Here’s a Canadiens prospects focused preview of this year’s CHL playoffs.
Nikita Scherbak - 1st round, 26th overall in 2014
Team: Everett Silvertips (WHL) (43-20-9) – 95 points – 1st place in the U.S. Division
Opponent: Spokane Chiefs (WHL) (34-34-4) – 72 points – 1st Wild Card in the Western Conference
The Everett Silvertips acquired Nikita Scherbak from the Saskatoon Blades at the start of the 2014-15 season with the intention of making a deep playoff push this spring.
That scenario could very well play out if the Canadiens’ first-round pick continues producing at the same pace he has been thus far, and the goaltending tandem between the pipes continues its strong play. Everett has allowed just 199 goals this season, good for second-best in the league.
Up front, Scherbak has racked up 82 points in just 65 games to finish first among his teammates and 16th league-wide.
Ranked ninth in the CHL’s Power Rankings, the Silvertips should be the favorites in their first-round series.
Michael McCarron - 1st round, 25th overall in 2013
Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL) (51-11-6) – 108 points – 1st place in the East Conference
Opponent : Peterborough Petes (OHL) (26-36-6) – 58 points – 8th place in the East Conference
Michael McCarron improved his chances of participating in this spring’s Memorial Cup tournament in Quebec when he was traded from London Knights to the Oshawa Generals. The Generals finished second-overall in the OHL, just two points behind the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, who they could very well meet in this year’s final.
McCarron registered 27 points (6G-21A) in 31 games with the Generals, bringing his season total to 68 points in 60 games.
Ranked third in the CHL’s Power Rankings, the Silvertips should be the favorites in their first-round series.
Zachary Fucale - 2nd round, 36th overall in 2013
Team: Québec Remparts (LHJMQ) (40-25-3) – 83 points – 2nd place in the East Division
Opponent : Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (LHJMQ) (31-31-6) – 68 points – 5th place in the Maritimes Division
As tournament hosts, the Quebec Remparts are guaranteed a spot in this spring’s Memorial Cup, although whether goaltender Zachary Fucale gets ice time isn’t.
Remparts netminder Callum Booth will start the first-round series opposite the Screaming Eagles in goal.
Acquired from the Halifax Mooseheads mid-season, Fucale played 17 games with Remparts in 2014-15, registering eight wins and eight losses with a 3.22 goals against average and 0.877 save percentage.
Building towards the Memorial Cup for two seasons now, Quebec should be the favorites in their first-round series.
Daniel Audette - 5th round, 147th overall in 2014
Team: Sherbrooke Phoenix (LHJMQ) (36-26-6) – 78 points – 3rd place in the Western Division
Opponent : Charlottetown Islanders (LHJMQ) (35-28-5) – 2nd place in the Maritimes Division
Daniel Audette enjoyed an impressive 2014-15 campaign, racking up 73 points (29G-44A) in 60 games with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, who are back in the playoff picture following a forgettable 2013-14 season.
With nearly identical records in the standings, the Phoenix-Islanders series could very well be the tightest in the first round – the difference-maker potentially coming down to travel time.
Separated by close to 1,000 kilometers, the series’ fifth game, if necessary, would be hosted in Charlottetown before moving to Sherbrooke for potential games six and seven.
Jérémy Grégoire - 6th round, 176th overall in 2012
Team: Baie-Comeau Drakkar (LHJMQ) (35-35-8) – 78 points – 4th place in the East Division
Opponent : Saint John Sea Dogs (LHJMQ) (32-26-10) – 74 points – 3rd place in the Maritimes Division
Jeremy Gregoire missed the first half of the season, but made an immediate impact in Baie Comeau upon his return. In his first 16 games back, the Drakkar captain scored 10 goals and registered another 14 assists to lead his team to 11 wins over that span.
Averaging at least one point per game over the two final months of the regular season, Gregoire finished the campaign with 41 points in just 32 games.
The Drakkar are first-round favorites in 2014-15 notably because of their playoff experience. Marco Pietroniro’s squad has participated in each of the previous two President’s Cup finals, falling to the Mooseheads in 2013 and the Val d’Or Foreurs in 2014.
Brett Lernout - 3rd round, 73th overall in 2014
Team: Swift Current Broncos (WHL) (34-33-5) – 73 points – 3rd place in the East Division
Opponent : Regina Pats (WHL) (37-24-11) – 85 points – 2nd place in the East Division
Defenseman Brett Lernout and the Swift Current Broncos will take on the Regina Pats in an all-Saskatchewan first round series.
Lernout, who is in his fourth WHL season, registered a career-high 42 points in 2014-15, racking up 14 goals and 28 assists with the Broncos, although the Pats are nevertheless first-round favorites to move on.
Tim Bozon - 3rd round, 74th overall in 2012
Team: Kootenay Ice (WHL) (37-31-4) – 78 points – 1st Wild Card in the Eastern Conference
Opponent : Calgary Hitmen (WHL) (45-22-5) – 95 points – 1st place in the Central Division
The Kootenay Ice will have their hands full in taking on the Calgary Hitmen, despite owning the seventh-best offense in the league.
Tim Bozon, one of three Kootenay 30-plus goalscorers, found the back of the net 35 times this season – one shy of his personal best – to finish the year ranked fourth among his teammates with 63 points (35G-28A).
The Hitmen meanwhile, can count on the league’s fourth-ranked defense heading into the playoffs, which allowed just 203 goals this season, as well a third-ranked offense which lit the lamp 289 times in 2014-15.