedohin rink. The team has played in 11 events, made the playoffs seven times and reached the finals twice. In terms of Grand Slams, the team has made three appearance compiling a record of 7-9. This  is the most experienced of the three favorites, and another thing is that no one has even talked much about this team in comparison to Sweeting and Rocque, so I believe Carey is coming in under the radar and that can be dangerous for the rest of the field.

One more note. In terms of head to head matchups this year, Sweeting leads both Carey and Rocque by a 2-1 margin, and Carey is 2-0 against Rocque. It’s still tough call, but I think Sweeting will show she’s still the top team in the province and will prevail over Rocque in tight final.

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Brett went pretty in depth on the Alberta Scotties so I don’t have too much else to add here. Rocque is going to be really good, but I don’t think this is going to be her time just yet. Although Carey does have Amy Nixon on her side now and may surprise everyone, I think Sweeting is just a step ahead of everyone in the province. There’s a reason why she’s in the mix with Jones and Homan at most major events.

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Manitoba Scotties – Jan. 20-24 (Last year’s Scotties finish – 1st)

The Field (Skip to Lead)

Jennifer Rolles, Sheri Horning, Courtney Reeves, Carly Perras

Lisa Menard, Leslie Cafferty, Sam Murata, Laurie Macdonell

Terry Ursel, Gwen Wooley, Tracy Igonia, Wanda Rainka

Cheryl Reed, Stacey Fordyce, Pam Robins, Roz Taylor

Mackenzie Zacharais, Morgan Reimer, Emily Zacharais, Jenessa Rutter

Kim Link, Colleen Kilgallen, Angela Wickman, Renee Fletcher

Christie Mackay, Gaetanne Gauthier, Taylor Maida, Katrina Thiessen

Cathy Overton-Clapham, Brianne Meilleur, Katherine Doerksen, Krysten Karwacki

Janet Harvey, Sue Baleja, Robin Campbell, Carey Kirby

Shannon Birchard, Nicole Sigvaldason, Sheyna Andries, Mariah Mondor

Barb Spencer, Katie Spencer, Holly Spencer, Sydney Arnal

Kristy McDonald, Kate Cameron, Leslie Wilson, Raunora Westcott

Kerri Einarson, Selana Kaatz, Liz Fyfe, Kristin Maccuish

Michelle Montford, Lisa Derivere, Courtney Blanchard, Sarah Neufeld

Darcy Robertson, Karen Klien, Vanessa Foster, Michelle Kruk

Joelle Brown, Alyssa Calvert, Erika Sigurdsson, Lindsay Baldock

With Jennifer Jones already at the Scotties as Team Canada, this year’s provincials is somewhat wide open with two favourites that standout from the pack.

The first favourite is Kristy McDonald, who has improved a bit in her second as a skip after playing with Chelsea Carey. She’s made the playoffs in five of the eight events she’s entered with her best finish being a semi-final loss at The Masters. However, she is coming into the provincials on a bad note, as she’s lost 12 of her last 16 games and she’s in the midst of a seven game losing streak.

The other favourite is the surprise of the tour season and that is Kerri Einarson. In the early part of the season she won her first career Grand Slam event in the Tour Challenge Tier II event and then made it to the semi-finals at The Masters.  In terms of other events this year, not counting the three slam events she’s played in, she made the playoffs four out of six times with two semi-final appearances. Although she is 0-2 against McDonald this season, she was the runner-up at the last two provincals to Carey and Jones, so I think this is the year she breaks through.

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Oh yeah, and Einarson got an eight-ender last year at the provincials with a steal! I can see McDonald winning this thing but Einarson is probably the most underrated rink in the country, even if they don’t go out to the major tour events that often. I’m not sure if they will be a playoff contender if they make the Scotties like Brett does, but they might sneak into a tiebreaker spot.


2016 Curling Provincial Blowout Spectacular (Part 1)

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Written by Brett Punkari with cameos by Lucas Punkari

It’s hard to believe but it’s almost that time once again to crown provincial champions for the Scotties and Tim Hortons Brier. In a season that is mostly being dominated by two or three teams across both men’s and women’s play, and has also featured #broomgate and directional sweeping controversies, it could make for potentially stacked fields across both sides.

(Lucas here, if I hear one more hot-take about curling brooms I’m going off. Bring back the corn brooms I say.)

This first part of this preview coves the already completed Nunavut men’s provincials, the Ontario Scotties, the Quebec Scotties and Brier playdowns, the PEI Scotties, the Nova Scotia Scotties and Brier Playdowns, the British Columbia Scotties, the Yukon Scotties and Brier Playdowns and the Northern Ontario Scotties.

Quebec Women’s – Jan. 17-24 (Last Year’s Scotties Finish – 11th)

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The Field (Skip to Lead)

Camille Lapierre, Alanna Routledge, Alison Davies, Jill Routledge

Marie-France Larouche, Brenda Nicholls, Annie Lemay, Julie Rainville

Lauren Mann, Ameile Blais, Lana Gosselin, Brittany O’Rourke

Helene Pelchat, TBD, Gail Comeau, Sylvie Goulet

Roxanne Perron, Marie-Josee Fortier, Miriam Perron, Sonia Delise

Yes you read that right. Many time Quebec champion Marie-France Larouche has returned and it looks like she has not missed a beat as she made the semi-finals at the Shorty Jenkins Classic after beating the likes of Sherry Middaugh. As such, she is among the favorites along with defending champion Lauren Mann, who is having a decent year making the semis at the OVCA Women’s fall classic.

So it will probably come down to those two in the final with a pretty small field and I think Marie-France will just squeak it out. Would she be a playoff contender at the Scotties? I doubt it, but mid pack seems more likely.

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The fact there are only five teams in the provincials is a bit of a shock, considering the always-strong men’s field in Quebec. At any rate, Marie-France has been playing well after a couple of years away and she’s easily my pick to win. How she will fare at the Scotties depends on how strong the rest of the field is. 

Quebec Men’s – Jan. 17-24 (Last year’s Brier finish – Tied for 5th)

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Kevin Baker, Simon Hebert, Marco Fortier, Francois Boissoneault

Mathieu Beaufort, Jean Michel-Arsenault, Erik Lachance, Maxime H. Benoit

Marc-Andre Chartrand, Maxime Dufrense, Sylvain Dicaire, Joel Carbonneau

William Dion, Felix Asselin, Miguel Bernard, Jason Olsthoorn

Mike Fournier, Francois Gionest, Yannik Martel, Jean-Francois Charest

Guy Hemmings, Simon Benoit, Jean-Francois Trepanier, Martin Trepanier

Denis Laflamme, Michel Lachance, Bernard Gingras, Steve Tremblay

Jean-Michel Menard, Martin Crete, Eric Sylvain, Philippe Menard

Pierre-Luc Morissette, Robert Desjardins, Thierry Fournier, Rene Dubois

Steven Munroe, Philippe Brassard, Ghyslain Richard, Christian Bouchard

Denis Robichaud, Alexandre Ferland, Jean-David Boulanger, Maxandre Caron

Jean-Sebastian Roy, Jasim Gibeau, Dan deWarrd, Vincent Bourget

Jeffery Stewart, Ian Soth, Travis Ackroyd, Lewis South

Jon Stewart, Blake Stoughton, Jules Aumond, Francois Halle

Going on at the same time as the Women’s Scotties is the Men’s Brier playdowns and of course the clear favorite is Jean-Michel Menard. There are two teams that could knock him off his perch. One is former Quebec champion Robert Desjardins who is with Pierre-Luc Morissette,  and the other is former Canadian Junior champion William Dion who has now two time Quebec Junior champion Felix Asselin as his vice. However Menard is the class of the field and he has had a good year on tour making a semi-final and a final, so he should return to the Brier and be a contender again.

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Quebec is always a province that has the chance of bringing up a surprise winner as it’s a pretty decent province when it comes to it’s depth. With that said, I think Menard is a step above the rest and should again be in the playoff mix. He should be competing in the Grand Slam events, but alas.

Ontario Scotties – Jan. 18-24 (Last year’s Scotties finish – Tied for 6th)

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Cathy Auld, Susan McKnight, Karen Rowsell, Casey Kidd

Allison Flaxey, Clancy Grandy, Lynn Kreviazuk, Morgan Court

Jenn Hanna, Brit O’Neill, Karen Sagle, Stephanie Hanna

Jacqueline Harrison, Janet Murphy, Stephanie Matheson, Melissa Foster

Julie Hastings, Christy Trombley, Stacey Smith, Katrina Collins

Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney, Lisa Weagle

Mallory Kean, Carly Howard, Kerilynn Mathers, Cheryl Kreviazuk

Sherry Middaugh, Jo-Ann Rizzo, Lee Merklinger, Leigh Armstrong

Erin Morrisey, Lynsey Longfield, Erica Hopson, Jen Ahde

Julie Tippin, Chantal Lalonde, Rachelle Vink, Tess Bobbie

Well apparently Rachel Homan took this whole “Revenge” thing to the limit by constantly winning and winning often. The top women’s team in the world at the moment is the obvious favorite but they cannot look too far ahead. Teams who have this type of success early in the season sometimes don’t make it through provincials and it has happened to Homan in 2012.

If this happens there are at least three teams who could pick her pocket. One is Allison Flaxey who has had a great year on tour with one win in three semi-final appearences and has made the playoffs in seven of nine events. Secondly, there’s defending champion Julie Hastings who has only made playoffs twice this year in six events. Finally, there’s Sherry Middaugh who is still looking to get over her provincial slump after losing the final last year. Those teams should provide a challenge but this should be Rachel Homan’s show and she will continue her “Rachel Homan’s Revenge Tour”

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To say that Rachel Homan has had a good season is a massive understatement. Heading into this week’s Continental Cup, her rink has played in nine events, made the finals eight times, won seven event and has an overall record of 52-7. It’s insane. 

She should win Ontario going away, but weird things usually happen at Provincial and this rink can lose in tire fire fashion at the worst moment. If that happens, I think Julie Hastings will be the benefactor. 

Northern Ontario Scotties – Jan. 20-24 (Last year Scotties finish – Fifth)

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Tracy Fleury, Jennifer Horgan, Jenna Walsh, Amanda Gates

Krista McCarville, Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala, Sarah Potts

Laura Payne, Stephanie Brown, Mackenzie Daly, Amanda Corkal

Gale Wiseman, Marie-Eve Mongrain, Anya Hildebrandt, Danielle Piercy

Northern Ontario is basically a two team show with defending champion Tracy Fleury and former Ontario Scotties champion Krista McCarville. This season Team Fleury has gone with a five person rotation (with Crystal Webster) and they’ve had some peaks and valleys. They made it to their first Grand Slam final at the National and almost upset Rachel Homan in the finals, but they’ve had some struggles at other events like the Canada Cup. A provincial title could depend on what lineup the team has as they will need to figure out the right combination.

McCarville has basically returned to the team that won the Ontario title in 2010 as two of her current teammates (Sippala and Potts) were on that rink. Having former Canadian junior semi-finalist Kendra Lilly (who was the provincial runner-up year) Is going to help her tremendously and provide a big challenge to team Fleury. On the tour, McCarville has had an awesome season winning three of 4fourWCT events entered with an overall record of 26-6. McCarville is going to provide a very difficult challenge but I think Fleury is going to just squeak it out and be a playoff contender at the Scotties.

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Although McCarville hasn’t been at any Grand Slams this year, the events she’s been in have had some pretty stout fields, and like Brett said, Kendra Lilly is a heck of a pick-up. In the end though, the run at the Scotties last year in Moose Jaw has made the Fleury rink one to watch and they should be able to repeat. Expect this final to go to an extra end. 

Prince Edward Island Scotties – Jan. 15-19 (Last year’s Scotties finish – Tied for 8th)

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Suzanne Birt, Robyn Green, Meaghan Hughes, Marie Christianson

Shelly Bradley, Veronica Smith, Jane DiCarlo, Tricia MacGregoe

Tammy Dewar, Darlene MacLeod London, Robyn Macdonald, Gail Greene

Kim Dolan, Rebecca Jean Macdonald, Sinead Dolan, Michala Robinson

Sarah Fullerton, Robyn Wile, Emily Gray, Whitney Young

Lisa Jackson, Carolyn Coulson, Melissa Morrow, Jodi Murphy

To be honest, Prince Edward Island, has been pretty much fighting for survival as they’ve finished near the bottom of the pack in the last few Scotties and just avoiding the relegation round in the process. So whoever wins will probably be fighting that same scenario once again. The favorite is once again Suzanne Birt who has had a good year on tour compared to the rest of the field so this should be an easy walk to the Scotties for her.

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Like Andrea Crawford before her (what the deuce happened to her by the way), Birt is in that mid level phase and is probably doomed to that spot for awhile now. With another new lineup, she should return to the Scotties but it’s hard to see her cracking the top four. 

Nova Scotia Scotties – Jan. 18-24 (Last year’s Scotties finish – Tied for 6th)

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Mary-Anne Arsenault, Christina Black, Jane Snyder, Jennifer Baxter

Theresa Breen, Tanya Hilliard, Jocelyn Adams, Amanda Simpson

Jill Brothers, Sarah Murphy, Blisse Joyce, Teri Udle

Emily Dwyer, Katrina Bowers, Mackenzie Proctor, Laura Kennedy

Chrisite Gamble, Brigitte MacPhail, Kaitlyn Veitch, Katarina Danbrook

Colleen Jones, Kim Kelly, Mary Sue Radford, Nancy Delahunt

Julie McEvoy, Sheena Moore, Jill Thomas, Caeleigh MacLean

Colleen Pinkney, Wendy Currie, Shelly MacNutt, Susan Creelman

Nova Scotia had a good run at the Scotties last year with Mary-Anne Arsenault almost making playoffs and performing pretty well as I mentioned at last year’s Scotties review. Arsenault has even competed in two grand slams this year and she made the quarter finals at The Masters. Arsenault is probably the favorite to win but Colleen Jones, who has returned as a skip, may provide the biggest challenge considering she and Arsenault were together a couple years ago. Another team to not count out is Jill Brothers, who does have a win on tour this year. It will probably come down to Jones and Arsenault in the final but Mary-Anne should come through once again.

Team Nova Scotia skip Mary-Anne Arsenault shakes hands with Canada skip Rachel Homan after a victory in the eleventh draw at the Scotties 2015

I mean sure another Colleen Jones appearance would be fun, and that rink Jill Brothers has is a really good dark horse, but I think Arsenault should win this. After last year’s great run at the Scotties and some strong showings on the tour this season, she’s done a great job in leading a fairly young rink.

Nova Scotia Brier Playdowns – Jan. 18-24 (Last year’s Brier finish – 14th – Knocked out of Relegation Round)

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Shawn Adams, Mark Dacey, Ian Fitzner-Leblanc*, Andrew Gibson

Jamie Danbrook, Kendal Thompson, Bryce Everist, Brendan Lavell

Paul Dexter, Lee Buott, Mark Robar, Tommy Bragnalo

Brent MacDougall, Kevin Ouellette, Kris Granchelli, Rob Moore

Peter Burgees, Glen Macleod, Tyler Gamble, Robby McLean

Jamie Murphy, Jordan Pinder, Scott Saccary, Phil Crowell

Chad Stevens, Paul Flemming, Cameron MacKenzie, Kelly Mittelstadt

Stuart Thompson, Colten Steele, Travis Colter, Alex MacNeil

*Fitzner-Leblanc is replacing Craig Savill who undergoing chemotherapy treatment for Cancer. We wish him all the best*

The province who won the very first Brier has pretty well hit rock bottom after Glenn Macleod (who upset Jamie Murphy in the provincial final) failed to qualify out of the relegation round. So they nowhere to go but up and there are potentially three teams who may just do that.

Former Nova Scotia champion Jamie Murphy, who had a decent showing in his first Brier appearance but then went winless in his second appearance, has had a good year on tour although most events are on the east coast. Of course defending champion Macleod is considered among the favorites and he has been good on tour as well.

The other favorite is former Brier runner up Shawn Adams who has teamed up with 2004 Brier champ Mark Dacey. In terms of tour performance the Adams team has played the most events and also competed in two Grand Slam events with a bit of success. It’s going to be a tough call even with Savill’s absence but I think Shawn Adams will return to the Brier. Whether or not he gets out of the relegation round is a different story.

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I probably would have picked Adams to win this, but I think the absence of Savill will be a bit much to overcome, especially emotionally  As such, I’ll take Jamie Murphy to win the title but I don’t think he will win the final spot in the Brier. That will go to someone we will discuss in another provincial preview. #Patch

British Columbia Scotties – Jan. 19-24 (Last year Scotties finish – 12th – Relegated)

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Patti Knezevic, Kristen Pilote, Jen Rusnell, Rhonda Camozzi

Kelly Scott, Shannon Aleksic, Jenna Loder, Sarah Pyke

Lindsay Hudyma, Rebecca Turley, Michelle Dunn, Amy Gibson

Diane Gushulak, Grace Mcinnes, Jessie Sanderson, Sandra Comadina

Amanda Russett, Crista Sanbrooks, Ashley Nordin, Courtney Karwandy

Karla Thompson, Kristen Recksiedler, Tracey Lavery, Trysta Vandale

Kesa Van Osch, Kalia Van Osch, Shawna Jensen, Carley St. Blaze

Sarah Wark, Simone Brosseau, Michelle Allen, Rachelle Kallechy

Since the 2000’s BC was a Scotties contender thanks to Kelley Law and Kelly Scott. The last two years produced two different champions (Kesa Van Osch and Patti Knezevic) who had a combined record of 7-13 and after the 2015 Scotties in Moose Jaw, the province is now fighting in the relegation round.

In terms of favourites, the obvious contenders are Scott, Van Osch and  Knezevic. A potential darkhorse is Diane Gushulak who in terms of tour performance has stood out among the teams in BC with two wins and a quarter final appearance in five events entered. The two wins have come in BC and she has had her way with teams in the province with a combined record of 12-1.

The eventual winner will have to fight the relegation round games, but I believe Kelly Scott will finally return and get BC out of the relegation round though she may not be a playoff contender like in the past.

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While Scott’s lineup is not the same as the one that was with her for many years, getting former Kaitlyn Lawes junior teammate Jenna Loder is a nice move for her rink. Although there are some interesting teams in the field, Scott should not only win, but I think she can be a sleeper for the playoffs at the Scotties. That’s of course depending on what field is there.

Yukon Scotties – Jan. 14-17 (Last year Scotties finish – 14th – Knocked out of Relegation Round)

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*Note this provincial is a best two out of three series*

Nicole Baldwin, Stephanie Jackson-Bair, Rhonda Horte, Ladene Shaw

Jenna Duncan, Patty Wallingham, Sarah Koltun, Jody Smallwood

With the relegation round entering its second year it’s obvious that getting to the Scotties/Brier is going to be extremely difficult for the Territories. In terms of the Yukon their best shot is probably the Jenna Duncan rink which is normally skipped by Sarah Koltun. However,  Koltun is in school in Alberta so she was not sure if she would be competing but she is back as the second. The Duncan team is the favorite to make it out of the Yukon but depending on the Northwest Territories and BC teams, it might be hard to get out of the relegation round.

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The one drawback with the relegation round is the fact that not every region is in the field, which is a major bummer for the Territories. That should hopefully change in a few years when they have everyone competing again, even if Warren Hansen seems to think that’s bad for some reason, but that’s another story for another day that would probably see me drop 400 F-Bombs. 

Anyways, having Koltun come back is huge and that should allow Duncan to lead her team to a spot at the Scotties. Like Brett said though, it will be a tough task to get into the actual field. 

Yukon Brier – Jan. 14-17 (Last Year Brier Finish – 13th – Lost Play-In Game)

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Robert Smallwood, Jon Solberg, Clint Abel, Scott Odian

Matthew Blandford, Wade Scoffin, Verner Janz, Clinton Ireland

Pat Paslawski, Richard Weihers, Tyler Williams, Trent Derkatch

Herb Balsam, Cole Hume, Scott Boone, Wesley Huston

Walter Wallingham, Gord Zealand, Ed Kormendy, Don Duncan

Rob Smallwood came close to getting out of the relegation zone at last year’s Brier before eventually bowing out to PEI. In terms of this year’s playdowns there is a new player in former Alberta competitor Matthew Blandford who did compete in one grand slam event last year and had a decent showing going 2-3 in that span. Acquiring Wade Scoffin (the dad of top junior player Thomas Scoffin) who was with Smallwood last year has to help and will propel them to the Yukon title but it will be a hard task to get out of the relegation zone.

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Blandford has been decent in the Alberta circuit and he should easily win the playdowns. I don’t think he’ll beat hero Jamie Koe, but maybe if they brought in Thomas Scoffin to make a cameo.

Nunavut Brier – Jan. 8-10 (First Brier Appearance)

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*Note Provincial was best of five series*

Wade Kingdon, Dennis Masson, Aaron Fraser, Bruce Morgan

Arthur Siksik, David Kakuktinniq, Tyson Komaksiutiksak, Tyson Komaksitutiksak

For the first time ever, Nunavut will have a representative at the Tim Hortons Brier. The skip with that honour is Wade Kingdon, who won the best of five series of Arthur Siksik in four games.

So Nunavut will start in the relegation zone and it’s going a real rrough tourney but it will be a learning experience for Kingdon and crew. As long as they can keep it somewhat close, that would be considered mission accomplished.

2015 Canadian Mixed (North Bay)

Although this is his first Brier, Kingdon does have some national experience as he’s played at the Canadian Mixed championships in the past. I’m not sure how well Nunavut will fare but this is a great sign going forward. If they can make it into the play-in game on Saturday and get on TSN, that would be a massive deal.

 


2015-16 OHL Season Preview

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Heading into the 2015-16 season, the Ontario Hockey League is about to undergo a major sea change, and not just because the Belleville Bulls and the Plymouth Whalers are no longer in the league.

In addition to new franchises in Flint and Hamilton, coaches such as DJ Smith and Sheldon Keefe have moved on to the pro ranks and players like Max Domi, Darnell Nurse and Connor McDavid have all graduated to the NHL.

With those changes though, some things remain the same when it comes to the contenders for the league championship, which I will again attempt to try and predict. (Of note, all of these picks were done prior to the start of the season, which will be important when we get to a couple of awards.)

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Barrie Colts

Last Season: First in Central Division – Second in Eastern Conference (41-24-1-2) – Lost 4-1 to North Bay in East Semis

Departing: Joseph Blandisi (F – 94 – 51-60-111 – New Jersey), Daniel Gibl (G – 95 – 2.60 – 7-6-0), Ben Harpur (D – 95 – 5-26-31 – Ottawa), Garrett Hooey (F – 94 – 17-26-43 – Pro Fisherman), Matthew Kreis (F – 97 – 3-10-13 – Saginaw), Jonathan Laser (D – 94 – 1-20-21), Stephen Nosad (F – 95 – 3-11-14), Nick Pastorious (F – 96 – 4-3-7 – Niagara)

Arriving: Matthew Brassard (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Barrie Midget Colts), Aidan Brown (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Lucas Chiodo (F – 98 – 15th in ’14 – Barrie Midget Colts), Giordano Finoro (F – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Guelph Hurricanes), Kody Gagnon (D – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Toronto Patriots), Zachary Magwood (F – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Cambridge), Justin Murray (D – 98 – 8th in ’14 – London Nationals), Julius Nattinen (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Anaheim)

NHL Prospects: Rasmus Andersson (D – 96 – 12-52-64 – Calgary), Mackenzie Blackwood (G – 96 – 3.09 – 33-14-2 – New Jersey), Kevin Labanc (F – 95 – 31-76-107 – San Jose), Brendan Lemieux (F – 96 – 41-19-60 – Winnipeg), Andrew Mangiapane (F – 96 – 43-61-104 – Calgary), Julius Nattinen (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Anaheim), Roy Radke (F – 96 – 9-9-18 – Chicago)

Rights Held: Karch Bachman (F – 97 – 11th in ’13 – Miami – Florida), Mario Ferraro (D – 98 – 10th in ’14 – Western Michigan), Joey Keane (D – 99 – 5th in ’15 – Miami), Adrian Kempe (F – 96 – ’13 Import Draft – Los Angeles), Matthew McLeod (F – 96 – 6th in ’12 – Canisius), Cameron Orchard (F – 98 – 8th in ’15 – Western Michigan), Drew Worrad (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Clarkson)

Prediction: Fourth in Central Division (While they do return some scoring punch and do have one of the best goalies in the league in Mackenzie Blackwood, the Colts do have some new players coming in to try and replace some holes that have question marks around them. They should be in the mix for a home-ice spot, but it’s hard to pick them for one of the top four seeds.)

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Erie Otters

Last Season: First in Midwest Division – Second in Western Conference (50-14-2-2) – Lost 4-1 to Oshawa in OHL Finals

Departing: Nicholas Baptiste (F – 95 – 32-32-64 – Buffalo), Daniel Dekoning (G – 96 – 3.05 – 18-3-1 – Owen Sound), Troy Donnay (D – 94 – 4-19-23 – NY Rangers), Remi Elie (F – 95 – 30-46-76 – Dallas), Cory Genovese (D – 94 – 4-11-15 – Queen’s), Kurtis MacDermid (D – 94 – 8-32-40 – Los Angeles), Connor McDavid (F – 97 – 44-76-120 – Edmonton), Patrick Murphy (D – 95 – 6-25-31 – Sudbury)

Arriving: Mitchell Byrne (D – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Brampton), Erik Cernak (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Los Angeles), Taylor Egan (D – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Kanata), Christian Girhiny (F – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Ridley College), Jake Lawr (G – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – Brampton), Vanya Lodnia (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Jakob Mayenschein (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Riley MacRae (F – 98 – 7th in ’14 – Cambridge), Brett Neumann (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Frankie Pucci (F – 97 – 12th in ’13 – Niagara Falls Canucks), Jordan Sambrook (D – 98 – 10th in ’14 – Toronto Nationals)

NHL Prospects: Erik Cernak (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Los Angeles), Travis Dermott (D – 96 – 8-37-45 – Toronto), Jake Marchment (F – 96 – 10-13-23 – Los Angeles), Kyle Pettit (F – 96 – 16-11-27 – Vancouver), Dylan Strome (F – 97 – 45-84-129 – Arizona)

Rights Held: Matthew Baker (F – 97 – 11th in ’13 – Dartmouth), Owen Headrick (D – 97 – 14th in ’13 – Lake Superior State), Anton Karlsson (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Frolunda – Arizona), Nathan Kwiecinski (D – 96 – 9th in ’13 – Colorado College), Sean Kohler (F – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Penn State), Bryan Sienerth (F – 96 – 13th in ’12 – Mercyhurst)

Prediction: Fourth in Midwest Division (Obviously trying to replace Connor McDavid is a huge task and Dylan Strome may not return from the Arizona Coyotes. If he does come back, Strome and Alex DeBrincat should both put up solid numbers while the addition of Kings draft pick Erik Cernak on defence should allow the Otters to return to the playoffs.)

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Flint Firebirds

Last Season (as Plymouth Whalers): Fourth in West Division – Ninth in Western Conference (23-38-5-2) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Sean Callaghan (D – 94 – 5-9-14), Matthew Campagna (F – 94 – 26-25-51 – Toronto Varsity Blues), Victor Crus Rydberg (F – 95 – 15-30-45 – NY Islanders – Vita Hasten), Gianluca Curcuruto (D – 94 – 4-17-21), Mitch Jones (D – 95 – 9-9-18 – Alaska), Yannick Rathgeb (D – 95 – 5-11-16 – Gotteron), Danny Vanderwiel (F – 96 – 6-3-9)

Arriving: Samuel Duchesne (D – 99 – 4th in ’15), Zach Grzelewski (F – 97 – 5-7-12 – London), Dane Johnstone (F – 98 – 9th in ’14 – St. Thomas), Matyas Kantner (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Kyle Keyser (G – 99 – 4th in ’15), Hakon Nilsen (D – 98 – 7th in ’15), Zack Pittman (D – 95 – 0-10-10 – Ottawa), Vili Saarijarvi (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Detroit)

NHL Prospects: Connor Chatham (F – 95 – 17-20-37 – New Jersey), Sonny Milano (F – 96 – 22-46-68 – Columbus), Alex Nedeljkovic (G – 96 – 3.13 – 20-28-7 – Carolina), Alex Peters (D – 96 – 0-4-4 – Dallas), Josh Wesley (D – 96 – 5-5-10 – Carolina)

Rights Held: Jordan Greenway (F – 97 – 1st in ’13 – Boston – Minnesota), Dakota Joshua (F – 96 – 8th in ’13 – Ohio State – Toronto), Grant Jozefek (F – 97 – 14th in ’13 – Northeastern), Vasili Kolias (D – 97 – 12th in ’14 – Boston), Jacob Linhart (D – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Wisconsin), Seamus Malone (F – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Wisconsin), Laine McKay (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Merrimack), Aaron O’Neill (F – 97 – 10th in ’13 – New Hampshire), Adam Parsells (D – 97 – 13th in ’13 – Wisconsin – San Jose), Jack Roslovic (F – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Miami – Winnipeg), 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: Fifth in West Division (After getting a billion draft picks for Ryan McLeod, Flint is a team that’s working towards contending in the long-term. With Sonny Milano’s status still up in the air as to where he will play this year, the Firebirds could deal Alex Nedeljkovic to continue with the rebuilding process.)

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Guelph Storm

Last Season: Third in Midwest Division – Fourth in Western Conference (38-26-2-2) – Lost 4-0 to Sault Ste. Marie in West Semis

Departing: Phil Baltisberger (D – 95 – 4-14-18 – ZSC Lions), Tyler Bertuzzi (F – 95 – 43-55-98 – Detroit), Luke Cairns (F – 94 – 16-18-34 – Ryerson), Jason Dickinson (F – 95 – 27-44-71 – Dallas), Ryan Foss (F – 96 – 6-3-9 – Drummondville), Zac Leslie (D – 94 – 11-37-48 – Los Angeles), Chris Marchese (F – 94 – 17-32-49 – Ryerson), Pius Suter (F – 96 – 43-29-72 – ZSC Lions)

Arriving: Vladislav Braulin (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft), Nicholas Deakin-Poot (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Timo Haussener (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Brock Phillips (D – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Fergus), Isaac Ratcliffe (F – 99 – 1st in ’15),  Nicholas Sicoly (F – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Soo Thunderbirds), Liam Stevens (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Levi Tetrault (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Chatham), Kyle West (F – 98 – 7th in ’14 – Burlington)

NHL Prospects: Robby Fabbri (F – 96 – 25-26-51 – St. Louis)

Rights Held: Derek Daschke (D – 98 – 10th in ’14 – Western Michigan), David Farrance (D – 99 – 6th in ’15 – Boston), Owen Grant (D – 98 – 13th in ’14 – Vermont), Matthew Jakubowski (F – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Penn State), Zachary Osburn (D – 97 – 11th in ’13 – Michigan State), Nolan Stevens (F – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Northeastern), Alex Tuch (F  – 96 – 5th in ’12 – Boston College – Minnesota)

Prediction: Fifth in Midwest Division (Fabbri and overage netminder Justin Nichols are the last major pieces left from Guelph’s run to the Memorial Cup final in 2014. I would be stunned to see them stay all year with the Storm as the squad needs to rebuild and quickly.)

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Hamilton Bulldogs

Last Season (as the Belleville Bulls): Fourth in East Division – Seventh in Eastern Conference (27-33-3-5) – Lost 4-0 to Barrie in East Quarters

Departing: Adam Bignell (F – 94 – 1-3-4 – Waterloo), Brett Gustavsen (F – 94 – 20-22-42 – Carleton), Jordan Subban (D – 95 – 25-27-52 – Vancouver), David Tomasek (F – 96 – 13-18-31 – Dynamo Pardubice), Brett Welychka (F – 94 – 17-22-39 – Carleton), Alex Yuill (D – 95 – 4-17-21 – UOIT)

Arriving: MacKenzie Entwistle (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Fedor Gordeev (D – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Ondrej Kachyna (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Mitchell Mendonca (F – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Thorold), Christian Mieritz (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Joseph Mizzi (F – 98 – 7th in ’14 – Newmarket), Brody Morris (D – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Wellington), Matthew Strome (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Reilly Webb (D – 99 – 2nd in ’15)

NHL Prospects: N/A

Rights Held: Luke Martin (D – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Michigan), Jacob Panetta (D – 96 – 15th in ’12 – Colgate), Trent Shore (D – 96 – 12th in ’12 – Cornell), Josh Supryka (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Canisius), Joseph Wegwerth (F – 96 – 13th in ’12 – Notre Dame – Florida)

Prediction: First in East Division (I might be slightly early on the Bulldogs hype train but with some good young players and guys that can break out, they may surprise some this season. Plus, all eyes will be on the attendance figures compared to Belleville, so Hamilton may fly in under the radar.)

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Kingston Frontenacs

Last Season: Third in East Division – Sixth in Eastern Conference (32-28-5-3) – Lost 4-0 to North Bay in East Quarters

Departing: Sam Bennett (F – 96 – 11-11-22 – Calgary), Jake Gilmour (F – 96 – 0-1-1), Jacob Graves (D – 95 – 0-7-7 – Oshawa), Evan McEneny (D – 94 – 9-36-45 – Vancouver), Jarkko Parikka (D – 97 – 1-6-7 – Ilves), Corey Pawley (F – 95 – 8-22-30 – Caledonia), Robert Poleselllo (F – 94 – 17-19-36), Samuel Schutt (F – 94 – 16-15-31 – Lakehead)

Arriving: Jakob Brahaney (D – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Graeme Brown (D – 96 – 2-6-8 – Windsor), Robbie Burt (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Konstantin Chernyuk (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Ryan Cranford (F – 98 – 10th in ’14 – Ottawa Jr. Senators), Austin Grzenia (F – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Oakland Jr. Grizzlies), Zachary Moore (D – 98 – 6th in ’14 – St. Catherines), Jacob Paquette (D – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Brett Primeau (F – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Lasalle), Jason Robertson (F – 99 – 4th in ’15)

NHL Prospects: Lawson Crouse (F – 97 – 28-21-49 – Florida), Juho Lammikko (F – 96 – 17-26-43 – Florida), Roland McKeown (D – 96 – 6-24-30 – Carolina), Spencer Watson (F – 96 – 20-28-48 – Los Angeles)

Rights Held: Brad Cocca (F – 99 – 10th in ’15 – Harvard), Warren Foegele (F – 96 – 7th in ’14 – New Hampshire – Carolina), Grant Gabriele (D – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Western Michigan), Marcel Godbout (F – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Michigan State), Jacob Hayhurst (F – 97 – 10th in ’13 – RPI), Kris Myllari (D – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Penn State), Keenan Suthers (F – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Western Michigan), Matthew Thom (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Princeton)

Prediction: Fifth in East Division (With Sam Bennett moving on to Calgary and Lawson Crouse making a run at cracking Florida’s roster, the window for Kingston to be a legit Eastern Conference contender may have slammed shut. Crouse, Roland McKeown and Lucas Peressini could all be dealt as the Frontenacs will have to start yet another rebuild process as they try to win a first round series for the first time in nearly two decades.)

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Kitchener Rangers

Last Season: Fifth in Midwest Division – Sixth in Western Conference (32-26-3-7) – Lost 4-2 to London in West Quarters

Departing: Max Iafrate (D – 94 – 11-24-35 – Providence), Matthew Greenfield (G – 95 – 3.56 – 8-7-4 – Tri-City Storm), Jack Kilgour (F – 97 – 0-2-2 – Sherbrooke), Liam Maaskant (D – 94 – 3-10-13 – Acadia), Jake Paterson (G – 94 – 2.90 – 26-21-3 – Detroit)

Arriving: Sean Allen (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Kitchener Dutchmen), Brian Brosnan (D – 95 – 4-8-12 – Niagara), Joseph Garreffa (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Connor Hall (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Elmira), Nicholas McHugh (F – 99 – 7th in ’15), Luke Opilka (G – 97 – 6th in ’13 – US NTDP – St. Louis), Luke Richardson (G – 99 – 4th in ’15), Elijah Roberts (D – 99 – 2nd in ’15)

NHL Prospects: Ryan MacInnis (F – 96 – 25-37-62 – Arizona), Nick Magyar (F – 96 – 16-16-32 – Colorado), Luke Opilka (G – 97 – 6th in ’13 – US NTDP – St. Louis), Dmitrii Sergeev (D – 96 – 5-23-28 – St. Louis)

Rights Held: Chris Birdsall (G – 96 – 14th in ’13 – Boston College), Jeremy Bracco (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Boston College – Toronto), Jake Evans (F – 96 – 8th in ’12 – Notre Dame – Montreal), Colin Felix (D – 99 – 13th in ’15 – UMass), Adam Fox (D – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Harvard), Tyler Inamoto (F – 99 – 6th in ’15 – Wisconsin), Hayden Lavigne (G – 96 – Belleville’s 6th in ’12 – Michigan), Griffin Luce (D – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Michigan), Charlie McAvoy (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Boston), Thomas Novak (F – 97 – 13th in ’14 – Minnesota – Nashville), Adam Scheel (G – 99 – 10th in ’15 – Notre Dame), Ethan Spaxman (D – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Merrimack)

Prediction: Second in Midwest Division (The addition of St. Louis draft pick Luke Opilka is huge for the Rangers as it answered the one big question mark the squad had heading into the summer. With a decent defence and a veteran forward group, the Rangers can make a legit case to be the second best team in the Western Conference behind London.)

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London Knights

Last Season: Second in Midwest Division – Third in Western Conference (40-24-1-3) – Lost 4-0 to Erie in West Semis

Departing: Julius Bergman (D – 95 – 13-29-45 – San Jose), Max Domi (F – 95 – 32-70-102 – Arizona), Michael Giugovaz (G – 95 – 25-12-2 – Windsor), Zach Grzelewski (F – 97 – 5-7-12 – Flint), Matt Rupert (F – 94 – 30-45-75 – Toronto Marlies), Tait Seguin (F – 95 – 1-5-6 – Caledonia), Josh Sterk (F – 95 – 20-27-47 – Owen Sound), John Warren (F – 97 – 5-2-7 – London Nationals), Joel Wigle (F – 94 – 2-8-10 – Ryerson)

Arriving: Evan Bouchard (D – 99 – 1st in ’15), Eric Henderson (F – 98- 3rd in ’14 – Leamington), Max Jones (F – 98 – 1st in ’14 – US NTDP), Olli Juolevi (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Nicolas Mattinen (D – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Cumberland), Sam Miletic (F – 97 – 15th in ’13 – Green Bay), JJ Piccinich (F – 96 – 6th in ’12 – Boston – Toronto), Kole Sherwood (F – 97 – 22-26-48 – Ohio Blue Jackets – Columbus), Robert Thomas (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Matthew Tkachuk (F – 97- 4th in ’13 – US NTDP), Ryan Valentini (F – 97 – 7-12-19 – St. Thomas), Emanuel Vella (G – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Toronto Patriots)

NHL Prospects: Christian Dvorak (F – 96 – 41-68-109 – Arizona), Mitchell Marner (F – 97 – 44-82-126 – Toronto), Chris Martenet (D – 96 – 7-9-16 – Dallas), JJ Piccinich (F – 96 – 6th in ’12 – Boston – Toronto), Kole Sherwood (F – 97 – 22-26-48 – Ohio Blue Jackets – Columbus), Chandler Yakimowicz (F – 96 – 13-20-33 – St. Louis)

Rights Held: Daniel Bernhardt (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft – Djurgarden – NY Rangers), Ian Blacker (D – 99 – 4th in ’15 – Western Michigan), Sean Dhooghe (F – 99 – 13th in ’15 – Ohio State), Christian Evers (D – 97 – 5th in ’13 – North Dakota), Jacob Golden (D – 99 15th in ’15 – Harvard), Michael Latorella (G – 98 – 7th in ’14 – Ohio State), 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), Brady Tkachuk (F – 99 – 4th in ’15 – Boston), Zach Werenski (D – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Michigan – Columbus)

Prediction: First in Midwest Division (Sure the defence isn’t as strong as it has been over the years and the goaltending may need a slight upgrade when the trade deadline rolls around. However, the Knights offence is beyond loaded this year with a ton of high impact players joining the squad. Once again, London appears to be the team to beat.)

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Mississauga Steelheads

Last Season: Fourth in Central Division – Ninth in Eastern Conference (25-40-2-51) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Sam Babinstev (F – 94 – 18-28-46 – Nomad Astana), Jacob Brennan (G – 94 – 4.12 – 6-15-0 – Queen’s), Bryson Cianfrone (F – 95 – 13-39-52 – Owen Sound), Brandon Devlin (D – 94 – 20-19-39 – Ryerson), Adam Donnelly (F – 96 – 0-2-2 – Alberni Valley), Jimmy Lodge (F – 95 – 28-35-63 – Winnipeg), Bobby MacIntyre (F – 96 – 5-19-24 – Sault Ste. Marie), Spencer Martin (G – 95 – 2.98 – 15-13-1 – Colorado), Cody Thompson (F – 95 – 1-5-6)

Arriving: Daniel Muzito Bagenda (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft), Jack Flinn (G – 95 – 2.99 – 18-16-7 – Owen Sound), Nicolas Hague (D – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – Kitchener Dutchmen), Brandon Harrogate (F – 98 – 7th in ‘14 – Lasalle), Luke Kutkevicius (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – North York), Ryan McLeod (F – 99 – Flint’s 1st in ’15), Alexander Nylander (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Austin Osmanski (D – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Buffalo Jr. Sabres), Owen Tippett (F – 99 – 1st in ’15)

NHL Prospects: N/A

Rights Held: Lukas Haudum (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – Sodertalje), William Nylander (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Toronto Marlies – Toronto), Cayden Primeau (G – 99 – 5th in ’15 – Northeastern)

Prediction: Third in Central Division (This isn’t your father’s Mississauga based OHL team. With the McLeod brothers, Tippett, Nylander and Sean Day, this is going to be a fun squad to watch. Losing Spencer Martin to graduation hurts, but adding Jack Flinn is a good stop gap and might help the Steelheads contend for a home playoff seed.)

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Niagara IceDogs

Last Season: Third in Central Division – Fifth in Eastern Conference (37-27-2-2) – Lost 4-1 to Oshawa in East Semis

Departing: Brian Brosnan (D – 95 – 4-8-12 – Kitchener), Brandon Hope (G – 94 – 2.86 – 21-7-5 – St. Francis Xavier), Billy Jenkins (F – 94 – 15-41-56 – Lakehead), Cody Payne (F – 94 – 13-18-31), Carter Verhaeghe (F – 95 – 33-49-82 – NY Islanders)

Arriving: Hayden Davis (D – 99 – 1st in ’15), Ben Jones (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Evan Krassey (F – 98 – 8th in ’14 – St. Mary’s), Kyle Langdon (F – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Thorold), William Lochead (D – 98 – 3-11-14 – Ridley College), Christian Mitri (F – 98 – 12-4-16 – Vaughan Kings), Nick Pastorious (F – 96 – 4-3-7 – Barrie), Jonathon Schaefer (D – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Milton), Jack Wieringa (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – St. Mary’s)

NHL Prospects: Vince Dunn (D – 96 – 18-38-56 – St. Louis), Aaron Haydon (D – 96 – 8-17-25 – Dallas), Joshua Ho-Sang (F – 96 – 17-64-81 – NY Islanders), Graham Knott (F – 97 – 25-18-43 – Chicago), Ryan Mantha (D – 96 – 10-15-25 – NY Rangers), Brent Moran (G – 96 – 3.46 – 18-18-1 – Dallas), Brendan Perlini (F – 96 – 26-34-60 – Arizona), Blake Siebenaler (D – 96 – 12-25-37 – Columbus)

Rights Held: Trent Frederic (F – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Wisconsin), David Kase (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – KLH Chomutov – Philadelphia), Johnny Kovacevic (D – 97 – 12th in ’13 – Merrimack), Edwin Minney (G – 96 – 8th in ’12 – Michigan State), Joshua Norris (F – 99 – 6th in ’15 – Michigan)

Prediction: First in Central Division (In hindsight, I was probably a year early on the IceDogs but they seem to be the clear-cut favourite to win the Eastern Conference this time around with an impressive offence and a strong defence. The one question mark is with Brent Moran in goal as he will need to prove he can carry the full workload as a starter after losing the job to Brandon Hope last year.)

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North Bay Battalion

Last Season: Second in Central Division – Third in Eastern Conference (37-20-6-5) – Lost 4-2 to Oshawa in East Finals

Departing: Alexander Henriksson (F – 95 – 20-19-39 – Oskarshamn), Ray Huether (F – 94 – 12-24-36 – Western), Ryan Kujawinski (F – 95 – 34-25-59 – New Jersey), Marcus McIvor (D – 94 – 5-33-38 – New Brunswick), Brendan Miller (D – 94 – 19-36-55 – Toronto Marlies), Nick Moutrey (F – 95 – 25-37-62 – Columbus), Hampus Olsson (F – 95 – 4-12-16 – Kallinge), Nick Paul (F – 95 – 37-29-66 – Ottawa)

Arriving: Jacob Ball (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Justin Brazeau (F – 98 – 13th in ’14 – New Liskeard), Cam Dineen (D – 98 – 11th in ’14 – New Jersey Rockets), Maximilian Kislinger (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Brady Lyle (D – 99 – 1st in ’15), Kyle Moore (F – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Powassan), Kyle Potts (F – 98 – 5th in ’15 – Oakville Rangers), Jacob Ramalho (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Almonte)

NHL Prospects: Michael Amadio (F – 96 – 24-47-71 – Los Angeles), Riley Bruce (D – 97 – 0-3-3 – Calgary), Kyle Wood (D – 96 – 16-24-40 – Colorado)

Rights Held: Drake Board (F – 96 – 11th in ’12 – Niagara), Brody Brunet (F – 97 – 12th in ’13 – Lake Superior State), Ryan Hitchcock (F – 96 – 10th in ’12 – Yale), Robin Kovacs (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft – AIK – NY Rangers), Cameron Morrison (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Notre Dame)

Prediction: Second in Central Division (Although many of the key cogs from the strong teams over the last two season have now departed, the Battalion are a team that you should never take likely. It may take a bit for the new faces to get settled in, but I think North Bay will again be a team to watch in the East.)

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Oshawa Generals

Last Season: First in East Division – First in Eastern Conference (51-11-2-4) – 2013-14 OHL Champions – 2015 Memorial Cup Champions

Departing: Josh Brown (D – 94 – 6-15-21 – Florida), Chris Carlisle (D – 94 – 7-37-44 – Binghamton), Cole Cassels (F – 95 – 30-51-81 – Vancouver), Sonny Hertzberg (D – 95 – 1-5-6 – Herlev), Bradley Latour (F – 95 – 22-28-50 – Windsor), Tobias Lindberg (F – 95 – 32-46-78 – Ottawa), Michael McCarron (F – 95 – 28-40-68 – Montreal), Dakota Mermis (D – 94 – 6-24-30 – Arizona), Brent Pedersen (F – 95 – 17-20-37 – Laurentian), Will Petschenig (D – 95 – 3-10-13 – Saginaw), Hunter Smith (F – 95 – 23-26-49 – Calgary), Michael Turner (F – 95 – 6-6-12), Aidan Wallace (F – 95 – 12-12-24 – Toronto Varsity Blues)

Arriving: Domenic Commisso (F – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Mississauga Chargers), Liam Devine (G – 98 – 9th in ’14 – Guelph Hurricanes), Jacob Graves (D – 95 – 0-7-7 – Kingston), Lukas Lofquist (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft), Matt Latin (F – 97 – 9-5-14 – Oshawa Midget Generals), Kyle MacLean (F – 99 – 4th in ’15), Owen McDade (F – 96 – 10-14-24 – Pembroke), Misha Moor (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Daniel Robertson (D – 97 – 4th in ’13 – Whitby), Jalen Smereck (D – 97 – 15th in ’13 – Bloomington), Sullivan Sparkes (F – 99 – 5th in ’15), Riley Stillman (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Cobourg), Jack Studnicka (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Brock Welsh (F – 98 – 15th in ’14 – Orilla)

NHL Prospects: Anthony Cirelli (F – 97 – 13-23-36 – Tampa Bay), Michael Dal Colle (F – 96 – 42-51-93 – NY Islanders), Stephen Desrocher (D – 96 – 10-13-23 – Toronto), Matt Mistele (F – 95 – 37-27-64 – Los Angeles), Mitchell Vande Sompel (D – 97 – 12-51-63 – NY Islanders)

Rights Held: Cory Caruso (F – 96 – 13th in ’12 – Mercyhurst), Joseph Cecconi (D – 97 –  8th in ’14 – Michigan – Dallas), Patrick Grasso (F – 96 – 11th in ’13 – New Hampshire), Ian Johnston (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Lake Superior State), Brett Murray (F – 98 – 12th in ’14 – Penn State), Brett Seney (F – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Merrimack – New Jersey), Kelly Summers (D – 96 – 6th in ’12 – Clarkson – Ottawa)

Prediction: Third in East Division (As you may have noticed, the Generals are losing quite a lot from last year’s Memorial Cup winning side. Even if Michael Dal Colle is traded the Generals still have enough solid pieces, especially on the back-end, to make it into the playoffs.)

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Ottawa 67’s

Last Season: Second in East Division – Fourth in Eastern Conference (38-25-4-1) – Lost 4-2 to Niagara in East Quarters

Departing: Brendan Bell (F – 94 – 22-17-39), Taylor Davis (D – 95 – 2-11-13 – Weeks Crushers), Alex Lintuniemi (D – 95 – 7-27-34 – Los Angeles), Brandon Lukezic (D – 96 – 0-3-3), Dylan McDonald (F – 97 – 2-2-4), Curtis Meighan (F – 94 – 7-20-27 – Carleton), Matt Mercer (D – 97 – 0-1-1), Zack Pittman (D – 95 – 0-10-10 – Ottawa), Mike Vlajkov (D – 95 – 0-1-1)

Arriving: Ryan Barbosa (D – 98 – 10th in ’14 – Don Mills), William Brown (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Metcalfe), Stepan Falkovsky (D – 96 – ’15 Import Draft), Nolan Gardiner (F – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Wheatley), Noel Hoefenmayer (D – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Austen Keating (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Hudson Wilson (D – 99 – 3rd in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Jeremiah Addison (F – 96 – 19-28-47 – Montreal), Travis Konecny (F – 97 – 29-38-68 – Philadelphia), Jacob Middleton (D – 96 – 3-23-26 – Los Angeles)

Rights Held: Ben Blacker (G – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Western Michigan), Noah Delmas (D – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Niagara), Charlie Dovorany (F – 99 – 14th in ’15 – Minnesota-Duluth), Donovan Ott (F – 97 – 11th in ’13 – Cornell), Andrew Peeke (D – 98 – 15th in ’14 – Notre Dame), Steven Ruggiero (D – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Providence – Anaheim)

Prediction: Second in East Division (The offence will be good with Konecny and Dante Salituro leading the way and Liam Herbst seems to have his injury woes behind him to become a top-line starter. The one question mark I have is how a much younger defence will look for the 67’s as they had five 1995-birth year players going into the off-season.)

Thomas Schemitsch of the Owen Sound Attack. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Owen Sound Attack

Last Season: Fourth in Midwest Division – Fifth in Western Conference (35-24-2-7) – Lost 4-1 to Guelph in West Quarters

Departing: Chris Bigras (D – 95 – 20-51-71 – Colorado), Erik Bradford (F – 94 – 28-42-70 – Toronto Marlies), Holden Cook (F – 94 – 15-19-34 – St. Francis Xavier), Jack Flinn (G – 95 – 2.99 – 18-16-7 – Mississauga), Jeffrey Gilligan (F – 96 – 9-7-16 – Retired – Heart Condition), Ryan Heeps (F – 97 – 2-3-5 – Whitby), Daniel Milne (F – 94 – 20-24-44 – McGill), Zach Nastasiuk (F – 95 – 35-42-77 – Detroit), Kyle Platzer (F – 95 – 33-47-80 – Edmonton)

Arriving: Bryson Cianfrone (F – 95 – 13-39-52 – Mississauga), Riley Daniels (G – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Daniel Dekoning (G – 96 – 3.05 – 18-3-1 – Erie), Sean Durzi (D – 98 – 12th in ’14 – Mississauga Rebels), Jacob Friend (D – 97 – 1-6-7 – Cobourg), Markus Phillips (D – 99 – 1st in ’15), Greg Smith (F – 98 – 2-2-4 – Wellington), Josh Sterk (F – 95 – 20-27-47 – London), Matthew Struthers (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Nicholas Suzuki (F – 99 – 1st in ’15)

NHL Prospects: Liam Dunda (F – 97 – 2-7-9 – St. Louis), Jaden Lindo (F – 96 – 7-2-9 – Pittsburgh), Michael McNiven (G – 96 – 2.78 – 15-8-0 – Montreal), Thomas Schemitsch (D – 96 – 13-35-48 – Florida), Damir Sharipzyanov (D – 96 – 9-25-34 – Los Angeles)

Rights Held: Brent Gates (F – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Minnesota – Anaheim), Cameron Hackett (G – 96 – 4th in ’12 – RPI), William Knierim (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – Miami), Joseph Masonius (D – 97 – 12th in ’13 – Connecticut), Jamie McLaughlin (F – 96 – 13th in ’12 – Dartmouth), 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: Third in Midwest Division (On the surface, this isn’t a strong looking lineup compared to some of the other teams in the conference. However, with Michael McNiven leading the way in goal and a strong defence, they should prove a tough task for any team to go up against even if they don’t have a high-powered offence.)

Matt Spencer of the Peterborough Petes. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images.

Peterborough Petes

Last Season: Fifth in East Division – Eighth in Eastern Conference (26-36-1-5) – Lost 4-1 to Oshawa in East Quarters

Departing: Michael Clarke (F – 94 – 23-32-55 – St. Francis Xavier), Josh MacDonald (F – 94 – 29-23-52 – Utah), Matt McCartney (D – 95 – 0-4-4 – Caledonia), Nathan Pancel (F – 94 – 22-21-43 – St. Francis Xavier), Steven Varga (D – 95 – 2-13-15), Artem Vladimirov (D – 97 – 2-5-7 – Sibriskie)

Arriving: CJ Clarke (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Cole Fraser (D – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Zachary Gallant (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Nick Grima (D – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Adam McPhail (F – 97 – 2-4-6 – Saginaw), Eddie Schulz (F – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Strathroy), Scott Smith (G – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Milton), Matthew Watson (D – 96 – 1-6-7 – Cobourg)

NHL Prospects: Eric Cornel (F – 96 – 14-38-52 – Buffalo), Kyle Jenkins (D – 96 – 7-29-36 – Carolina), Steven Lorentz (F – 96 – 15-21-36 – Carolina), Dominik Masin (D – 96 – 7-19-26 – Tampa Bay), Matt Spencer (D – 97 – 6-24-30 – Tampa Bay)

Rights Held: Matt Alvaro (F – 96 – 10th in ’12 – Providence), Matthew Cairns (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Cornell), Logan Cockerill (F – 99 – 14th in ’15 – Boston), Logan Hutsko (F – 99 – 6th in ’15 – Penn State), Hunter Racine (F – 96 – 4th in ’12 – Colgate), Matthew Robson (G – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Milton), Jonne Tammela (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Kalpa – Tampa Bay), Zac Tierney (D – 97 – 9th in ’12 – Ferris State), Jake Walman (D – 97 – 6th in ’14 – Providence – St. Louis)

Prediction: Fourth in East Division (While I like the defence and the goaltending, I have no idea where the goals are going to come from, especially after the first line. Unless a couple of forwards have massive seasons, that might prove costly in the quest for a playoff berth.)

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Saginaw Spirit

Last Season: Third in West Division – Eighth in Western Conference (29-36-2-1) – Lost 4-0 to Sault Ste. Marie in West Quarters

Departing: Vladislav Kodola (F – 96 – 6-15-21 – Cherepovets), Adam McPhail (D – 97 – 2-4-6 – Peterborough), Jacob Ringuette (D – 94 – 9-15-24 – Lakehead)

Arriving: Cole Coskey (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Brady Gilmour (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Matthew Kreis (F – 97 – 3-10-13 – Barrie), Kirill Maximov (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Markus Niemelainen (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Will Petschenig (F – 95 – 3-10-13 – Oshawa)

NHL Prospects: Dylan Sadowy (F – 96 – 42-32-74 – San Jose), Mitchell Stephens (F – 97 – 21-26-47 – Tampa Bay)

Rights Held: Tarek Baker (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Minnesota), Jackson Bales (F – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Merrimack), Kyle Connor (F – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Michigan – Winnipeg), Michael Pastujov (F – 99 – 4th in ’15 – Michigan) Nick Pastujov (F – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Michigan)

Prediction: First in West Division (I might be a year early on the Spirit as I was with Niagara last year, but I love the young core that Saginaw has. It won’t be enough to make it to the final given what London has on offence, but the Spirit might be a force in the coming seasons.)

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Sarnia Sting

Last Season: Second in West Division – Seventh in Western Conference (29-32-4-3) – Lost 4-1 to Erie in West Quarters

Departing: Davis Brown (F – 95 – 19-14-33 – Sollentuna), Josh Chapman (D – 94 – 0-8-8 – Rochester), Taylor Dupuis (G – 94 – 3.38 – 21-16-5 – Ryerson), Stephen Pierog (F – 94 – 13-27-40 – Evansville)

Arriving: Chase Campbell (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Waterloo Siskins), Sacha Chmeleveski (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Kaden Fulcher (G – 13th in ’14 – The Hill Academy), Josh Jacobs (D – 96 – 4th in ’12 – Michigan State – New Jersey), Ryan McGregor (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Franco Sproviero (D – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Lambton Shores)

NHL Prospects: Josh Jacobs (D – 96 – 4th in ’12 – Michigan State – New Jersey), Nikita Korostelev (F – 97 – 24-28-52 – Toronto), Pavel Zacha (F – 97 – 16-18-34 – New Jersey)

Rights Held: Bradley Belisle (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Bemidji State), Nicholas Boka (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Michigan – Minnesota), Mitch Eliot (D – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Michigan State), Martin Frechette (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Vermont), Quinton Hughes (D – 99 – 3rd in ’15 – Michigan), Luke Kunin (F – 97 – 12th in ’13 – Wisconsin), Patrik Laine (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft – Tappara), Louis Latta (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft – Kolner), Graham McPhee (F – 98 – 9th in ’14 – Boston College), Andrew Peski (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – North Dakota), Brody Stevens (F – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Western Michigan)

Prediction: Third in West Division (While the Sting have a pretty decent lineup, there are a few question marks that prevent me from going all in on them. How good will a very young goaltending tandem be? Will Pavel Zacha come back to the OHL or will he play in New Jersey? And lastly, how good of a head coach will Derian Hatcher be?)

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Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Last Season: First in West Division – First in Western Conference (54-12-0-2) – Lost 4-2 to Erie in West Finals

Departing: Justin Bailey (F – 95 – 34-35-69 – Buffalo), Connor Boland (D – 94 – 4-18-22 – Carleton), Michael Bunting (F – 95 – 37-37-74 – Arizona), Anthony DeAngelo (D – 95 – 25-64-89 – Tampa Bay), Jean Dupuy (F – 94 – 18-28-46 – Buffalo), Tyler Ganly (D – 95 – 2-14-16 – Carolina), Bryan Moore (F – 94 – 23-27-50 – San Diego), Darnell Nurse (D – 95 – 10-23-33 – Edmonton), Nick Ritchie (D – 95 – 29-33-62 – Anaheim), Sergey Tolchinsky (F – 95 – 30-65-95 – Carolina)

Arriving: Theodore Calvas (D – 98 – 14th in ’15), Anthony DeMeo (D – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Morgan Frost (F – 99 – 4th in ’15), Liam Hawel (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Boris Katchouk (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14 – Soo Thunderbirds), Jack Kopacka (F – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Compuware), Bobby MacIntyre (F – 96 – 5-19-24 – Mississauga), Conor Timmins (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – St. Catherines), Makar Tokarev (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Gustav Bouramman (D – 97 – 5-39-44 – Minnesota), Brandon Halverson (D – 96 – 2.63 – 40-5-2 – NY Rangers), Jared McCann (F – 96 – 34-47-81 – Vancouver), Zachary Senyshyn (F – 97 – 26-19-45 – Boston), Blake Speers (F – 97 – 24-43-67 – New Jersey), Colton White (D – 97 – 6-16-22 – New Jersey)

Rights Held: Anthony Angello (F – 96 – 15th in ’12 – Cornell – Pittsburgh), Kyle Betts (F – 97 – 10th in ’14 – Cornell), Austin Cho (D – 97 – 12th in ’13 – RPI), Adrian Clark (G – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Dartmouth), Austin Dittenhafer (D – 97 – 9th in ’13 – Vermont), Justin Fregona (F – 97 – 13th in ’13 – New Hampshire), Jake Gingell (D – 97 – 13th in ’13 – Michigan Tech), Keeghan Howdeshell (F – 98 – 10th in ’14 – Ferris State), Cody Milan (F – 96 – 4th in ’12 – Michigan State)

Prediction: Second in West Division (Although the Greyhounds lose a ton of firepower from last year’s team, this is still a pretty solid roster. However, with so many picks being dealt to load up at the trade deadline back in January, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jared McCann (provided he doesn’t stick in Vancouver) or Brandon Halverson are both dealt later this year to build towards the future.)

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Sudbury Wolves

Last Season: Fifth in Central Division – Tenth in Eastern Conference (12-54-1-1) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Austin Clapham (D – 97 – 2-5-7 – Saint John), Jeff Corbett (D – 94 – 8-19-27 – Brock), Ivan Kashtanov (F – 97 – 6-11-17 – Zvezda Chekhov), Brody Silk (F – 94 – 9-11-20 – Brock), Samuel Tanguay (G – 95 – 4.79 – 3-18-1 – Prince George Spruce Kings), Travis Wood (F – 95 – 5-7-12 – Bismarck), David Zeppieri (F – 97 – 1-11-12)

Arriving: Brandon Bastasin (D – 98 – 7th in ’14 – Don Mills), MacAuley Carson (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Ben Garagan (F – 99 – 5th in ’15), David Levin (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Alan Lyszczarzyk (F – 98 – 27-39-66 – KLH Chomutov), Matthew Menna (G – 98 – 7th in ’14 – Mississauga Rebels), Patrick Murphy (D – 95 – 6-25-31 – Erie), Nicholas Romero (F – 98 – 11th in ’14 – Don Mills Flyers), Dmitri Sokolov (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Kyle Capobianco (D – 97 – 10-30-40 – Arizona), Pavel Jenys (F – 96 – 15-30-45 – Minnesota), Matt Schmalz (F – 96 – 24-16-40 – Los Angeles)

Rights Held: Bradley Bell (D – 96 – Mississauga’s 3rd in ’12 – RPI), Zachary Berzolla (D – 98 – 13th in ’14 – Colorado College), William Harrison (F – 96 – 9th in ’12 – St. Lawrence), Tyler Madden (F – 99 – 8th in ’15 – Colorado College)

Prediction: Fifth in Central Division (It can’t go much worse for Sudbury after their struggles last year, but things are looking up for them. Granted, there are still some holes that need to be filled before they can be a true contender in the East, but Levin and Sokolov are a nice 1-2 youthful punch that may sneak them into the playoff discussion.)

Logan Brown of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Windsor Spitfires

Last Season: Fifth in West Division – Ninth in Western Conference (23-38-5-2) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Graeme Brown (D – 96 – 2-6-8 – Kingston), Slatter Doggett (F – 94 – 25-26-51 – Queen’s), Alex Fotinos (G – 95 – 3.85 – 12-24-0), Jamie Lewis (F – 94 – 19-22-41), Trevor Murphy (D – 95 – 24-39-63 – Nashville), Sam Povorozniouk (F – 95 – 15-24-39 – Saint John), Lucas Venuto (F – 94 – 20-21-41 – Morrums)

Arriving: Kyle Auger (D – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Daniel Beaudoin (F – 96 – 19-26-45 – LaSalle), Lucas Boka (F – 99 – 5th in ’15), Cole Carter (F – 98 – 4th in ’15), Mario Culina (G – 97 – 2.24 – 21-7-0 – Soo Thunderbirds), Michael DiPietro (G – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Christian Fischer (F – 97 – 11th in ’13 – US NTDP – Arizona), Michael Giugovaz (G – 95 – 3.59 – 25-12-2 – London), Christof Kromp (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Bradley Latour (F – 95 – 22-28-50 – Oshawa), Mikhali Sergachev (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Gabriel Vilardi (F – 99 – 1st in ’15)

NHL Prospects: Cristiano DiGiacinto (F – 96 – 21-24-45 – Tampa Bay), Christian Fischer (F – 97 – 11th in ’13 – US NTDP – Arizona), Patrick Sanvido (D – 96 – 3-8-11 – Dallas), Markus Soberg (F – 95 – 13-17-30 – Columbus)

Rights Held: Adam Baughman (D – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Harvard), Louis Belpedio (D – 96 – 9th in ’12 – Miami – Minnesota), Robbie DeMontis (F – 96 – 13th in ’12 – Yale), Chris Dodero (F – 96 – 14th in ’12 – Colorado College), Fletcher Fineman (F – 99 – 11th in ’15 – Union), Clayton Keller (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – Boston), Ryker Killins (D – 96 – 12th in ’12 – Ferris State), Chase Pearson (F – 99 – Oshawa’s 4th in ’13 – Maine – Detroit), Nick Schmaltz (F – 96 – 4th in ’12 – North Dakota – Chicago), Brendan Warren (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Michigan – Arizona), Evan Wisocky (F – 98 – 13th in ’14 – Connecticut)

Prediction: Fourth in West Division (The offence looks good and the defence isn’t too bad, although Trevor Murphy did go to the pro ranks after signing with Nashville. The goaltending is pretty interesting though as they now have four players on the roster after picking up Michael Giugovaz in a trade. Michael DiPietro is highly touted, but how often does a team that wants to make the playoffs lean on a rookie that heavily?)

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OHL Standings

Eastern Conference

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

Western Conference

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

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First Coach To Be Fired: Paul McFarland (The Frontenacs are in an odd situation given that they haven’t won in a playoff series in ages and they don’t have a lot of young depth it appears for the future. McFarland might become the fall guy for an organization that’s spinning their tires.)

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Biggest Name To Be Traded: Michael Dal Colle (Robby Fabbri is probably the safer bet here but with Dal Colle back from Islanders camp I wouldn’t be surprised if a team in the West, mainly London, makes a move for him.)

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Best First Year Import: Dimitri Sokolov (The way-to-early NHL Mock Drafts have Sokolov pegged as a potential top ten pick for the 2016 draft. Granted, I’m not sure how strong he’ll be in Sudbury, but with that type of pedigree around him, it’s hard for me to pick someone other than Sokolov.)

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Top Scorer: Mitchell Marner (Sure he’s probably going to miss some games because of the World Juniors. However, have you seen the offence that London has and the points that he put up last year? This was another no-brainer.)

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Coach Of The Year: Greg Gilbert (Last season’s Spirit squad was the youngest ever to make the playoffs in OHL history. With a veteran coach like Gilbert helping them out, the Spirit should be even better this year and their bench boss will be rewarded for it.)

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Overage Player Of The Year: Ken Appleby (As I post this, Appleby has just signed a contract with the New Jersey Devils and is rumoured to be headed to the ECHL. Obviously, that would make this pick wrong but I’ll leave it up since that’s what I had on opening night. If I had to pick someone else for this though, I would go with his Generals teammate Matt Mistele.)

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Rookie Of The Year: Ryan McLeod (As ever, there are a lot of talented players to pick from here. In the end, I went with the third overall pick in this year’s draft, who was dealt from Flint to Mississauga where he joins a very talented young forward group.)

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Top Defenceman: Jakob Chychrun (With Darnell Nurse, Anthony DeAngelo and Chris Bigras all graduating to the pro ranks, their isn’t a lot of high level veteran defenceman floating around the OHL at the moment. As a result, I’ve decided to pick the player who will more than likely be picked after Auston Matthews in June’s NHL Entry Draft, provided that he stays healthy.)

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Top Goalie: Brandon Halverson (It remains to be seen if Halverson will remain with the Greyhounds come playoff time or if he will be dealt away to another team. Either way, the expected starter for this year’s United States world junior squad should have another strong season.)

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Most Valuable Player: Mitchell Marner (It’s hard to pick anyone else for this one. With Connor McDavid moving on, Marner has now assumed the mantle as the OHL player you have to stop everything you are doing to watch him do his thing.)

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OHL Champions: London Knights over Niagara Ice Dogs (This potential rematch of the 2012 OHL final will hopefully be a little bit closer. At the moment, I’m not sure anyone can match the Knights firepower on offence and they look to be the clear favourites to win their third OHL title in the last five years.)


2015-16 WHL Season Preview

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This year’s a massive one in the Western Hockey League. Not only is the WHL celebrating it’s 50th season, but the Red Deer Rebels are hosing the first Memorial Cup in Alberta over 40 years and the Brandon Wheat Kings are the massive favourite to win the national title in May.

There’s a number of other storylines besides those ones though. There’s a perennial group of strong teams that are looking good yet again, other teams that are on the rise, and a number of star players that may find themselves in new places. As such, I will attempt to predict what will happen.

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Brandon Wheat Kings

Last Season: First in East Division – First in Eastern Conference (53-11-4-4) – Lost 4-0 to Kelowna in WHL Finals

Departing: Reid Gow (D – 94 – 2-11-13), Morgan Klimchuk (F – 95 – 34-46-80 – Calgary), Alex Moodie (G – 95 – 4.01 – 9-8-2), Ryan Pilon (D – 96 – 11-41-52 – NY Islanders – Personal Reasons), Peter Quenneville (F – 94 – 37-48-75 – Columbus), Eric Roy (D – 94 – 5-40-45)

Arriving: Connor Gutenberg (F – 99 – 5th in ’14), Ty Lewis (F – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Brandon Midget Wheat Kings), Linden McCorrister (F – 98 – 7th in ’13 – Swan Valley), Stelio Mattheos (F – 99 – 1st in ’14), Dominic Thom (D – 96 – 0-0-0 – Prince George), Logan Thompson (G – 97 – 6th in ’12 – Grande Prairie), Dario Winkler (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Reid Duke (F – 96 – 20-31-51 – Minnesota), Jayce Hawryluk (F – 96 – 30-35-65 – Florida), Ivan Provorov (D – 97 – 15-46-61 – Philadelphia), John Quenneville (F – 96 – 17-30-47 – New Jersey)

Rights Held: Wade Allison (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Western Michigan), Joey Anderson (F – 98 – 9th in ’13 – Minnesota-Duluth), Mikey Anderson (D – 99 – 11th in ’14 – Minnesota-Duluth), Colt Conrad (F – 97 – Lethbridge’s 3rd in ’12 – Western Michigan), Rhett Gardner (F – 96 – Spokane’s 2nd in ’11 – North Dakota), Oliver Kylington (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Calgary), Ryan Lindgren (D – 98 – 8th in ’13 – Minnesota), Mitch Slattery (F – 96 – Listed – St. Cloud State), Dylan Thiessen (F – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Mercyhurst)

Prediction: First in East Division (There are still some question marks with the Wheat Kings, especially on defence with Ryan Pilon leaving and Oliver Kylington looking more and more likely to be playing in the AHL. However, with the amount of talent the Wheat Kings have, that’s a small issue from what is easily the odds on favourite to win the WHL title.)

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Calgary Hitmen

Last Season: First in Central Division – Second in Eastern Conference (45-22-1-4) – Lost 4-1 to Brandon in East Finals

Departing: Kenton Helgesen (F – 94 – 21-24-45 – Anaheim), Connor Rankin (F – 94 – 32-47-79 – Bakersfield), Mack Shields (G – 95 – 2.67 – 27-16-2 – Prince George), Adam Tambellini (F – 94 – 47-39-86 – NY Rangers)

Arriving: Lucas Cullen (F – 99 – 5th in ’14), Matt Dorsey (F – 99 – 3rd in ’14), Kyle Dumba (G – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Edge School), Andrew Fyten (F – 98 – Everett’s 5th in ’13 – Edge School), Aaron Hyman (D – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Calgary Midget Flames), Mark Kastelic (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Jakob Lapointe (D – 98 – 0-5-5 – Lloydminster), Dawson Martin (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13 – Winnipeg Wild), Lasse Petersen (G – 97 – 3.40 – 5-7-0 – Swan Valley)

NHL Prospects: Radel Fazleev (F – 96 – 18-33-51 – Philadelphia), Keegan Kanzig (D – 95 – 3-19-22 – Calgary), Pavel Karnaukhov (F – 97 – 20-22-42 – Calgary), Chase Lang (F – 96 – 25-31-56 – Minnesota), Travis Sanheim (D – 96 – 15-50-65 – Philadelphia), Ben Thomas (D – 96 – 7-24-31 – Tampa Bay), Jake Virtanen (F – 96 – 21-31-52 – Vancouver)

Rights Held: Jack Becker (F – 97 – Listed – Wisconsin – Boston), Will Borgen (D – 96 – Listed – St. Cloud State – Buffalo), Justin Dixson (F – 98 – Listed – UMass), Kris Oldham (G – 97 – Listed – Nebraska-Omaha – Tampa Bay), Chase Perry (G – 96 – Listed – Wenatchee – Detroit)

Prediction: Second in Central Division (At the moment, everyone is waiting to see if Jake Virtanen is going to come back from Vancouver Canucks camp. Even if he doesn’t return, the depth the Hitmen is still good enough for them to contend for a division title.)

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Edmonton Oil Kings

Last Season: Fifth in Central Division – Seventh in Eastern Conference (34-31-4-3) – Lost 4-1 to Brandon in East Quarters

Departing: Cole Benson (F – 95 – 10-18-28 – Western), Marshall Donald (D – 95 – 2-8-10), Mads Eller (F – 95 – 8-19-27), Tristan Jarry (G – 95 – 2.74 – 23-26-6 – Pittsburgh), Jake Kohlhauser (D – 96 – 1-2-3 – Saskatoon), Edgars Kulda (F – 94 – 13-17-30 – Dinamo Riga), Blake Orban (D – 94 – 6-19-25 – Lethbridge Pronghorns), Brandon Ralph (F – 96 – 5-6-11 – Everett), Ashton Sautner (D – 94 – 12-39-51 – Vancouver)

Arriving: Jordan Dawson (D – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Delta Hockey Academy), Alec Dillon (G – 96 – Swift Current’s 5th in ’11 – Tri-City Storm – Los Angeles), Kole Gable (F – 98 – 9th in ’13 – Fort Saskatchewan), Brayden Gorda (D – 99 – 3rd in ’14), Colton Kehler (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Langley), Branden Klatt (F – 98 – 6th in ’13 – Moose Jaw Generals), Dario Meyer (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft), Kobe Mohr (F – 99 – 1st in ’14), Carter Phair (G – 98 – 10th in ’13 – Yorkton), Anatoli Yelizarov (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Kyle Yewchuk (D – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Calgary North Stars)

NHL Prospects: Brandon Baddock (F – 95 – 19-21-40 – New Jersey), Alec Dillon (G – 96 – Swift Current’s 5th in ’11 – Tri-City Storm – Los Angeles), Aaron Irving (D – 96 – 6-7-13 – Nashville), Dysin Mayo (D – 96 – 14-37-51 – Arizona), Brett Pollock (F – 96 – 32-30-62 – Dallas)

Rights Held: Logan Mick (F – 96 – 6th in ’11 – Quinnipiac), Connor Sych (D – 97 – 9th in ’12 – St. Lawrence)

Prediction: Fourth in Central Division (This is a team that can go either way. By bringing in last year’s USHL goalie of the year Alec Dillon, the Oil Kings may have added a piece that can assure them of a playoff spot. However, if things go sideways, players like Brett Pollock, Aaron Irving and Dysin Mayo may get dealt in order to start a rebuild.)

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Everett Silvertips

Last Season: First in US Division – Second in Western Conference (43-20-3-6) – Lost 4-1 to Portland in West Semis

Departing: Logan Aasman (F – 95 – 2-9-11 – Brooks), Kohl Bauml (F – 94 – 30-30-60 – Saskatchewan), Ben Betker (D – 94 – 6-25-31 – Edmonton), Brayden Low (F – 94 – 16-15-31 – Alberta), Jake Mykitiuk (F – 95 – 4-3-7 – Spruce Grove), Ivan Nikolishin (F – 96 – 16-46-62 – Red Deer), Nikita Scherbak (F – 95 – 27-55-82 – Montreal), Jordan Wharrie (D – 97 – 2-2-4 – Victoria)

Arriving: Jacob Christiansen (D – 99 – 5th in ’14), Connor Dewar (F – 99 – 5th in ’14), Mackenzie Dwyer (D – 97 – 5-12-17 – Portage), Spencer Gerth (F – 98 – 8-14-22 – Golden), Yan Khomenko (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Brian King (F – 99 – 4th in ’14), Jantzen Leslie (D – 99 – 1st in ’14), Sean Mallonee (F – 98 – 5-12-17 – Everett Jr. Silvertips), Mario Petit (G – 97 – 2.63 – 9-6-0 – Steinbach), Brandon Ralph (F – 96 – 5-6-11 – Edmonton), Alexander Scherbakov (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Devon Skoleski (F – 97 – 25-31-56 – Eastman Selects), Riley Sutter (F – 99 – 6th in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Noah Juulsen (D – 97 – 9-43-52 – Montreal)

Rights Held: Matt Anderson (D – 99 – 10th in ’14 – Minnesota-Duluth), Justin Baudry (D – 96 – Listed – Bemidji State), Josh Blanchard (F – 96 – Listed – St. Cloud State), Carmine Buono (D – 97 – Listed – UMass), Jaxon Castor (G – 97 – Listed – Arizona State), Myles Cunningham (D – 98 – Listed – Brown), Nate Knoepke (D – 99 – 9th in ’14 – Minnesota), Gage Mackie (F – 97 – Listed – Arizona State), Tyson Jost (F – 98 – 1st in ’13 – North Dakota), Auston Matthews (F – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – ZSC Lions), Casey Mittelstadt (F – 98 – Listed – Minnesota), Dayton Rasmussen (G – 98 – Listed – Denver)

Prediction: Fifth in US Division (This isn’t just because Everett were unable to bring in both Auston Matthews and Tyson Jost. The goaltending and defence are alright, but I have no idea where the goals are going to come from, especially with Nikita Scherbak moving on to the pro ranks.)

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Kamloops Blazers

Last Season: Fourth in BC Division – Ninth in Western Conference (28-37-4-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Michael Fora (D – 95 – 6-26-32 – Ambri-Piotta), Brady Gaudet (D – 94 – 4-14-18 – Mount Royal), Joel Hamilton (F – 94 – 14-25-39 – UBC), Cole Kehler (G – 97 – 4.65 – 3-14-2), Logan McVeigh (F – 94 – 10-25-35 – Saskatchewan), Cole Ully (F – 95 – 34-60-94 – Dallas), Travis Verveda (D – 97 – 0-4-4)

Arriving: Spencer Bast (F – 97 – 19-17-36 – Battlefords), Dylan Ferguson (G – 98 – 8th in ’13 – Notre Dame Hounds), Nolan Kneen (D – 99 – 1st in ’14), Connor McDonald (D – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Erik Miller (F – 99 – 3rd in ’14), Garrett Pilon (F – 98 – 7th in ’13 – Saskatoon Contacts), Ondrej Vala (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Ryan Rehill (D – 95 – 7-13-20 – New Jersey), Deven Sideroff (F – 97 – 17-25-42 – Anaheim)

Rights Held: Jarod Hilderman (D – 97 – Listed – Minnesota-Duluth), Phillip Knies (F – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Miami), Tyson McLellan (F – 96 – Listed – Connecticut), Kyler Nachtigall (F – 96 – 8th in ’11 – UMass)

Prediction: Fifth in BC Division (The Blazers do have some good talent, especially up front with Deven Sideroff and Jake Kryski. However, I think they are missing just that extra little bit of players that will push them into the playoffs. That might change next season, but not just yet.)

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Kelowna Rockets

Last Season: First in BC Division – First in Western Conference (53-11-4-4) – 2014-15 WHL Champions – Lost 2-1 to Oshawa in Memorial Cup Final

Departing: Madison Bowey (D – 95 – 17-43-60 – Washington), Chance Braid (F – 94 – 13-11-24 – Idaho), Leon Draisaitl (F – 95 – 19-34-53 – Edmonton), Tyrell Goulbourne (F – 94 – 22-23-45 – Philadelphia), Cole Martin (D – 94 – 7-32-39 – Idaho), Jake Morrissey (D – 97 – 1.98 – 8-1-1), Josh Morrissey (D – 95 – 13-25-38 – Winnipeg), Mitchell Wheaton (D – 95 – 0-1-1 – Saskatoon)

Arriving: Gordie Ballhorn (D – 97 – 3-11-14 – Whitecourt), Jordan Borstmayer (F – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Saskatoon Contacts), Conner Bruggen-Cate (F – 99 – 6th in ’14), Braydyn Chizen (D – 98 – 9th in ’13 – Leduc), Cal Foote (D – 98 – 2nd in ’13 – Colorado Thunderbirds), Danny Gatenby (D – 98 – 1-9-10 – Okanagan), Kole Lind (F – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Saskatoon Contacts), Jonathan Smart (D – 99 – 1st in ’14), Calvin Thurkauf (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Alexander Uryga (F – 98 – 4-2-6 – North Vancouver)

NHL Prospects: Rourke Chartier (F – 96 – 48-34-82 – San Jose), Justin Kirkland (F – 96 – 21-30-51 – Nashville), Nick Merkley (F – 97 – 20-70-90 – Arizona), Devante Stephens (D – 97 – 4-7-11 – Buffalo)

Rights Held: Brendan Barry (G – 97 – Listed – Clarkson), Nicholas Jones (F – 96 – Listed – Ohio State), Michael Regush (F – 98 – Listed – Cornell)

Prediction: First in BC Division (The Rockets do lose a lot from last year’s defending champions, especially on defence, but their offence is still scary good with Rourke Chartier, Nick Merkley and Dillon Dube leading the way. They are still the team to beat out West.)

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Kootenay Ice

Last Season: Fourth in Central Division – Sixth in Eastern Conference (37-31-1-3) – Lost 4-3 to Calgary in East Quarters

Departing: Tim Bozon (F – 94 – 35-28-63 – Montreal), Levi Cable (F – 94 – 28-23-51 – Saskatchewan), Ryan Chynoweth (F – 95 – 5-12-17 – Drumheller), Jaedon Descheneau (F – 95 – 34-47-81 – St. Louis), Tanner Faith (D – 95 – 1-5-6 – Moose Jaw – Minnesota), Lenny Hackman (D – 95 – 1-5-6), Sam Reinhart (F – 95 – 19-46-65 – Buffalo), Rinat Valiev (D – 95 – 9-37-46 – Toronto), Austin Vetterl (F – 94 – 13-26-39 – UBC)

Arriving: Shane Allan (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Calgary Royals), Connor Barley (F – 98 – 7th in ’13 – Winnipeg Thrashers), Roman Dymacek (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Mario Grman (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – 0-3-3 – Red Deer), Dallas Hines (D – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Lloydminster Bobcats), Declan Hobbs (G – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Saskatoon Contacts), Jared Legien (F – 98 – 1st in ’13 – Moose Jaw Generals), Nathan Mortlock (D – 96 – 1-2-3 – Regina), Max Patterson (F – 99 – 4th in ’14), Noah Philp (F – 98 – 1-2-3 – Canmore), Jason Wenzel (D – 98 – 6-14-20 – Calgary Northstars)

NHL Prospects: N/A

Rights Held: Ryley Risling (F – 96 – 7th in ’11 – Vermont)

Prediction: Sixth in Central Division (Even if Jaedon Descheneau ends up coming back, things are looking pretty dire for the Ice and they might be the worse team in the league. The biggest question going forward might be if the team ends up staying in Cranbrook or moving elsewhere next season.)

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Lethbridge Hurricanes

Last Season: Sixth in Central Division – Eleventh in Eastern Conference (20-44-5-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Carter Amson (F – 96 – 1-0-1), Florian Baltram (F – 97 – 5-14-19 – EC Salzburg), Devan Fafard (D – 94 – 5-5-10 – UBC), Kade Jensen (D – 97 – 4-15-19 – Swift Current), Pavel Skumatov (F – 97 – 6-3-9 – Vityazi Chekhov), Nick Walters (D – 94 – 2-12-14 – Calgary Dinos), Jamal Watson (F – 95 – 26-28-54 – Seattle), Johnny Wesley (F – 97 – 6-5-11 – Surrey), Mike Winther (F – 94 – 15-22-37 – Calgary Dinos)

Arriving: Arvin Atwal (D – 95 – 6-19-25 – Vancouver), Egor Babenko (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Jordy Bellerive (F – 99 – 1st in ’14), Brett Davis (F – 99 – 4th in ’14), Ben Duperreault (F – 96 – 1-4-5 – Moose Jaw), Zane Franklin (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Justin Gutierrez (F – 95 – 11-18-29 – Tri-City), Igor Merezhko (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Cory Millette (F – 95 – 24-23-47 – Seattle), Barrett Sheen (F – 98 – 11-16-27 – UFA Bisons), Darian Skeoch (D – 97 – 5-5-10 – Calgary Mustangs), Nick Watson (D – 99 – 2nd in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Giorgio Estephan (F – 97 – 23-28-51 – Buffalo), Andrew Nielsen (D – 96 – 7-17-24 – Toronto)

Rights Held: Michael Graham (F – 97 – Listed – Minnesota-Duluth), Chase Phelps (F – 96 – Listed – Boston), Max Zimmer (F – 97 – Listed – Wisconsin)

Prediction: Fifth in Central Division (For the first time in a long time, there’s actual optimism surrounding the Hurricanes. They have a number of exciting newcomers, which are led by Jordy Bellerive, and a star goalie on the rise in Stuart Skinner. There’s a good chance that they could make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.)

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Medicine Hat Tigers

Last Season: Second in Central Division – Third in Eastern Conference (45-23-2-2) – Lost 4-1 to Calgary in East Semis

Departing: Anthony Ast (F – 95 – 4-2-6 – EHC Klostersee), Kyle Becker (D – 94 – 11-14-25 – UBC), Kyle Burroughs (D – 95 – 7-32-39 – NY Islanders), Dryden Hunt (F – 95 – 33-50-83 – Moose Jaw), Chad Labelle (F – 95 – 8-12-120 – UPEI), Marek Langhamer (G – 94 – 2.81 – 30-16-3 – Arizona), Tyler Lewington (D – 94 – 9-36-45 – Washington), Blake Penner (F – 96 – 5-11-16 – Retired – Back Problems), Matt Staples (D – 95 – 2-8-10), Tommy Vannelli (D – 95 – 12-23-35 – St. Louis)

Arriving: Connor Clouston (D – 96 – 0-2-2 – Moose Jaw), Caleb Fantillo (F – 98 – 6th in ’13 – Vancouver NE Chiefs), Brad Forrest (D – 97 – 8th in ’12 – Calgary Mustangs), Max Gerlach (F – 98 – 6th in ’13 – Colorado Thunderbirds), James Hamblin (F – 99 – 1st in ’14), Ryan Jevne (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13 – Drumheller), Evan Johnson (G – 96 – 3.13 – 6-3-4 – Portland), Tamas Laday (D – 96 – 0-6-6 – Spokane), Alexei Platonov (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Tyler Preziuso (F – 99 – 3rd in ’14), Rylan Rommelaere (G – 99 – 2nd in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Matt Bradley (F – 97 – 17-23-40 – Montreal), Nick Schneider (G – 97 – 2.82 – 15-7-1 – Calgary)

Rights Held: Matthew Freytag (F – 97 – Listed – Wisconsin), Brian Hawkinson (F – 98 – Listed – Miami), Cale Makar (D – 98 – 8th in ’13 – UMass), Austin Polanski (F – 96 – Listed – North Dakota – St. Louis), Marshall Skapski (D – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Fraser Valley), Samuel Walker (F – 99 – 7th in ’14 – Minnesota), Justin Young (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Alaska-Fairbanks)

Prediction: Third in Central Division (Although the move away from the Medicine Hat Arena will take some getting used to, the Tigers will once again have a solid team. Trevor Cox and Cole Sanford will be a deadly duo up front and may contend for the WHL scoring title for a second straight year.)

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Moose Jaw Warriors

Last Season: Fourth in East Division – Ninth in Eastern Conference (32-35-4-1) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Austin Adam (D – 95 – 3-10-13 – Chilliwack), Axel Blomqvist (F – 95 – 25-34-59 – Winnipeg), Connor Clouston (D – 96 – 0-2-2 – Medicine Hat), Ben Duperreault (F – 96 – 1-4-5 – Lethbridge), Tanner Eberle (F – 94 – 33-23-56), Spenser Jensen (D – 95 – 3-10-13 – Alberta), Jack Rodewald (F – 94 – 33-50-85 – Toronto Marlies), Jaimen Yakubowski (F – 94 – 9-17-26 – Saskatchewan), Reid Zalitach (D – 96 – 1-6-7 – Manitoba)

Arriving: Ryan Bowen (F – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Chilliwack), Josh Brook (D – 99 – 1st in ’14), Tanner Faith (D – 95 – 1-5-6 – Kootenay – Minnesota), Dryden Hunt (F – 95 – 33-50-83 – Medicine Hat), Colin Paradis (D – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Sherwood Park), Nikita Popugaev (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Landon Quinney (F – 98 – 11-10-21 – Arizona Bobcats), Brayden Watts (F – 99 – 3rd in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Tanner Faith (D – 95 – 1-5-6 – Kootenay – Minnesota), Brayden Point (F – 96 – 38-49-87 – Tampa Bay)

Rights Held: Jack McNeely (D – 96 – Listed – Nebraska-Omaha), Darren Rizzolo (D – 98 – 7th in ’13 – Northeastern), Rourke Russell (D – 98 – Listed – Miami)

Prediction: Third in East Division (Even if they trade Brayden Point, the Warriors have a number of exciting young players that should bring them back into the playoffs. Draft eligible netminder Zach Sawchenko should have another strong campaign and might be a dark-horse to play at the World Juniors.)

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Portland Winterhawks

Last Season: Second in US Division – Third in Western Conference (43-23-2-4) – Lost 4-2 to Kelowna in West Finals

Departing: Oliver Bjorkstrand (F – 95 – 63-55-118 – Columbus), Anton Cederholm (D – 94 – 9-10-19 – Vancouver), Chase De Leo (F – 95 – 39-45-84 – Winnipeg), Jack Flaman (F – 97 – 0-1-1), Josh Hanson (D – 94 – 1-9-10 – Toronto Varsity Blues), Adam Henry (D – 94 – 11-29-40 – Manitoba), Evan Johnson (G – 96 – 3.13 – 6-3-4 – Medicine Hat), Miles Koules (F – 94 – 27-32-59), Nicolas Petan (F – 95 – 15-74-89 – Winnipeg), Layne Viveiros (D – 95 – 8-35-43 – EC Salzburg), Mitchell Walter (F – 96 – 2-3-5)

Arriving: Rodrigo Abols (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft), Michael Bullion (G – 97 – 2.65 – 8-10-3 – Wenatchee), Carter Czaikowski (D – 98 – 6th in ’13 – Drumheller), Brett Clayton (F – 98 – 16-18-34 – Fraser Valley), Jack Dougherty (D – 96 – 2-7-9 – Wisconsin – Nashville), Carl Ericson (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft), Cody Glass (F – 99 – 1st in ’14), Austin Gray (F – 97 – 25-39-64 – Cariboo), Ryan Hughes (F – 99 – 34-31-65 – Edmonton Canadians), Caleb Jones (D – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – US NTDP – Edmonton), Igor Larionov (F – 98 – 3-1-4 – Honeybaked U18), Conor MacEachern (D – 98 – 4-13-17 – Cariboo), Colton Veloso (F – 97 – 12-3-15 – Steinbach)

NHL Prospects: Paul Bittner (F – 96 – 34-37-71 – Columbus), Jack Dougherty (D – 96 – 2-7-9 – Wisconsin – Nashville), Adin Hill (G – 96 – 2.81 – 31-11-1 – Arizona), Keegan Iverson (F – 96 – 15-24-39 – NY Rangers), Caleb Jones (D – 97 – 3rd in ’12 – US NTDP – Edmonton), Alex Schoenborn (F – 95 – 15-18-33 – San Jose), Dominic Turgeon (F – 96 – 18-25-43 – Detroit)

Rights Held: Kieffer Bellows (F – 98 – 7th in ’13 – Boston), Ryan Collins (D – 96 – 8th in ’11 – Minnesota – Columbus), Henry Crone (F – 98 – Listed – Boston), Jared Fiegl (F – 96 – Listed – Cornell – Arizona), Jack Glover (D – 96 – Listed – Minnesota – Winnipeg), Mitchell Mattson (F – 98 – Listed – North Dakota), Brannon McManus (F – 99 – 4th in ’14 – Minnesota), Ryan Norman (F – 96 – 5th in ’11 – Minnesota), Jake Oettinger (G – 98 – 9th in ’13 – Boston), Fredrik Olofsson (F – 96 – Listed – Nebraska-Omaha – Chicago), Jacob Olson (D – 97 – Listed – Harvard), Ryan Poehling (F – 99 – Listed – St. Cloud State), Taden Rattie (F – 98 – Listed – Western Michigan), Scott Reedy (F – 99 – 4th in ’14 – Minnesota), Samuel Rossini (D – 98 – Listed – Minnesota), Eric Schierhorn (G – 96 – Listed – Minnesota)

Prediction: First in US Division (This is the official last stand of the Winterhawks as the depth looks pretty ugly after this season. Getting Jack Dougherty and Caleb Jones was a huge boost for the defence and it might be enough for them to win the division.)

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Prince Albert Raiders

Last Season: Fifth in East Division – Tenth in Eastern Conference (31-37-2-2) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Raymond Grewal (D – 95 – 0-0-0 – UBC), Jayden Hart (F – 94 – 22-27-49), Colton Heffley (F – 94- 7-12-19 – Dalhousie), Sawyer Lange (D – 94 – 9-24-33), Kris Schmidli (F – 96 – 12-22-34 – GCK Lions), Mackenze Stewart (D – 95 – 5-6-11 – Vancouver), Darcy Zaharichuk (F – 96 – 2-9-11 – Sherwood Park)

Arriving: Cal Babych (F – 97 – 7-8-15 – Prince George), Vojtech Budik (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Luke Coleman (F – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Red Deer Chiefs), Parker Kelly (F – 99 – 7th in ’14), Thomas Lenchyshyn (F – 97 – 3-7-10 – Steinbach), Josh Maser (F – 99 – 4th in ’14), Cody Paivarinta (D – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Richmond), Dane Schioler (F – 96 – 20-22-42 – Portage), Ian Scott (G – 99 – 1st in ’14), Dylan Williamson (F – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Nelson)

NHL Prospects: Matteo Gennaro (F – 97 – 16-15-31 – Winnipeg), Brendan Guhle (D – 97 – 5-27-32 – Buffalo), Hunter Warner (D – 95 – 0-3-3 – Minnesota)

Rights Held: Austen Long (F – 98 – Listed – Colorado College), Bryan Yoon (D – 98 – Listed – Colorado College)

Prediction: Fourth in East Division (The Raiders have a solid roster but they lack a true game-breaking forward that the Warriors and Pats have at their disposal. With that said, Prince Albert should be able to work their way into the playoffs.)

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Prince George Cougars

Last Season: Third in BC Division – Seventh in Western Conference (31-36-2-3) – Lost 4-1 to Victoria in West Quarters

Departing: Tomas Andrilk (D – 95 – 4-14-18 – HC Plzen), Cal Babych (F – 97 – 7-8-15 – Prince Albert), Kirk Bear (D – 95 – 0-3-3 – Melville), Josh Connolly (D – 95 – 13-41-54 – UBC), Jari Erricson (F – 94 – 22-22-44), Patrick Gora (G – 96 – 5.26 – 0-4-0 – Camrose), Tavin Grant (G – 98 – 4.64 – 3-6-0 – Kamloops Storm), Aaron Macklin (F – 95 – 5-6-11 – Regina), Zach Pochiro (F – 94 – 19-23-42 – St. Louis), David Soltes (F – 95 – 13-15-28 – HC Kosice), Dominic Thom (D – 96 – 0-0-0 – Brandon)

Arriving: Justin Almedia (F – 99 – 1st in ’14), Bartek Bison (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Jesse Gabrielle (F – 97 – 23-21-44 – Regina – Boston), Zach Goberis (F – 97 – 28-17-45 – Banff), Kolby Johnson (F – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Kindersley), Joel Lakusta (D – 98 – Saskatoon’s 7th in ’13 – Sherwood Park), Max Martin (D – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Brogan O’Brien (F – 97 – Kelowna’s 10th in ’12 – Prince George Spruce Kings), Mack Shields (G – 95 – 2.67 – 27-16-2 – Calgary), Luka Zorko (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Jesse Gabrielle (F – 97 – 23-21-44 – Regina – Boston), Jansen Harkins (F – 97 – 20-59-79 – Winnipeg), Brad Morrison (F – 97 – 23-26-49 – NY Rangers), Tate Olson (D – 97 – 5-19-24 – Vancouver), Sam Ruopp (D – 96 – 3-23-26 – Columbus)

Rights Held: Dennis Cholowski (D – 98 – 10th in ’13 – St. Cloud State), Miguel Fidler (F – 96 – Listed – Ohio State – Florida), Rem Pitlick (F – 97 – 11th in ’12 – Minnesota), Riley Tufte (F – 98 – Listed – Minnesota-Duluth), James Vermeulen (D – 96 – Listed – Northern Michigan)

Prediction: Second in BC Division (The addition of Jesse Gabrielle to the Cougars’ core of 1997-born forwards makes them even stronger. They aren’t quite as strong as the Rockets, but this is a team that continues to get better and better.)

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Red Deer Rebels

Last Season: Third in Central Division – Fourth in Eastern Conference (38-23-5-6) – Lost 4-1 to Medicine Hat in East Quarters

Departing: Austin Adamson (F – 96 – 5-5-10), Taz Burman (G – 97 – 3.08 – 9-5-2 – Seattle), Brett Cote (D – 94 – 9-40-49 – Acadia), Scott Feser (F – 95 – 16-25-41 – Swift Current), Connor Gay (F – 95 – 23-38-61 – Saskatoon), Mario Grman (D – 97 – 0-3-3 – Kootenay), Brooks Maxwell (F – 94 – 27-32-59), Meyer Nell (F – 97 – 8-9-17 – Manitoba), Riley Sheen (F – 94 – 24-47-71 – NAIT)

Arriving: Akash Bains (F – 99 – 9th in ’14), Brandon Hagel (F – 98 – 23-28-51 – Fort Saskatchewan), Trevor Martin (G – 96 – 2.15 – 10-9-2 – Melville), Ivan Nikolishin (F – 96 – 16-46-62 – Everett), Lane Pederson (F – 97 – 8-12-20 – Seattle), Ryan Pouliot (D – 98 – 5-8-13 – Vancouver NW Giants), Austin Pratt (F – 99 – 4th in ’14), Ethan Sakowich (D – 99 – 3rd in ’14), Austin Shmoorkoff (D – 97 – 2-2-4 – Beverly), Michael Spacek (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Winnipeg)

NHL Prospects: Conner Bleackley (F – 96 – 27-22-49 – Colorado), Haydn Fleury (D – 96 – 6-22-28 – Carolina), Adam Musil (F – 97 – 15-24-39 – St. Louis), Nelson Nogier (D – 96 – 3-16-19 – Winnipeg), Michael Spacek (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Winnipeg)

Rights Held: Brandon Hickey (D – 96 – Tri-City’s 4th in ’11 – Boston – Calgary), Eduards Jansons (D – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – Prizma Riga), Wyatt Kalynuk (D – 97 – Listed – Western Michigan), Josh Laframboise (F – 96 – Listed – Minnesota-Duluth), Grant Mismash (F – 99 – 5th in ’14 – North Dakota)

Prediction: First in Central Division (There’s some holes that need to be filled up and Haydn Fleury might end up sticking with Carolina. However, the Rebels will strength their roster ahead of the Memorial Cup and should have enough to win the division as a result.)

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Regina Pats

Last Season: Second in East Division – Fifth in Eastern Conference (37-24-5-6) – Lost 4-1 to Brandon in East Semis

Departing: Braden Christoffer (F – 94 – 26-33-59 – Bakersfield), Patrick D’Amico (F – 94 – 20-30-50 – Colorado Eagles), Jesse Gabrielle (F – 97 – 23-21-44 – Prince George – Boston), Carter Hanson (D – 95 – 2-4-6 – Melville), Nathyn Mortlock (D – 96 – 1-2-3 – Kootenay), Pavel Padakin (F – 94 -27-28-55 – Lehigh Valley)

Arriving: Jacob Elmer (F – 98 – 6th in ’13 – Edge School), Jared Freadrich (D – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Whitecourt), Erik Gardiner (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Jordan Hollett (G – 99 – 1st in ’14), Nikolay Knyzhov (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Jake Leschyshyn (F – 99 – Red Deer’s 1st in ’14), Aaron Macklin (F – 95 – 5-6-11 – Prince George), Trygve Many Guns (F – 98 – 12-13-25 – UFA Bisons), Brady Pouteau (D – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Pembina Valley), Riley Woods (F – 98 – 22-37-59 – Regina Pat Canadians), Lane Zablocki (F – 98 – Prince George’s 5th in ’13 – Sherwood Park)

NHL Prospects: Connor Hobbs (D – 97 – 2-16-18 – Washington), Austin Wagner (F – 97 – 20-19-39 – Los Angeles), Colby Williams (D – 95 – 11-30-41 – Washington), Sergei Zborovsky (D – 97 – 3-16-19 – NY Rangers)

Rights Held: Liam Finlay (F – 97 – Listed – Denver), Nikolas Koberstein (D – 96 – 7th in ’11 – Alaska-Fairbanks – Montreal)

Prediction: Second in East Division (All eyes are on Sam Steel but the Pats have a number of young players worth watching. Losing captain Colby Williams on the back-end for a couple of months will hurt, but the Pats might give the Wheat Kings a run for their money in the East Division if all goes well.)

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Saskatoon Blades

Last Season: Sixth in East Division – Twelfth in Eastern Conference (19-49-2-2) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Kolton Dixon (D – 95 – 3-6-9), Amil Krupic (D – 95 – 5-22-27 – Kallinge-Ronneby), Sam McKechnie (F – 94 – 22-21-43 – Lethbridge Pronghorns), Isaac Schacher (D – 95 – 1-7-8), Mitch Skapski (F – 96 – 1-6-7 – Chilliwack), Brett Stovin (F – 94 – 29-21-50 – Manitoba)

Arriving: Anthony Bishop (D – 98 – 5-9-14 – Okanagan Hockey Academy), Logan Christensen (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Connor Gay (F – 95 – 23-38-61 – Red Deer), Cameron Hausinger (F – 99 – 7th in ’14), Libor Hajek (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Jake Kohlhauser (D – 96 – 1-2-3 – Edmonton), Jake Kustra (D – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Lukus MacKenzie (F – 99 – 3rd in ’14), Josh Paterson (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Mitchell Wheaton (D – 95 – 0-1-1 – Kelowna)

NHL Prospects: Brycen Martin (D – 96 – 7-21-28 – Buffalo)

Rights Held: Benjamin Brar (F – 98 – Listed – Denver), Alec Capstick (D – 99 – 4th in ’14 – Notre Dame), Christian Hausinger (D – 96 – Listed – Sacred Heart) Tyler Jeanson (F – 97 – Listed – Colgate), Mitch Newsome (F – 97 – 12th in ’12 – Michigan Tech), Troy Van Tetering (F – 97 – Listed – Alaska-Fairbanks), Garrett Wait (F – 98 – Portland’s 8th in ’13 – Minnesota)

Prediction: Sixth in East Division (There are a number of exciting rookie players worth keeping an eye on in Saskatoon. However, I think the Blades are one year away from being a legit playoff contender after a couple of bad seasons.)

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Seattle Thunderbirds

Last Season: Third in US Division – Fourth in Western Conference (38-25-4-5) – Lost 4-2 to Portland in West Quarters

Departing: Justin Hickman (F – 94 – 9-19-28 – Boston), Taran Kozun (G – 94 – 2.41 – 33-19-8), Roberts Lipsbergs (F – 94 – 16-20-36 – Adirondack), Cory Millette (F – 95 – 24-23-47 – Lethbridge), Lane Pederson (F – 97 – 8-12-20 – Red Deer), Calvin Spencer (F – 96 – 5-8-13 – Swift Current), Shea Theodore (D – 95 – 13-35-48 – Anaheim), Evan Wardley (F – 94 – 6-16-22 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton)

Arriving: Taz Burman (G – 97 – 3.08 – 9-5-2 – Red Deer), Wyatt Bear (F – 99 – 5th in ’14), Gustav Olhaver (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Colorado), Brandon Schuldhaus (D – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Shattuck St. Mary’s), Jarret Tyszka (D – 99 – 1st in ’14), Jamal Watson (F – 95 – 26-28-54 – Lethbridge), Matthew Wedman (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Mackenzie Wight (F – 99 – 7th in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Mathew Barzal (F – 97 – 12-45-57 – NY Islanders), Ethan Bear (D – 97 – 13-25-38 – Edmonton), Ryan Gropp (F – 96 – 30-28-58 – NY Rangers), Keegan Kolesar (F – 97 – 19-19-38 – Columbus), Gustav Olhaver (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Colorado)

Rights Held: Brosk Boeser (F – 97 – Listed – North Dakota – Vancouver), Ryan Edquist (G – 98 – Listed – Minnesota), Dylan Gambrell (F – 96 – Listed – Denver), Shane Gersich (F – 96 – Listed – North Dakota – Washington), Jagger Williamson (F – 98 – 6th in ’12 – Michigan Tech)

Prediction: Second in US Division (The Thunderbirds have a talented forward group but the big question for me remains in goal. If Taz Burman is able to carry the load as the main man, Seattle could win the division over Portland.)

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Spokane Chiefs

Last Season: Fourth in US Division – Sixth in Western Conference (34-34-3-1) – Lost 4-2 to Everett in West Quarters

Departing: Calder Brooks (F – 94 – 23-35-58), Nick Charif (D – 95 – 3-16-19 – Western), Adam Helewka (F – 95 – 44-43-87 – San Jose), Tamas Laday (D – 96 – 0-6-6 – Medicine Hat), Devon McAndrews (F – 95 – 5-3-8 – Sherwood Park), Blair Oneschuk (F – 95 – 6-3-9), Jackson Playfair (F – 94 – 12-11-23 – Dalhousie), Liam Stewart (F – 94 – 25-28-53 – Missouri)

Arriving: Niklas Andersen (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Jaret Anderson-Dolan (F – 99 – 1st in ’14), Matthew Berlin (G – 98 – 7th in ’13 – South Side Athletic Club), Jeffrey Faith (D – 98 – 1st in ’13 – Notre Dame Hounds), Dalton Hamaliuk (D – 98 – 2nd in ’13 – Leduc), Ethan McIndoe (F – 99 – 3rd in ’14), Hayden Ostir (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Taylor Ross (F – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Estevan), Jake Toporowski (D – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Spokane Braves)

NHL Prospects: N/A

Rights Held: Joseph Cassetti (F – 99 – 6th in ’14 – Boston College), Darien Craighead (F – 97 – 8th in ’12 – Northern Michigan), Tyler Jubenvill (D – 99 – 9th in ’14 – Bemidji State), Jordan Kawaguchi (F – 97 – 4th in ’12 – Providence), Tanner MacMaster (F – 96 – 1st in ’11 – Quinnipiac), Marcus Vela (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – San Jose)

Prediction: Third in US Division (With youngsters Kailer Yamamoto and Jaret Anderson-Dolan up front and Ty Smith joining on defence in 2016-17, the Chiefs are a team on the rise. Overall, this is a pretty solid team and should be able to get into the playoffs with relative ease and give Portland or Seattle a stiff test in the first round.)

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Swift Current Broncos

Last Season: Third in East Division – Eighth in Eastern Conference (34-33-1-4) – Lost 4-0 to Regina in East Quarters

Departing: Colby Cave (F – 94 – 35-40-75 – Boston), Coda Gordon (F – 94 – 25-36-61 – Calgary Dinos), Kristian Ferletak (F – 96 – 0-1-1), Dillon Heatherington (D – 95 – 1-14-15 – Columbus), Brett Lernout (D – 95 – 14-28-42 – Montreal), Tanner LeSann (F – 95 – 5-5-10), Zac Mackay (F – 95 – 6-9-15), Jay Merkley (F – 95 – 17-23-40 – Lethbridge Pronghorns), Ayrton Nikkel (D – 95 – 2-9-11), Linden Penner (F – 95 – 5-5-10 – Whitecourt), Carter Rigby (F – 94 – 18-28-46 – UPEI), Miles Warkentine (F – 96 – 2-1-3 – Melfort)

Arriving: Tyler Adams (F – 97 – 9-27-36 – Regina Pat Canadians), Brandan Arnold (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – Nipawin), Conner Chaulk (F – 97 – 22-23-45 – Regina Pat Canadians), Tristen Elder (F – 97 – 4-8-12 – La Ronge), Scott Feser (F – 95 – 16-25-41 – Red Deer), Jake Fletcher (F – 97 – Medicine Hat’s 9th in ’12 – Delta), Brendan Holterhus (F – 97 – 6-6-12 – Spruce Grove), Kade Jensen (D – 97 – 4-15-19 – Lethbridge), Caiden Kreitz (G – 98 – 1.98 – 12-4-2 – Calgary Royals), Artyom Minulin (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Dominic Schmiemann (D – 99 – 1st in ’14), Owen Siedel (F – 98 – 7th in ’13 – Greater Vancouver Canadians), Colby Sissons (D – 98 – 7-10-17 – South Side Athletic Club), Ryan Sokoloski (F – 98 – 11th in ’13 – Winnipeg Thrashers), Calvin Spencer (F – 96 – 5-8-13 – Seattle), Matthew Stanley (D – 98 – 12th in ’13 – Interlake)

NHL Prospects: Jake DeBrusk (F – 96 – 42-39-81 – Boston), Glenn Gawdin (F – 97 – 15-39-54 – St. Louis)

Rights Held: Viktor Dombrovskiy (D – 96 – 8th in ’11 – Harvard), Cameron Hughes (F – 96 – 9th in ’11 – Wisconsin – Boston), Jackson Keane (F – 97 – 4th in ’12 – North Dakota), Maxim Letunov (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Connecticut – St. Louis)

Prediction: Fifth in East Division (After struggling just to make the playoffs a year ago, the Broncos look set to start a rebuild with a number of new faces coming in and Jake DeBrusk being a massive piece on the trade market. It could be a long winter in Speedy Creek.)

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Tri-City Americans

Last Season: Fifth in US Division – Eighth in Western Conference (31-38-0-3) – Lost 4-0 to Kelowna in West Quarters

Departing: Carter Cochrane (D – 96 – 0-4-4 – Chilliwack), Eric Comrie (G – 95 – 2.87 – 20-19-1 – Winnipeg), Ty Comrie (F – 97 – 7-14-21 – Vancouver), Justin Gutierrez (F – 95 – 11-18-29 – Lethbridge), Justin Hamonic (D – 94 – 1-18-19 – San Antonio), Richard Nejezchleb (F – 94 – 20-31-51 – NY Rangers), Lucas Nickels (F – 95 – 24-22-46 – Alberta)

Arriving: Parker Aucoin (F – 98 – 1st in ’13 – St. Albert), Morgan Geekie (F – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Yellowhead), Dakota Krebs (D – 99 – 2-10-12 – Rocky View), Kyle Olson (F – 99 – 3rd in ’14), Michael Rasmussen (F – 99 – 1st in ’14), Jordan Roy (F – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Kimberley), Kurtis Rutledge (D – 97 – 8th in ’12 – Calgary Mustangs), Nick Sanders (G – 98 – 6th in ’13 – Calgary Buffaloes), Juuso Valimaki (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Nolan Yaremko (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13 – Grande Prairie), Beck Warm (G – 99 – 2.48 – 11-3-2 – Vancouver NW Giants)

NHL Prospects: Brandon Carlo (D – 96 – 4-21-25 – Boston), Parker Wotherspoon (D – 97 – 9-33-42 – NY Islanders)

Rights Held: Michael Eyssimont (F – 96 – Listed – St. Cloud State), Anea Ferrario (D – 98 – 7th in ’13 – Brown), Robby Jackson (F – 97 – 7th in ’12 – St. Cloud State), Jack Sadek (D – 97 – Listed – Minnesota – Minnesota), Ryan Tait (F – 96 – 9th in ’11 – Providence), Troy Terry (F – 97 – Listed – Denver – Anaheim), AJ Vanderbeck (F – 97 – Listed – Colorado College)

Prediction: Fourth in US Division (This isn’t a roster that looks exciting on paper but Tri-City has a pretty solid squad. The defence will be strong with Brandon Carlo and Parker Wotherspoon and Evan Sarthou should move into the starting role with ease after backing up Eric Comrie.)

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Vancouver Giants

Last Season: Fifth in BC Division – Tenth in Western Conference (27-41-2-2) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Arvin Atwal (D – 95 – 6-19-25 – Vancouver), Matt Bellerive (F – 94 – 13-14-27), Vladimir Bobylyov (F – 97 – 3-6-9 – Victoria), David Brumm (F – 97 – 1-1-2 – Dauphin), Mason Geertsen (D – 95 – 13-25-38 – Colorado), Zane Jones (F – 94 – 29-16-45 – Lethbridge Pronghorns), Dalton Sward (F – 94 – 11-9-20 – Lethbridge Pronghorns)

Arriving: Matt Barberis (D – 98 – 1st in ’13 – Valley West), Radovan Bondra (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Chicago), Ty Comrie (F – 97 – 7-14-21 – Tri-City), Taylor Crunk (F – 95 – 10-4-14 – Victoria), Dawson Holt (F – 99 – 1st in ’14), Ryan Jones (D – 98 – 3-21-24 – Richmond Sockeyes), Ryan Kubic (G – 98 – 2nd in ’13 – Brookings), James Malm (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Dylan Plouffe (D – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Brendan Semchuk (F – 99 – 1st in ’14)

NHL Prospects: Radovan Bondra (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Chicago)

Rights Held: Tyler Busch (F – 96 – Listed – Ohio State), David Cotton (F – 97 – Listed – Boston College – Carolina), Brian Hurley (D – 98 – Listed – Ohio State), Jordan Klehr (D – 97 – 8th in ’12 – Nebraska-Omaha), Dylan Malmqiust (F – 96 – Listed – Notre Dame), Tyler Nanne (F – 96 – Listed – Ohio State – NY Rangers), Jake Wahlin (F – 96 – Listed – St. Cloud State), Zach Walker (F – 98 – 3rd in ’13 – Boston College)

Prediction: Third in BC Division (The Giants will be without Tyler Benson for the start of the season but they should still have enough to make the playoffs as he won’t be out for long. Having Jackson Houck and Carter Popoff back as overage forwards will play a big part in that.)

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Victoria Royals

Last Season: Third in BC Division – Fifth in Western Conference (39-29-3-1) – Lost 4-1 to Kelowna in West Semis

Departing: Travis Brown (D – 94 – 18-39-57 – St. John’s), Austin Carroll (F – 94 – 38-39-77 – Calgary), Greg Chase (F -95 – 20-39-59 – Edmonton), Taylor Crunk (F – 95 – 10-4-14 – Vancouver), Brandon Magee (F – 94 – 23-38-61), Jack Palmer (F – 95 – 4-6-10), Justin Paulic (G – 95 – 3.18 – 14-15-2 – Manitoba), Bryton Sayers (D – 96 – 3-9-12 – Retired), Alexey Sleptsov (D – 96 – 0-20-20 – Zvezda Chekhov)

Arriving: Keith Anderson (F – 97 – 6th in ’12 – Compete Hockey Academy), Vladimir Bobylyov (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – 3-6-9 – Vancouver), Matt Dykstra (F – 97 – 4th in ’12 – Calgary Canucks), Griffen Outhouse (G – 98 – 2.04 – 15-5-2 – Cariboo), Brayden Pachal (D – 98 – 2nd in ’14), Ryan Peckford (F – 99 – 2nd in ’14), Matthew Philips (F – 98 – 2nd in ’13 – Calgary Buffaloes), Ethan Price (F – 97 – 3-6-9 – Lincoln),Evan Smith (G – 97 – 1.73 – 12-1-2 – Austin – Nashville), Tyler Thompson (F – 97 – 3-9-12 – Minnesota Revolution), Scott Walford (D – 99 – 1st in ’14), Jordan Wharrie (D – 97 – 2-2-4 – Everett)

NHL Prospects: Joe Hicketts (D – 96 – 12-52-64 – Detroit), Chaz Reddekopp (D – 97 – 5-16-21 – Los Angeles),Evan Smith (G – 97 – 1.73 – 12-1-2 – Austin – Nashville)

Rights Held: Gabe Bast (D – 96 – 10th in ’15 – North Dakota), Ethan Frank (F – 98 – 4th in ’13 – Western Michigan), Matthew Hellickson (D – 98 – 5th in ’13 – Notre Dame), Baron Thompson (F – 99 – 3rd in ’14 – Maine), Chris Wilkie (F – 96 – 4th in ’11 – North Dakota – Florida)

Prediction: Fourth in BC Division (It will be a tight battle with the Royals and Giants all season for the third spot in the division and it could go either way. If the Royals don’t trade Joe Hicketts, they should easily make the playoffs.)

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WHL Standings

East Division

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

Central Division

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

BC Division

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

US Division

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

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First Coach To Be Fired: Mark Lamb (After almost missing the playoffs entirely last year, the Broncos head coach enters this season on the hot seat. With a team set to undergo a rebuild I’m not sure Lamb will end up sticking around. Since he’s the general manager as well, any major changes might not happen until the season ends.)

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Biggest Name Traded: Brayden Point (The biggest question around Moose Jaw at the moment is if the Warriors captain will still be with the team after the World Juniors. With the possible return that Point may get, I think the team would be foolish not to deal him, unless they are challenging for home ice.)

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Best First Year Import: Michael Spacek (Since Oliver Kylington is looking more and more likely to stick in the AHL, I elected to go with the Winnipeg Jets pick who will be a key cog for this year’s Memorial Cup hosts.)

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Top Scorer: Tim McGualey (The overage forward is actually out with a suspected separated shoulder as I write this, but I went with him to win the scoring title mainly because he won’t be leaving for the World Juniors like many of the other candidates.)

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Coach Of The Year: Mark Holick (It’s probably the easy choice but with the Cougars continuing to get better and better it’s pretty hard to pick anyone else.)

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Overage Player Of The Year: Tim McGauley (He’s going to play well for the top team in the league once again and will probably get a pro contract when all is said and done. If his shoulder injury keeps him out for a little bit longer than expected, keep an eye on Kelowna netminder Jackson Whistle.)

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Rookie Of The Year: Jordy Bellerive (After seeing him play live in Calgary at Hockey Canada’s Summer Camp there was no one else I was going to pick for this award. He’s dangerous and dynamic and will be fun as heck to watch all year long.)

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Top Defenceman: Haydn Fleury (Again, this is going to depend on if he comes back from Carolina camp, but I expect Fleury to round out his WHL career on a high note. If he doesn’t come back to Red Deer, this is Ivan Provorov’s trophy to lose.)

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Top Goalie: Jordan Papirny (How he hasn’t been drafted yet is beyond me. However, with another strong campaign this year for the best team in the league, that issue will be rectified.)

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Most Valuable Player: Brayden Point (He’s the most dynamic player in the WHL and possibly the entire country. Whether he wins this award as a member of the Warriors or as a star for a title threat remains to be seen.)

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WHL Champions: Brandon Wheat Kings over Kelowna Rockets (This should hopefully be a much closer affair than last year’s four-game sweep for the Rockets. In the end though, the Wheat Kings should take what they learned from last year’s loss and put it to good use on their way to their first league title since 1996.)


2015-16 QMJHL Season Preview

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Unlike the Western Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League where the Brandon Wheat Kings and the London Knights are already being preordained as the 2015-16 champions, it looks like it will be a wide-open race for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League title this season.

Last year, the Rimouski Oceanic entered as the top ranked team in all of the CHL and captured their first league title in a decade after a thrilling seven-game final with the Quebec Remparts. As this season kicked off on Thursday, there were a handful of teams that could make a legit case to be this year’s champions.

Now I’ll be honest, my QMJHL knowledge is quite lacking compared to what I know of the OHL and the WHL. However, as I always do, I’ll throw my hat into the ring with sure to be wrong predictions that everyone will laugh at in May.

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Acadie-Bathurst Titan

Last Season: Sixth in Maritimes Division – Eighteenth in QMJHL (17-43-6-2) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Raphael Corriveau (F – 94 – 19-13-22 – Morzine), Jimmy Huntington (F – 98 – 0-2-2 – Victoriaville), Aaron Kerr (F – 96 – 13-14-27 – Drummondville), Nicolas Latulippe (D – 96 – 0-5-5 – Victoriaville), Alexandre Leclerc (D – 94 – 2-7-9 – UQTR), Nathan Medeiros (F – 96 – 2-6-8 – Saint-Jerome), Andrew Ryan (F – 94 – 18-22-40), Guillaume Vien (D – 96 – 0-4-4)

Arriving: Anthony Beaulieu (D – 95 – 1-4-5 – Gatineau), Andrew Cordssen-David (D – 97 – 3-3-6 – Valleyfield), Vladimir Kuznetsov (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Samuel L’Italien (F – 98 – Cape Breton’s 2nd in ’14 – College Notre-Dame), Arthur Miller (F – 97 – 31-23-54 – Regina Pat Canadians), Daniil Miromanov (F – 97 – 14-13-27 – Toronto Jr. Canadiens), Antoine Morand (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Jake Smith (F – 97 – 18-11-29 – Starbulls Rosenheim), Francis Thibeault (D – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Campbellton), Xavier Vinetti (D – 98 – Chicoutimi’s 3rd in ’14 – Charles-Lemoy)

NHL Prospects: Guillaume Brisebois (D – 97 – 4-24-28 – Vancouver)

Rights Held: Ryan Dmowski (F – 97 – 10th in ’14 – UMass-Lowell), Erik Foley (F – 97 – 10th in ’14 – Providence – Winnipeg), Ara Nazarian (F – 96 – 8th in ’12 – New Hampshire), Jake Ryczek (D – 98 – 6th in ’15 – Providence)

Prediction: Sixth in Maritimes Division (There’s some optimism here after a couple of lean years, especially with Kuznetsov and Morand joining the team and second year forward Jordan Maher and netminder Reilly Pickard expected to be building blocks for the future. They’ll struggle in a tough division, but they should make it to the playoffs.)

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Baie-Comeau Drakkar

Last Season: Fourth in East Division – Seventh in QMJHL (35-25-5-3) – Lost 4-3 to Val-d’Or in Quarters

Departing: Dimitri Ambrozheichik (F – 95 – 13-23-36 – Dinamo Minsk), Philippe Cadorette (G – 95 – 3.20 – 34-20-8 – Norfolk), Luca Ciampini (F – 94 – 33-44-77 – Concordia), Jamie Clavet (F – 97 – 6-2-8), Frederic Gamelin (F – 94 – 12-57-69), Jeremy Gregoire (F – 95 – 20-21-41 – Montreal), Nicolas Jones-Gagne (F – 97 – 1-2-3), Alexandre Lagace (G – 97 – 4.79 – 1-6-2 – Sherbrooke), Antoine Pouliot (D – 96 – 6-13-19), Maxime St-Cyr (F – 94 – 54-30-84 – Florida Everblades), Skylar Strumas (D – 97 – 0-8-8 – Sherbrooke)

Arriving: Yan Aucoin (D – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Gabriel Bettez (D – 97 – 7th in ’14 – Trois-Rivieres), Keven Bouchard (G – 96 – 3.85 – 15-13-5 – Val-d’Or – Edmonton), Antoine Girard (F – 98 – 6th in ’15), Matt Jones (F – 96 – 17-24-41 – Keystone), Igor Kabanov (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Evgeni Kiselev (G – 97 – 2.88 – 22-11-6 – Waterloo Siskins), Jordan Martel (F – 98 – 8th in ’15), Matteo Pietroniro (D – 98 – Blainville-Boisbriand’s 4th in ’14 – Jonquiere), Raphael Santerre (F – 98 – Shawinigan’s 3rd in ’14 – College Notre-Dame), Joachim Vachon (F – 97 – 9th in ’14 – Sherbrooke College)

NHL Prospects: Keven Bouchard (G – 96 – 3.85 – 15-13-5 – Val-d’Or – Edmonton), Vaclav Karabacek (F – 96 – 17-23-40 – Buffalo), Nicolas Meloche (D – 97 – 10-24-34 – Colorado)

Rights Held: Ryan Bliss (D – 96 – 7th in ’12 – Cornell), Logan Drevitch (F – 98 – 12th in ’15 – Merrimack), Connor Sundquist (F – 97 – 14th in ’14 – Colorado College)

Prediction: Sixth in East Division (After two heartbreaking playoffs losses to Val-d’Or in consecutive seasons, I’m expecting quite a drop-off from Baie-Comeau this year. They have a couple of nice veteran players in Bouchard and Karabacek, but I expect both of them will be traded prior to the deadline in for future assets.)

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Blainville-Boisbriand Armada

Last Season: First in West Division – Third in QMJHL (41-18-2-7) – Lost 4-2 to Gatineau in First Round

Departing: Emil Aronsson (F – 95 – 7-17-24 – Mora), Marc-Antoine Bouillon (F – 95 – 16-19-35 – Terrebonne), Nikita Jevpalovs (F – 94 – 49-51-100 – San Jose), Danick Martel (F – 94 – 48-54-102 – Philadelphia), Marc-Antoine Turcotte (G – 95 – 2.17 – 8-7-2 – Saint John), Daniel Walcott (D – 94 – 7-34-41 – Tampa Bay)

Arriving: Guillaume Bergeron-Charron (F – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Saint-Eustache), Christian Blomqvist (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Anthony Boucher (F – 98 – 2nd in ’15), Connor Bramwell (F – 97 – 23-20-43 – Caledonia), Antoine Crete-Belzile (D – 99 – 1st in ’15), Mark Grametbauer (G – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Truro), Francis Leclerc (G – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Saint-Eustache), Tristan Liggett (D – 97 – 1-4-5 – Guelph Hurricanes), Kristian Pospisil (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft), Joel Teasdale (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Matthew Thorpe (D – 97 – 2-7-9 – Niagara Falls Canucks)

NHL Prospects: Samuel Montembeault (G – 96 – 2.59 – 33-11-7 – Florida)

Rights Held: Michael Campoli (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Boston College), Vincent Desharnais (D – 96 – 11th in ’14 – Providence), Patrick Harper (F – 98 – 14th in ’15 – Boston), Cameron Lee (D – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Providence), Liam Pecararo (F – 96 – 7th in ’12 – Maine), Connor Sodergren (F – 96 – 14th in ’14 – Army), Michael Young (D – 98 – 13th in ’15 – Connecticut)

Prediction: Fourth in West Division (The Armada were the most surprising team in the entire country last year as they were in contention for being the top overall seed for the playoffs, where they crashed out in an upset to Gatineau. It would be a surprise if they reached those heights again with a pair of 100 point players departing, but a top-line goalie in Montembeault and some exciting new talent might keep them from suffering a massive drop-off.)

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Cape Breton Screaming Eagles

Last Season: Fifth in Maritimes Division – Thirteen in QMJHL (31-31-3-3) – Lost 4-3 to Quebec in First Round

Departing: Stephen Anderson (F – 94 – 26-22-48 – New Brunswick), Francis Burnelle (F – 95 – 3-7-10 – Granby), Kyle Farrell (F – 94 – 42-46-88 – Acadia), Marcus Hinds (F – 94 – 19-24-43 – Ryerson), Bradley Lalonde (D – 97 – 7-22-29 – Victoriaville), Matthew Nosella (D – 95 – 3-1-4 – Valley), Jacob Smith (F – 95 – 6-9-15 – Laurentian), Miguel Sullivan (G – 95 – 3.11 – 19-12-3 – Concordia)

Arriving: Yannik Bertrand (F – 97 – 7-13-20 – Metcalfe), Maxime Baillargeon (D – 97 – 8th in ’13 – Granby), Jordan Ty Fournier (F – 97 – 13-9-22 – Victoriaville), Peyton Holt (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Kyle Jessiman (G – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Cole Reginato (F – 97 – 7-9-16 – Yarmouth), Declan Smith (F – 98 – Saint John’s 4th in ’14 – Cape Breton Islanders), Anthony Sorrentino (F – 96 – 33-36-69 – Pelham)

NHL Prospects: Clark Bishop (F – 96 – 19-16-35 – Carolina), Olivier LeBlanc (D – 96 – 7- 27-34 – Columbus), Evgeny Svechnikov (F – 96 – 32-46-78 – Detroit)

Rights Held: Mike Lee (D – 96 – 14th in ’14 – Vermont), Billy Sweezey (D – 96 – 13th in ’14 – Yale), James Winkler (F – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Northeastern)

Prediction: Second In Maritimes Division (It’s a shame that fourth overall pick Shane Bowers has elected to take the USHL route as he could have been enough to put the Screaming Eagles over the top this year. With that said, Svechnikov, Bishop, Hoyt, Maxim Lazarev and Pierre-Luc Dubois make up one of the best forward cores in the entire league. It remains to be seen how overage goalie Alexander Belanger will fare as the starter, but having LeBlanc and Loik Leveille on defence should help him out nicely.)

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Charlottetown Islanders

Last Season: Second in Maritimes Division – Ninth in QMJHL (35-28-1-4) – Lost 4-0 to Quebec in Quarters

Departing: Spenser Cobbold (F – 94 – 11-22-33), Samuel Guilbault (F – 98 – 1-14-15 – Shawinigan), Ross Johnston (F – 94 – 18-14-32 – NY Islanders), Ryan MacKinnon (D – 94 – 10-40-50 – UPEI), Zach McFadden (D – 95 – 0-2-2), Guillaume Rioux-Legault (D – 95 – 3-12-15)

Arriving: Shawn Boudrais (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), David Comeau (D – 97 – 11th in ’14 – Woodstock), Carl Gervais (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Alexander McQuaid (D – 96 – 0-2-2 – Chicoutimi), Andrew Smith (D – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – Saint-Eustache), Matthew Welsh (G – 99 – 2nd in ’15)

NHL Prospects: Filip Chlapik (F – 97 – 33-42-75 – Ottawa), Mason McDonald (G – 96 – 3.06 – 28-22-4 – Calgary), Daniel Sprong (F – 97 – 39-49-88 – Pittsburgh)

Rights Held: Ben DiMaio (D – 96 – 10th in ’13 – Dartmouth)

Prediction: Third in Maritimes Division (There’s a couple of question marks for me on the overall defence, but when you have McDonald in goal and both Chlapik and Sprong leading the way on offence, the Islanders won’t have to worry to much about that issue.)

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Chicoutimi Sagueneens

Last Season: Fifth in East Division – Fifteenth in QMJHL (29-32-4-3) – Lost 4-1 to Moncton in First Round

Departing: Viktor Baldayev (D – 95 – 3-7-10 – Spartak Moscow), Jeremy Bouchard (F – 97 – 11-12-23 – Drummondville), Laurent Dauphin (F – 95 – 31-44-74 – Arizona), Patrice Demuy (F – 97 – 1-1-2 – Granby), Sebastien Gauthier (D – 94 – 13-19-32 – Moncton), Anthony Gingras (D – 95 – 3-7-10 – Victoriaville), Gabriel Gosselin (F – 96 – 6-7-13), Reid Halabi (F – 95 – 3-5-8 – Fort Wayne), Samuel Hodhod (F – 94- 10-26-36), Jesse Lussier (D – 94 – 5-15-20 – Dalhousie), Alexander McQuaid (D – 96 – 0-2-2 – Charlottetown), Janne Puhakka (F – 95 – 16-17-33 – Blues), Alexander Ranger (F – 95 – 26-29-55 – Norfolk), Storm Phaneuf (G – 95 – 3.51 – 5-12-0 – Cowichan Valley), Carl Tremblay (D – 95 – 4-15-19 – Val-d’Or)

Arriving: Jonathan Bourcier (F – 96 – 13-17-30 – Gatineau), Nicholas Cardone (F – 99 – 4th in ’15), Julien Carignan-Labbe (D – 97 – 2-7-9 – Drummondville), Nicolas Desgroseilliers (F – 98 – 7th in ’15), Jeremy Groleau (D – 99 – 1st in ’15), Nicolas Guay (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Alexandre Jacob (F – 97 – 5-5-10 – Moncton), Alexander Krief (D – 99 – 1st in ’15), Zachary Lavigne (F – 98 – 4th in ’15), Charles-Louis Lemay (F – 98 – 6-22-28 – College Esther-Blondin), Keenan MacIsaac (D – 99 – 1st in ’15), Artem Maltsev (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Antoine Marcoux (F – 96 – 15-14-29 – Victoriaville), Xavier Potvin (G – 97 – Quebec’s 8th in ’12 – Magog), Dmitri Zhukenov (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Vancouver)

NHL Prospects: Nicolas Roy (F – 97 – 16-34-50 – Carolina), Dmitri Zhukenov (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Vancouver)

Rights Held: Matt Gosiewski (F – 98 – 13th in ’15 – Harvard), Charlie Kelleher (F – 97 – 14th in ’15 – New Hampshire)

Prediction: Second in East Division (With three first round picks being used on defenceman, Chicoutimi is building towards having a strong squad for the future. However, with Roy leading the way on offence, they might contend for a home playoff spot, though that may depend on the play of netminder Julio Billia.)

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Drummondville Voltigeurs

Last Season: Sixth in West Division – Seventeenth in QMJHL (26-38-1-3) – Missed Playoffs

Departing: Julien Avon (F – 95 – 7-5-12), Matthew Boucher (F – 97 – 8-8-16 – Drummondville), Anthony Brodeur (G – 95 – 3.80 – 8-10-4 – Penticton), Trevor Bush (F – 97 – 1-1-2), Julien Carignan-Labbe (D – 97 – 2-7-9 – Chicoutimi), Adam Chapman (F – 94 – 14-16-30 – Carleton), Maxime Chevalier (D – 96 – 1-7-8), Joe Fleschler (G – 95 – 3.47 – 14-20-1), Georgs Golovkovs (F – 95 – 12-29-41 – Waterloo Black Hawks), Christophe Lalancette (F – 94 – 11-18-29 – Wheeling), Dylan Montcalm (F – 96 – 9-12-21 – Rimouski), Philippe Raymond (F – 95 – 1-0-1), Francis Robichaud (D – 95 – 0-5-5 – Granby)

Arriving: Kristian Afanasyev (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Emmanuel Aucoin (F – 97 – Shawinigan’s 3rd in ’13 – College Notre-Dame), Jeremy Bouchard (F – 97 – 11-12-23 – Chicoutimi), Anthony Dumont-Bouchard (G – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Levis), Samuel Gaumond (F – 99 – 4th in ’15), Felix Girard (F – 95 – 16-14-30 – Geneve-Servette), Justin Guenette (D – 95 – 3-34-37 – Rouyn-Noranda), Aaron Kerr (F – 96 – 13-14-27 – Acadie-Bathurst), Nicolas Lachance (G – 95 – 3.26 – 10-11-1 – Gatineau), Simon Leclerc (D – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Tabor Academy), Nicolas Patry-Gingras (D – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Gatineau L’Intrepide), William Poirier (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Eric Theander (F – 97 – 40-41-81 – The Hill Academy)

NHL Prospects: Sergei Boikov (D – 96 – 3-18-21 – Colorado)

Rights Held: N/A

Prediction: Fifth in West Divison (Well they could have had Joseph Veleno on their roster but they dealt their 2015 first round pick away to Cape Breton and it ended up in Saint John, so that’s a bit of a downer. However, with a decent forward core they might have enough to return to the playoffs.)

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Gatineau Olympiques

Last Season: Fifth in West Division – Fourteenth in QMJHL (31-31-0-6) – Lost 4-1 to Rimouski in Quarters

Departing: Andrew Abou-Assaly (F – 96 – 2-7-9), Anthony Beaulieu (D – 95 – 1-4-5 – Acadie-Bathurst), Mickael Beauregard (F – 94 – 3-12-15), Marc Beckstead (F – 95 – 9-11-20 – Victoriaville), Jonathan Bourcier (F – 96 – 13-17-30 – Chicoutimi), Francois Brassard (G – 94 – 3.22 – 19-17-5), Nicolas Lachance (G – 95 – 3.26 – 10-11-1 – Drummondville), Louick Marcotte (F – 94 -36-40-76 – Stockton), Valentin Zykov (F – 95 – 21-25-46 – Los Angeles)

Arriving: Vitali Abramov (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Mathieu Bellemare (G – 98 – Shawinigan’s 3rd in ’14 – Trois-Rivieres), Dylan Callaghan (F – 96 – 16-9-25 – Sudbury Nickel Barons), Jeffrey Durocher (F – 99 – 3rd in ’13), Anthony Gagnon (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Simon Messier (D – 99 – 5th in ’15), Vincent Milo-Ouellet (F – 98 – 12th in ’15), Bo Taylor (G – 97 – 2.77 – 10-8-5 – Brockville)

NHL Prospects: Alexandre Carrier (D – 96 – 12-43-55 – Nashville), Yakov Trenin (F – 97 – 18-49-67 – Nashville)

Rights Held: Max Prawdzik (G – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Boston)

Prediction: Sixth in West Division (Nevermind the current situation that’s developing over a new arena for Gatineau, but with two new netminders coming in, a defence that will more than likely see Carrier dealt at the deadline and a forward core that seems to be lacking in depth, this has all the makings of a long winter.)

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Halifax Mooseheads

Last Season: Fourth in Maritimes Division – Twelfth in QMJHL (32-30-4-2) – Lost 4-3 to Moncton in Quarters

Departing: Nikolaj Ehlers (F – 96 – 37-63-100 – Winnipeg), Ryan Falkenham (F – 95 – 9-7-16 – Retired – Hip Injury), Joshua Fitzgerald (D – 96 – 0-1-1 – South Shore), Philippe Gadoury (F – 94 – 28-29-57 – Dalhousie), Austyn Hardie (F – 94 – 2-18-20 – Saint Mary’s), Samuel Hunter (D – 97 – 1-5-6), Jordan King (F – 97 – 2-4-6), Samuel Leblanc (F – 95 – 9-6-15 – Amherst), Brandon Vuic (F – 95 – 2-3-5)

Arriving: Joel Bishop (F – 99 – 6th in ’15), Dominik Blain-Dupuis (F – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Gatineu L’Intrepide), Barrett Dachyshyn (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – Halifax McDonald’s), Cody Donaghey (D – 96 – 4-11-15 – Quebec – Toronto), Arnaud Durandeau (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Walter Flower (D – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Cooper Jones (D – 98 – 9th in ’15), Ilya Putintsev (F – 98 – 2nd in ’15), Otto Somppi (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Cody Donaghey (D – 96 – 4-11-15 – Quebec – Toronto), Timo Meier (F – 96 – 44-46-90 – San Jose)

Rights Held: Joachim Blichfeld (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft – Malmo), Robert Carpenter (F – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Boston), John Marino (D – 97 – 3rd in ’14 – Yale – Edmonton)

Prediction: Fourth in Maritimes Division (With Ehlers more than likely going to the NHL this year the Mooseheads look ready to rebuild and may deal Timo Meier at the deadline. However, if the Dashing Dane doesn’t make the Winnipeg Jets roster and comes back to Halifax, this may become a dark horse threat for a division title.)

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Moncton Wildcats

Last Season: First in Maritimes Division – Second in QMJHL (46-19-0-3) – Lost 4-0 to Quebec in Semis

Departing: Ivan Barbashev (F – 95 – 45-50-95 – St. Louis), Bronson Beaton (F – 95 – 16-16-32 – Quebec), Taylor Burke (F – 94 – 16-21-37), Alex Dubeau (G – 94 – 2.99 – 41-13-1 – New Brunswick), Alexandre Jacob (F – 97 – 5-5-10 – Chicoutimi), Jason Rioux (G – 96 – 4.26 – 5-6-2 – Dieppe), Jacob Sweeney (D – 95 – 17-29-46), Dominic Talbot-Tassi (D – 94 – 9-43-52 – McGill), Noah Zilbert (F – 95 – 8-9-17 – Woodstock)

Arriving: Noah Corson (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – Rothesay Netherwood School), Ethan Crossman (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Sebastien Dupre (G – 97 – 5th in ’14 – Sorel-Tracy), Zachary Fortin (G – 95 – 2.71 – 20-16-4 – Fort McMurray), Maximilian Glassl (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Sacha Guay (D – 96 – 0-0-0 – Rouyn-Noranda), Kelly Klima (F – 97 – 2-5-7 – Springfield), Kevin Klima (F – 97 – 3-3-6 – Springfield), Marcus Tesink (D – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Saint John Vito’s), Manuel Wiederer (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Conor Garland (F – 96 – 35-94-129 – Arizona)

Rights Held: Adam Dawe (F – 99 – 7th in ’15 – Maine), Miles Gendron (D – 96 – 10th in ’13 – Connecticut – Ottawa), Matt Koopman (F – 98 – 8th in ’14 – Northeastern), Chad Krys (D – 98 – 7th in ’14 – Boston), Johnathan MacLeod (D – 96 – 10th in ’13 – Boston – Tampa Bay), Luke McInnis (D – 98 – 4th in ’14 – Boston College), Michael O’Leary (F – 98 – 2nd in ’15 – Cornell), Keith Petruzzeli (G – 99 – 10th in ’15 – Quinnipiac)

Prediction: Fifth in Maritimes Division (Garland, the reigning QMJHL MVP  is back but there’s some holes that need to be filled. There’s enough talent up front to try and replace the loss of Barbashev, but it will be interesting to see what happens in goal with a rookie 1997 netminder in Dupre and an overager in Fortin who is back in the league after playing in the AJHL.)

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Quebec Remparts

Last Season: Second in East Division – Fourth in QMJHL (40-25-1-2) – Lost 4-3 to Rimouski in QMJHL Finals – Lost 9-3 to Kelowna in Memorial Cup Semis

Departing: Marcus Cuomo (F – 95 – 6-19-25 – Amherst), Cody Donaghey (D – 96 – 4-11-15 – Halifax – Toronto), Anthony Duclair (F – 95 – 15-19-34 – Arizona), Adam Erne (F – 95 – 41-45-86 – Tampa Bay), Kurt Etchegary (F – 94 – 25-35-60 – Toledo), Giancarlo Fiori (D – 97 – 0-2-2), Zachary Fucale (G – 95 – 3.20 – 21-17-2 – Montreal), Guillaume Gauthier (F – 95 – 27-29-56 – Sherbrooke), Ryan Graves (D – 95 – 15-24-39 – NY Rangers), Nicolas Hebert (F – 96 – 0-2-2), Brian Lovell (F – 95 – 4-7-11), Donovan Rehill (F – 97 – 1-3-4 – Yarmouth), Marc-Olivier Roy (F – 94 – 26-24-50 – Bakersfield), Olivier Thibodeau (D – 97 – 0-0-0), Vladimir Tkachev (F – 95 – 16-33-49), Jerome Verrier (F – 94 – 8-17-25)

Arriving: Bronson Beaton (F – 95 – 16-16-32 – Moncton), Matthew Boucher (F – 97 – 8-8-16 – Drummondville), Alexandre Drapeau (D – 97 – Rimouski’s 3rd in ’13 – College Champlain), Julian Galloway (G – 97 – Rimouski’s 9th in ’14 – Moncton Flyers), Derek Gentile (F – 99 – 4th in ’15), Auguste Impose (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Austin McEneny (D – 97 – 6-25-31 – Caledonia), Ryan McReynolds (F – 97 – 4-9-13 – Newmarket), Sean O’Brien (F – 98 – 9-13-22 – St. Mary’s Lincolns), Mikael Rudzick-Robidoux (F – 99 – 5th in ’15), Justin Samson (F – 96 – 2-3-5 – Rimouski), Lucas Thierus (F – 98 – 2-0-2 – Sherbrooke)

NHL Prospects: Callum Booth (G – 97 – 3.05 – 23-13-2 – Carolina), Dmytro Timashov (F – 96 – 19-71-90 – Toronto)

Rights Held: Jonathan Desbiens (F – 96 – 10th in ’13 – Bentley), Joey Dudek (F – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Boston College – NY Rangers), Noah Hanifin (D – 97 – 2nd in ’13 – Carolina), Christian Huntley (D – 99 – 7th in ’15), Vladislav Kamenev (F – 96 – ’14 Import Draft – Nashville), Colin White (F – 97 – 9th in ’14 – Boston College – Ottawa), Spenser Young (D – 97 – 14th in ’14 – Providence)

Prediction: Third in East Division (As the Remparts enter the (hopefully) future home of the Quebec Nordiques they are still in okay shape after hosting the Memorial Cup. Recent NHL draft picks Timashov and Booth are back and a pair of overage defencemen in Nikolas Brouillard and Matt Murphy should help Quebec to contend from a home playoff seed.)

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Rimouski Oceanic

Last Season: First in East Division – First in QMJHL (47-16-3-2) – 2014-15 QMJHL Champions – Lost 5-2 to Quebec in Memorial Cup Tiebreaker

Departing: Charles-David Beaudoin (F – 94 – 7-15-22 – UQTR), Christopher Clapperton (F – 94 – 35-41-76 – Toronto Marlies), Anthony DeLuca (F – 95 – 44-47-91 – Wichita), Philippe Desrosiers (G – 95 – 2.50 – 29-9-3 – Dallas), Vincent Dunn (F – 95 – 19-13-32 – Ottawa), Frederik Gauthier (F – 95 – 16-16-32 – Toronto), Jan Kostalek (D – 95 – 7-36-43 – Winnipeg), Jeremy Lepine (F – 95 – 5-5-10), Alexis Loiseau (F – 94 – 35-61-96 – Bakersfield), Samuel Morin (D – 95 – 5-27-32 – Philadelphia), Edward Nasybullin (D – 96 – 2-21-23 – Ibris Kazan), Justin Samson (F – 96 – 2-3-5 – Quebec), Devin St-Hilaire (F – 95 – 5-5-10), Justin Vachon (F – 95 – 1-1-2 – Saint Jerome)

Arriving: Raphael Bastille (F – 97 – 22-45-67 – College Notre-Dame), Samuel Beck (F – 97 – 4th in ’14 – College Esther-Blondin), Matous Belohorsky (F – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Dominic Cormier (D – 98 – 6th in ’14 – Cushing Academy), Charles-Edouard D’Astous (D – 98 – 4th in ’15), Pierre-Olivier Demers (D – 98 – Quebec’s 5th in ’14 – Levis), Carson MacKinnon (F – 99 – 4th in ’15), Dylan Montcalm (F – 96 – 9-12-21 – Drummondville), Charles-Antoine Poirier-Turcot (G – 98 – 5th in ’14 – Charles-Lemoy), Evan Scott (D – 96 – 2-3-5 – Shawinigan), Alex-Olivier Voyer (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Nicolas Werbik (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft)

NHL Prospects: Simon Bourque (D – 97 – 10-28-38 – Montreal)

Rights Held: Tyler Bird (F – 96 – 14th in ’13 – Brown – Columbus), Ryan Donato (F – 96 – 13th in ’13 – Harvard – Boston), Nick Quillan (D – 96 – 3rd in ’12 – Colgate), Mike Robinson (G – 97 – 8th in ’15 – New Hampshire – San Jose), Luke Stevens (F – 97 – 11th in ’14 – Yale – Carolina)

Prediction: Fifth in East Division (After last year’s stellar season, the Oceanic lose almost every impact player from the team that won the QMJHL title. They’ll be in a tight battle just to make it into the post-season which will be a quite contrast to where things were for them last year.)

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Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

Last Season: Fourth in West Division – Eleventh in QMJHL (33-30-4-1) – Lost 4-2 to Val-d’Or in First Round

Departing: Jeremy Auger (F – 96 – 9-10-19 – Terrebonne), Redgie Bois (D – 94 – 4-24-28 – McGill), Danil Dolgushkin (D – 97 -1-2-3), Marc-Antoine Germain (F – 96 – 1-3-4), Sacha Guay (D – 96 – 0-0-0 – Moncton), Justin Guenette (D – 95 – 3-34-37 – Drummondville), Johnny Jones (F – 97 – 0-1-1), Mathieu Lemay (F – 94 – 44-39-83 – UQTR), Julien Pelletier (F – 96 – 10-18-29 – Sherbrooke – Columbus), Ryan Penny (F – 94 – 32-38-70 – Binghamton)

Arriving: Peter Abbandonato (F – 98 – 2nd in ’14 – Laval-Montreal), Louis-Philip Cote (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Bruno-Carl Denis (D – 96 – 0-2-2 – Shawinigan), Martins Dzierkals (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Toronto), Gabriel Fontaine (F – 97  – 4-15-19 – Sherbrooke), Jonathan Legault (D – 97 – 4-3-7 – Charles-Lemoy) Charles-Olivier Ouimet (F – 98 – 3rd in ’14 – College Esther-Blondin), Anthony Wojcik (F – 98 – Charlottetown’s 4th in ’14 – Charles-Lemoy)

NHL Prospects: Jean-Christopher Beaudin (F – 97 – 14-39-53 – Colorado), Martins Dzierkals (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – Toronto), Jeremy Lauzon (D – 97 – 15-21-36 – Boston), Julien Nantel (F – 96 – 26-35-61 – Colorado), Francis Perron (F – 96 – 29-47-76 – Ottawa)

Rights Held: Michael Callahan (D – 99 – 14th in ’15 – Providence), Taggart Corriveau (F – 97 – 13th in ’14 – St. Lawrence), Karlis Cukste (D – 97 – ’15 Import Draft – San Jose), AJ Greer (F – 96 – 11th in ’13 – Boston – Colorado), Bryan Lemos (F – 96 – 12th in ’13 – Providence), Denis Malgin (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – ZSC Lions – Florida), Bryan Nelson (D – 96 – 13th in ’13 – Harvard)

Prediction: Second in West Division (They don’t have the sexiness of some of the other top teams in the league, but the Huskies roster is solid from top to bottom. The forward core is strong, the defence is young but talented and they have two young netminders that can steal a game. If everything falls in their favour, the Huskies may be in the league final.)

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Saint John Sea Dogs

Last Season: Third in Maritimes Division – Tenth in QMJHL (32-26-4-6) – Lost 4-1 to Baie-Comeau in First Round

Departing: Sebastien Auger (G – 94 – 3.07 – 26-16-8 – UQTR), Braydon Blight (D – 95 – 3-5-8 – Truro), Mitchell Dempsey (F – 95 – 8-17-25), Justice Dundas (F – 94 – 22-14-36), Juraj Siska (F – 96 – 7-8-15), Mark Tremaine (F – 94 – 14-25-39 – St. Francis Xavier), Jack Van Boekel (D – 96 – 0-9-9 – Val-d’Or)

Arriving: Oliver Felixson (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft), Sam Povorozniouk (F – 95 – 15-24-39 – Windsor), Dawson Theede (F – 97 – 17-10-27 – Cobourg), Marc-Antoine Turcotte (G – 95 – 2.17 – 8-7-2 – Blainville-Boisbriand), Joseph Veleno (F – 00 – 1st in ’15), Kyle Ward (F – 97 – 9th in ’14 – Moncton Flyers)

NHL Prospects: Thomas Chabot (D – 97 – 12-29-41 – Ottawa), Samuel Dove-McFalls (F – 97 – 14-20-34 – Philadelphia), Bokondji Imama (F – 96 – 13-15-28 – Tampa Bay), Mathieu Joseph (F – 97 – 21-21-42 – Tampa Bay), Adam Marsh (F – 97 – 24-20-44 – Detroit), Spencer Smallman (F – 96 – 23-33-56 – Carolina), Jakub Zboril (D – 97 – 13-20-33 – Boston)

Rights Held: Jamie Armstrong (F – 98 – Acadie Bathurst’s 6th in ’14 – Northeastern), Joey Daccord (F – 96 – 11th in ’13 – Arizona State – Ottawa), Jack Eichel (F – 96 – 10th in ’13 – Buffalo), Monte Graham (F – 98 – 7th in ’14 – Boston College), Lincoln Griffin (F – 97 – 14th in ’14 – Northeastern), Frantisek Hrdinka (D – 98 – ’15 Import Draft – Frolunda), Jake Massie (D – 97 – 5th in ’14 – UMass – Chicago), Marc McLaughlin (F – 99 – 6th in ’15 – St. Lawrence)

Prediction: First in Maritimes Division (They have a bevy of NHL prospects on the team, two stellar draft eligible blueliners in Felixson and Luke Green and the first 2000-born player in all of major junior hockey in Joseph Veleno. While the goaltending is still a bit of a question mark, it’s easy to see why the Sea Dogs are considered one of the favourite to win this year’s championship.)

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Shawinigan Cataractes

Last Season: Third in East Division – Fifth in QMJHL (39-26-1-2) – Lost 4-3 to Halifax in First Round

Departing: Olivier Couette (F – 94 – 12-18-30 – UQTR), Marvin Cupper (G – 94 – 2.80 – 36-20-2 – Berlin), Bruno-Carl Denis (D – 96 – 0-2-2 – Rouyn-Noranda), Kris Hodge (F – 95 – 0-10-10), Dylan Labbe (D – 95 – 15-36-51 – Minnesota), Christophe Lalonde (F – 94 – 35-38-73 – Norfolk), Evan Scott (D – 96 – 2-3-5 – Rimouski)

Arriving: Samuel Asselin (F – 98 – 5th in ’14 – College Esther-Blondin), Tommy Cardinal (F – 99 – 3rd in ’15), Jocktan Chainey (D – 99 – 1st in ’15), Mikhail Denisov (G – 98 – 2nd in ’15), Alexandre Dufour (F – 97 – 5th in ’13 – Saint-Laurent), Louis-Philip Fortin (D – 98 – Quebec’s 5th in ’14 – Magog), Frederic Foulem (G – 97 – Acadie Bathurst’s 7th in ’13 – Shattuck St. Mary’s), Samuel Guilbault (F – 98 – 1-14-15 – Charlottetown)

NHL Prospects: Anthony Beauvillier (F – 97 – 42-52-94 – NY Islanders), Dennis Yan (F – 97 – 33-31-64 – Tampa Bay)

Rights Held: Charlie Barrow (D – 96 – 11th in ’13 – Holy Cross), Ryan Brushett (F – 98 – Charlottetown’s 6th in ’14 – Providence), Alexander Dergachev (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft – SKA St. Petersburg – Los Angeles)

Prediction: Third in East Division (With many of their top offensive players returning from a year ago, Shawinigan should be have another strong season. Like many teams, there’s a question mark in goal, but Foulem is highly regarded and was previously committed to Harvard)

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Sherbrooke Phoenix

Last Season: Third in West Division – Eighth in QMJHL (36-26-2-4) – Lost 4-2 to Charlottetown in First Round

Departing: Owen Bennington (F – 95 – 2-2-4), Alex Bureau (G – 96 – 3.37 – 21-13-3 – Retired), Cameron Darcy (F – 94 – 21-38-59 – Tampa Bay), Kevin Domingue (F – 95 – 11-5-16 – Whitecourt), Gabriel Fontaine (F – 97 – 4-15-19 – Rouyn-Noranda), Aaron Hoyles (D – 94 – 4-11-15 – St. Francis Xavier), Raphael Lafontaine (F – 94 – 14-13-27), Raphael Sawyer (F – 97 – 1-3-4 – Terrebonne), Trevor Stacey (F – 97 – 0-0-0), David Storto (F – 95 – 27-44-71 – McGill), Lucas Thierus (F – 98 – 2-0-2 – Quebec), Tim Wieser (F – 95 – 38-28-66 – Kloten)

Arriving: Jan Dufek (F – 97 – ’15 Import Draft), Guillaume Gauthier (F – 95 – 27-29-56 – Quebec), Kevin Gilbert (F – 97 – 6th in ’14 – Magog – Injured Last Year), Scottie Greene (D – 98 – 11-12-23 – Central Ice Pak), Jason Imbeault (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Logan Johnston (F – 98 – 4th in ’15), Austin Kozluk (F – 96 – 6-12-18 – Brampton), Alexandre Lagace (G – 97 – 4.79 – 1-6-2 – Baie-Comeau), Hugo Roy (F – 97 – 6th in ’13 – Sherbrooke College), Skylar Strumas (D – 97 – 0-8-8 – Baie-Comeau)

NHL Prospects: Daniel Audette (F – 96 – 29-44-73 – Montreal), Carl Neill (D – 96 – 14-26-40 – Vancouver), Julien Pelletier (F – 96 – 10-18-29 – Rouyn-Noranda – Columbus), Jeremy Roy (D – 97 – 5-38-43 – San Jose), Alexis Vanier (D – 95 – 5-17-22 – San Jose)

Rights Held: Matthew Allen (F – 99 – 6th in ’15 – Providence), Callahan Burke (F – 97 – 12th in ’14 – Notre Dame), Casey Fitzgerald (D – 97 – 9th in ’14 – Boston College)

Prediction: Third in West Division (This is one of those teams that have a ton of talented players on offence and defence but will only go as far as their goaltending takes them. Evan Fitzpatrick is highly touted but he will be thrown into a huge starting role this year, especially since Alex Dubeau has retired.)

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Val-d’Or Foreurs

Last Season: Second in West Division – Sixth in QMJHL (35-25-3-5) – Lost 4-0 to Rimouski in Semis

Departing: Guillaume Archambault (F – 96 – 3-4-7 – Saint-Leonard), Keven Bouchard (G – 96 – 3.85 – 15-13-5 – Baie-Comeau – Edmonton), Vytal Cote (D – 95 – 4-19-23 – Valley), Jeremie Fraser (D – 94 – 12-44-56 – Carleton), Pierre-Maxime Poudrier (F – 94 – 29-46-75 – UQTR), Simon Tremblay (F – 94 – 17-25-42)

Arriving: Dereck Baribeau (G – 99 – 1st in ’15), Adam Cheezo (F – 98 – 3rd in ’15), Mathieu Nadeau (F – 97 – Victoriaville’s 2nd in ’13), Julien Proulx (F – 96 – 1-3-4 – Victoriaville), Cole Rafuse (F – 99 – 2nd in ’15), Carl Tremblay (D – 95 – 4-15-19 – Chicoutimi), Jack Van Boekel (D – 96 – 0-9-9 – Saint John)

NHL Prospects: Nicolas Aube-Kubel (F – 96 – 38-42-80 – Philadelphia), Alexis Pepin (F – 96 – 18-9-27 – Colorado), Anthony Richard (F – 96 – 43-48-91 – Nashville)

Rights Held: Eric Esposito (F – 98 – 14th in ’15 – New Hampshire), Lucas Michaud (F – 97 – 7th in ’13 – Maine), Damien Riat (F – 97 – ’14 Import Draft – Geneve-Servette), Reilly Walsh (D – 99 – 13th in ’15 – Harvard)

Prediction: First in West Division (Val-d’Or’s offence is beyond terrifying up front with Aube-Kubel, Richard, Anthony Beauregard and Julien Gauthier all returning. They might to strengthen things up a bit on defence, but that amount of scoring power in the top lines should make this an exciting team to watch every night.)

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Victoriaville Tigres

Last Season: Sixth in East Division – Sixteenth in QMJHL (27-34-3-4) – Lost 4-0 to Rimouski in First Round

Departing: Martin-Olivier Cardinal (F – 96 – 1-4-5), Danick Crete (D – 96 – 1-11-12), Daniel De Sousa (D – 96 – 3-7-10 – Mississauga Chargers), Jordan Ty Fournier (F – 97 – 13-9-22 – Cape Breton), Jean Gleizes (F – 98 – 0-0-0 – Chateauguay), Charles-Eric Legare (F – 94 – 15-14-29 – Concordia), Antoine Marcoux (F – 96 – 15-14-29 – Chicoutimi), Angelo Miceli (F – 94 – 38-58-96), Phil Pietroniro (D – 94 – 5-42-47 – Utah), Julien Proulx (F – 96 – 1-3-4 – Val-d’Or)

Arriving: Marc Beckstead (F – 95 – 9-11-20 – Gatineau), Danyck Calgaro (F – 98 – Chicoutimi’s 3rd in ’14 – Longueuil College), Maxime Comtois (F – 99 – 1st in ’15), Anthony Gingras (F – 95 – 3-7-10 – Chicoutimi), Mario Huber (F – 96 – ’15 Import Draft), Jimmy Huntington (F – 98 – 0-2-2 – Acadie-Bathurst), Olivier Huot (D – 98 – 1st in ’14 – Gatineau L’Intrepide), Bradley Lalonde (D – 97 – 7-22-29 – Cape Breton), Jacob Lapierre (F – 98 – 3rd in ’15), Nicolas Latulippe (D – 96 – 0-5-5 – Acadie-Bathurst), James Povall (G – 97 – 3rd in ’13 – Gatineau L’Intrepide), Jake Schultz (D – 96 – 0-5-5 – Neepawa)

NHL Prospects: Samuel Blais (F – 96 – 34-38-82 – St. Louis), Gabriel Gagne (F – 96 – 35-24-59 – Ottawa)

Rights Held: Jeremy Davies (D – 96 – 6th in ’13 – Northeastern), Vimal Sukumaran (F – 96 – 7th in ’12 – Providence)

Prediction: Fourth in East Division (Players like Comtois and Pascal Laberge will make the Tigres a team to watch in the years to come. For now though, I expect them to be in battling just to make the playoffs yet again.)

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QMJHL Standings

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

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First Coach To Be Fired: Benoit Groulx (The defending championship coach from the World Juniors is going to get canned? Hear me out on this. Groulx was heavily rumoured to be taking a pro gig in the off-season but ended up sticking around, so he may leave as a result of that. However, after only making the playoffs thanks to a great late-season run, I’m not sure if Groulx is going to be around after the year ends with a much weaker looking squad.)

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Biggest Name Traded: Samuel Montembeault (Like Zach Fucale a year ago, Montembeault will be heavily looked at by teams looking at making an upgrade in goal during the lead-up to this year’s trade deadline. Of my predicted top six teams, I think Saint John, Shawinigan, Cape Breton and possibly Sherbrooke could all take a look at him.)

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Best First Year Import: Martins Dzierkals (If Alexander Dergachev shows up in Shawinigan, this might change. However, I’ll go with this Maple Leafs pick as he’s expected to be a key part of a Huskies team that may surprise people.)

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Top Scorer: Nathan Noel (Noel was easily the most surprising player to not be drafted in June’s NHL Draft. He’ll have a massive chip on his shoulder this year and since he’s part of a loaded Sea Dogs team, I expect him to have a massive year.)

Sea Dogs Brain Trust

Coach Of The Year: Danny Flynn (The former Moncton Wildcats head coach  is back in the QMJHL as the new bench boss with the Sea Dogs, following a stint as an assistant coach with Ted Nolan and the Buffalo Sabres. Sure the Sea Dogs are expected to be a dynamite team already, but Flynn should help out with the transition of making this team a legit title threat.)

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Overage Player Of The Year: Anthony Beauregard (In just his second season in the QMJHL, Beauregard had a massive increase in points as he put up 87 points after a 41-point campaign in his rookie season. With a ton of offensive talent on the roster, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has 100 points or more this year.)

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Rookie Of The Year: Joseph Veleno (Unlike the four exceptional status players in the OHL (John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Sean Day), Veleno is coming into a team that is loaded already instead of one that is rebuilding. It’s pretty hard to pick against him as being the top first year player.)

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Top Defenceman: Jeremy Roy (The San Jose Sharks draft pick has been nearly a point-per-game player in his first two years in the QMJHL. All the signs are pointing towards Roy having a monster campaign.)

Mason McDonald

Top Goalie: Mason McDonald (McDonald’s more than likely the favourite at the moment to be the starting netminder for Canada at this year’s World Juniors and should have a stellar season. The Islanders will go as far as the Calgary Flames prospect will take them.)

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Most Valuable Player: Nicolas Aube-Kubel (As I watched the 2014 Memorial Cup in London, Aube-Kubel quickly became one of my favourite forwards to watch as a result of his speed and skill. With so many talented teammates, he’s my pick to be the top player in the league this season.)

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QMJHL Champions: Saint John Sea Dogs over Val-d’Or Foreurs (You can make a case for a bevy of teams to be in the finals, but in the end, I went with the team that looks the most loaded to beat the one with the most explosive offence. The Sea Dogs, while they are young, look similar to the Brandon Wheat Kings a year ago who ran through the WHL a year ahead of schedule.)


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