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Chicago Blackhawks – Prospects in Memorial Cup Final


Chicago, IL — The 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup crowned a champion yesterday. Congratulations to the Windsor Spitfires and Graham Knott on defeating the high powered Erie Otters 4-3 in what was about as closely contested final you could get.

I would also like to congratulate the Erie Otters on an amazing year and winning the OHL Championship. Alex DeBrincat congrats on being named CHL player of the year and what a year it was for both the Otters and DeBrincat.

So in the final DeBrincat had one assist on his buddy Dylan Strome’s goal but he had numerous chances. He hit the post and missed a wide open net so he did get his chances in the game just couldn’t bury them. He had seven shots on goal in the game so he was getting his chances.

DeBrincat finished this tournament with 2 goals and 8 assists which was good for third overall in scoring in the tourney.

Graham Knott enjoy the championship at any level it is an achievement and to do it against a great team like the Erie Otters is quit a feat.  Knott tallied a goal and like DeBrincat had numerous chances that just didn’t go in. I can remember one he was in all alone on the goalie thanks to a great pass by Jeremy Bracco but just didn’t bury it.

Knott ended this game with 1 goal on 3 shots on goal and was 3 for 5 in face off dot. He ended this tournament as the 14th overall scorer with 3 goals, 1 assist in 4 games.

Now I’m sure both DeBrincat and Knott would tell you it doesn’t hurt playing on lines with talented linemates. So now what is next for these two Blackhawks prospects is questions and a lot of work.

Can they make the transition from the OHL/CHL to the NHL or will there be time spent in the AHL? I specifically wanted to see how their 2-way game was, their speed, net front presence and forecheck/board work.

Let me start with Knott. He has really good speed because of his long stride. It doesn’t take him much to get from one end of the ice to the other.

I love his game because it will I think translate well to the way the NHL is going. He just goes straight to the net and with his big frame he makes a great screen. As I said previously he does so much that does not show on the stat sheets because he is wrecking havoc at the net.  I would say the strength of his game is his speed and net front presence along with his physicality.

I have not seen Knott play that much but I do think Knott will need seasoning in the AHL to work on his two way game. I want to see more backchecking and being more defensively aware. I would say he may need board work on the forecheck with his big body.

As with all young players I want to see more shooting work on that and deflecting pucks since he is always parked in front of the net. Knott is a LW and his size and straight to the net game is something the Blackhawks need more of for sure I just think he needs to develop more on the defensive side but he may surprise with hard work in this off season.

Good Luck in camp and congrats again on Memorial Cup.

Alex DeBrincat we all know has tremendous potential offensively yes even in the NHL. His shot is lethal and his hockey IQ is off the charts and NHL ready. He knows exactly where to go to find quiet ice space even in front of the net. Now he will not get this kind of time and space in the NHL but I’m betting it doesn’t take him long to figure out where to go.

If I was DeBrincat I would be studying film of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin and lets throw in there Brad Marchand, Viktor Arvidsson and Cam Atkinson. Just my two cents. In camp I would definitely be watching 88 & 72 and if you can pick 88’s brain 72 maybe hard to understand unless you speak Russian otherwise ask him too.

DeBrincat does seem to be able to take hits and even deliver some too.

His two – way game is also NHL ready. There have been numerous times I’ve seen him high tail himself back to chase down a player on a break. I’ve seen him cover for his dmen pinching in and I’ve seen him block shots.

He plays both ends of special teams which any team can use more of and the Blackhawks particularly have not been good on either side. I loved that the Otters use DeBrincat in the high slot on the power play with his shot and he has great hand eye co-ordination for tipping and deflections.

I doubt in the NHL DeBrincat will be put on the penalty kill but if he is at least it won’t be foreign to him. So I would say his two way game is very good coming out of juniors .

What I think DeBrincat should work on is his board work and forechecking and learning how to avoid hits or balancing so you can use bigger players size and weight against them.

Out of all the prospects I can see DeBrincat making the jump straight to the NHL but if he has to spend time in the AHL that would not hurt either but I don’t think he would be there long.

It is really hard to tell how and how quickly prospects can transition to the NHL but I have been really impressed with how these guys hockey sense is and can’t wait to see them develop and for them to start their professional careers.

Good Luck boys!

 

 

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – Prospects in CHL’s Memorial Cup recap


Chicago, IL — So how have the Chicago Blackhawks prospects done in the CHL Memorial Cup?  Well lets start with Nathan Noel and Matthew Highmore and their Saint John Sea Dogs whose journey has now come to an end.

In a battle of teams that had not won a game between the Sea Dogs and the Seattle Thunderbirds the Sea Dogs dominated in a 7-0 landslide which earned them the right to go to the Memorial Cup Semi Final. Noel had an assist in this game and Highmore ended the game with two apples.

Unfortunately they had to face the fire power of the Erie Otters again and while they had a better game versus the Otters than the 12-5 drubbing they took they none the less were eliminated from the tournament 6-3.

Nathan Noel ended the event with one goal and one assist in four games and Matthew Highmore ended the tourney with three assists. Congrats boys on a great season and being QMJHL Champions.

My overall thoughts on Nathan Noel was that he is all heart. He reminded me of Andrew Shaw, smaller yet plays a physical game especially in the corners and along the boards. Noel is more of a defensive player used on the penalty kill and he was centering the third line for Saint John which is the checking line.

I see him going to the IceHogs and there everyone will love this guy as he projects a team first all the way.

Matthew Highmore was centering the first line and was used on the power play. The thing about Highmore’s game is he is physical and is always by the oppositions net which is always a good thing.

He ended the tournament with a 50% face-off percentage but it was noticeable in the last game against Erie he won almost every face-off in the defensive zone which everyone can use that skill.

I think Highmore will need some seasoning in Rockford but can be an impactful net front presence and power forward if he works on it. He has really good speed which is a huge asset.

The next game was a battle of the unbeaten teams when the Erie Otters took on the host team Windsor Spitfires for the opportunity to get a pass to the Memorial Cup Final.

I was hyped to see this game. I wanted to see how well both Graham Knott and Alex DeBrincat did against a familiar OHL foe that is very good. Now neither player hit the score sheets and the Spitfires totally frustrated the high powered Otters.

The Spitfires totally blanketed the Otters forwards and their goalie was insanely good that night. DeBrincat had a rough game physically as he was targeted for sure. In fact he had to leave at one point but did make it back into the game.

Since we get a rematch of these two teams for the final I am curious to see how DeBrincat will now make adjustments to deal with no space and time and his response. Welcome to the world of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.

This is great preparation for the NHL, becauses believe me there will be even less time and space there and the physicality will be even more ramped up and if your lucky enough to make NHL playoffs that is off the charts intensity so best get ready now if you want a championship at the highest level of hockey.

The encouraging thing for Blackhawks fans is it seems that DeBrincat can take the physical play pretty well and even dishes it occasionally. He and the Otters seemed ready for battle when they downed the Sea Dogs 6-3 in the Semi final to punch their ticket to the final.

We all know how talented DeBrincat is offensively but what I’ve been impressed with is his two way game and his defensive responsibility. In fact in this game he managed to clear a puck away from his crease that got past his goalie and was sitting there ripe for the pouncing.

Good on you Alex for being that down low as a forward acting like a defenseman that will endear you to coach Quenneville for sure. It is little things like that the coaches notice and will keep you in Chicago.

DeBrincat is used in all situations but really shines on the power play where they use him in the high slot where he can tip or pass or just let that rocket of a shot he has go. What is very noticeable about DeBrincat is his hand eye coordination is top notch which explains the high slot positioning.

His line with Dylan Strome and Warren Foegele is just fun to watch as they work off each other. This line ended up this game with two goals one each by Strome and Foegle and four assists three of which came from DeBrincat.

Two of his assists were on Taylor Raddysh power play goals and the other apple was on Dylan Strome’s goal. I think it is highly likely that DeBrincat can make the jump straight to the NHL from the CHL.

I will have a more definitive opinion on him after the final and as I stated earlier how he bounces back and responds against a more NHL like defensive structured team with tight checking, blocking shots, great goalie and clogging up of the neutral zone.

The Erie Otters just have so many scoring threats and fire power it’s hard to keep them suppressed for too long. The final should be a good one against Graham Knott’s Spitfires who seemed like the only team that found a formula to slow them down.

Graham Knott is having a good tournament himself. He currently has two goals and one assist in three games played. Knott played in one less game due to their beating the Otters and not having to play a semi-final game.

Knott’s game is pretty simple he is straight up a power forward on the RW. He is big powerful and just a menace in front of the net with his 6’4″ frame. He screens a lot of shots and for that alone he is impactful in games that may not show up on score sheets.

I need to see more of Knott to give an opinion on if he is ready to go straight to the NHL or not. Sunday I will be watching him and DeBrincat closely. The game thankfully will be on NHL Network at 6pm CT. I would recommend tuning in if your interested at all about the future of the Blackhawks.

With the Blackhawks out of the playoff in what seems like an eternity since we saw them, I am so glad that the NHL Network broadcast the Canadian Sportsnet telecast in the United States of this Memorial Cup.

Not just because I’m not that interest in the NHL playoffs but because it gives us in the States a chance to see the CHL prospects for our teams that we don’t normally get a chance to see. I don’t recall the NHL Network ever broadcasting this before. We can see players on NCAA teams but not generally the CHL.

I’m sure I am not the only one who can’t travel to Erie, PA or Saint John or Windsor although I’m sure those are grand destinations work always seems to get in the way. So thank you NHL Network and Sportsnet so we can get to see these incredibly talented young men continue their journeys to making their NHL teams.

To all the Chicago Blackhawk prospects Good Luck! Those remaining in the tournament and those out we look forward to seeing you either in Rockford or Chicago hopefully.

I will do a final wrap up blog after Sunday’s game to put a bow on this tournament and give a final opinion on DeBrincat and Knott’s game and how they will transition to the NHL and some hidden gems that I spotted that maybe teams should consider drafting this June.

One thing we do know is that one of the Chicago Blackhawks prospects will be a Memorial Cup Champion what an accomplishment.

 

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Chicago Blackhawks prospects in CHL’s Memorial Cup


Chicago, IL –Yesterday the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup tournament got underway with a good match-up for Blackhawks fans. The game between the favorite St. John Sea Dogs and Windsor Spitfires featured three Hawks prospects.

For the Sea Dogs 1st line center Matthew Highmore who the Hawks recently signed as a free agent and third line center Nathan Noel were featured. On the opposing Spitfires side was 2015 2nd round draft pick Graham Knott.

I have to admit I really enjoyed this game. Thank you NHL Network for showing the Canadian Sportsnet feed.  I wasn’t the only one enjoying the game in the house was Connor McDavid. McDavid the former Erie Otter seemed to enjoy the game.

This was the first time I actually got to see Highmore and Noel and let me just say I was impressed with these kids speed and two-way play.  I can’t wait to see them live.  Highmore controls the play well in the offensive zone but what really impressed me was he was very defensively responsible.

He had a glorious opportunity where he stole the puck from a defender in the offensive zone and took it to the net he just could not get it past the goalie. He also had another chance put couldn’t get the puck under control and missed a wide open net that would’ve tied the game.

Highmore went 13 or 24 in the face-off circle which anytime your over 50% you’re doing pretty well.

Nathan Noel oh my that boy is fierce he is a human fireball. He reminded me of Andrew Shaw how he battled along the boards and he has no regard for his body as he flings it into the boards and opposition.

This kid has speed to burn as well. He is fast and all over the ice. Like Highmore he is also a very good two-way player which coach Quenneville will be thrilled with. What the Blackhawks will like as well is Noel can play both sides of special teams penalty kill as well as power play.

He also scored a goal on the power play from about 25 ft. out. Noel is more of a set up man as you can tell his passing and on ice vision are very good for a young player.

Noel also did very well in the face-off circles he went a remarkable 10 for 13 or 73% Yeah alrighty kid you keep doing that I bet you will see ice-time in the NHL.

Now the host Windsor Spitfires pretty much dominated the game and ended up winning 3-2 as they survived the Sea Dogs late game heroics. Graham Knott gave me the best laugh of the game.

He snuck up on the Sea Dogs on ice huddle to hear what they were saying late in the game much to the displeasure of the Sea Dogs. Oh Graham you are special I see HA.

Seriously Graham Knott is a power forward in every sense of the words. He is big, strong and does skate with a powerful stride. He has a very long reach and uses his long reach well to dig out pucks in the boards.

He likes to get to the middle of the ice slot area, smart guy. He plays very physically and is like a one man wrecking ball. He has the type of size that again the Hawks are sorely lacking.

All in all I thought all of the Blackhawks prospects were very good and very involved in plays and noticeable on the ice. If you get a chance to tune into these games I would suggest doing so as this is the future of the Hawks.

Tomorrow I will have another recap on the Erie Otters game which is currently going on against the Seattle Thunderbirds. Alex DeBrincat already has a goal in the game. I will also finish up the IIHF Men’s Worlds with Artemi Panarin of Russia going for Bronze and Marcus Kruger of Sweden going for Gold.

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – CHL Championship help could be on the way


Chicago, IL — We are only in mid-May and the Chicago Blackhawks should still be playing right?

Well they are not so this Blackhawks fan’s attention has been focused on the IIHF Men’s Worlds where if you follow this blog at all you know I’m keeping track of our Hawks and how they are doing abroad.

Let us not forget though we have potential future Blackhawks right here still playing in North America.

In fact there are two teams that have earned championships one in the OHL with the Erie Otters and one in the QMJHL with the St. John’s Sea Dogs. Both of these teams will be competing in the Memorial Cup which is scheduled to start this Friday the 19th in Windsor.

Now I have to admit I did not follow the St. John’s Sea Dogs much this year but they do have two Hawks’ prospects Matthew Highmore and Nathan Noel who have just won the President’s Cup in the QMJHL.

They now have the opportunity to play for the CHL’s highest honor to be a champion amongst champions if they can win the Memorial Cup.

Matthew Highmore was signed by the Blackhawks this past March as a unsigned player. Highmore led his team in scoring during the regular season with 34 G, 55A in 64 games played. In the playoff he was second on his team in scoring with 6G, 18A in 18 games played. Now you can see why the Blackhawks were interested in getting this kid in the fold.

Nathan Noel was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2016 4th round. He missed several games this year due to injury but still had amassed good numbers with 24G, 26A in 52 regular season games and in the playoffs he had 2G, 7A in 18 games on the way to picking up the QMJHL championship. Congratulations to both Highmore and Noel on the QMJHL Championship.

Both Highmore and Noel play center and are fast a foot and skilled players. You can catch them in the first game of the Memorial Cup round robin tournament on NHL Network this Friday 5/19 when they take on the Windsor Spitfires who also have a Hawks prospect Graham Knott.

Alex DeBrincat if you have not heard of this name where have you been hiding? DeBrincat and his Erie Otters just won the OHL championship J. Ross Robertson Cup. Congrats to the Erie Otters and Alex well done.

 

I managed to listen to some of the Otters games both regular season and playoffs and let me say this team was very entertaining.

DeBrincat was on a line with some familiar names like Dylan Strome (prospect of AZ Coyotes) and Taylor Raddysh (prospect of Tampa Bay Lightning) and what a dynamic line they were all year long.

I was really upset when DeBrincat was not selected for Team USA in the world juniors but you know what maybe everything works out for the best. If this helped fire Alex it was all worth it.

He ended up winning the Red Tilson Trophy that is awarded the OHL’s most outstanding player. Now that is something even Mr. Patrick Kane didn’t do, so yeah this kid is good.

Don’t worry Alex we want you here in Chicago on that you can be sure. With a Hawks scoring shortage in the playoffs this past year I can almost guarantee he will get a long hard look and top six minutes to start off in training camp.

I can already foresee him on a line with Jonathan Toews after all he did some damage with Strome oh and that McDavid guy as his center so I’m sure he will be able to do something with Captain Serious.

Here is his OHL records and as hard as it is to believe he actually improved this year. Thx again team USA for firing him up.

Regular season and playoffs

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2014–15 Erie Otters OHL 68 51 53 104 73 20 9 7 16 26
2015–16 Erie Otters OHL 60 51 50 101 28 13 8 11 19 13
2016–17 Erie Otters OHL 63 65 62 127 49 18 9 22 31 10
OHL totals 191 167 165 332 150 51 26 40 66 49

 

Will there be plenty of work on his part yes and I believe DeBrincat is a RW and that first line needs a LW but I’m sure DeBrincat can make the switch if need be he is a right shot. He does play more of a straight to the net type of game which would fit well with 19 and he does not back down hmm kind of sounds like 19.

He is more of a goal scorer and a battler at the net which to me sounds tailor made for what the Hawks were lacking this year. Only time will tell though if he can make the jump to the NHL seamlessly.

DeBrincat has worked on his two way play and speed in his game. I would say continue that if you want to play for Quenneville you have to be defensively responsible and a 200 ft player and work on winning board battles.

DeBrincat’s Erie Otter numbers were just sick he ended the regular season with 127 points in 63 games with 65G, 62A. these numbers are Patrick Kane ballpark numbers. He led his team in scoring both in the regular season and playoffs.

When Kane played for the OHL’s London Knights he ended the regular season with 145 points in 58 games (62G, 83A). Yes folks that is why he is Patrick Kane and he didn’t win the Red Tilson Trophy.

What is great about all of these prospects playing for championships is learning how to win and what it takes regardless of level. The competitive spirit is something you may have but it still needs to be honed in pressure situations and these guys are learning now which will only serve them come the next levels.

Alex DeBrincat and the Erie Otters will play next Saturday 5/20 against the WHL champion which is still to be decided. This will be broadcast on NHL Network or if you don’t have NHL Network tune into stream for Erie Otters radio. I guarantee you will like it.

If you want to catch the Memorial Cup here is the schedule and times – http://mastercardmemorialcup.ca/article/2017-mastercard-memorial-cup-schedule-and-game-times

The entire tournament runs from May 19 to the 28. I should say if you get a chance tune into these games. These kids are really good it’s scary it looks like you are watching NHL teams. I’ll be tuning in to see what our baby Hawks do.

Good Luck to all the Blackhawks prospects going for the Memorial Cup!

Video taken from YouTube

Stats taken from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_DeBrincat

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