Although he had only one assist, Matthew Tkachuk had 10 shots on
goal as the London Knights breezed to a Memorial Cup-opening
6-2 victory Friday over the host Red Deer Rebels.
Three of the brightest young prospects in hockey did nothing to dim their stars Friday in the opening game of the 2016 Memorial Cup.
On the losing end of a 6-2 score, the host Red Deer Rebels learned firsthand about the reign of terror London Knights Mitch Marner, Christian Dvorak and Matthew Tkachuk waged this season in the Ontario Hockey League.
All three members of London’s top line pretty much had their way with the Rebels as Marner totaled two goals and three assists, Dvorak added two goals and two assists, and Tkachuk settled for an assist in spite of leading all players with 10 SOGs.
This mirrored a season in which each of the trio racked up more than 100 points apiece.
Marner, who helped London to its 14th consecutive victory, has at least one point in his past 17 games. He’s a big part of the future for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who took him fourth overall in last year’s entry draft.
Dvorak, a 20-year-old center, was stolen 58th overall by the Coyotes in 2014. He is a key reason why Arizona has perhaps the best prospect pool of all NHL squads, ranking second among the team’s young hopefuls behind only Dylan Strome. In addition, Arizona holds the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft.
LW Tkachuk, following in the skatesteps of his father (former NHL left winger Keith Tkachuk), might be drafted seventh overall by the Coyotes on June 24 in Buffalo, although he could easily be taken in the first five picks.
The star-studded London roster also features Olli Juolevi, who added two assists against the overmatched Rebels. Juolevi, an all-star for the gold-medaling Finns at the world junior championship, is the top-ranked defenseman in this year’s draft.
Finnish defenseman Olli Juolevi, an all-star at the world junior championship, is a member of the star-studded London Knights at the Memorial Cup.
Tkachuk, a master at getting under the skin of opponents, speared Haydn Fleury in the first period, goading Red Deer’s star blueliner into a retaliation penalty. The Knights capitalized on the power play, scored three times in 4:40 and were never caught after that.
Fleury is one of the top prospects for the Carolina Hurricanes, who took him seventh overall in the 2014 draft.
Following the opening-day arena sellout of 7,000 fans, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL face the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings today.
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This week’s latest free-agent signings:
The Sharks inked smallish blueliner Tim Heed to a one-year deal. A converted forward, the 5-11, 176-pound right-handed shooter has an offensive mentality, which meshes with a terrific shot, good skating and matching agility. A 2010 fifth-round pick by Anaheim, the 25-year-old will need time in the minors to get stronger and improve his defense.
The Ducks held onto another draft selection, signing fellow Swedish defenseman Jacob Larsson to a three-year entry-level contract. A 27th overall pick a year ago, the puck-moving blueliner has power-play potential. He has decent NHL size at 6-2 and 191 pounds and plays aggressively, which is a strength and a weakness. He’ll have time to bulk up and learn when to unleash h