Good day, Dobberites! I’m taking over the DobberProspects Ramblings for my first proverbial kick at the can today, and I’m glad to have you here.
The CHL playoffs are a super interesting time of year, but quite honestly, there are almost too many things going on at once in a league so immense. It’s tough to keep track of how teams outside of your locale might be doing, no less, how the individual players are performing. That being said, each game will continue to be evaluated by scouts, perhaps at an even higher level of scrutinization, making it a sensitive time for prospects value to rise and fall as we lead up to the June draft. I just wrapped up a sub-series of The Journey over on the main site where I reviewed the culmination of several NHL prospect leagues, with the three CHL leagues being a primary focus. Today, however, I’d like to give some insight as to what we and scouts are seeing as each of the three leagues race for the Memorial Cup in Halifax this May.
But first, some CHL house cleaning!
- Evan Bouchard was named the OHL’s defenseman of the year for the 2018-19 season. The 19-year-old Oilers prospect had a league-high 1.18 points per game among OHL defensemen. He’s got a pretty good chance to start the fall in an Oilers uniform.
The OHL playoffs feature the hottest team in Canada, in the Ottawa 67’s and their roster isn’t short on NHL fantasy relevant prospects.
- Jason Robertson’s Niagara Ice Dogs were eliminated in six games by the Oshawa Generals. The Dallas prospect finished his OHL playoff averaging almost six shots per game over the short-lived playoff run. Despite his early elimination, the OHL’s regular season leading scorer is still rising in terms of value, partially based on Dallas’ pending free agent situation.
- Look five years into the future… do you see the next Vancouver Canucks goaltending controversy between Thatcher Demko and Michael DiPietro? Okay well maybe that’s taking it a little far, but the Ottawa 67’s netminder does not seem capable of allowing his team to lose. The 67’s are undefeated in the OHL playoffs thus far with DiPietro posting a 0.913 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average.
- DiPietro’s teammate in Ottawa, Marco Rossi, isn’t eligible for the 2019 NHL entry draft but he’s sure having an impressive playoff, as are the rest of the 67’s. His draft stock for the 2020 roll call is growing by the day.
- Florida’s first round pick from 2017, Owen Tippett, has been the driving force in pushing the Guelph Storm to the brink of elimination. After their comeback versus the London Knights, Tippett has put up a five spot on the Storm in as many games. The 20-year-old forward could be shut-out of a fantasy-relevant role next year if the Panthers cash in on July 1st though.
The WHL has provided the most competitive playoff tournament in the CHL thus far, with none of the remaining squads emerging as clear favourites.
- Vancouver Giants defenseman, Bowen Byram was projected to be a top-10 pick in the upcoming draft. I’d be very surprised, after these playoffs, to see Byram available at 5th overall. The 17-year-old projects to be a dynamic two-way defender at the NHL level, not unlike Drew Doughty. Read more on Byram here.
- Another great prospect story coming out of the WHL that really isn’t NEW news, is the outstanding play of Leaf’s goaltending prospect Ian Scott. The Bud’s depth in net is depleted after losing two to waivers in the fall. They’ll be very excited to inject Scott into the system upon his graduation from the CHL.
- Third-year draft-eligible forward, Brett Leason had an outstanding start to the year, but has lost pace in the second half, and now into playoffs. In January, Leason was sneaking into the ’20s of some mock drafts but will need to turn things around versus the Edmonton Oil Kings to have a good chance at sticking in the first round.
The QMJHL, who re-seeds their playoff matchups each round for the entire league, has been dominated by the top team in Canada this year, the Rouyn Noranda Huskies. The Huskies have handily defeated both Alexis Lafreniere’s Rimouski Oceanic and the Victoriaville Tigres’.
- The Huskies are led by Islander’s prospect, Noah Dobson. After a slow start to the year with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Dobson blew up in the second half. He continues to assert his offensive dominance with 20 points through the first three series. The former 12th overall draft pick could be a sneaky pick to get into an Isle’s uniform next fall.
- Projected first-round draft pick, Raphael Lavoie is the driving offensive force behind the Memorial Cup host, Halifax Mooseheads success. His 27-points through the first three rounds is second only to the OHL’s Nick Suzuki for CHL playoff scoring. With the fluidity in projections of the mid-first-round, Lavoie could climb as high as 12th overall with a strong finish.
- Despite being swept by the dominant Rouyn Noranda Huskies, Alexis Lafreniere remains within the top-five scorers of the QMJHL playoffs. The 17-year-old forward is the projected first-overall pick in the 2020 draft and his continued individual success will do us some favours in warding off “who will go #1” click-bait articles next Spring.
We’re four weeks away from the Memorial Cup at which point we’ll have a better idea of how things could shakedown at the draft, as well as what pace of a stride other prospects are hitting as we head into the off-season.
Thanks for tuning in for my very first Ramblings. Find me on Twitter @olaf1393 to discuss anything from today’s article.