Memorial Cup: portrait of the four participating teams

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

Who is participating in the Memorial Cup? How did these teams earn the right to come to Saint John and by whom? Starting tomorrow night and over the next nine days, how many NHL prospects will have a chance to shine at TD Station? Below you will find answers to these questions.

Edmonton Oil Kings
WHL champion

How did you get there? By going all out. To a roster that already had three first-round NHL picks early in the campaign — Dylan Guenther, Jake Neighbors and Sebastian Cossa — Oil Kings architect Kirt Hill has cemented the foundations of his defense by adding another first-round pick , the prospect of Canadian Kaiden Guhle, and Lukas Prokop, an elected 3e round of the Nashville Predators. Florida Panthers forward Justin Sourdif was also acquired through trade. All of these great people helped the Alberta Club finish the regular season with a harvest of 104 points, which is good for second place overall, seven lengths ahead of the Winnipeg ICE. In the playoffs, the Oil Kings swept their opponents aside in the first two rounds before getting the last laugh on ICE in five games and winning their third WHL championship in their history at the end of a six-game bout against the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Players to watch: Kaiden Guhle capped his second career in the WHL Championship with playoff MVP honors and finished the playoffs with 8 goals to his credit, a league-high among defensemen. Guhle and his blue line partner Luke Prokop were also uncompromising in their territory, recording plus 17 and plus 23 differences respectively. On offense, Dylan Günther kept the official scorers busy with 13 goals and 8 assists and rose to the top of his team’s scorer list.

Behind the bench: 2019-20 WHL Head Coach of the Year Brad Lauer is in his fourth season. In 2019, the man of 323 NHL games, most of them with the New York Islanders, led the Oil Kings to the WHL semifinals.

NHL Prospects: Kaiden Guhle (Montreal, Round 1 2020), Dylan Guenther (Arizona, Round 1 2021), Sebastian Cossa (Detroit, Round 1 2021), Jake Neighbors (St. Louis, Round 1 2021), Luke Prokop (Nashville , Round 3 2020) , Justin Sourdif (Florida, Round 3 2020), Jakub Demek (Vegas, Round 4 2021), Jalen Luypen (Chicago, Round 7 2021).

Hamilton Bulldogs
OHL master

How did you get there? Undisputed… until the OHL final. Unbeaten in 22 games as they began their battle with the Windsor Spitfires for Ontario league supremacy, it took the Hamilton Bulldogs a seventh and final game to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup. The Bulldogs, identified as favorites to represent the league at Saint John on day one of the season, experienced their status during the trade period when general manager Steve Staios — yes, former NHL player — forward Mason McTavish — named the top junior player – acquired in the country after him – and Giordano Biondi, as well as defender and prospective Canadian Arber Xhekaj. The Bulldogs, regular-season champions, were nearly invincible at home (27-4-1-2) and conceded the fewest goals (176). On offense, despite the presence of only two of their players in the top-25 top scorers (Logan Morrison and Avery Hayes), the Bulldogs scored 300 goals, barely five fewer than the front-runner, the Spitfires. Seven Hamilton players finished the year averaging at least one point per game: Morrison, Hayes, McTavish, George Diaco, Jan Mysak (Canadian hope), Nathan Staios (yes, the GM’s son) and Ryan Winterton.

Players to watch: That’s a strong streak of 23 games with at least one point Logan Morrison has settled in Saint John. The forward NHL clubs have started or finished at least one Bulldogs goal in each of the 19 games the Bulldogs played this spring in the last two drafts, for a total of 17 goals and 39 points and the title of playoff MVP. When Morrison celebrates success, Avery Hayes is usually never far away. The two members of the Bulldogs’ first line took 1st and 2nd place respectivelye Team scorer, both in the regular season and in the playoffs.

Behind the bench: Jay McKee, a Buffalo Sabers first-round pick who has played 802 NHL games, is sitting behind the Bulldogs’ bench in his freshman season. He moved there last July after four seasons with the Kitchener Rangers.

NHL Prospects: Mason McTavish (Anaheim, 1stD Round 2021), Jan Mysak (Montreal, 2nde Round 2020), Artem Grushnikov (Dallas, 2e Round 2021), Ryan Winterton (Seattle, 3e Round 2021), Chandler Romeo (Ottawa, 7the Round 2021), Arber Zhekaj (Montreal, free agent), Navrin Mutter (Nashville, free agent).

*Jorian Donovan (Rank 81e best prospect among North American skaters from NHL Central Scouting for the next draft).

Shawinigan cataracts
QMJHL Champions

How did you get there? With talent, resilience and composure. General Manager Martin Mondou took the conservative approach at the last trading deadline, and your challenge is to find someone in Shawinigan to blame him today. Joining a core of homegrown players were defender Loris Rafanomezantsoa and, most notably, QMJHL Newcomer of the Year Pierrick Dubé before the winter transfer window closed. After a regular season marred by injuries that saw her finish 7the Ranked overall, the Cats started their playoff run with back-to-back wins over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the Gatineau Olympiques before dropping the top two seeds, the Quebec Remparts and the Charlottetown Islanders. Over the course of that first President’s Cup conquest in 53-year history, the Mauricie franchise has recorded seven wins in as many overtime games.

Players to watch: The two-headed monster. Mavrik Bourque and Xavier Bourgault finished their playoff run second and fourth in playoff scoring with 25 and 22 points, respectively. In the finals, Bourque – voted playoff player – and Bourgault responded with 5 goals and 4 assists each in five games. Also keep an eye on Pierrick Dubé, a man of special occasions. The 21-year-old forward, who started the season in the ECHL with the Trois-Rivières Lions, scored three goals in the decisive game against Remparts in the semi-finals. Then, against the islanders, Dubé started the celebrations Shawi by scoring the last goal of the 2021-2022 season for the Courteau Circuit in extra time.

Behind the bench: In his eighth season behind the bench of a QMJHL team, Daniel Renaud competed in a fourth Finals this year. The 40-year-old, who was defeated in 2012 and 2015 with the Rimouski Oceanic and Quebec Remparts as assistant coaches, saw the trophy slip away from him as boss behind the bench at Val-d’Or Foreurs last year.

NHL Prospects: Mavrik Bourque (Dallas, 1stD round 2020), Xavier Bourgault (Edmonton, 1D Run 2021), Olivier Nadeau (Buffalo, 4th place)e Round 2021), Martin Has (Washington, 5e round 2019).

*Angus Booth (rated 92e best prospect among North American skaters from NHL Central Scouting for the next draft).

Saint John Seals
host team

How did you get there? Through the back door. And they will have to wait 38 days to finally cross the threshold of it. Getting stuck at the Rimouski Oceanic in the first round of the playoffs wasn’t in the host team’s plans for the annual classic. Even less so at the end of the transaction phase, marked by six substitutions and the arrival of 9 new players, including defender Vincent Sévigny, goalkeepers Nikolas Hurtubise and Tomas Couture, and forwards Philippe Daoust, Marshall Lessard and Raivis Kristians Ansons. “We didn’t want to regret anything,” managing director Trevor Georgie told his colleague Nicolas Landry in January. By adding a few layers of depth to his squad at all positions, the DG felt he was giving his club “the best opportunity to win” after a modest first half of the season. When activities resumed, the Sea Dogs were at 9e Rank in the standings, but they started chaining achievements. The final 38 games of the campaign saw first a 10-game win streak, then another 15, coinciding with the end of the regular season. Things were looking promising for the Sea Dogs, 3e seeded in the spring tournament. Until the Océanic and her clever strategist Serge Beausoleil stretch their legs. Faced with an opportunistic attack and tight defense, the Sea Dogs escaped the fifth and final game of the series in overtime. Ten days later, head coach Gordie Dwyer was fired.

Players to watch: William Dufour has just had the season of his life. Throughout the campaign, he battled for first place in the league’s leading scorer and goalscorer charts, eventually establishing himself as the quintessential sniper with 56 goals hit. With 116 points, the New York Islanders offspring narrowly ceded the title of top scorer to Sherbrooke Phoenix’s Joshua Roy, who was crowned with 119 points. Forward Josh Lawrence is one of five other players in the league to have 100 points this season.

Behind the bench: Gardiner MacDougall made tournaments one of his specialties as head coach of the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, which he led to seven Canadian National University Championship titles in 22 seasons. His qualities as a motivator, praised by many of the players who have shone under his leadership, also prompted the Sea Dogs to make the 62-year-old their “loan” coach for the duration of the Memorial Cup.

NHL Prospects: Yan Kuznetsov (Calgary, Round 2 2020), Jérémie Poirier (Calgary, Round 3 2020), William Villeneuve (Toronto, Round 4 2020), William Dufour (New York Islanders, Round 5 2020), Ryan Francis (Calgary , Round 5 2020), Raivis Kristians Ansons (Pittsburgh, Round 5 2020), Cam MacDonald (Tampa Bay, Round 5 2021), Philippe Daoust (Ottawa, Round 6 2020).

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