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!