Montreal Canadiens well represented at 2012 Memorial Cup

By David Thicke
Photo: Shutdown defenseman Jarred Tinordi has been an important part of the London Knights this season. Standing at 6'7, Tinordi is among the tallest players in the OHL. (Photo courtesy of CHL Images)

The Montreal Canadiens' prospects at the professional level were unable to gain any playoff experience this season as the teams failed to make the NHL and AHL playoffs. This spring, only the CHL prospects were experiencing playoff hockey as the European and NCAA prospects had already finished up for their years.

The Canadiens are fortunate enough to have Nathan Beaulieu, Michael Bournival, Morgan Ellis, and Jarred Tinordi playing in the 2012 Memorial Cup. All four players will probably be teammates in the 2012-13 season with the Montreal Canadiens organization at the AHL level.

In the NCAA, there were no Montreal prospects whose teams made it to the Frozen Four Tournament in Tampa, Florida this April.

In Europe, all the Canadiens' prospects had fairly early exits from their various leagues' playoffs but Daniel Pribyl and Maxim Trunev were given more time at lower levels in their countries to play in playoff games against players closer in age.

OHL

Jarred Tinordi and his Knights earned a trip to the 2012 Memorial Cup after beating the talented Niagara Ice Dogs 4-1 in the OHL finals for the Roger Championship. The young Knights team put together an impressive run en route to the championship, managing a 16-3 record. Tinordi was a leader, a physical force and a solid shot-blocker playing big shutdown minutes and killing penalties with his partner, Scott Harrington (PIT). The defensive defenseman also contributed three goals (one game winner) along with five assists and had an incredible plus-15 rating in 19 playoff games.

QJMHL

Olivier Archambault and his Drummondville team were clearly out played while being swept 4-0 in their first round QJMHL playoff series against the Quebec Remparts. The offensively skilled winger scored one goal along with two assists and a poor minus-four rating while taking just five shots and only getting two on the net. He hopefully has learned a lesson from his 2012 playoff experience, that it takes more of a defensive commitment and to uses his linemates to create offensive plays in order to win during the playoffs at any level of hockey.

Nathan Beaulieu and his powerhouse Sea Dogs returned to the 2012 Memorial Cup to defend their championship after storming through their four QJMHL playoff series, winning 16 games and only losing one game in overtime to Chicoutimi. The smooth skating defender really showed his abilities at both ends of the rink by contributing 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) and an impressive plus-27 rating in 17 playoff games. He played shutdown minutes, was the leader of the power play and killed penalties while being more physical in front of his net and controlling the high-powered offense from the backend. Beaulieu has a late birth date so the Canadiens' management has a few options for the talented defenseman for the upcoming season. He could be returned to the QJMHL as an overager or can be signed to an NHL entry contract anytime between now and the end of training camp and start next season in the AHL with Hamilton.

Michael Bournival and the Shawinigan Cataractes suffered a disappointing game seven loss to Chicoutimi in the second round of the QJMHL playoffs but are hosting the 2012 Memorial Cup, so after about a month off, they are once again playing meaningful hockey. The physical two-way centerman had a good first round playoff series, putting up five points in a four game sweep of Rouyn-Noranda, but would only contribute two assists in the second round loss to the Saguenéens. Though Bournival was quick to not blame injury for his poor performance, it was clear he was not playing with his normal energy, speed, or physicality throughout the playoff series. Bournival has been a major contributor at the Memorial Cup, managing a goal and an assist in two games.

Morgan Ellis was a force at both ends of the ice for the Cataractes in both of their QJMHL playoff series. In the first round, the all-round defenseman put up two goals along five assists while his defense partner, Brandon Gormley (PHX) was still out of action with an ankle injury. In the tough seven game series against Chicoutimi, the puck moving defender only scored twice and added just two assists but still managed to play at a point per game along with a plus-14 rating in 11 playoff games. The offensive defenseman finished in 8th place amongst all QJMHL defensemen for the playoffs despite playing in only 11 games.

WHL

Darren Dietz had a difficult first round loss in the 2012 WHL playoffs when his Saskatoon team was swept 4-0 by the Medicine Hat Tigers. The physical defenseman appeared to briefly lose his mind at the end of game one when he gave a wicked two-handed slash to the chest of the Tiger's star forward Emerson Etem (ANA), who had just scored on the Blades empty net to seal the win for Medicine Hat. Dietz was lucky enough not to hurt Etem and had not been suspended in his WHL career so he received only a one-game suspension. The offensive defenseman was never a factor on the score sheet in the series as he only contributed one assist in the first game and was a minus-one rating in the remaining three games.

Brendan Gallagher and his Vancouver team lost a hard fought, physical first round series 4-2, in the 2012 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs. The feisty Giants' captain battle all over the ice and around the Chiefs net but still lost the series despite scoring five goals along five assists and an even rating while taking 14 penalty minutes in six playoffs games. This was his final season in the WHL as most likely the skilled winger will be playing for the Canadiens in the AHL for Hamilton or possibly in the NHL this coming season.

Patrick Holland and the Americans had a deep WHL playoff run when they were swept 4-0 by the Portland Winterhawk in the semi-finals. The talented two-way forward put up solid numbers, scoring six goals along with 13 assists but was a surprising even rating while taking a shocking 22 penalty minutes. The 20-year-old was suspended one game in the first round for clipping and had an unusual Gordie Howe Hat-trick against Spokane in their second round match-up. The versatile forward played on the penalty kill, against the other teams' best offensive players, took important draws in the defensive zone, and controlled the team's power play from the blue line. Holland clearly showed in these playoffs that he can step up the intensity level of his game and can be the difference maker when the talented player puts it all together. He will probably be playing in the AHL for Hamilton next season.

Europe

Daniel Pribyl was able to play in the U20 Czech playoffs for HC Sparta Praha after his season ended in the Czech2 league for his HC Berounsti Medvedi team. The lanky centerman excelled in the four playoff games against players of his own age finishing fifth in scoring despite his team playing so few games. He scored five goals along with two assist while taking only a two-minute penalties and having 1.75 points per game (2nd amongst the scoring leaders) for the 2012 U20 playoffs.

After his Severstal Cherepovets team was knocked out of the 2012 KHL playoff, Maxim Trunev was loaned to Almaz Cherepovets for the MHL playoffs where the talented offensive winger scored three goals along with two assists while taking only four penalty minutes in eight MHL playoff games. He received top-line minutes in the MHL compared to playing an average of six minutes in only two of his KHL team's five playoff games.

Notes and Signings

The Montreal Canadiens have some decisions to make under the direction of newly appointed General Manager, Marc Bergevin about whether to even offer NHL entry-level contracts to John Weston and Scott Kishel before this year's deadline or lose their rights.

All other prospects that needed to be signed are under contract already and Olivier Archambault, Nathan Beaulieu, Darren Dietz, Danny Kristo, Magnus Nygren, Daniel Pribyl, Steve Quailer and Dustin Walsh are all decisions that have to be made before next year's deadline.