Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Memorial Cup Preview (Part 1)

We were going to devote 2 days to help Ranger fans get an idea as to the teams playing in the 2009 Memorial Cup but Cory Flett who is the Communications Director for the WHL did such a great job with the one he did that we are going to "borrow" it.

The difference here is that we will toss in some notes as to which players to keep an eye on for the 2009 Entry Draft that would not be bad additions to the Ranger prospect pool.

We will start with the 2 teams from the QMJHL, the Rimouski Oceanic (Host team) and the league champions the Drummond Voltigeurs. The players we suggest to watch will have a link to their stats at the website.

We also have to give some major props to the NHL Network who for those of you living in the USA will show this important championship and showcase of future NHL talent. If you can not handle who is remaining in the NHL Playoffs then the Memorial Cup is a great sub.


Head Coach: Clement Jodoin
General Manager: Andre Jolicoeur
2008-09 Record: 44-23-1-0, 89pts, GF: 267 GA: 223
2008-09 Final CHL Ranking: Not Ranked

2009 Playoff Record:
8-5 GF: 43 GA: 43

-Defeated Chicoutimi Sagueneens 4-0 in first round
-Defeated Moncton Wildcats 4-1 in second round
-Lost to Drummondville Voltigeurs 4-0 in Semi-Final series

2009 Playoffs Top Scorers:
RW – Keven Veilleux 13gp-7g-12a-19pts
LW – Philippe Cornet 13gp-4g-11a-15pts
D – Marc-Andre Bourdon 13gp-1g-12a-13pts
RW – Jordan Caron 13gp-6g-5a-11pts

The Rimouski Oceanic are making their third appearance at the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament, and third since 2000. The Oceanic won the tournament in 2000 and lost in the Championship game in 2005.

Up Front: 19-year-old Keven Veilleux has been the Oceanic’s offensive leader in the 2009 QMJHL playoffs. After putting up 15 goals and 48 points in only 29 regular-season games, the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect tallied a team-best seven goals and 12 assists in 13 post-season contests. 19-year-old Edmonton Oilers prospect Philippe Cornet and offensive rearguard Marc-Andre Bourdon both averaged at least a point per game during the playoffs while Jordan Caron, Luca Cunti and Olivier Fortier add offensive depth for the hosts. Canadian World Junior sparkplug Patrice Cormier can provide offense while brining an intense physical edge that brought him success at the 2009 World Junior Championship.

On The Blue Line: While they may lack the size of other teams in the tournament, the Oceanic’s defense corps are mobile and can move the puck. Bourdon provides a strong offensive presence and enhances the team’s power play, while veteran Sebastien Piche can also move the puck and is an offensive threat with his strong shot. Piche and Bourdon are the only regulars on the Oceanic blue line over 6’ and 200-lbs. They will be challenged to handle the bigger, stronger forwards they will face at the Memorial Cup tournament.

Goaltending: Veteran netminder Maxime Gougeon posted a 3.08 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage through the Oceanic’s 13 post-season contests. At 5’ 8” and 158 lbs, Gougeon is the smallest of the starting goaltenders among the four teams in the tournament. After performing well during the team’s first and second-round series wins, Gougeon allowed 22 goals in the team’s four-game loss to the eventual QMJHL Champion Drummondville. Gougeon will need to bring his game to a new level for the Oceanic to have success at the Memorial Cup tournament.


Head Coach: Guy Boucher
General Manager: Dominic Ricard
2008-09 Record: 54-10-0-4, 112pts, GF: 345 GA: 189
2008-09 Final CHL Ranking: 3

2009 Playoff Record:
16-3 GF: 109 GA: 47

-Defeated Lewiston MAINEiacs 4-0 in first round
-Defeated Montreal Junior 4-0 in second round
-Defeated Rimouski Oceanic 4-0 in Semi-Final series
-Defeated Shawinigan Cataractes 4-3 in QMJHL Championship series

2009 Playoffs Top Scorers:

RW – Yannick Riendeau 19gp-29g-23a-52pts
C – Danny Masse 19gp-15g-21a-36pts
C – Chris DiDomenico 15gp-4g-31a-35pts
LW – Mike Hoffman 19gp-21g-13a-34pts

The Drummondville Voltigeurs are making their third appearance at the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament, and first since 1991. Drummondville lost to the Spokane Chiefs in the 1991 Memorial Cup Championship game.

Up Front: The Voltigeurs boast a very powerful offense, led by a deadly power play unit that has been operating at 35.7 per cent efficiency during the post-season. Veteran Yannick Riendeau has been terrorizing goaltenders through the QMJHL playoffs, racking up an incredible 29 goals – 16 on the power play – in only 19 games. Mike Hoffman also broke the 20-goal barrier in the post-season after potting 52 during the regular season. Yet, the Voltigeurs possess solid offensive depth as well with forwards Danny Masse and Gabriel Dumont and Russian rearguard Dmitry Kulikov all averaging a point per game in the playoffs. The loss of Canadian World Junior star Chris DiDomenico to injury is a blow to the Voltigeurs, both offensively and defensively.

On The Blue Line: Russian rookie Dmitry Kulikov leads a strong but unheralded Voltigeurs defense corps who allowed the fourth-fewest number of goals during the regular season. The 18-year-old provides a strong offensive spark while remaining solid in the defensive zone, having posted a +16 rating during the post-season. Czech rearguard Patrik Prokop has Memorial Cup experience after participating in the 2007 tournament with the Gatineau Olympiques. The Voltigeurs’ blue line features three rookies including Kulikov, 18-year-old Olivier Hotte and 18-year-old Andrew Randazzo.

Goaltending: 19-year-old veteran Marco Cousineau has performed admirably during the 2009 QMJHL playoffs, posting a 2.44 goals-against average and a solid .910 save percentage in 19 games while holding the opposition to three goals or less I 13 of those 19 contests. If Cousineau can continue to keep his goals-against under 3.00, the Voltigeurs should be able to have success with an offense that has the ability to put plenty of pucks in the net.


So You Want To Play Scout

The odds of a Glen Sather run team taking a player out of the QMJHL with a first round pick we admit are a bigger long shot than Mine That Bird but we like 2 of the players here even though we doubt one (Kulikov) will be that when the Rangers pick at 18-19.

Jordan Caron at 6'2 200 is still growing into his body so we project him out as a 6'4 215 right wing. The knock on QMJHL players has always been their struggles to adjust to the NHL because of it being an offensive crazy league. Caron we believe would have been a Top Ten pick had he played in the OHL as he is not weak defensively.

We like his skill set, how fast he is growing into his role as a player and think even Caron does not realize that he has still even more potential. The main question will be how he handles playing against bigger and meaner players like both the Spitfires and Rockets have. IF Caron can give the kind of beating he is about to receive then by all means grab him.

Dmitry Kulikov in our eyes just might be the better long term defender than even Victor Hedman. This is the Glen Sather blueprint for his kind of defender, a great skater who can handle the puck perfectly and is perfect at both ends of the ice. Kulokov is a prospect who we would not blink at moving up to draft.

Like Evgeny Grachev, Kulikov CHOOSE to come to North America in order to improve his development for the NHL. We would not be shocked to see him in an NHL lineup next season somewhere. This will be a Top 2 defender for a long time IF he remains healthy.

Tomorrow the teams we believe when all is said and done will be playing for the Memorial Cup; OHL Champions the Windsor Spitfires and the WHL Champs Tysen Dowzak and the Kelowna Rockets

(Material here was originally written by Cory Flett, Director of Communications for THE WHL)

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