When asking most hockey fans about what the hardest trophy to win in hockey is, you will most likely hear that it’s the Stanley Cup. There are many arguments for why the Stanley Cup is the hardest to win but, in my opinion the Memorial Cup is even tougher. First of all, players have a maximum of 5 years of eligibility (if they play as an overage player) to play in the CHL and most players will play less then the possible 5 years. The CHL also has 60 different teams competing for the Memorial Cup each season coming from the OHL, QJMHL, and WHL. For a team to qualify for the Memorial Cup they must win their respective leagues championship or be the hosting city of the tournament. This years Memorial Cup is being held in Red Deer, Alberta which means the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL are one of the 4 teams participating in the 2016 tournament. The London Knights will be representing the OHL, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies will represent the QJMHL, and the WHL champion has yet to be determined.
The London Knights of the OHL have 2 Maple Leafs prospects on there current roster, both of which have had big roles with helping the Knights get to the Memorial Cup.
The first of the two is arguably the leafs top prospect in Mitch Marner. Mitch had an outstanding season this year putting up 116 regular season points and 44 playoffs points, earning himself both the most outstanding player in the OHL for the regular season and the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs. Winning both of these awards in the same season is very rare and has only happened 4 times since 1999. So you can expect that if the London Knights are going to have a chance at winning the Memorial Cup in 2016 Marner is going to need to keep putting up these crazy numbers.
The second leaf prospect on the Knights is JJ Piccinich who was taken in the 4th round in the 2014 draft. Piccinich has a different role for the Knights then Marner but still plays a big role with the team. Piccinich is playing his first season in the OHL and had 30 goals and 66 points in 66 games. He is known to be a creative playmaker with great vision.
Martins Dzierkals will also be participating in the Memorial Cup for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QJMHL. Dzierkals was taken in the third round of the 2015 draft and had decent numbers this season. The Latvian native Dzierkals had 67 points in 59 games, and had 17 points in 20 games in the QJMHL playoffs.
The Memorial Cup is always a fun time to watch some great hockey and will be a chance to see how our Leaf prospects preform when the pressure is high. Best of luck to all three leafs prospects in the upcoming 2016 Memorial Cup!