Thursday, March 28, 2013

Halifax Mooseheads: Round 1 is done

The Halifax Mooseheads have taken the first step towards proving they're the best team in Canadian Major Junior Hockey by defeating the Saint John Sea Dogs 4-0 in their best of seven series. During this series the Mooseheads outscored the Sea Dogs 34-4. I had the privilege of seeing the Mooseheads play live a week ago and I've come to the conclusion that they are simply a stunning team. Four of their players are blue chip NHL prospects - three of them are undrafted. In a league that turns over its entire player base every four years, having three of the top NHL prospects is huge.
Jonathan Drouin, of Ste-Agathe, Quebec, is probably the leading forward on the team. During the regular season he scored 41 goals and 64 assists (105 points) in only 48 games, good for second in the QMJHL; the top scoring player beat him by 5 points but played 20 games above and beyond Drouin. So far in the playoffs Drouin is 2-8-10 in 4 games, good for 3rd in the scoring race. He is likely to be drafted #1 or #2 in the NHL draft this year.

From Cole Harbour, NS, the same place that gave us Sidney Crosby, is Nathan MacKinnon. Originally ranked the #1 North American skater, MacKinnon's stock dropped after an injury stole some games from him. However, he still scored 32-43-75 in 44 games this year, and is 3-4-7 in the playoffs. When we saw the Mooseheads I felt MacKinnon was more exciting than Drouin, though that could be a product of it having been the last game of the season. Regardless, I think MacKinnon will go in the top 5 in the draft, and I think the team that gets him will get a bargain.

Martin Frk, of the Czech Republic, was drafted in the second round last year by the Detroit Red Wings. He had a pretty bad injury that reduced his numbers, but bounced back with a 35-49-84 season in 56 games. He is 6-4-10 in the playoffs. I think the Red Wings are probably getting really excited about bringing in a high scoring winger to play alongside either Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg. The Wings have always scouted well and I think Frk is a 25-30 goal a year guy in the NHL sooner rather than later. He was another really exciting player to watch at the Metro Centre.

Finally, the Mooseheads have Zach Fucale, top ranked North American goaltender, and probably a top 10 pick. I haven't seen him be too busy, but his stats are sparkling - 2.35 GAA in the high-scoring QMJHL, good for second in the league, and a .909 save percentage. His playoff numbers are even better - 1.00 GAA and a .943 SV%, good for best in the league. I'd love to see him go to a club that needs a #1 guy.

If the Mooseheads can pull off a win in the QMJHL - which seems likely - then they're bound to Saskatoon for the Memorial Cup. I promise I won't cover every game of the Q playoffs, but if they get to the Memorial Cup, well. They're the local team that I grew up watching, and all I can say just can't stop the Mooseheads!

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