Stocks at stake in Saskatoon

Zenon Herasymiuk2013 Draft Center

The road to the 2013 NHL Draft will go through Saskatoon.

The Memorial Cup features the best teams in the CHL competing for junior hockey’s ultimate prize, but this year a plethora of talented young prospects will have their chance to increase their draft stock at the prestigious tournament.

Nathan Mackinnon and Jonathan Drouin will lead the Halifax Mooseheads charge in Saskatchewan.

The duo combined for 23 goals and 68 points in the Mooseheads’ march to the QMJHL title, pacing Halifax to a 16-1 postseason record. The ultra-skilled line mates consistently use their skill, speed, and world class hockey sense to dominate games and rack up mind boggling points along the way.

Mackinnon and Drouin have been neck-and-neck in Future Considerations’ draft rankings for most of the season, and the battle between the two for the upper-hand in June will reach its peak during the tournament.

Not to be overshadowed, Zach Fucale has also been rock solid for Halifax.

He led the QMJHL playoffs with a 2.02 goals against average and his .918 save percentage was second among league goalies. There have been questions if Fucale’s low numbers are a result of his outstandingly strong team. He will have the chance to prove himself against the best teams in the world and could find himself streaking up the charts with a strong showing.

That trio will have the opportunity to square off against another draft eligible triad let by Seth Jones.

Portland Winterhawks defenseman is looking to add another exceptional achievement to his already impressive resume.

Already a winner of two U18 World Championships and a World Junior Championship winner this winter in Sochi, Jones will need another good week to win the most coveted trophy in junior hockey. He will also have to fend off Mackinnon and Drouin for the top spot in the draft rankings.

Winterhawks forwards Nic Petan and Oliver Bjorkstrand will have the chance to prove to the world that they have the size and strength to compete deep into the postseason a be prominent offensive threats among the most skilled players in the world.

As good as the groups in both Halifax and Portland have been, the threesome pacing the London Knights to an OHL title may have indeed been better.

And that group is led by Bo Horvat.

Horvat finished the playoffs eighth in OHL scoring with 23 points in 21 games. He had three game winning goals in the final series against the Barrie Colts which included the game seven winner with under a second to play. He earned the OHL Playoff MVP award for his efforts and will use his time in Saskatoon to finish his Cinderella season.

Opinions are mixed on Max Domi and Nikita Zadorov, ranked ninth and 11th respectively in Future Considerations’ April rankings, but final few games of the year could clear any doubts. Domi’s skill and Zadorov’s imposing size on defense will have to be on full display if the Knights want to be the last team standing.

Whichever trio proves most impressive in Saskatoon could result in hoisting the Memorial Cup and a powerful performance on junior hockey’s grandest stage could give one of these prospects a push on draft day, too.