CHL Playoffs Starting to Take Shape


The Oshawa Generals Michael Dal Colle, Josh Sterk and Joe Manchurek (left to right) celebrate a goal against the Windsor Spitfires at the WFCU Centre in Windsor on Thursday, September 19, 2013. (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE/The Windsor Star)

The OHL, WHL, and QMJHL are starting to see their teams clinch playoff spots. Each league has one or more teams that have clinched a playoff spot. These teams are the likely favorites to win their league’s respective championship and move on to the Memorial Cup.

In the OHL, the Oshawa Generals are in 1st place with 84 points. The closest team behind them are the Soo Greyhounds, who have 80 points and have also clinched. The Generals clinched their playoff berth on February 7th after a win against the Windsor Spitfires, and the Greyhounds were playoff bound after a win on February 11th against the Sarnia Sting.

The Generals are not only favorites for the J. Ross Robertson Cup, but they also are predicted to hoist the Memorial Cup as well. It’s hard to argue with that assumption when there are players on their roster like Michael Dal Colle, Cole Cassels, Matt Mistele, and Mitchell Vande Sompel. The team was already capable of a deep run in the postseason with the players it had already owned, then during the trade deadline the Generals went out and got Matt Mistele from the Plymouth Whalers, and Michael McCarron from the London Knights to boost their chances of an OHL championship. Yet, I haven’t mentioned the astounding play of goaltender Ken Appleby, which should tell you how good this team is.

The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are a close second to the Generals. They started out as a very good team, then turned into a very serious contender after the OHL trade deadline. Acquiring names like Nick Ritchie, Justin Bailey, and Anthony DeAngelo, the Soo Greyhounds have been on a tear since then. With a record of 12-2 and scoring 73 goals in those 14 games, the Greyhounds are certainly a team to look out for in the Western Conference.

The next two closest teams who may clinch a spot soon are the Erie Otters and the Barrie Colts. Both of these teams have amazing power plays bolstered by 3 big players. The Otters have Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome, and Nick Baptiste, who was traded to the Otters by the Sudbury Wolves. The Colts have Joesph Blandisi, Brendan Lemieux, and Kevin LaBlanc (you could also add Andrew Mangiapane). Both power play units are in the top 5 in the OHL.

Moving on to the WHL, similar to the OHL, two teams in different conferences have clinched. The Brandon Wheat Kings of the East, and the Kelowna Rockets of the West. There is a tight competition between these two as to who will finish as champion of the WHL. Both teams have yet to lose 10 games in regulation, and both have also surpassed 40 wins.

Kelowna has been just a bit better with 42 wins and 88 points, where Brandon has 41 wins and 87 points. The Rockets have the league’s 3rd best scorer in Nick Merkley who has been incredible along side Rourke Chartier on the power play. 30 of Merkley’s 58 assists this season have come on the power play.

Brandon has very good scoring forward in Tim McGauley who has a line of 34-39-73 in 55 games this season, but they also have a slight underrated rookie defenseman in Ivan Provorov. Provorov leads all defensemen in scoring in the WHL so far with 51 points in 48 games. TSN’s Craig Button recently listed Provorov as the best defenseman entering the NHL Draft this season.

"“While the debate will rage, I see Ivan as the best and most complete defenceman in the draft. His command of all the situations in the game allows him to contribute and make an impact regardless of what’s confronting him. Ivan can make the game look effortless with a brilliant understanding of what’s unfolding in front of him either from a defensive or offensive standpoint. His skating, quickness and balance, pinpoint passing, poise under pressure and a great competitive determination align to make him a defenceman who can influence the play and the outcomes in a consistent and positive manner.”-Craig Button"

Russia native Ivan Provorov is one of the top defensive prospects in the 2015 NHL draft class. (Wheat Kings)

These two teams are both should be considered contenders for the Memorial Cup as well.

In the QMJHL, the Blainville-Broisbriand Armada are the only team to clinch a spot in the QMJHL playoffs. It is no surprise that they have clinched this early either. They have two 40 goal scorers on the team in Danick Martel and Nikita Jevpalovs. Both are chasing the tail of Moncton’s Conor Garland who has 92 points in 53 games.

Speaking of the Moncton Wildcats, they are the next likely team to clinch a playoff spot in the Q. With Garland and Ivan Barbashev leading the way, the Wildcats are 8 points up on the Saint John Sea Dogs for the lead in the Maritimes Division. Along with the Wildcats is the Rimouski Oceanic. Rimouski doesn’t have one single guy on the team who has paved the way. They’ve had help from everyone on the roster. They’re 3rd in goals against average.

The race is heating up and it should be fun to watch.