While the Habs and IceCaps aren’t heading for the playoffs, the push is on for many of their other prospects. Here’s a look at the players who will be or have already been involved in some postseason action.
Jeremiah Addison (Ottawa, OHL): The 67’s went on a big run to finish off their season to finish 5th in their conference, lining up with Niagara in the first round. Addison picked up three points in Game 1 of the series on Thursday night, albeit in a losing effort. If they are ousted early on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Addison join St. John’s to finish the season; as he turns 20 in October, he is eligible to go to the minors on a full-time basis next year so they may as well give him an early tryout.
Daniel Audette (Sherbrooke, QMJHL): The Quebec League doesn’t have conference playoffs which means they reseed from 1-16. The Phoenix find themselves in the #15 spot, finishing a whopping 36 points behind Shawinigan, their opening round opponent. This should be over quickly and Audette, who already is signed for next season (I wonder if the Canadiens are regretting that right about now), should be off to the IceCaps to play the final few games of their season.
Simon Bourque (Rimouski, QMJHL): Of all the playoff matchups for Montreal’s CHL prospects, this one (vs Charlottetown) is the closest of them all. The Oceanic finished just two points ahead in the standings and there is a big difference in style from the two teams. It will be interesting to see if Rimouski’s experience from last year’s deep playoff run plays a role here, especially for Bourque who will be leaned on heavily.
Matt Bradley (Medicine Hat, WHL): Bradley had a nice run to finish the season (14 points in the last 12 games) but it wasn’t enough to make the playoffs as the Tigers lost to Edmonton in a tiebreaker game for the final playoff spot. Even worse for Bradley is that he missed the tiebreaker with a shoulder injury. He’s eligible to be sent to the IceCaps if he’s healthy but the Habs may opt to shut him down to let him heal instead.
Noah Juulsen (Everett, WHL): Juulsen’s Silvertips match up with Portland in the first round. It’s well known that Everett plays a highly defensive style and when the playoffs start, that style of play tends to be more common. Juulsen is going to log major minutes in this series and will be a big factor in whether or not they move on (they have a good chance to). If they are eliminated, he’ll be eligible to be sent to St. John’s.
Michael McNiven (Owen Sound, OHL): The Attack are a well-coached team but aren’t the most talented squad. As a result, they wound up 6th in the West, lining them up for a matchup with London, a well-coached team that’s loaded in talent. McNiven would need to steal at least a couple of games for Owen Sound to have a chance in this series. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him loaned out to one of Montreal’s minor league affiliates if the Attack are eliminated early as expected.
Jake Evans (Notre Dame): The Irish fell to Big-Ten champion Michigan on Friday night in the Frozen Four qualifying tournament, ending Evans’ season. He finished the year tied for first in team scoring. He won`t be eligible to play for St. John’s unless he foregoes his remaining college eligibility which isn’t likely at this point.
Hayden Hawkey (Providence): Despite being the top seed in their bracket in the qualifiers, the Friars were ousted in the first round in double overtime. Hawkey didn’t play in the game which more or less describes his season in a nutshell as he got into just four games as the backup goalie.
Nikolas Koberstein (Alaska-Fairbanks)/Colin Sullivan (Miami-Ohio): Their seasons are done after both of their teams lost in the quarterfinals. Even worse is that both players were scratches in those games.
Artturi Lehkonen (Frolunda, SHL): To put it lightly, Lehkonen had a really good first round effort, a five game win over Djurgardens. He picked up at least a point in every game, winding up with five goals and three assists overall while playing just shy of 15 minutes a night. He was a big factor in the regular season and that doesn’t appear to be changing now. Their second round opponent is yet to be determined.
Joonas Nattinen (JYP, Liiga): Nattinen finished the season with six straight pointless games after picking up six points in his previous seven and his cold streak has carried over to the playoffs where he is pointless in four outings. The good news is that JYP has a 3-1 series lead on SaiPa so it looks as if he’ll be off to the next round barring a major collapse.
Magnus Nygren (Farjestad, SHL): His season came to an end on Friday after Farjestad was eliminated in five games by Lulea. Nygren played a ton in the series, averaging just shy of 24 minutes per game, picking up a goal and an assist along the way. He may be in the mix for a spot on Sweden’s entry into the World Championships in May.
Martin Reway (Fribourg, NLA): Fribourg was eliminated in the first round and didn’t have the services of Reway, who played just one game since late January due to recurring concussion symptoms. Reway has suggested that if he stays overseas for next year, it will either be in the NLA or the KHL. He also is well aware that he becomes an NHL free agent after the 2016-17 season and may be planning to come over to North America at that time instead.
Maxim Trunev (Severstal Cherepovets, KHL): His team missed the playoffs and quite honestly, he’s not really a prospect at this point anyways; the only reason Montreal still has his rights is the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and Russia.
Lukas Vejdemo (Djurgardens, SHL): Vejdemo’s postseason recently came to an end at the hands of Lehkonen and Frolunda. He averaged a little over 11 minutes of action per game in the playoffs, picking up a single goal in eight games. All in all, it was a quiet end to his season but he saw regular action all year as a junior-aged player in Sweden’s top league which is still noteworthy. I’d like to see him brought over to finish up in St. John’s but the fact that Vejdemo is signed through next season may complicate that.