Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing fantastic predictions and analysis along the way.
The Memorial Cup, a Canadian Junior Hockey Champions League (WHL, OHL, LHJMQ), concluded Wednesday this week with the Saint John Sea Dogs beating the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3. William Dufour, highlighted here last week, first propelled the Saint John Sea Dogs to the final with a whopping four-goal game, then cemented the championship with another goal and an assist. He finished with seven goals and eight points in just four games and was named tournament MVP. Now, of course, his fantastic stocks tend to increase. This week, we’ll take a look at some other Memorial Cup players poolers should have on their radar.
Besides Dufour, the next player worth mentioning is the Bulldogs’ regular season leading scorer and OHL playoff MVP Logan Morrison. Morrison’s eight points in five games locked him in a triple tie with Dufour and teammate Mason McTavish for the tournament scoring lead. Although Morrison was eligible for the 2020 draft for the first time, his 45 points in 59 games that year weren’t convincing enough to overcome his shortcomings, including his peak work, agility and lack of physicality. The 19-year-old was then another victim of the OHL’s canceled 2020-21 season and was not drafted again in 2021. The 2022 draft will be his last chance to hear his name called before to move into the free agent group. His 100 points in just 60 games (1.67 ppg), sixth in the OHL, should be enough incentive for teams to hit him this time around, even if it’s only in the later rounds.
To put Morrison’s season into perspective, Dufour is the same age and has scored 116 points in 66 games (1.76 points per game) this year – and that was in the QMJHL, known for outperforming the OHL. . Applying Mason Black’s PNHLe model to account for league differences, it turns out that Morrison actually had a upper PNHLe (67) this season than Dufour (62). So where is the hype?
Put on your GM hat for a moment. What round would you aim to take a player like Logan Morrison into this year’s draft? Third? Fourth? Earlier? His PNHLe in 2021-22 was good for 21st among all Black’s Rank King app prospects who haven’t played more than a few NHL games. He clearly has an advantage but feels comparable to 2022-eligible Jordan Dumais in that his production is huge, but scouts have enough concerns about his game to keep him projected for the third round.
Many of those concerns applied to Morrison, at least in his draft year. Now that he has a double over, it remains to be seen how much NHL teams will think he has improved and completed his skill set. Tenacity and a high IQ are commonly rated strengths by Watchers, and these are attributes that should help him level up.
Looking elsewhere on the Bulldogs roster, there isn’t much to say about Morrison’s teammate Mason McTavish (ANA 3rd overall, 2021). He quickly turns into a skilled bulldog type in the mold of Flyers great Bobby Clarke – a tenacious scorer and an all-around player who leads by example. McTavish, ranked No. 17 on Dobber’s Top 200 prospect list, will be tough to get your hands on if you haven’t already caught him in the draft. Considering his brief NHL audition success directly after the draft (three points in nine games), it’s actually surprising that he isn’t ranked higher. With 40 points in 24 OHL games, he tied Morrison for the team lead in points per game (1.67), although his age and brief success in the NHL and AHL swelled his PNHLe (76) ahead of Morrison and Dufour in Premier territory – 11th overall on Rank Kings.
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Other names to note on the Bulldogs list include Jan Mysak (MON), Arber Xhekaj (MON), Artem Grushnikov (DAL) and Ryan Winterton (SEA).
Now let’s focus on Hamilton’s opponents and hosts, the Sea Dogs. While the other three teams – Hamilton, the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Shawinigan Cataractes – were each champions of their respective leagues, the Sea Dogs were only involved in the tournament because they were the host city. Looking at Saint John’s roster, it’s easy to see why they proclaimed themselves under(sea)dogs heading into this game, even though they actually finished 14 points ahead of QMJHL champions Shawinigan. , in the regular season. Aside from Dufour, who was by far their leading scorer, there wasn’t a whole lot of top-end NHL talent here.
Jérémie Poirier (CGY) is probably the Sea Dogs’ most interesting fantasy prospect other than Dufour. He was considered a high-risk, high-reward pick when he was drafted 72nd overall in 2020 after scoring 0.83 points per game. He’s a shrewd, high-octane option from fullback who can drive an offense and lead a power play, but his scoring has more or less plateaued in the two years since, a fact that should be of concern. those of us who took a swing at it in fantasy. The risk with him was always on the defensive side of the puck, so Flames fans are hoping the strong but stagnant production is a sign that Poirier is focused on cleaning up the habits that made him a liability earlier in juniors. He’ll make the jump to the Flames’ AHL affiliate in 2022-23, and if he does well there, his stocks will definitely see a boost.
Defenders with Poirier’s offensive creativity and drive don’t show up every day. Consider a prospect like Ryan Merkley comparable in terms of the timeline for him to reach the majors: Merkley was drafted two years before him and posted bigger numbers as a junior, but ahead of his D+5 season next year, Merkley still isn’t a lock to stay with the Sharks full-time. Poirier may need a similar wait as he adjusts to professional play, so he definitely qualifies as a member of the ‘potential star if you can afford to wait several years’.
It’s perhaps surprising that we didn’t end up with a Shawinigan – Edmonton final. Both of these rosters are a little more star-studded than Saint John and Hamilton: Shawinigan boasts the supernatural trio of Mavrik Bourque (DAL), Xavier Borgault (EDM) and Olivier Nadeau (BUF), while Edmonton has a full lineup of top talent from the NHL with Dylan “spicydyl” Guenther (ARI), Jake Neighbors (STL), Kaiden Guhle (MON), Sebastian Cossa (DET) and Justin Sourdif (FLA).
Bourgault was featured on The Journey in December ahead of the World Juniors as a high-scoring PNH player ready for a breakout, then again in February as part of a deep dive into the Oilers system. He was of course injured in the first WJC game and then the tournament was canceled, but he had a very successful season with 97 points in 59 regular season and playoff games, in addition to scoring seven points in just four appearances. at the Memorial Cup. He’s a poor scorer who hopefully is only a few years away from making an impact with the Oilers.
Nadeau was also highlighted in November as an under-the-radar prospect with a high NHL equivalency. He has now led the Cataractes in points for the past two years over his two better-known teammates, Bourgault and Bourque, although their points-per-game marks have been much higher. Bourque in particular has scored at a ridiculous 2+ points per game this year (68 points in 31 games; 2.2 points per game). Dobber’s editors ranked Bourque 10th among prospects who have yet to play an NHL game in the Fantasy Prospects Report. It’s special any time a prospect can break the two points per game mark, so keep an eye out for this guy as he makes the leap to pro hockey. He feels like a player who will help the Stars fill the scoresheet as soon as possible – personally, I like him even more than his other two top Stars prospects, Logan Stankoven and Wyatt Johnston, although he be primarily a playmaker and could post lower shot totals to the next level we’d like to see.
Guenther is probably the closest player in this group, aside from Bourque, to making an impact at the NHL level, and the lack of shots won’t be a problem for him. He was featured here in March when he and Brennan Othmann broke through the 40-goal mark, but while Othmann scored 50, Guenther finished with 45 on 296 shots – it’s unbelievable. five strokes per game. It was ranked 3rd overall by consensus of Dobber writers and, like McTavish, will be very expensive to acquire if you don’t already own it at this point. Look for him to team up and do instant magic with Clayton Keller for the Coyotes in the near future.
Justin Deaf is more of a value option at No. 150 in Dobber’s Top 200 Forwards list, which still intrigues those of us who belong to deeper keepers and dynasties. He’s an undersized winger (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) who isn’t known yet because his production has been good but not great in four WHL campaigns: 205 points in 195 games. A mid-season trade saw him go from playing alongside the dynamic Fabian Lysell (BOS) as captain of a struggling Vancouver Giants team to playing more of a supporting role behind Guenther on the dominant Oil Kings . The fact that his point totals haven’t fluctuated much with the craft suggests he’s capable of producing regardless of his role or who he’s paired with. Despite his small size, Sourdif is a player who can bring hits, shots (3.1 / game this year) and decisive goals to your fantasy team in two or three years if all goes well.
Deaf may not end up being a big producer at the top level like some of his Memorial Cup peers, but he’s no slouch and can probably still be acquired cheaply at this point. Get it now before it appears again in Canada’s submission to the restarted WJC in August 2022.
Thanks for reading! follow me on Twitter @beegare for more prospect content and fantasy hockey analysis. By the way, Curtis Rines, who covers the Nashville Predators for Dobber Prospects, will be there for me over the next three weeks while I’m on vacation. Thanks Curtis!