Nathan MacKinnon (right) and Jonathan Drouin (The Canadian Press)Last season it was the Shawinigan Cataractes and Saint John Sea Dogs who fought for the top spot in the Dynamic Dozen week-to-week. Neither of the two teams in contention for the top CHL club this season is constructed like either team. The Cataractes were built as a Memorial Cup host with lots of 19- and 20-year-old additions, while the Sea Dogs had a deep team centred around a top NHL prospect in Jonathan Huberdeau.
Halifax and Portland have built their teams from within, and while the Mooseheads have two top prospects, there's a debate as to which one is the feature. The Portland Winterhawks seem to keep replacing the talent that leaves for the pros with even more. Two seasons ago the team won the WHL Western Conference with Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Johansen. This season they've made do with Oliver Bjorkstränd and Ty Rattie filling those spots. The team is built to protect even more prospects like Seth Jones and Nic Petan, who can both expect to go in the first round this June. While "Jones vs. MacKinnon" was the marquee headline for the CHL coming into this season, it's proved that both the Mooseheads and the Winterhawks are both composed of a little more than that. Halifax holds onto the top spot this week.
There's some competition out West however. The Saskatoon Blades are eking their way into contender status after an 18-game win streak (although one that was snapped on the weekend) and a familiar foe for the Winterhawks could once again greet them in the WHL championship series should they make it that far.
1. Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL (.579 RPI, 1.9 SRS, —) — The Mooseheads went 3-for-3 this week to maintain their standing on top of the Dynamic Dozen, leading the nation in both RPI and SRS. Having won ten straight and with Jonathan Drouin showing no sign of slowing down, the only thing that could hurt the Mooseheads come the playoffs is health. Nathan MacKinnon could be back before the playoffs now that he's skating with the team, a scary thought for Sherbrooke or Saint John who are the two likely teams to match up against Halifax in Round One of the 'Q' playoffs later this month.
2. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.564 RPI, 1.7 SRS, —) — The Winterhawks in contrast to the Mooseheads lost some ground this week after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Vet in Portland last week. On Saturday, Portland lost again in Everett. That said, there aren't any pressing concerns for the Winterhawks as they prepare for the playoffs. They'll face either Seattle or Everett, and the team has lost just four times in 23 tries against those two teams this season.
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