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With the 2015 Memorial Cup set to begin Friday, we are going to take a one day break from our draft previews and bring you a quick guide to the tournament. The Memorial Cup is one of the oldest and most sought after trophies in hockey, and one of the best traditions in Junior hockey. This year’s tournament is scheduled to start on Friday in Quebec City, and the final is scheduled for May 31st. The Tournament features a number of previously draft top NHL prospects, as well as some eligible for the 2015 draft. So without further ado, lets take a look at the participants in the 2015 Memorial Cup.
The teams are ordered geographically from East to West, and not based on who we think will win the tourney. I will reveal a prediction at the bottom of the Article.
2015 Memorial Cup Preview and Predictions
Record: 47-16-5, 99 points, 1st place in the QMJHL, Won QMJHL Presidents Cup with a seven game victory over the Quebec Remparts.
NHL Drafted Prospects: Samuel Morin (Philadelphia), Frederik Gauthier (Toronto), Jan Kostalek (Winnipeg), Phillippe Desrosiers, Christopher Clapperton (Florida),
Top Draft Eligibles: Simon Bourque
The Oceanic have been building for this season for several years, and it paid off with an exciting 2-1 overtime win in game 7 of the QMJHL final to give them the President’s Cup. 2013 NHL draft first rounder Samuel Morin leads the defence and 2013 second rounder Philippe Desrosiers is between the pipes. Jan Kostalek helps Morin anchor defence, while draft eligible Simon Bourque proved to be a reliable top four defender. The Oceanic loaded up this year adding Christopher Clapperton in off-season moves to strengthen a group that already had Anthony DeLuca, Alexis Loiseau, Michael Joly and 2013 first rounder Frederik Gauthier. Loiseau and DeLuca made quite the connection and are the team’s leading scorers. At the trade deadline, they didn’t make the big moves we often seen in the QMJHL, choosing instead to add a couple of depth players in David Beaudoin, and Louis Philip Guindon.
Record: 40-25-3, 83 points, 4th place in the QMJHL, Lost in QMJHL Presidents Cup Final game seven game overtime to the Oceanic.
NHL Drafted Prospects: Adam Erne (Tampa Bay), Zachary Fucale (Montreal), Anthony Duclair (Phoenix), Marco Roy (Edmonton), Ryan Graves (Rangers)
Top Draft Eligibles: Dmytro Timashov, Vladimir Tkachev, Callum Booth,
In the last three Memorial Cups we have seen a well-rested host team who was eliminated early in their league playoffs. While that seemed to help Shawinigan in 2012, it did no favours for Saskatoon or London. This year, we see the host Remparts who rolled through three rounds of the playoffs and nearly won the Presidents Cup before losing in game 7 overtime. Ukrainain draft eligible prospect Dmytro Timashov led the team with 90 points this year, while Adam Erne wasn’t far behind. They also added the explosive Vladimir Tkachev at the trade deadline, and Anthony Duclair when he was sent down by the Rangers. The Remparts also loaded up on defence getting Ryan Graves, Nik Brouillard, and Simon Boudreau in offseason moves, and adding Matt Murphy at the deadline. Not content to stop there, they added 2013 Memorial Cup Champion and 2015 World Junior Gold Medalist Zachary Fucale at the trade deadline, and he should tend the pipes in the Memorial Cup.
Record: 51-11-6, 108 points, 2nd place in OHL, Won the J. Ross Robertson Cup 4-1 over Erie.
NHL Drafted Prospects: Michael Dal Colle (Brooklyn) Michael McCarron (Montreal), Cole Cassels (Vancouver), Hunter Smith (Calgary) Tobias Lindberg (Ottawa), Matthew Mistele (Los Angeles), Josh Brown (Florida),
Top Draft Eligibles: Mitchell Vande Sompel
The Oshawa Generals were red hot to start the year, and kept up that play all season long. However they were overshadowed in the OHL by Sault Ste. Marie who were the #1 ranked team in the CHL, and the Erie Otters who featured the phenom Connor McDavid. It was no bother though, as the Generals steamrolled through the OHL playoffs. The 5th overall pick of the New York Islanders, Michael Dal Colle is the scoring star, but there is plenty of depth with Cole Cassels, Tobias Lindberg, Bradley Latour, Hunter Smith, and trade deadline acquisitions Michael McCarron, Matthew Mistele and Brent Pederson. The defence is led offensively by 2015 draft eligible Mitchell Vande Sompel and Chris Calisle, and defensively by trade deadline pickup Dakota Mermis and Josh Brown. Ken Appleby has had a tremendous season between the pipes.
Record: 53-13-6, 112 points, 2nd in the WHL, Won the Ed Chynoweth Cup 4-0 over Brandon.
NHL Drafted Prospects: Madison Bowey (Washington), Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton), Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg), Rourke Chartier (San Jose), Justin Kirkland (Nashville), Tyrell Goulbourne (Philadelphia)
Top Draft Eligibles: Nick Merkley,
The Kelowna Rockets started the season red-hot as well. When they were the number one ranked team at the WHL trade deadline, they decided to go “all-in” making moves to acquire the 3rd overall pick in last years NHL Draft, Leon Draisaitl, and 2013 first rounder, and World Junior Gold Medalist Josh Morrissey and forward Gage Quinney. Add them to a team that already featured Nick Merkley, Rourke Chartier, Madison Bowey, Tyson Baillie, Riley Stadel, and Tyrell Goulbourne and its easy to see why they have been considered a WHL favorite all season long. They have strong forwards who can put the puck in the net, while not neglecting the defensive end of the ice. Kelowna’s defence factory has two of the best defencemen in the WHL (and both members of Team Canada’s gold medal World Junior squad) as well and plenty of depth. The group can provide offense and play shut down hockey, When you add Jackson Whistle providing quality goaltending and the Rockets have it all. They just rolled through the WHL Playoffs, but will face their toughest tests yet in the Memorial Cup.
This year its an incredibly tough tournament to call, with four relatively even teams coming in. Add in the single game elimination format of the playoff round, and its a real craps shoot. That said I’m going to select the Kelowna Rockets who are the deepest team in the tournament to defeat the Oshawa Generals on May 31st in the 2015 Memorial Cup Final.