The CHL season gets underway this week. I will give you the four teams that will be in Brandon for the Memorial Cup.
Brandon Wheat Kings
They play host to this year’s tournament. They have loaded up for their run. They have Brayden Schenn (Los Angeles Kings) and Scottie Glennie (Dallas Stars) who were both drafted in the 1st round in 2009. They picked up Toni Rajala (Edmonton’s 4th round pick in 2009) and Alexander Urbom (New Jersey’s 3rd round pick in 2009 Draft) in the Import Draft this summer.
They should be in the top three of the CHL rankings all year long.
I feel the Rockets will be making their second appearance in a row. They lose Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars) and Mikael Backlund (Calgary) to the professional ranks. Colin Long could return as a 20-year old if the Coyotes don’t send him to San Antonio. Cody Almond could also return as a 20-year old if he doesn’t head to Houston. Brandon McMillan (Anaheim) and Stepan Novotny return. Adam Brown should be the starter. He will be one of the top goalies selected in the 2010 draft.
There chances are even better if Tyler Myers doesn’t make the Buffalo Sabres. Also on the backend is Tyson Barrie (Colorado’s 3rd round pick in 2009)
The defending Memorial Cup champions should be making a trip to Brandon. They have Taylor Hall, Greg Nemisz, Adam Henrique, Eric Wellwood, Justin Shugg, and Austin Watson all returning. Adding to the offense will be Richard Panik, Tampa 2nd rounder in 2009. They don’t lose too much on defense. Their top defensive paring will be Ryan Ellis and Cam Fowler who could be a top three pick in 2010. Mark Cundari, Jessie Blacker, Ron Soucie, and Adam Wallace are also returning.
The big question will be is their goaltending situation. They don’t have that number one goalie.
I believe Patrick Roy is making one last run at junior hockey’s “Holy Grail” before he moves on in his coaching career. He acquired goalie Peter Delmas (Colorado’s 2nd round pick in 2008), forward Danick Paquette (Atlanta’s 3rd round pick in 2008), and defenseman Patrick Cusack from the Lewiston Maineiacs. Delmas struggled last season but he could be rejuvenated with the fresh start. If not, I wouldn’t be surprised if Roy gets Jake Allen from the Montreal Junior. Roy also got Ryan Bourque to de-commit from the University of New Hampshire. Also returning is Dmitry Kugryshev who had a fabulous rookie season last year.
Well that’s my pre-season prediction. I am sure a team will come out of nowhere and surprise us all.