With no playoff hockey every night as the playoffs wind down, there is more time to begin to pay attention to junior hockey and the Worlds for some fantasy scouting for your next fantasy draft.
At the World's today there are four match games:
USA VS Kazakhstan
Czech Republic VS Italy
Canada VS Finland
Sweden VS Russia
Evgeni Malkin, Louie Eriksson, and Max Pacioretty are all tied for the tournament lead in scoring with seven points each.
In the CHL, the OHL named its All-Star lines. The first line is;
Brandon Saad - Michael Sgarbossa - Tyler Toffoli
[URL="http://prospects.dobbersports.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4135:dougie-hamilton&catid=14:boston-bruins&Itemid=102"]Dougie Hamilton[/URL] - Scott Harrington
Other notable selections were on the second line;
Seth Griffith, Cody Ceci, Mark Visentin.
And very interesting was the selection of Nail Yakupov on the third line RW position behind Toffoli on the first, and Griffith on the second!
Rookie Olli Maatta of the London Knights is leading his team in scoring and is tied for fourth overall in the league with six goals and 17 assists for 23 points. Maatta is a OHL rookie defenseman!
In the WHL Calgary Flames prospect Sven Bartschi is leading the league in scoring with 14 goals, and 20 assists for 34 points in 20 games. He could have an immediate fantasy impact in Calgary next season.
In the QMJHL St. Johns Sea Dogs are dominating and Stanislav Galiev and Charlie Coyle are leading the league in scoring with 34 points each. Another notable stand out is rookie Nathan MacKinnon with Halifax who has drawn comparisons in his career to Sidney Crosby. MacKinnon is heavily favored to go first overall in the 2013 NHL entry draft.
The Road to the Memorial Cup is starting to take form as two of the four teams are determined. Host city Shawinigan is obviously one and the Saint Johns Sea Dogs are in by virtue of their QMJHL Championship title. The London Knights of the OHL are one win away from joining as they lead the Niagara Ice Dogs 3-1. In the WHL it is down to the Portland Winterhawks and the Edmonton Oil Kings are tied 2-2.
An observation I made about the NHL playoffs, each series has gone to the team with stronger goaltending, or at least no significantly over matched goalie has upset a series.
Lets break that down, in the East:
Lundqvist over Anderson - Lundqvist is a Vezina nominee.
Holtby over Thomas - Perhaps an upset based on reputation, but Holtby was outstanding
Brodeur over Theodore - Three time Cup Champion despite turning 40.
Bryzgalov over Fleury - Fleury has a Cup ring, but both goalies were terrible.
In the West:
Quick over Luongo - Quick is another Vezina nominee
Halak over Niemi - Halak/Elliott are Jennings winners
Rinne over Howard - Rinne is another Vezina nominee
Smith over Crawford - Smith is a Conn Smythe favorite the way he is dominating
Brodeur over Bryzgalov - Bryzgalov scored the series winner against himself!
Lundqvist and Holtby - TBD
Quick over Elliott - Elliott looked like he was playing for the Sens again
Smith over Rinne - Smith with another Conn Smythe worthy performance was the difference in the series.
Goaltending is always a critical position in the playoffs and this year is no exception. Try to keep this in mind in the future when picking your fantasy playoff roster.
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