Photo credit:Brian Liesse/WHL
Several Calgary Flames prospects will be part of the CHL playoffs
By Ryan Pike10 months ago
We often talk about how much of a grind the Stanley Cup playoffs are, and it’s true. It’s a two month trench war that ends with one team beaten up and holding a trophy and another 15 teams beaten up and empty-handed. In Canadian major junior hockey, their annual playoffs may run a close second to the Stanley Cup tournament in terms of sheer length and difficulty.
On Thursday night, the road to the Memorial Cup begins for five Calgary Flames prospects across three leagues.
Jack Beck – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Man, Beck has been a fun story to follow from afar. Drafted by the Flames in the sixth round in 2021, Beck is a really smart two-way winger who’s found a consistent offensive streak since being drafted. He’s also found some rough injury luck, missing chunks of the past two seasons – he’s played in 81 of Ottawa’s 136 regular season games.
Since returning from an upper-body injury mid-season, Beck’s been a really consistent player and his combination of his point production and his two-way savvy has made him really valuable for the 67’s. They won the OHL’s regular season crown and open their playoffs on Thursday against Oshawa. The 67’s may be the OHL club with the best chance to chase a Memorial Cup.
Cameron Whynot – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Another 2021 pick, Whynot hasn’t quite taken the step or found the consistency (offensively) that Beck has. Part of that is injury troubles, as Whynot has played in 93 of Halifax’s 136 games over the past two seasons. When he’s played, he’s been fairly effective, but it’s probably pretty tough to round out your game as a blueliner when you’re in and out of the lineup so often.
Halifax is the second seed in the QMJHL’s Eastern Conference and open their post-season against Cape Breton on Friday.
Cole Huckins – Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
Another 2021 pick, Huckins has been solid since being selected. He was traded to Sherbrooke from Acadie-Bathurst in the off-season, and he’s been a consistent secondary offensive contributor for the Phoenix all season. He’s stayed healthy and in the lineup, and he’s easily had his best offensive season as a junior player.
Sherbrooke had a strong season and just inched out Gatineau for the top spot in the Western Conference. They open their playoffs against Blainville-Boisbriand on Friday. Only four points separated the top four teams in the QMJHL in the regular season, so any of them (Halifax, Quebec, Sherbrook or Gatineau) could make a push for a spot in the Memorial Cup.
Lucas Ciona – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
A 2021 pick that the Flames signed already – on the basis of a good NHL camp and a superb performance in the WHL playoffs in 2022 – Ciona is big, rugged and can score. He has a lot of similarities to Micheal Ferland back in his junior days, in terms of his power forward potential. Currently Seattle’s captain, Ciona finished tied for 28th in the league in points and was named a second-team divisional all-star. He good.
Speaking of good, the Thunderbirds are what Chris Johnston would call “a juggernaut.” They boast 10 NHL-drafted players, another half-dozen 2023 NHL Draft prospects, and Jarome Iginla’s eldest son, Tij. They were their conference’s top team by a fair margin, and everything seems set up for an eventual Seattle/Winnipeg WHL championship series. They open their post-season on Friday against Kelowna.
Parker Bell – Tri-City Americans (WHL)
A late-round pick in 2022, Bell is still pretty young and raw, but he’s got size and seems to be starting to round out his game. He finished just a hair outside of the top 50 in WHL scoring, and you could make a case that he’s a less polished version of Ciona – and considering his age and how good Ciona is, there’s still a lot of potential there for Bell.
The Americans were a middle of the pack team in their conference. They open their playoffs on Friday against Prince George.
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