LONDON, Ontario – Antoine Bibeau didn't make it onto NHL Central Scouting's goalie rankings in the middle of last season.
He was listed as the ninth-ranked netminder when the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted him in the sixth round (No. 172) in the 2013 NHL Draft.
But today, junior hockey's hottest goalie no longer needs to worry about being overlooked.
In leading the Val-d'Or Foreurs to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League title with an upset over the high-powered Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Bibeau faced an average of 40 shots per game in the last four contests of the seven-game series. After that onslaught, Bibeau topped his own high playoff standards in the opening game of the Memorial Cup championship.
There's a good chance many of the NHL's brightest future stars will be playing big roles this weekend when the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup commences at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario.
The four-team round robin tournament takes place May 16-25 and will feature the host team London Knights along with the Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm, Western Hockey League champion Edmonton Oil Kings and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Val d'Or Foreurs.
Make no mistake, NHL scouts and general managers pay close attention to the tournament and which prospects rise to the occasion in a big spot.
Brendan Lemieux is a regular chip off the old block.
The son of former NHL player and three-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux considers himself a playoff performer. In other words, he's a forward who can make the big play and score the big goal when needed.
Sound familiar? It should. Claude ended his career tied for third with Joe Sakic on the all-time NHL list with 19 game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for three different teams.
Minnesota Wild prospect Avery Peterson of Grand Rapids High School was named the recipient of the 2014 Mr. Hockey Award on Sunday as the most outstanding senior boy's high school player in the state of Minnesota.
The Mr. Hockey Award is selected by a panel of judges, including scouts from the NHL and United States Hockey League, Division I and III coaches, and selected media members from around the state.
Other finalists for the award this year were Philip Beaulieu (Duluth East), Tyler Cline (Blaine), Spencer Naas (Benilde St. Margaret's), Tyler Nanne (Edina), Mitch Slattery (Hill-Murray), Steven Spinner (Eden Prairie), Luc Snuggerud (Eden Prairie), Nick Wolff (Eagan) and Zach Yon (Roseau).
There are a number of NHL general managers who already are looking ahead to the 2015 NHL Draft. One look at Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid shows why.
The 17-year-old McDavid showcased the kind of skill that has NHL teams so excited Wednesday with a highlight-reel goal in an 11-2 win against the Plymouth Whalers.
USA Hockey and the Buffalo Sabres announced a partnership Tuesday that will see the team and First Niagara Center host the 2014 and 2015 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospect Games.
"We're extremely pleased to be returning to Buffalo, the site of the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects game in 2012," executive director of USA Hockey Dave Ogrean said. "The enthusiasm and support for hockey in Western New York will provide a great environment for the future stars of the NHL who will play in this game. It's terrific to be working with the Sabres organization and we appreciate their continued commitment and support of hockey at all levels."
The event, started in 2012, brings together 40 of the best American-born prospects eligible for that season's NHL draft. In the past, players in the game have come from the United States Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey League, the NCAA, and high school and prep school teams.
The inaugural game was played in Buffalo in September 2012 and featured defenseman Seth Jones, who went on to be taken by the Nashville Predators with the fourth pick of 2013 NHL Draft. The 2013 game was held at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh and among those taking part was Boston College freshman goaltender Thatcher Demko, who is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American goaltenders for the 2014 NHL Draft.
CALGARY -- Calgary native and former NHL player Tim Hunter said he knows just how important the NHL Draft has become during the past decade.
Following a 16-year career with the Flames, Quebec Nordiques, Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks, Hunter served as an assistant coach for three NHL teams. He's seen many top players drafted and develop into NHL stars while others struggle to rekindle that magic they once had as juniors.
"You can't make a mistake and take a flyer on someone with the hope he'll be a player," Hunter said. "You have to be precise on your positions at the draft."
Forward Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice and defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts on Thursday were named captains for the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 15 in Calgary.
The Top Prospects Game will showcase the Canadian Hockey League's top 40 NHL draft-eligible players for the 2014 NHL Draft, featuring talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
"I don't think you will find one scout say this game will dramatically influence their position on a specific player, but a good performance always bodes well," NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr said via a conference call on Thursday. "The players in this game were voted in by the NHL teams, so now those teams will get an opportunity to see them play."
Alex Nedeljkovic never dreamed he'd play a vital role as a rookie goaltender for the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers last season.
But now that he's been there and done that, he knows the road to becoming a legitimate top prospect at his position for the 2014 NHL Draft is officially a go.
"I think it was cool as a rookie coming in and taking over and playing the minutes I played … even in the playoffs," Nedeljkovic told NHL.com. "It was a really good opportunity for me to kind of get ahead and prepare for this year.
"I knew what to expect going into this season; I know what to expect from certain teams and how the crowds will react at certain venues."
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