While loyal Canes fans are watching game #74 of the team’s 2017-18 season at PNC Arena on Thursday night, the battle for the Mastercard Memorial Cup will commence for multiple Canes prospects playing in the Canadian Hockey League.
For those looking to track the CHL playoffs in some detail, I highly recommend the following sites:
Great sources for Canadian Hockey League coverage
DUBNetwork is the gold standard for in-depth Western Hockey League coverage. With five Hurricanes prospects populating the WHL playoffs, bookmark DUBNetwork at least until the CHL playoffs are over.
Similarly, Brock Otten from OHLProspects fame penned a thorough preview of the OHL playoff match ups with predictions for each for McKeen’s Hockey.
Western Hockey League (5 prospects)
Tri-City Americans vs. Kelowna Rockets (Jake Bean, Morgan Geekie)
If you want to pick one team to pull for in the CHL playoffs, look no further than the Tri-City Americans. The team features Canes 2016 first-rounder Jake Bean and 2017 third-rounder Morgan Geekie among its best players and leaders. The playoffs will be the last run in juniors for Jake Bean who will move up to the professional ranks for the 2018-19 season. As an overage draftee, Morgan Geekie could also be signed and move up to the AHL level next season, but as a 2017 draftee, the potential is there to stay in the WHL as an overage player in 2018-19 with the Hurricanes still maintaining his draft rights.
Jake Bean is an offensively gifted defenseman who figures to fuel the Americans’ offense from the back end, and Morgan Geekie is the team’s leading scorer, so check the box scores to see how the duo is faring on the score sheet.
Spokane Chiefs vs. Portland Winterhawks (Brendan De Jong, Hudson Elynuik)
If head to head match ups are your thing, then look no further than the match up between the Spokane Chiefs and the Portland Winterhawks. The game features forward and 2016 third-rounder Hudson Elynuik squaring off against defenseman and 2017 sixth-rounder Brendan De Jong. As such, the two figure to see some ice time battling head to head. The series is also a good one as an early-round match up with two good hockey teams with the potential to play deep into the playoffs.
Brandon Wheat Kings vs. Medicine Hat Tigers (Stelio Mattheos)
Another Canes prospect who figures to feature prominently in the first week of the WHL playoffs and possibly beyond is 2017 third-rounder Stelio Mattheos. Mattheos enters the playoffs as a veteran leader with 43 goals and 90 points in 68 games in addition to a team-leading 10 game-winning goals. He figures to play a prominent role the Wheat Kings’ playoff success.
Perry Bergson from The Brandon Sun previewed the series for the Brandon Wheat Kings team website and also at The Brandon Sun HERE.
Ontario Hockey League (2 prospects)
Kingston Frontenacs vs. North Bay Battalion (Jeremy Helvig)
After bolstering its lineup at the trade deadline, the Kingston Frontenacs are built for a deep playoff run. And right in the middle of it all is Canes goalie prospect Jeremy Helvig. As an overage veteran, Helvig should be a solid foundation and strength for the Frontenacs. Coming off a solid regular season and technically still playing to earn a professional contract (though it think it is pretty much a sure thing), Helvig should be primed to put an exclamation point in his OHL career.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds vs. Saginaw Spirit (Noah Carroll)
Another 2016 Canes draftee whose rights expire this summer will also be looking to make a final impression in the OHL playoffs to earn a professional contract. As a sixth-round pick, defenseman Noah Carroll is not a sure thing to win a contract, but the current shortage of true prospect age defensemen in the Hurricanes minor league system right tilts the numbers game in his favor. After a lights out regular season that saw Carroll’s Sault Ste. Marie team go a spectacular 55-7-6, the team is a playoff favorite. On a stacked team, Carroll is a middle of the lineup player with experience. The playoffs could be what tip the Hurricanes decision on whether to sign him or not, so Carroll is definitely one to watch in the playoffs.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (0 prospects)
With Julien Gauthier, Nicolas Roy, Callum Booth and Spencer Smallman all moving up to the AHL ranks for the 2017-18 season, Hurricanes fans went from having a heavy interest in the QMJHL playoffs in 2016-17 to having no rooting interest from a Canes perspective for the current season.