The Prince Albert Raiders have won the WHL Championship, meaning they will be the final entrant into the 2019 Memorial Cup. They’ll face off against the Guelph Storm, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Halifax Mooseheads starting on Friday evening. The Raiders defeated the Vancouver Giants in overtime last night to take home the league title, their second in franchise history. While goaltender Ian Scott and forward Brett Leason were huge parts of the Raiders’ run and deserve praise, special attention should be placed on Vancouver star Bowen Byram, the draft-eligible defenseman who could potentially go third overall this June.
Byram was the first defenseman to ever lead the WHL in playoff scoring, tallying 26 points in 22 games for the Giants. The 17-year old had 71 points in the regular season and is the best available defenseman in this year’s draft class. His quick puck movement and elusiveness at both ends of the rink are stunning for a player of his age, and it will be up to the Chicago Blackhawks to decide whether they want to spend another high pick on a defenseman this year or let him slip to the Colorado Avalanche—who already have some impressive young players on the blue line themselves.
- Sheldon Keefe has been suggested as a potential head coach for the last few seasons as he finds success with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, but as Luke Fox of Sportsnet writes he isn’t necessarily in a hurry to leave his minor league position. Keefe has a long history with Toronto Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas going back to their days with Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL, and could potentially be the replacement for Mike Babcock if the opportunity ever presents itself. That won’t be this season, as Dubas has already confirmed that Babcock will be back behind the Maple Leafs bench in 2019-20, but Keefe likely won’t wait around in the minor leagues forever.
- Brandon Montour was forced from Canada’s last game at the IIHF World Championship, and Darren Dreger of TSN reports that the defenseman has a lower-body injury. If Montour is unable to continue in the tournament, the Canadians will have just six healthy defensemen—and even that is assuming that Dante Fabbro can play after taking a puck to the face and leaving the game—meaning there very well could be an addition in the coming days. Canada has one additional roster spot available, and Dreger reports that they’ve circled back on some names that may have turned them down initially.