Monthly Archives: September 2015

2015-16 WHL Season Preview

crop_27452042_27_1431582602-2

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.

crop_928703_27_1406579258

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.)

bilde

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.)

DEV_1557-e1436222072138

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.)

309d5470-c373-11e4-9c47-91e0a3f13099_Juulsen-is-ranked-No-38-among-North-America

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.)

orig-mediaitemid18388-2203

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.)

Tri-City Americans v Kelowna Rockets

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.)

<>

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.)

1297620849795_ORIGINAL

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.)

10183310

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.)

2014-09-20-12-27-21-MJ-09-20-14Warriors-web

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.)

pb011215_672

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.)

9650534

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.)

Mar28_WHLplayer

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.)

Bleackley_RedDeer1_672x412

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.)

sammy

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.)

crop_27441522_27_1428355160-2

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.)

png2509s_vvgiants_6m_212658136

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.)

crop_27450139_27_1430929842

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.)

broncos-wheat-kings-lajoie-1024x683

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.)

20150609_carlo

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.)

11351251

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.)

vka-royrocks205371-3-jpg

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.)

10698159

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

8168092

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.)

2014-10-04-12-49-35-MJ-10-04-14Warriors-web

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.)

20150806_spacek644

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.)

10222911

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.)

Hollick_Mark_09_10_12542

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.)

131016-SUN-WHEATIES2

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.)

CEBS-s2UsAAdCxy

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.)

HaydnFleury_644

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.)

140730-papirny-C60

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.)

2014-11-14-11-38-47-PA-MJ-web

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.)

Whistle-Gatenby-worked

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.)

Advertisements

2015-16 QMJHL Season Preview

18 mai 2015 - Remparts vs Oceanic

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.

Guillaume Brisebois

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.)

2014-11-12-10-56-20-Meloche Nicolas - Denis Thibault

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.)

2014-09-12-11-13-09-Montembeault

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.)

CAPEvgenySvechnikov4920

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.)

crop_880505_27_1396885357

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.)

Chicoutimi Sagueneens v Blainville-Boisbriand Armada

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.)

crop_2590079_27_1415897500-2

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.)

Yakov+Trenin+Jacob+Sweeney+Moncton+Wildcats+-ayyfxxACa9l

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.)

Timo-Meier-640x429

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.)

GarlandConor4444

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.)

image-5

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.)

rim_joly47471

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.)

image-6

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.)

f7dd1af0-580d-11e5-9add-fdf4710bd647_SNB_VelenoJoe_Action_201516

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.)

image-7

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)

crop_934820_27_1408570249-2

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.)

2014-10-27-03-51-41-texte 1 - anthony

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.)

9fc09690-f81e-4424-832b-7889c080e64e_ORIGINAL

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.)

20140228_jeremiefraser_derekshappards_800w

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

B97408405Z.120141228203135000G2O7UI0H.11

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.)

image-8

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.)

_v8c4396

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.)

image-9

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.)

477159079-640x360

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.)

6 juin 2015 - Repechage LHJMQ - QMJHL Draft - Sherbrooke

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.)

Jeremy-Roy

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.)

image-10

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.)

Saint John Sea Dogs v Blainville-Boisbriand Armada

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.)


2015-16 Curling Season Preview

COUiOcuXAAENSeP

Written by Brett Punkari (and occasional cameos by Lucas Punkari)

It’s hard to believe but the start of the competitive season in Canada is officially here as Brad Gushue and Rachel Homan both won at the Stu Sells Bonspiel on Labour Day (and that’s after two World Curling Tour events in August in Korea and Switzerland). Plus, the first Grand Slam event of the season is taking place as we speak.

Now you’re probably thinking how is there a Grand Slam event so early, well hold your horses as we are going to go in depth. This preview will cover notable changes such as schedule, team changes and a preview for each province.

Season Changes

The Grand Slam of Curling has increased the number of events from five to now seven events with an even bigger total purse. The two new events are the GSOC Tour Challenge which is next weekend and the Champions Cup which concludes in May.  Not much has changed in terms of the Curling Canada sanctioned events like the Canada Cup, the Scotties and the Brier.

Of course during the offseason there were a number of changes among teams and team members. Some notable team changes will be mentioned as we go along each province and territory, but if you want to have a look at all changes here is the TSN Curling Roster-Off Season Tracker. 

Provincial Preview

So like our “Provincial Blowout Spectacular” we will preview each province, any notable lineup changes, which teams we will keep an eye on, teams under the most pressure and favorites to make Scotties/Brier. This year were going to start east and work our way west so let’s get started.

Newfoundland and Labrador

nl_flag

Scotties Finish (Heather Strong): Tied for Eighth (4-7)

Brier Finish (Brad Gushue): Fourth (9-2)

Notable Team Changes

None

Team Under the Most Pressure

1297672798625_ORIGINAL

Brad Gushue

Ok so it is pretty obvious that not winning a Bries has to cause more and more pressure for Gushue and company especially when it seemed until playoff time at last year’s Brier that it could be his year. Now he did win two Grand Slam events last year but that means peanuts if he can’t win the Brier.

Team to Keep an Eye On

mark-nichols-and-brad-gushue-cur-brier-20150228

Brad Gushue

Brett mentioned a lot of the points earlier but the biggest thing to see with how Gushue will fare is that fact that St. John’s could be hosting the Brier in 2017. If he can win in Ottawa next March, it could set off a year-long provincial party. Whether he can handle that pressure (or if Curling Canada will give the Brier to the city most deserving of it) remains to be seen.

Favourite to Make Scotties

2012-02-20-07-28-14-Heather-Strong-4-col-2

Heather Strong

Strong is pretty much the best women’s team in Newfoundland even though she has had mediocre results to show for it. The only way I could see Strong getting back above .500 is if the field at the 2016 Scotties is not that strong. Oh and she should perhaps stop winning the Ford Hot Shots competition.

Favourite to Make Brier

1297533624608_ORIGINAL

Brad Gushue

Well let’s at least hope that the field at the Newfoundland provincial playdowns has more than two teams. Regardless he should cruise to another Brier fight for that elusive crown. Of course it’s an even number year at the Brier, so based upon past performances he may have to wait again.

Prince Edward Island

1

Scotties Finish (Suzanne Birt): Tied for Eighth (4-7)

Brier Finish (Adam Casey): Tied for Seventh (5-6)

Notable Team Changes

On the women’s side defending provincial chanp Suzanne Birt has a brand new lineup for the 2015-2016 season as she has brought in Robyn Green, Meaghan Hughes and Marie Christianson as she looks to find some of the 2003 magic.

On the men’s side Adam Casey has made a change at the vice position. Gone is Josh Barry (who is now playing with Travis Fanset) and replacing him is David Mathers (who was with Mark Kean last year).

Team Under the Most Pressure

Suzanne Birt

This was a bit of a tough call but the combination of a new lineup and tough competition from former provincial champions Kathy O’Rourke and Kim Dolan could put a lot of pressure on Birt to perform this year.

If she makes it back to the Scotties she will probably be hoping to put at least an above .500 performance together to gain some confidence again.

Team to Keep an Eye On

2015, Calgary Ab, Tim Hortons Brier, Team P.E.I. skip Adam Casey, Curling Canada/michael burns photo

Adam Casey

As the best team on the East Coast that’s not Brad Gushue, Casey’s lineup has the potential to be a major dark horse in the years to come. If he can do well on the World Curling Tour this season, it will go along way towards his rink becoming a major threat. 

Favourite to Make Scotties

PC_110222_c3i21_birt-suzanne-curling-ipe_sn635

Suzanne Birt

Suzanne Birt has made three of the last five Scotties Tournament of Hearts with her best record being 6-5 in 2011. She is hoping her new lineup will bring her up a few notches and get her perhaps back in playoff contention. Of course, it depends on the Scotties field and if she wins provincials of course.

Favourite to Make Brier

2015, Calgary Ab, Tim Hortons Brier, P.E.I. skip Adam Casey, Canada Curling/michael burns photo

Adam Casey

Adam Casey came through relegation and had a pretty decent showing at last year’s Brier, even though he got destroyed by Brad Jacobs in what was the most destructive beating of the two major Curling Canada events.

This year, with Derek Mathers on board, we can expect a bit of improvement in Casey with a chance of a .500 Brier record and being  a playoff sleeper may not be out of the question. However, since he is known for being a risk taker and trying crazy shots, he will have to be careful on when he goes for broke.

Nova Scotia

natal-day-canada

Scotties Finish (Mary-Anne Arsenault): Tied for Sixth (5-6)

Brier Finish (Glen MacLeod): Fourteenth (Failed to get out of relegation round)

Notable Team Changes

There is one major change as former Brier champion Mark Dacey, who is desperately trying to make it back to the event, has joined Shawn Adams team as the vice. Also that rink gets a major shot in the arm as Craig Savill who has been a mainstay with Glenn Howard, has joined them as the second.

Team Under the Most Pressure

2013-02-05-06-36-59-Adams2fix-and-Gushue

Shawn Adams

With all these changes Shawn Adams has a lot of pressure on him to not only win the Nova Scotia provincial but to also get the province out of the relegation round at the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier after Glen MacLeod failed to do so last year.

Team to Keep an Eye On

B97275243Z.120140124211129000G354KG36.11

Mary Fay

The 17-year-old from Chester is probably the best curler in the junior ranks at the moment. She won a bronze medal in 2014 at the juniors, a silver at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, and will be going to the Winter Youth Olympics in Norway next year. She’s still a few years away from being at the Scotties, but the future is bright. 

Favourite to Make Scotties

B97425694Z.120150215212004000GFV8HNTN.11

Mary Anne Arsenault

Arsenault has been pretty solid in her previous Scotties appearances. Also, as mentioned in the 2015 Scotties review, she lost a lot of real close games so she could have been a playoff contender. If she makes it back with her current lineup she could be perhaps a playoff dark-horse.

Favourite to Make Brier

curling1038

Shawn Adams

Like I mentioned before there is going to be a lot of pressure on Shawn to bring this talented group through provincials. If he does manage to do so I can see him making it through the qualifier and having a decent performance to avoid the relegation round in 2017.

New Brunswick

img_57441

Scotties Finish (Sylvie Robichaud): Tied for Eighth (4-7)

Brier Finish (Jeremy Mallais): Eleventh (2-9)

Notable Team Changes

After a stunning defeat in the Brier provincial final last year James Grattan has made wholesale changes as he has brought in Tommy Sullivan, Stephen Burgess and former Team Gushue lead and comedic hero Jamie Korab to try to make a return to the event.

Team Under the Most Pressure

8060054

James Grattan

So Grattan, who has basically the best team in New Brunswick, is thanking his lucky stars that Jeremy Mallais finished above the relegation zone in last year’s Brier. He will be looking to get back on form to make sure he avoids the relegation round for 2017 but if he loses the provincial final again then New Brunswick could be in danger.

Team to Keep an Eye On

12164090526_7a5b93d8f0_z

Rene Comeau

The only thing missing from this talented youngster’s resume is a junior championship. He lost in the final to Braden Calvert in 2014 and nabbed a bronze medal last year. It’s Comeau’s final year in the junior ranks so you can bet he’s chomping at the bit to make it to the Worlds before he moves up a level.

Favourite to Make Scotties

Team New Brunswick skip Sylvie Robichaud calls the shot into the house in draw nine action at the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Womens Curling Championships, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Sylvie Robichaud

The addition of Rebecca Atkinson has helped Robichaud in some degree as Sylvie was the fifth best skip at last year’s Scotties. Though she got off to a slow start last year she picked up her performance late, as it usually always happens to New Brunswick teams. She should make it back easily to the Scotties but who knows how it will go.

Favourite to Make Brier

8071894

Grattan’s a long time veteran of the game and his new lineup should help him get back to the Brier. The experience that he and Korab will bring to the table should help the other two new players ease into their first Brier experience. If he does make it, a 5-6 record would not surprise me, but that of course depends on the field.

Quebec

image-2

Scotties Finish (Lauren Mann): Eleventh (3-8)

Brier Finish (Jean-Michel Menard): Tied for Fifth (6-5)

Notable Team Changes

Defending Quebec women’s champion Lauren Mann has brought in a new second in Lana Gosselin while dropping Brittany O’Rourke to the lead position, which leaves Anne-Marie Filiteau on the outside looking in.

Team Under the Most Pressure

CircuitProv

Whoever wins the Quebec women’s provincial playdowns

Let’s be honest, the depth on the women’s side in Quebec has not been that great since Marie-France Larouche stepped away after many successful runs at the Scotties. The last time a Quebec team was above .500 was Marie-France in 2012.

Since then the Quebec representatives (Allison Ross and Lauren Mann) have had a combined record of 8-25. So it’s gonna be tough for whoever wins Quebec to avoid relegation.

Team to Keep an Eye On

2015, Calgary Ab, Tim Hortons Brier, Quebec skip Jean Michel Menard, lead Phillipe Menard, second Eric Sylvain, Curling Canada/michael burns photo

Jean-Michel Menard

Possibly the most underrated skip in the country at the moment, Menard does well each year at the Brier despite not playing in the big Grand Slam events on a regular basis. If he plays in more of the World Curling Tour events this year, he might move up into that upper echelon.

Favourite to Make Scotties

Team Quebec skip Lauren Mann throws her rock in draw three action at the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Womens Curling Championships, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Lauren Mann

Last year’s Scotties was Lauren’s first appearance as a skip and she had a few close games so her record could have been a little better. So with a Scotties appearance under her belt she should improve a little, but like I mentioned earlier, there will be some pressure on her to avoid the relegation zone.

Favourite to Make Brier

Kamloops B.C.Mar9_2014.Tim Hortons Brier.Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard.CCA/michael burns photo

Jean-Michel Menard

 

There is not much doubt that Menard is the clear favorite in Quebec to make another Brier run as the 2006 champion looks to make it back to the playoffs after a 6-5 record last year in Calgary.

Ontario

ontario-flag-waving-650

Scotties Finish (Julie Hastings): Tied for Sixth (5-6)

Brier Finish (Mark Kean): Tied for Seventh (5-6)

Notable Team Changes

 

Two major changes in Ontario happened on the men’s side. Firstly, Glenn Howard’s lineup has come full circle as Craig Savill left to be replaced by his son Scott Howard at the lead position. Also Wayne Middaugh has returned to the Howard rink as the vice while Richard Hart has moved down to the second position as Jon Mead has left to help the Mike McEwen rink. Also defending Ontario champion Mark Kean has a brand new lineup for this year as he has brought in Bowie Abbie-Mills, Spencer Nuttall and Fraser Reid.

Team Under the Most Pressure

epping_john640

John Epping

Epping was one end away from his first Brier appearance as a skip last year, which is the only thing he has left to do in his career. he has done everything else in his career except making a brier. He has brought in Mat Camm (who was with Mark Kean) as the new vice replacing Travis Fanset. Basically this year it’s down to Epping and Howard to win the provincials and I believe Epping has more pressure on him because Glenn has been there so many times.

Team to Keep an Eye On

9465155

Allison Flaxey

Allison Flaxey did not have the best of provincials last year and thus she has made some changes. She has brought in Clancy Grandy (who finished third at the Ontario Scotties) as the vice and Lynn Kreviazuk is back at second. This does make an interesting lineup and she would be among the favorites in the Ontario provincials. Well, except for one thing…

Favourite to Make Scotties

SPNM21_RACHEL01-640x360

Rachel Homan’s Revenge

Look at her lurking in the weeds, plotting her course. In all seriousness the rest on Ontario should be afraid of Homan and crew as they are in their second year together with the current lineup and should be much improved than what we saw at the Scotties in Moose Jaw. Homan’s hitting ability and of course Joanne Courtney’s godly sweeping ability should propel them to another Scotties run.

Favourite to Make Brier

glenn-howard-2013-brier

Glenn Howard

Last year was one that Glenn would just as soon forget. It’s one thing to lose a provincial final like he did in 2014, but to not even qualify for provincials last year has to sting to even more. However with the changes the team has made, he basically has the best of both worlds with Richard Hart’s touch and Wayne Middaugh’s hitting ability making a pretty formidable combination. Of course John Epping will not make it easy on him but if Howard manages to get back through Ontario then he could be perhaps considered one of the favourites in next year’s Brier.

Northern Ontario

Moose-2

Scotties Finish (Tracy Horgan): Fifth (6-5)

Brier Finish (Brad Jacobs): Second (10-1)

Notable Team Changes

A former Ontario champion has returned as Krista McCarville is back to skip the Kendra Lilly rink. While defending women’s champion Tracy Fleury (formerly Horgan as she got married during the summer) has brought in Crystal Webster for the World Curling Tour events.

Team Under Most Pressure

1297666277197_ORIGINAL

Tracy Fleury

After almost making the playoffs in Northern Ontario’s first ever trip to the Scotties, the Sudbury rink is now on the verge of becoming one of the best in the country. They are no longer flying under the radar and will have to step their game up even more, especially at the Grand Slam events.

Team to Keep an Eye On

EDMONTON,ALBERTA:DECEMBER11,2009--Skip Krista McCarville shouts orders to the sweepers during a tiebreaker game against Team Lawton on the sixth day of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian curling trials at Edmonton's Rexall Place Friday, December 11, 2009. (Chris Schwarz/Edmonton Journal).

Krista McCarville

After taking a couple of years off, the Thunder Bay skip is back with former teammates Ashley Sippala and Sarah Potts and has added talented Northern Ontario junior skip Kendra Lilly as her vice. If there’s any team that can knock off Fleury and be a dark horse at the Scotties, it’s this one.

Favourite to Make Scotties

1297668017240_ORIGINAL-2

Tracy Fleury

This season Tracy is playing more events on the World Curling Tour, including the Grand Slam events, thanks to the addition of Crystal Webster. Though Krista McCarville will give her a tough time, Fleury should be able to earn another trip to the Scotties.

Favourite to Make Brier

1297392597002_ORIGINAL

Brad Jacobs

Now that Jacobs has a Grand Slam win to his name there is one title missing from his collection, a World Championship.You can bet these intense boys will fight hard to get back to the world stage and cross off the final title that is missing from their list.

Manitoba

web-manitoba-flag

Scotties Finish (Jennifer Jones): First (10-1)

Brier Finish (Reid Carruthers): Tenth (4-7)

Notable Team Changes

The biggest switch is of course the fact that Jeff Stoughton is no longer curling competitively and is now in charge of Canada’s mixed doubles program for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Vice Rob Fowler is taking a year off while the front end of Alex Forrest and Connor Njegovan are forming their own rink, with Forrest at skip. Also, cult hero Jason Gunnlagson is back as the vice for William Lyburn’s squad.

 

Team Under Most Pressure

mcewen_mike6401

Mike McEwen

How many more losses in the provincials can one guy take? He needs get over the hump now after last year’s loss to Carruthers. If not, who knows what could happen down the road.

Teams to Keep an Eye On

1297360824002_ORIGINAL

1297660989875_ORIGINAL

Matt Dunstone and Braden Calvert

Both of these skips are Canadian Junior champions and Calvert picked up a World Junior title last year. They’ve also had some success on the men’s side, with Calvert pushing Jeff Stoughton to the brink in last year’s 3 vs. 4 page playoff game at the Manitoba provincials.  We will see how things go for them this year as they make the step up to the men’s ranks full time as these two could be the skips of the future in Manitoba.

Favourite to Make Scotties

150123 Einarson 3.jpg

Kerri Einarson

With Jennifer Jones already returning to the Scotties as Team Canada, the Manitoba women’s provincial is wide open. The probably favourite at the moment is Einarson, who is the runner-up at the last two provincial playdowns. She has had some decent results on the tour and has done better than Kristy McDonald, who has played the Grand Slam events.

Favourite to Make Brier

2015 World Financial Group Continental Cup Curling, Calgary AB, Dawn McEwen, Mike McEwen, CCA/michael burns photo

Mike McEwen

 

Yeah it’s sounding like a broken record isn’t it. Of course McEwen is the favorite once again to make it out of Manitoba. He has brought in Jon Mead to basically lend a hand and kind of oversee things. It’s up to Mike to finally get the job done. If he happens to make it to the Brier, he will probably be among the favorites to make the playoffs.

Saskatchewan

saskatchewan-flag-2

Scotties Finish (Stefanie Lawton): Fourth (8-3)

Brier Finish (Steve Laycock): Third (7-4)

 

Notable Team Change

The biggest switch happened to be with the defending women’s provincial champion Stefanie Lawton. Former Canadian junior champion Trish Paulsen is now playing at vice while Sherry Anderson now skips a rink with junior players Jessica Hanson, Elyse Lafrance and Brie Spilchen.

Team Under Most Pressure

image-3

Stefanie Lawton

The top team in Saskatchewan has a bolstered lineup this year and has come so close to being on the podium but has yet to close the deal. If Lawton wants to be considered among the elite women’s curlers like Jones and Homan she has to get over this fourth place hump sooner rather than later at the Scotties.

Team to Keep an Eye On

2015, Calgary Ab, Tim Hortons Brier, Bronze Medalist, Saskatchewan skip Steve Laycock, third Kirk Muyres, second Colton Flasch, lead Dallan Muyres, Alt Gerry Adam, coach Lyle Muyres, Curling Canada/michael burns photo

Steve Laycock

Last season was Laycock’s best to date on the men’s tour as he made it to a Grand Slam final and got on the podium at the Brier. Obviously we won’t know how strong this year’s Brier field will be in Ottawa compared to last year’s chaos in Calgary, but Laycock may be able to sneak his way into the finals if he keeps his level of play up.

 

Favourite to Make Scotties

2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Stefanie Lawton

Even though she has a lot of pressure to get on the podium at the Scotties bringing in Trish Paulsen has brought some more youth to this squad. If she gets back to the event, she’ll be a favourite but she will need to beat one of the elite teams in order to get herself a medal.

Favourite to Make Brier

10859124

Steve Laycock

Steve Laycock has definitely come into his own as one of the top teams in Canada after struggling for a few years when he started skipping his own team. Now he is looking to take the next step and win his province’s first Brier title since 1980.

Alberta

Alberta-Flag

Scotties Finish (Val Sweeting): Second (9-2)

Brier Finish (Kevin Koe): Tied for Fifth (6-5)

Notable Team Changes

These changes are definatly a doozy and they are all on the women’s side. Former Canadian champion Heather Nedohin has stepped back from competitive curling with Chelsea Carey taking her place. With Carey leaving her own rink, which featured Laura Crocker at vice, the reigning Canadian and World Junior champion Kelsey Rocque is moving up to take charge of that squad.

Team Under Most Pressure

1297672297059_ORIGINAL

Kevin Koe

After a pretty rough season for his standards with a lineup (Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing and Ben Hebert) that sounds godly on paper, his confidence seemed to take a pretty big hit. He needs to turn things around and show the true potential of his current lineup.

Team to Keep an Eye On

curling 0201 .jpg

Kelsey Rocque

The two-time Canadian and World Junior Champions has inherited a pretty good team for her first season in women’s play. It will be real interesting to see how she performs on the tour and if she can give Chelsea Carey and Val Sweeting a run for their money. It could potentially be a three-way war in Alberta for years to come.

Favourite to Make Scotties

Alberta Skip Val Sweeting as she follows her rock to win the semi-final at the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Womens Curling Championships, Montreal Quebec

Val Sweeting

Val is probably the favourite once again this year, especially after being in the last two Scotties finals. However there is going to be a lot of pressure on her, due to some very stiff competition from Rocque and Carey. If she gets through the provincials, she could potentially win it all.

Favourite to Make Brier

1297669717882_ORIGINAL

Kevin Koe

Kevin Koe is definitely entering this season on shaky ground. If he can show his form that took him to two Canadian titles then it should be cakewalk due to the great lineup he has in front of him. However if things go south expect Brendan Bottcher to pull off a big upset.

British Columbia

BC-Flag1

Scotties Finish (Patti Knezevic): Twelfth (1-10 – Relegated)

Brier Finish (Jim Cotter): Tied for Seventh (5-6)

Notable Team Changes

The only change of note came on Kelly Scott’s rink with former Canadian junior champion Jenna Loder (who curled with Kaitlyn Lawes’s rink in 2008 and 2009) now playing at second.

Team Under Most Pressure

SUN0129S CURLING 11.jpg

Kelly Scott

Kelly has been the top team in BC for about a decade now and the depth underneath her is pretty average to say the least. If the province wants to get out of relegation and be a playoff contender again, she might be their only hope.

Team to Keep an Eye On

BC skip Kesa Van Osch , 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Kesa Van Osch

After stunning Kelly Scott in the 2014 provincial playdowns and finishing a tie for fifth place at 6-5, Van Osch had a season to forget in 2015. If there’s anyone who can give Scott a run for her money at the provincials, it’s Van Osch.

Favourite to Make Scotties

2a0c5dc0-9cd8-11e4-932f-1f0b07c448a3_kscorej

Kelly Scott

Scott had a tough draw during last year’s provincials, especially being without her long time teammates Sasha Carter and Jeanna Schraeder. I expect a bounce back year from Scott and she should be able to get BC out of the relegation round.

Favourite to Make Brier

cotter_jim640

Jim Cotter

Cotter is easily the favorite in BC and has been a mainstay in the Brier for many years. The trouble is he need to find that next step to become a playoff contender as a skip. He made the finals two years ago, but that was when he was a vice and last stone thrower for John Morris.

The Territories

wall_of_northern_lights

 

We’re looking at the Yukon and Northwest Territories in this one as we believe Nunavut are still a few years away from being at the Brier or the Scotties.

Notable Team Changes

The one big switch of note happened with Jamie Koe’s rink as Chris Schille (who has teamed up with both Brad Gushue and Brock Virtue in the past) is now playing at vice.

Teams Under the Most Pressure

2015-02-13-09-40-32-Pre-Qualfying Friday Photo

All of them

The trouble is all teams from the territories have the odds stacked against them due to having a difficult time being able to play on the tour. As a result, it will always be tough for teams from the territories to have success at the Scotties and Brier, especially with the current relegation and promotion system.

Team to Keep an Eye On

jamiekoe

Jamie Koe

With Schille coming on board it looks like Koe is set for a winner-take-all game with Shawn Adams just to get to main Brier field in Ottawa. I think you all know who I want to win. #Patch

Favourites to Make Scotties

Team Yukon skip Sarah Kolton screams at her sweepers in the fifth end at the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Womens Curling Championships, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Sarah Koltun

Koltun is the skip of the future in the Territories. She had two wins in her first appearance in 2014 for the Yukon, which included an upset over Stefanie Lawton.  With a fourth place place finish at the 2013 Canadian Juniors, she has a lot of experience at national level events already. However, it will always be an uphill battle for her to make the main show with the current format.

feb29_13cur81

Kerry Galusha

A longtime veteran who has always been known to pull off a big upset or two, Galusha played pretty well in the relegation round before bowing out to Northern Ontario. It will be tough to get out of the qualification round, but she probably has a slightly better chance of getting out than Koltun does at the moment.

Favourites to Make Brier

2015 Calgary Ab, Tim Hortons Brier Pre Qualifier, Yukon skip Bob Smallwood, CCA/michael burns photo

Bob Smallwood

Smallwood has played a lot of national curling championships, such as the Canadian Mixed. However it’s going to be tough for him to breakthrough to the main stage and if he happens to get there the team could be in tough. However, he did push Adam Casey to the limit last year in the play-in game, so he does have that going for him.

saddledome82

Jamie Koe

Koe 3:16 does have an uphill battle on his hands to get through the relegation round. However he does have the talent to get it done especially considering he had such a tough field to deal with at last year’s Brier. Plus who does not love #patch.

Team Canada

canadian_flag

This section covers the defending Scotties and Brier champions (Jennifer Jones and Pat Simmons) and what to perhaps expect from them this coming season.

10817686

Jennifer Jones

Now that Jones has finally given Kaitlyn Lawes her first ever Scotties title it’s now basically about padding her stats and hopefully add a world title to Kaitlyn’s collection. Over the offseason Dawn McEwen and husband Mike had their first child and she will miss the first few events of the World Curling Tour. However, that should not affect the team that much and they will be among the final four come playoff time at the Scotties.

2015, Calgary Ab, Tim Hortons Brier,Team Canada third Pat Simmons, Curling Canada/michael burns photo

Pat Simmons

After an ugly looking Tour campaign and early struggles at the 2015 Brier, skip John Morris made the offer to Pat Simmons to skip, but only if he ran the show. The rest as they say, is history. Although they faded late at the Worlds it was a run that had a lot of people talking. Now the big question is can Pat carry the ship through the tour season considering they are playing a limited schedule. It is possible, but god knows it could be tough.

Top World Teams

world-map

This part will briefly cover the two favorites to win the world title on the men’s and women’s side from other countries around the world.

Top World Women’s Team

223837-eve-muirheads-curling-rink

Eve Muirhead (Scotland)

 

Last year Eve had an up and down season as she was fourth at the Worlds, but she won two Grand Slam events. The 2013 world champion is on another Olympic run and will be a threat to win world titles for quite some time. However the pressure falls on third Anna Sloan to pick up her game and be a little more consistent in order to make life easier for Eve.

Top World Men’s Team

edinSCANa

Niklas Edin (Sweden)

Last season, Niklas blew up the team that brought him bronze in Sochi and basically brought in Oskar Erikkson’s team. Though it took a bit of time to get going, things clicked late as they picked up the world title, which was Niklas second. The team’s hitting ability is completely mental especially Oskar Eriksson’s who can throw giant bombs. This lineup will be a threat for another world title and perhaps Olympic gold down the road.

The Punkari Brothers Top 10

So it’s time to put our money where our mouths as our as we present our pre-season Top 10 rankings. Let’s see how wrong we are at the end of the season.

Women’s Top 10 Teams

Manitoba skip Jennifer Jones pauses for a moment after the eight end during a morning draw against Nova Scotia at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask. Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

1. Jennifer Jones (Manitoba/Team Canada)

Team Alberta Val Sweeting in page playoff 1 vs 2 at the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Womens Curling Championships, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

2. Val Sweeting (Alberta)

Canada skip Rachel Homan in the 1v2 Page playoff game at the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Montreal, Quebec

3. Rachel Homan (Ontario)

b7491ba0-83f7-11e4-918b-efde44a650ad_muircnop14

4. Eve Muirhead (Scotland)

1245-2151_640

5. Anna Sidorova (Russia)

fleury_tracy1280-640x360

6. Tracy Fleury (Northern Ontario)

image-4

7. Alina Paetz (Switzerland)

1297466676786_ORIGINAL

8. Chelsea Carey (Alberta)

World Junior Curling Championships 2014, Flims

9. Kelsey Rocque (Alberta)

Medicine Hat,Alta.Dec5_2010.Canada Cup Curling.Skip Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon holds the Canada Cup trophy after guiding her team to a 7-3 victory over Calgary's Cheryl Bernard in the woman's final.michael burns photo

10. Stefanie Lawton (Saskatchewan)

Men’s Top 10 Teams

468605439-swedens-niklas-edin-reacts-during-the-mens-curling.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

1. Niklas Edin (Sweden)

brad-jacobs

2. Brad Jacobs (Northern Ontario)

EDMONTON, ALBERTA: MARCH 2, 2013 - Team Newfoundland/Labrador skip Brad Gushue prepares to deliver a rock during game action against Team Nova Scotia at the 2013 Tim Horton's Brier in Edmonton on March 2, 2013. (Photo by Larry Wong/Edmonton Journal)

3. Brad Gushue (Newfoundland & Labrador)

1297496700863_ORIGINAL

4. Mike McEwen (Manitoba)

2015, Halifax N.S. Ford Men's World Curling Championship, Norway skip Thomas Ulsrud, Curling Canada/michael burns photo

5. Thomas Ulsrud’s Magical Pants (Norway)

cur-brier-20140306

6. Steve Laycock (Saskatchewan)

gallery_national_koe02

7. Kevin Koe (Alberta)

2015, Calgary Ab, Tim Hortons Brier, Team Canada skip Pat Simmons, Curling Canada/michael burns photo

8. Pat Simmons (Alberta/Team Canada)

Saskatoon Sk.Mar8-2012.Tim Hortons Brier.Ontario skip Glenn Howard,raises his fist after guiding his team to a 6-3 victory over Alberta's Kevin Koe of Calgary Ab.Howard advances to the page playoff 1 vs 2 against Manitoba.  michael burns photo

9. Glenn Howard (Ontario)

bottcher_brendan800-640x360

10. Brendan Bottcher (Alberta)