With a potential NHL lockout looming, many of you will be looking for ways to get your hockey fix until the NHL resolves there dispute, and the best way to do that is to watch junior hockey. Most of the time it is better hockey to watch anyways, the players play for so much more and give it their all every game, the momentum can swing in just minutes and makes for a much more entertaining game. Here are the top 10 CHL teams you need to see play this year:
1- Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Many think the Halifax Mooseheads will be the class of the QMJHL and one of the best teams in all of the CHL but if the lockout proceeds as expected then the Remparts will for sure get their best player in Mikhail Grigorenko back and pair him with Nikita Kucherov, they have had some chemistry in the past and will surely light the QMJHL up this year, include Anthony Duclair, Adam Erne and Nick Sorensen three potential first rounders in this year’s draft and you have the makings of a powerhouse team that could be a strong contender for the Memorial Cup.
2- London Knights(OHL)
After coming so close to winning the Memorial Cup last season the Knights will be back at it this year trying to avenge their overtime loss and show they are still a force to be reckoned with. They lost some key players after last year’s run but expect potential first rounders Max Domi and Bo Horvat to improve upon their good rookie campaigns and help counter the loss of those players, they also boast the Rupert twins on forward and Seth Griffin who had a strong campaign, combine that with Olli Maatta, Scott Harrington and another potential first rounder in Nikita Zadorov and the Knights will be an exciting team to watch.
3- Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
A young Mooseheads team overachieved last season based on strong play from Zach Fucale and Nathan MacKinnon, add in Jonathan Drouin who had a phenomenal playoffs, Martin Frk who should be fully recovered from a string of injuries last season, newly acquired Stefan Fournier and rock solid defender Konrad Albethauser and you have a team that should be among the most exciting in all of the CHL with the potential to dominate, expect big years from Zach Fucale, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, if you get the chance to see them play they will impress you no doubt and you should see why they are considered sure fire first round picks. This will be an exciting year for Moose fans.
4- Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Expect Plymouth to challenge for top team in the OHL along with the London Knights and the Kitchener Rangers, it would come as no surprise to see them end as the top team when you look at the talent their roster possesses. First round picks Tom Wilson, J.T. Miller, Rickard Rakell and Stefan Noesen all have the ability to score and wreck havoc on offence while playing a responsible two-way game which will be key while Matt Mahalak gets accustomed to a bigger work load after the team saw Scott Wedgewood graduate to the professional ranks. The Whalers have the skill to make a run at it this year and if all put together they could come out on top.
5- Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
After dominating the WHL last year the Oil Kings will get most of their championship winning squad back and will be expected to do what they did last year and earn a berth in the Memorial Cup, with first round picks Henrik Samuelsson and Griffin Reinhart coming back along with Curtis Lazar a highly touted prospect for this year’s draft the Oil Kings are in a good position to succeed. Combine that with returning veterans Michael St. Croix, Dylan Wruck, Keegan Lowe and Martin Gernat the Oil Kings will have no shortage of talent this season especially with Laurent Brossoit returning between the pipes.
6- Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
It seems that over the past fews years the Winterhawks and the Saint John Sea Dogs have produced amazing amounts of talent and it isn’t about to stop here for the Winterhawks, with potential number one overall pick Seth Jones and Pittsburgh Penguins first rounder Derrick Pouliot, Troy Rutowski and Tyler Wotherspoon on the backend they will have no shortage of talent add in returning goalie Mac Carruth and the Winterhawks will be tough defensively. They won’t have any shortage of offensive talent either with offensive dynamo Ty Rattie coming back and youngsters Chase De Leo, Nicolas Petan and European Import Oliver Bjorkstrand they will have more than enough offence to go around.
7- Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
The Rangers will try and slug it out for top spot in the OHL this year and with newly acquired Matt Puempel teaming up with Radek Faksa, Matia Marcantuoni and Tobias Rieder the offence will be there to take a run at it. The offence doesn’t stop there however with Ryan Murphy on the point the Rangers will most likely have the leading point getter for defencemen, team him up with their rock solid goalie John Gibson and you have a strong squad that can compete with anyone. They will surely be a team you want to see if they come your town.
8- Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
The Blades will be out to prove that they belong in the Memorial Cup and aren’t only there based on the fact they are the host team. They have quite a bit of talent up front in Matej Stransky, Josh Nicholls, Lukas Sutter and newly acquired Shane McColgan who will be looking for a fresh start after seeing his point totals drop each season since he came to the WHL. Duncan Siemens who is looking to bounce back after a pedestrian post draft campaign and Dalton Thrower who will try to improve upon last year’s numbers will be integral parts of this team’s success. In goal Andrey Makarov will be playing for a shot at the next level after being passed over in two consecutive drafts and this might be his last chance to make an impression. Saskatoon isn’t a team to take lightly this season and I am sure will be overlooked repeatedly but they shouldn’t be.
9- Erie Otters (OHL)
Now not many times will you see the worst team in the CHL on a list of teams to check out but there is finally something to cheer about in Erie with the additions of Oscar Dansk and highly touted player Connor McDavid, combine them with Adam Pelech, Travis Wood and Troy Donnay on the backend, Sondre Olden, Connor Brown and Dane Fox on offence and you have a team that just might be worth checking out. The main attractions to this team are Oscar Dansk and Connor McDavid both of whom should be worth the price of admission.
10- Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
If you get the chance to see Kerby Rychel play you better do it because the talent and size he has will make him a high coveted player in the draft, add in Brady Vail, Ben Johnson, and high draft pick Josh Ho-Sang who was highly considered one of best talents in his draft and you have a highly skilled group of forwards who should all put up good numbers. If Nick Ebert plays like the Ebert who was considered a potential top 10 pick and not the one who was a seventh round pick in this past year’s draft then you will surely get more than the price of admission from this team.
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