Memorial Cup: 10 NHL prospects to watch

RDS and RDS Direct will be showing all nine Memorial Cup games from June 20-29.

The Memorial Cup tournament, which begins Monday night in Saint John, is packed with NHL prospects, the vast majority of whom have already been drafted. WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings is particularly strong with eight selections, including four first-rounders. From the Montreal Canadiens’ pool of hopefuls, three will be in the game.

Here are 10 members of that generation to watch as the competition progresses.

Mason McTavish
center | Hamilton Bulldogs
Anaheim Ducks | 1D Round 2021 (3e)

Over the past year, Mason McTavish has donned the uniforms of the Anaheim Ducks, the San Diego Gulls of the American League, Canada in the World Juniors and the Olympics, and has continued his development in the Ontario junior circuit. With the Peterborough Petes acquisition in January, Hamilton Bulldogs general manager Steve Staios said he had his hands on the best young player. It would be daring to contradict him. McTavish, won at the expense of two players and six draft picks, amassed 16 points in his first 7 games in the Bulldogs’ vest en route to a finishing tally of 20 goals and 27 assists in 29 games in 2021- 2022. In his first OHL playoffs, the star player followed with 16 goals and 29 points.

Kaiden Guhle
defender | Edmonton Oil Kings
Montreal Canadians | 1D Round 2020 (16e)

Kaiden Guhle cost the Edmonton Oil Kings dearly. To see the Prince Albert Raiders on April 1stah On December 10, general manager Kirt Hill gave up two first-round picks, two players — including an NHL prospect — and two other draft picks. Not cheap, but Hill and the Oil Kings got what they paid for. In the 25 games since joining, Guhle had 5 goals and 20 assists before suffering an injury that lasted about a month. Guhle returned in time for Game 1 of the playoffs and immediately resumed his regular role alongside Luke Prokop in first pair defense. Of all the missions, the one that currently ranks as the Habs’ best prospect has played four multi-point games and finished the playoffs with 8 goals and 16 points, a plus-17 differential and WHL Playoff MVP. He became the first defender to receive such an award since Griffin Reinhart in 2014.

Sebastián Cosa
Guardian | Edmonton Oil Kings
Detroit Red Wings | 1D Round 2021 (15e)

The Detroit Red Wings traded their first-round pick, No. 23e total and 2 choicese and 5e rounds (48e and 138e) in 2021 to earn speaking rights from the Dallas Stars and draft Sebastian Cossa at 15e Rank. Barely a year later, Steve Yzerman, Red Wings general manager, has a better understanding. The 19-year-old masked contestant is coming off his best season yet, finishing third in the league with wins (33), shutouts (6) and conceding (2.28). In his first playoffs in the WHL, the goaltender lowered his average to 1.93 and notably signed five shutouts.

Mavrik Bourque
center | Shawinigan cataracts
Dallas Stars | 1D Round 2020 (30e)

It’s not complicated, when Mavrik Bourque plays, the Cataractes win eight times out of ten. With their captain in uniform, the Quebec champions averaged an .819 performance, including regular season and playoffs. Without Bourque, who was limited to 31 regular-season games through injury, Shawinigan lost almost every other game (.446). Barred from being a finalist for the Michel-Brière Trophy, awarded each year to his team’s most valuable player in the QMJHL, Bourque has nevertheless established himself as the best player to skate this year in the eyes of many observers and pundits is the Courteau circuit. Bourque, who has only been off the scoring charts once on the calendar, accumulated at least a point in 12 of his 16 playoff games, finishing runner-up (7 goals, 25 points) and crowning himself with the title of playoff MVP.

Xavier Bourgault
Right Wing | Shawinigan cataracts
Edmonton Oilers | 1D Round 2021 (22e)

The other member of the infernal Cataractes duo. With Bourque, whom he also accompanied to the Canadian youth camp until he won a place there, Xavier Bourgault abused the opposing defence. Not spared from injuries either, he managed a sensational end to the season and series. Since returning to action in mid-March after missing 17 consecutive games, Bourgault has added 26 goals and 28 assists in 34 games to his record. Of the 12 goals he scored in the playoffs, five gave his team victory and three of those came in overtime.

William Dufour
Right Wing | Saint John Seals
New York Islanders | 5e Round 2020 (152e)

Nobody in the country has scored more than William Dufour this year. With his 56 goals, the Saint John Sea Dogs forward beat Charlottetown Islanders rivals Patrick Guay and Luke Evangelista of the London Knights by a length and Ben King of the Red Deer Rebels by three lengths. Acquired by the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the offseason in anticipation of a long spring in 2022 and a hypothetical Memorial Cup appearance, Dufour added several chapters to the Sea Dogs record book, throwing top-down Mike Hoffman and Jonathan Huberdeau in goals and points (116) that are on the board in a campaign. A brilliance that earned him the Michel Brière trophy, awarded to the QMJHL player par excellence, and which convinced New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello to sign his pick of 5 straight awaye Round 2020. In the playoffs, like his teammates who were ousted by Rimouski Océanic in the first round, Dufour was more discreet with 2 goals and 2 assists in five games.

Jake neighbors
Left Wing | Edmonton Oil Kings
St Louis Blues | 1D Round 2020 (26e)

Jake Neighbors started the 2021-22 NHL season with the St. Louis Blues. In nine major league games, the 20-year-old recorded one goal and one assist before being demoted to the junior ranks with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Upon returning to the prairie, Neighbors was named captain of his team. Plagued by an upper-body injury, he was limited to 30 games in the regular season but averaged 1.5 points per game with 17 goals and 28 assists. In the playoffs, he added 3 goals and 14 assists to his tally in 19 games.

Arber Xhekaj
defender | Hamilton Bulldogs
Montreal Canadians | Free agent

Invited to the Canadian’s last training camp, Arber Xhekaj went to the juniors with a head full of memories, yes, but most importantly with an unexpected contract. How did the burly 6’4″, 204-pound defenseman fare in his final season in the OHL? Well enough to become a coveted amenity for Hamilton Bulldogs general manager Steve Staios in the winter transfer window. Xhekaj, who was taken over by the Kitchener Rangers finished the year with 12 goals and 22 assists and 138 penalty minutes, the highest in the league.In the playoffs, he retained his most-penalized player status with 50 minutes of deliberation.Had his first-game sacking of the final against the Windsor Spitfires finally cost his team victory after checking from behind in overtime in overtime, Xhekaj redeemed himself with a goal and an assist in the next game and five more assists in the five meetings that followed six goals in the playoffs, the 21-year-old holds the team record for most goals scored by a defender in a playoff run.

Jan Mysak
center | Hamilton Bulldogs
Montreal Canadians | 2e Round 2020 (48e)

After averaging one point per game in his first full OHL season (34 goals and 64 points in 61 games), the Czech, who celebrates his 20th birthday this week, has had a sluggish start to the playoffs. Relegated to the middle of the third line of a balanced attack, Mysak hasn’t beaten a goaltender in his first nine playoff games and has settled for six assists over the course of that sequence. The man, who played 22 games for the Laval Rocket last year, finally made it in the semifinals, scoring a hat-trick in a 6-0 win that allowed the Bulldogs to sweep the North Bay Battalion. He has added just one goal and one assist to his tally in seven games since then.

William Villeneuve
defender | Saint John Seals
Toronto Maple Leafs | 4e Round 2020 (122e)

A finalist for the QMJHL’s Most Valuable Defenseman title, an honor bestowed on the Charlottetown Islanders’ Lukas Cormier by the Vegas Golden Knights for the second straight year, Villeneuve joined the Toronto Maple Leafs last fall. The 20-year-old full-back has accumulated his share of points in his 64 regular-season games (8 goals and 48 assists) without neglecting his main responsibilities, as evidenced by his plus-60 differential, the best at the Courteau circuit in 2021 -2022. With two American League games added to his syllabus in 2020-2021, the Quebec native should make the leap to the pros next year.

The Absent of Greatness: Dylan Guenther
Right Wing | Edmonton Oil Kings
Arizona Coyotes | 1D Round 2021 (9e)

The Edmonton Oil Kings could count on Dylan Guenther’s offensive contribution both in the regular season and in the playoffs. A privilege they now have to forego as a lower body injury prevents their star player from competing in the Memorial Cup. With 91 points, including 45 goals, the Coyotes’ most promising youngster finished the season with 6 pointse was one of the WHL’s top scorers before carrying his offensive wins into the playoffs with staggering regularity. Günther, a senior member of Team Canada Junior, scored at least one goal in the Oil Kings’ first nine playoff games. Of the 16 games he played this spring, Günther was only ruled out four times.

A Quebecer on the radar

Of the four teams participating in the Memorial Cup, only two players are included in NHL Central Scouting’s final list for the next draft.

Hamilton Bulldogs defenseman Jorian Donovan has 81e Rank among North American skaters. A mobile full-back with explosive skating and good offensive transition flair, Donovan finished his first OHL season with 3 goals and 19 assists, in addition to a plus-25 differential.

Angus Booth, a back-up defensive squad member for Montreal’s Shawinigan Cataractes, is also in the top 100 of North America’s top skaters, according to Centrale, which ranks him 92nde. Callum Booth’s brother, a bouncer selected in 4e Round of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2015, this year was in his second season at the Courteau Circuit. Reliable in both areas, he has 1 goal and 22 assists in 42 games.

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