The Canadian hockey league playoffs start Friday night, and the Nashville Predators have 5 (well 4) prospects involved in the action. Oddly, three Predator Prospects play for loaded teams, incuding the Kelowna Rockets, Portland Winterhawks, and the CHL's best Halifax Moosehead. It is likely that two of those teams makes it to the Memorial cup in May.
Brendan Leipsic (center) – Portland Winterhawks
GP: 58, G: 49, A: 71, +/-: +55
Portland Winterhawks (1) vs Everett Silverblades (8)
Brendan Leipsic tied for point lead in the CHL this season with 120 in 68 games played, just slightly under 2.0 points per game. Portland absolutely dominated most of their opposition this season, recording 334 goals for and 169 goals against. The team ended with a record of 57-12-1, making them the second best junior team in Canada.
They face the Everett Silverblades, who only just squeezed into the playoffs. The Winterhawks won the season series 7-1, including consecutive whoopings with an 8-0 win followed by a 6-0 win. This series should be over shortly and with little trouble.
They will expect the same pzazz out of Leipsic as they saw all season, but luckily the onus isn't entirely on the Predators prospect. The Winterhawks have another 120 point scorer in undrafted Nicolas Petan, while St. Louis Blues forward Ty. Rattie also has 110 points
Brent Andrews (Center) – Halifax Moosehead
GP: 67, G: 15, A: 30, Faceoffs taken: 1199 (team leader)
Halifax Moosehead (1) vs Saint John Seadogs (16)
The Halifax Moosehead are the best team in the CHL. They have Jonathan Drouin and Nathan Mackinnon on their roster, arguably the two of the top five prospects in the upcoming draft. The QMJHL doesn't have divisions, and only two teams don't make the playoffs, the the Moosehead set off to face the Seadogs in a 1 vs 16 matchup. The Seadogs played the first half of the season with Jonathan Huberdeau on their roster, but at the end of the lockout Huberdeau joined the Florida panthers. It was about this time that the Seadogs, who won the Presidents cup last year (QMJHL Playoffs) and the Memorial cup the year before (CHL playoffs), had a fire sale, trading everything that could be considered an asset.
This series should be a mopping. The Moosehead only lost one season meeting, and it was in Overtime during late december, while the stars were at the World Juniors.
Andrews is a contributing 3rd or 4th line center on the team. He isn't the biggest threat on the team which allows him to see a lot of the opposition's third defensive pairing. He is a faceoff wizz for the team and will hope to be big in that category again.
Mikko Vainonen (Defenseman) – Kingston Frontenacs
GP: 55, G: 4, A: 18, PIM: 42
Kingston Frontenacs (7) vs Barrie Colts (2)
Mikko Vainonen made headlines in January when he earned a ten game suspension for a check to the head againt the Belleville Bulls. The Finn was also able to contribute this season with 18 assists in his team's mostly losing efforts. The Frontenacs were 27-35-6 and will face the second place Colts. Vainonen will need to be effective while staying clear of the penalty box.
Simon Karlsson – Oshawa Generals
GP: 54, G: 2, A:11, PPG: 2
Oshawa Generals(3) – Niagara Ice Dogs(6)
Simon Karlsson saw his game pick up mid-season when he was traded to the Oshawa Generals from the Plymouth Whalers. With his new team he only scored twice, but both goals were poweplay markers, which has really boosted him as a powerplay asset with the new team. This is the defenders first season in North America. Karlsson is from Sweden and not related to the Ottawa Senator's defenseman Erik Karlsson
This will be the closest series for a Predators prospect, but the Generals would expect to win it, finishing with 28 points more than Niagara.
Colton Sissons (Center) – Kelowna Rockets
GP: 61, G:28, A: 39,
Kelowna Rockets (2) vs Seattle T-Birds (7)
Colton Sissons was having a Phenomenal season with the Rockets, who spent most of their season as the WHL's top team. He was fourth on the team in points and third for goals. Sissons has had unfortunate injuries this season: he also injured himself during the World Junior's Training camp, ending all possibility that he would make the team. His injury this time round is an arm injury. Speculation is that Sissons could make a return if the Rockets can make it to the Western conference finals (but they will have to beat the Winterhawks firs, as they are in the same division)
The Rockets had a chance to rival the Winterhawks in the this years playoffs, and while they still have a lot of talent, without Sissons it will be tough to know out the best team in the West.