MONTREAL - It’s already postseason time in Canadian junior hockey, and a handful of future Habs are ready to do all they can to try to grow a playoff beard this spring.
The march to the Memorial Cup is on, and the CHL playoffs will include four Canadiens prospects, including two QMJHL products.
With Rimouski hosting this year’s event, the only player already assured a spot in the Memorial Cup is forward Olivier Fortier of the Oceanic. A natural centerman who is playing on the wing this season, Fortier notched 35 points in 29 games during the regular season. A Habs third-round draft pick in 2007 and the QMJHL’s top defensive forward last season, Fortier will be facing on Chicoutimi in the opening round of the playoffs
Also in the playoff mix this spring is goalie Robert Mayer of the Saint John Seadogs. In 56 games this season, he posted a .902 save percentage and registered a pair of shutouts. With Mayer holding down the fort, the Seadogs will take on the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the opening round of the playoffs.
The OHL playoffs feature the other pair of Habs hopefuls, including a defenseman of the future who needs no introduction. National junior hero and Team Canada gold medalist P.K. Subban will be looking to help lead the Belleville Bulls to a second-straight berth in the Memorial Cup tourney. With 76 points in 56 games this season, Subban ranked third among OHL defensemen and 20th among the league’s overall scoring leaders on his way to leading the Bulls to their first-place finish. An OHL All-Star for a second-straight season, Subban also posted an impressive plus-47 differential on the campaign. Eliminated by the Kitchener Rangers a year ago, Subban and the Bulls will face the Sudbury Wolves in Round 1.
The Peterborough Petes will be looking to bounce the Brampton Battalion from the postseason, with a sizable Habs goaltending prospect between the pipes. Standing at a towering 6-foot-8, Jason Missiaen will be a key factor for Bob Gainey and Doug Jarvis’ alma mater. Drafted by the Habs last summer, Missiaen saw action in 35 games in his third season with the Petes.
The defending Memorial Cup champion Spokane Chiefs will be looking to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Kamloops Blazers in the mid-1990s.