The Mastercard Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, Canada is starting to wrap up as it heads into the semifinal round. In preparing for the upcoming NHL draft, paying attention to this tournament is important since we can see draft prospects in action, many for the first time, and check in with the prospects already in the system.
The London Knights and The Portland Winterhawks will go head-to-head on Friday, and this matchup should be of particular interest to the Flyers since they have prospects on both teams.
Flyers prospect Anthony Stolarz, who was drafted in the second-round of the 2012 draft (45th overall), is the backup goaltender for the Knights. He joined the team halfway into the season, posting a .920 save percentage in the regular season with a 2.29 goals against average. As the backup he has only played three games in the tournament but has been welcomed relief for Knights' starter Jake Patterson.
If they are considering Max Domi as an offensive draft option, the Knights should also interest the Flyers. Domi is a focused and responsible player who had to learn to play that way while living with juvenile diabetes. Domi also has hockey in his blood. He is the son of retired NHL player Tie Domi. During the Memorial Cup he has logged two assists with the Knights.
Knights defenseman Nikita Zadorov may also be a target in the draft if Darnell Nurse or Rasmus Ristolainen are taken before the Flyers' No.11 pick. Zadorov has been solid with the Knights this season and has already scored two goals in the tournament.
It will not be an easy game for the Knights, as the Winterhawks have the top-ranked defensive prospect in Seth Jones. While the Flyers have no chance to draft Jones with the 11th pick, they already have a prospect in the system who plays alongside him.
Leftwinger Taylor Leier was drafted in the fourth-round of the 2012 draft (117th overall) by the Flyers. Since entering the tournament he has a goal and two assists.
Unfortunately, we will not see much more of Leier in the Memorial Cup. Leier is experiencing “concussion-like symptoms” after getting hit by the Saskatoon Blades’ Dalton Thrower on Wednesday. Leier is expected to be out for the duration of the tournament.
Stolarz and Leier were both present at the Flyers Trial on the Isle prospects camp last summer, and the Flyers are still interested in them, but neither player has had the opportunity to play for the NHL team.
The victor of the semifinal game between the Knights and the Winterhawks will go on to play the Halifax Mooseheads, who have already secured their spot in Sunday's final.