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Handful Of Montreal Canadiens Prospects Vying For Memorial Cup Berth

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Montreal Canadiens

A handful of Montreal Canadiens prospects will be vying for a shot at the Memorial Cup, as the final round in the CHL playoffs is set to begin this week.

The Montreal Canadiens have been well represented during these CHL playoffs in each of the three leagues (WHL, QMJHL and OHL), with many of their prospects playing key roles in the successes of their respective teams. As each league prepares to begin their final series in the coming week, we take a look at which prospects have a shot at playing in the Memorial Cup in Saint John this coming June.

 

Kaiden Guhle

Kaiden Guhle continued to be one of the most impressive defencemen in the WHL playoffs this year for the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 20-year-old defenceman continues to lead the Oil Kings on the backend and was an essential piece in helping his team take down the powerhouse Winnipeg Ice in the Eastern Conference Finals. In five games against Winnipeg, Guhle put up three goals and two assists for five points, while getting an impressive 24 shots on goal during that time.

Guhle was tasked with shutting down top Ice players like Zachary Benson and Conor Geekie, and was quite successful in doing so. He played a very physical game down low, but would immediately activate when the puck was on his stick to start the transition, even carrying the puck up himself and catching defencemen off guard. His play in all three zones has been nothing short of stellar, and the Oil Kings continue to roll through the WHL playoffs as they wait for the winner of the Portland-Kamloops series in the WHL Finals.

Arber Xhekaj and Jan Mysak

The Hamilton Bulldogs have been on an incredible run in the OHL playoffs, having won twelve straight games in the process and marching to the Finals still undefeated. A major figurehead in Hamilton’s ability to steamroll their opposition has been defenceman Arber Xhakaj, who’s been tasked with shutting down some of the most productive teams in the OHL. Xhekaj’s dominant physical style down low and his surprisingly powerful skating mechanics make him a dual-threat for the Bulldogs, as the 6’4 defenceman commands instant respect wherever he is on the ice.

He plays a very physical and punishing game in the defensive zone, but is also contributing in a very surprising way offensively for the Bulldogs, posting five goals and four assists for nine points in 11 games. In their latest series against the North Bay Battalion, Xhekaj really seemed to take the next step in his game during the playoffs, as he elevated his game in relation to the quality of competition. His dangerous one-timer from the point was difficult to defend for the Battalion, and Xhekaj used it to pile on the offensive chances, averaging four shots a game during their four-game series against the Battalion.

Jan Mysak was battling through an injury to start the OHL playoffs and had been out of action since May 8th before returning to the lineup on May 20th for Game 1 against the Battalion. It took Mysak a few games to find his bearings, but he returned to his productive ways as of Game 3. Playing in a versatile role for the Bulldogs, Mysak is being tasked with both defensive and offensive assignments and was instrumental in putting away the Battalion in Game 4 of the series, potting a hattrick in impressive fashion.

With a few more days of rest on the docket as the Bulldogs await the winner of the Windsor-Flint series, Mysak will be able to continue recovering from whatever has ailed him this spring and come ready to perform in the OHL Finals.

 

William Trudeau & Xavier Simoneau

The QMJHL semi-finals are coming to a close within the next 48 hours or so, the Montreal Canadiens will be assured to have at least one prospect in the QMJHL Finals this year. The Charlottetown Islanders, who tasted their first defeat in the QMJHL playoffs last week to the Sherbrooke Phoenix, have been one of the more dominant teams in the QMJHL playoffs, and a big part of that is Xavier Simoneau. The 2021 6th round pick for the Montreal Canadiens has put up four goals and ten assists for 14 points in just nine games.

After being a little quiet in the Islanders’ previous series with the Acadie Bathurst Titans, Simoneau has taken the Islanders’ current series with the Phoenix by storm. He’s posted seven points in three games so far and has come up clutch for them in each game with big goals. His intelligent play and impressive creativity make him very difficult to defend.

William Trudeau has had a rather impressive playoffs as a whole this year, playing a key shutdown role while also contributing in a big way offensively. In eight games these playoffs, Trudeau has amassed three goals and four assists for seven points and has been the Islanders’ most underrated defenceman playing behind  Vegas’ Lukas Cormier. Trudeau’s strength during these playoffs has been his decision-making and quick transition, being one of the most efficient puck movers in the QMJHL’s spring dance.

He’s had the difficult task of trying to limit the offensive ability of Sherbrooke’s top line, one of the most dangerous lines in the QMJHL this past season, and has done so admirably. He continues to grow his game on a consistent level and this will only help him take the next step in his development next season, as he still has one more year of junior hockey left next season.


Joshua Roy

Joshua Roy has been sensational during the playoffs for the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The winner of the Jean-Beliveau Trophy has picked up right where he left off this season, as he’s tied with linemate Xavier Parent for the lead in points with 20 during these QMJHL Playoffs. In the ten games Shrberooke has played, Roy has put up seven goals and 13 assists, all while scoring some very clutch goals, especially in overtime. The Montreal Canadiens 2021 5th round pick continued to power the Phoenix to success against strong opponents and have pushed the more mature Islanders’ team to dig deep in order to come off with any victory.

Roy and the Phoenix will be facing elimination for the first time in these playoffs Monday night as they lock horns again with the Islanders. Always one for the dramatic, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Roy turn in another clutch performance and tie the series, just as he did below in Game 2 against the Islanders.

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@CrispPoutine

Nice to see these prospects getting ice time and experience. It’ll go a long way for their development.

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