Photo: Defenseman Chris Wideman was one of many Senators prospects to ink an entry-level deal at the conclusion of his season. Expected to start 2012-13 in the AHL, Wideman brings a two-way puck-moving presence to the Ottawa organization. (Tim G. Zechar/Icon SMI)
As an organization, the Ottawa Senators were able to gain invaluable experience during the recent playoff season. The NHL club exceeded most predictions and made the playoffs in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season. Many observers credited a portion of their success to a core group of young players who played a major role in the Binghamton Senators championship run in the 2010-11 AHL playoffs.
Photo: Goaltender Jordan Binnington had a rough post-season posting an 0-2 record and a 5.00 goals against average. (CHL Images)
Plenty of St. Louis prospects made noise during their team's respective postseason runs with several bringing home league championships. Two prospects were integral to Saint John's run toward their second consecutive QMJHL Championship while a third Quebec League prospect came out on top at the Memorial Cup. The Blues were also represented on the Swedish Elite League champion Brynas team. Several other prospects ranked among their league's top scorers during the playoffs despite falling short of the championship.
Photo: The NHL Combine has long been an important event leading up to the Draft. This year it was particularly important as many of the top eligible prospects had their seasons cut short by injury. (Ken McKenna/HF)
Last week, the National Hockey League engaged in its annual ritual of interviewing, testing, and examining the top players eligible for the 2012 Entry Draft. The 105 prospects that attended the Combine were poked, prodded and questioned, as well as given psychological tests. The difference this year is that there were many more second-year eligible prospects in attendance, and maybe more importantly, many draft eligible prospects had endured injury shortened seasons, which resulted in different concerns on the part of the NHL teams.
Photo: OHL Commissioner David Branch presents London Knights forward Austin Watson (NAS) with the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award, given to the player most valuable to his team in the OHL playoffs. Watson managed 10 goals and seven assists in 19 playoff games, helping London to their second OHL championship. The Knights will need Watson to keep up his scoring if they hope to win their second Memorial Cup. (Photo courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
A defending champ, a host unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs earlier than expected, a former champ crashing the party one year early, and the new kid on the block — out of 59 teams from nine Canadian provinces and four U.S. states, the 2012 CHL championship will be contested by a quartet of squads that couldn't be more different — save for the common goal of raising the Memorial Cup.