In this post, we're going to look at the two remaining teams in the OHL facing off against one another in their league championship series, and the key 2011 draft eligibles represented on the rosters.
In the OHL, by virtue of Mississauga being the 2011 Master Card Memorial Cup host city and making it to the championship round, two of the classic junior tournament's participants are already assured. The St. Michaels Majors are taking on the Owen Sound Attack, who blitzed two-time defending champ the Windsor Spitfires in five games, including a 10-4 shellacking in the final contest. Speaking of blitzing, the Major have lost just one game- the second in their last series against the Niagara Ice Dogs, going a near-perfect 12-1 in what might be Dave Cameron's last hurrah before taking an NHL coaching job in the summer.
Out west the Kootenay Ice dispatched the Medicine Hat Tigers in four and await either the Portland Winterhawks or Spokane Chiefs, who are deadlocked at two games apiece (and play each other tonight). We'll save them for another time, once the Dub's final series lineups are set.
In Quebec the Saint John Juggernauts, er- the Sea Dogs- await the winner of the series between the Gatineau Olympiques and Quebec Remparts, but with the way the Maritimers have carved up the competition all year, it seems a given that last year's President's Cup runner-ups will be this year's Quebec representatives at the Memorial Cup.
Stuart Percy, D- Solid, dependable defenseman who doesn't do much of anything flashy, but plays an intelligent and capable game on the back end. Efficient, quick puck mover who sees the ice well and makes the right decision. Crisp passer who can hit the outlet and get the transition kickstarted fast. Doesn't have a booming shot, but can get it through to the net where teammates can get sticks on it for deflections or get second and third chances on rebound opportunities. Isn't going to excite anyone in terms of being a defender with a lot of upside, but his maturity, calm and composure is a bonus. Teams win with a guy like Percy and if he can improve his skating and footwork, he has the makings of a good middle-pairing defender at the highest level. In 13 playoff games, Percey has a goal and 4 points and is a +4.
Dylan DeMelo, D- This average-sized defender has the tools to be an offensive-minded guy including excellent vision and passing skills. Not an outstanding skater, but fairly mobile with an ability to jump up into the rush. Defense needs a lot of work and hasn't produced to the point that his offensive dimension is strong enough to justify the risk with his lack of positional awareness. At 6-0, 187, needs to get a lot stronger. Buried on a very good team, but doesn't bring the kind of heady, steady play on the blue line that Percy does. Nowhere near the prospect is that his fellow defenseman is, but could end up being a late-bloomer/overage player if he can kick his point totals into high gear moving forward.
Joseph Cramarossa, C- Missed six games with the Majors but rounding into form despite not seeing action on the top two lines. Scored a nice shorthanded goal against the Niagara Ice Dogs and has impressed scouts with his hockey IQ and opportunistic play despite not getting a lot of looks on a loaded veteran team. Only has 2 goals and 3 points in 7 games, but has been a useful contributor on special teams. Bigger things could be in store for Cramarossa next season and beyond, as he gains seniority and will pick up more ice time and the chance to produce. This could be a classic case of a kid who is unappreciated because he plays on such a good teams, and the scouts who saw a lot of Missy this season and are projecting that kind of a rise for him from 18-20 could be the ones pounding the table for him come draft day. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.
Mika Partanen, LW- Mississauga picked up the 6-2 winger in last summer's import draft. Despite having decent wheels and skill level, the Oct '92 birthdate didn't have a big impact in scoring, with just 10 goals and 19 points in 54 games. He's had more of a role in the playoffs, tallying a pair of goals and 5 points in 11 of his team's 13 contests. Powerful strider who doesn't have an explosive burst, but can get from A to B pretty well and protects the puck when in the offensive zone. Scouts would like to see him shoot more, and his vision/instincts are a bit dodgy at this point. Tough to get a read on a guy who didn't play all that much, so more of Partanen is projection as opposed to production at this point. Could be a nice late-round sleeper for an NHL club with a strong presence in Ontario whose scouts saw him enough this season.
Jordan Binnington, G- The only draft eligible player on the Attack worth talking about, and he's taken a seat in the playoffs after being mediocre against London and giving way to Scott Stajcer and even Michael Zador, who closed the Knights out in the final two games of the series. Binnington is one of the better CHL goalies in what is a pretty mediocre draft crop this year and played well in the CHL Top Prospects Game in January. At 6-2, he's got a tall frame, but is lean, light and will need to get stronger in order to handle the heavy crease traffic he'll see at the higher levels. Decent developmental long-term prospect along the lines of an Andrew Raycroft type who could develop into a top-notch OHL netminder, but doesn't have any elite tools or upside that jumps out at you.