Prospect Ramblings: Marner going for 3 MVP’s, Memorial Cup update and the AHL Conference Finals (May 26)

Paul Zwambag

2016-05-26

London Knights - photo courtesy: OHLImages.com/Aaron Bell

Is Marner NHL bound? Only two more games to be played at the Memorial Cup and two potential AHL series sweeps in the making…

 

Mitchell Marner (TOR) has already won the OHL MVP (Rod Tilson Trophy), the OHL Playoff MVP (Wayne Gretzky 99 Award) and is on course to win the Memorial Cup MVP (Stafford Smythe Trophy) at the end of this weekend. Marner has 13 points in three games, that’s 4.3 pts/GP OR 1.4 pts/period. He has dominated both ends of the rink and is proving he is ready for the NHL. His linemates, Christian Dvorak (ARI) and Matthew Tkachuk (draft eligible) are trying to keep pace with Dvorak scoring 6-4-10 and Tkachuk with 3-3-6.

There has only been four players to win the Tilson Trophy and the 99 Award in the same year, Brad Boyes (2002), Corey Perry (2005), Justin Azevedo (2008) and Connor McDavid (2015). Perry is the only one of those four to win the Memorial Cup MVP in the same year. That is pretty good company to be in, let’s hope Marner can shadow Perry’s career, they are just slightly different builds, Perry was 6-2, 195 lbs. when he was in the OHL, Marner is listed at 5-11, 164 lbs. this year. Perry was in his fourth year in 2005, so slightly different circumstance.

There is a big debate among anyone and everyone if Marner is ready for the NHL, before the Memorial Cup tournament I was on the ‘return to the OHL’ side. After seeing him dominate at the highest level of CHL, the Memorial Cup tournament, I am starting to lean towards the 'give him a shot in the NHL' side, see if he can put up with the huge size difference and still put up points. With the Leafs, he will most likely play on the second or third line, any lower and it isn’t worth putting him in the lineup, even the third line could be “too low” for him to succeed. Marner will need top-six minutes to produce regularly. He isn’t used to 10-12 minutes a game.

I still think he should return to London to gain more strength and hone his defensive skills, which will help his NHL game immensely, what is the rush? I don’t think it will hinder his overall career holding him back one more year. Yes, he would be enjoyable to watch in a Maple Leafs jersey, but let’s make sure he is able to take the rigors of a full NHL season before throwing him to the wolves.

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The Memorial Cup round robin is complete, and now onto the playoff games, Rouyn-Noranda will face the host Red Deer Rebels. The Rebels won the first meeting 5-2. The Huskies are led by Timo Meier (SJS) and Francis Perron (OTT) each with five points in three games, which has been the case all year. Overage goaltender Chase Marchand will need to step up his game, 4.02 GAA and a .833 SV% is not good enough to help your team make the final of the Memorial Cup. Look for Marchand to have a big bounce back game against Red Deer on Friday night.

The Rebels are led by wingers Jake DeBrusk (BOS), Adam Helewka (SJS) and Haydn Fleury (CAR) each with four points in three games. Rylan Toth (2016 draft eligible) has kept the Rebels in games, excluding the Knights game, but London has scored on every team at a very high rate, 20 goals in three games (6.7 G/GP)

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I have been tweeting my Memorial Cup prediction for each game, I am currently 3-3, and from last week’s ramblings, I predicted the Huskies defeating the Knights in the final, but first the Huskies will have to beat the host Rebels in their semi-final game Friday night.

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The Lake Erie Monsters (CBJ) and the Hershey Bears (WSH) both have a 3-0 series lead in the conference finals. Defensemen Zach Werenski (CBJ) has been very good on both sides of the puck and has a very good chance of making the jump to the NHL starting next year. A few other AHL rookie standouts are Lake Erie’s Oliver Bjorkstrand (CBJ), who played 12 games at the end of the NHL season, recording eight points. He continues to impress in the playoffs, scoring 5-5-10 in 12 games. Hershey’s Jakub Vrana (WSH) has 7-5-12 in 15 games, second in team scoring behind 27-year-old Carter Camper (WSH) with 6-9-15. Vrana could also be playing for the big club by the start of next season.

The Toronto Marlies have gone cold at the wrong time of the year, they 3-0 deficit in the series can be put solely on the goaltenders shoulders, Game 1 – Antoine Bibeau (TOR) took the 3-1 loss, giving up three goals on 23 shots (.870 SV%). Game 2 – Garret Sparks (TOR) gets a chance and he takes a 3-2 overtime loss, also giving up three goals on 23 shots. Game 3 – Bibeau gets the net back and gives up four goals on 18 shots (.778 SV%) and gets pulled after the second period, Sparks comes in for the third and also gives up four goals on only 11 shots (.636 SV%). Camper is on a nine game points streak (6-7-13).

Lake Erie’s Anton Forsberg (CBJ) came in relief for Joonas Korpisalo (CBJ) in game 5 in the second round. The Monsters went back to Korpisalo in game 6, but was pulled for Forsberg again. Forsberg ended up winning in overtime, stopping all 23 shots faced. Forsberg started game 1 of the Conference Finals and has won all three games this series. It doesn’t look like he is going to give the net back to Korpisalo, who started the first eight games. Forsberg has a .947 SV%, 1.52 GAA and a shutout in just five appearances (236:15 mins, which is less than four games)

Columbus goaltending depth could be changing once again, Korpisalo jumped Forsberg throughout the year, but Forsberg is showing he shouldn’t be overlooked. Could be interesting who gets the backup role behind Sergei Bobrovsky out of training camp next year.

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Don’t forget you are able to pre-order the Prospect Report, Fantasy Guide and two fantasy packs in the DobberHockey SHOP. Get a step ahead of your fantasy competition with all of these reports and guides. The Prospect Report is out in less than a week (June 1). I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

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Feel free to leave comments, questions or concerns below, have fun playing the game of Fantasy Hockey.

Paul Zwambag
@zwambag

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