Of course, it's all about trying to help a team achieve junior hockey glory. But last year's Memorial Cup in Mississauga was exceptional for draft prospects. Eleven players who took part in the tournament were drafted, including five of the first 35 selections. Saint John Sea Dogs centre Jonathan Huberdeau stood out in particular. He was one of the biggest difference makers on last year's CHL champions, tallying three goals and six points in four games. This impressive play undoubtedly spiked his draft stock on several teams' lists, including the Florida Panthers, who drafted him third overall.
This year's draft prospects set to take centre stage at the Memorial Cup have the potential to make just as big of an impact at the tournament as last year's crop did. NHL's Central Scouting Service ranked four Memorial Cup-bound prospects in their top 60 among North American skaters, two of them cracked the top 10.
The two big blueliners
Reinhart, 18, has blossomed into one of the top shutdown blueliners in the Western Hockey League. He uses his 6-foot-4, 202-pound frame well, clearing traffic in front of his own net and winning puck battles along the boards.
The son of former NHLer Paul Reinhart can also make an impact in the offensive zone. Reinhart, ranked 10th by Central Scouting, was a consistent contributor from the back end for the Oil Kings this year, scoring 12 goals and 36 points in 58 games.
Määttä has quickly developed into a strong two-way defender for the Knights since being selected in the CHL import draft out of Finland. What really stands out about the 6-foot-2, 198-pounder is his impressive poise with and without the puck on his stick. This cool, calm, and collected style of play makes him a very valuable player at both ends of the ice.
It seems the bigger the game, the better Määttä plays. This was evident in the Knights' playoff run. The 18-year-old, who is ranked eighth among North American skaters, netted six goals and 23 points in 19 games, tying Seth Griffith as London's top scorer.
Pair of 2013 standouts
Lazar's tires have been pumped in Edmonton since he landed in Alberta in the off-season, to the point of eliciting comparisons to Edmonton Oilers star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. For the most part, he has earned this hype throughout the year. He blossomed into a strong two-way scorer in his rookie season, sniping 20 goals and 31 points. However, his regular-season success was just an appetizer of what to expect from him since his outstanding performance in the playoffs. The 6-foot, 189-pound centre scored eight goals and 19 points in 20 games, tying New York Rangers-drafted centre Michael St. Croix for his team's lead in points.
No different from Lazar, Domi was put on a pedestal from the moment London completed a trade with the Kingston Frontenacs for his OHL rights.
The 5-foot-10, 184-pound centre is yet to let down Knights' fans. The 17-year-old, who is the son of former NHLer Tie Domi, was one of London's top scorers this year, posting 21 goals and 49 points in 62 games. He was quiet in the early rounds of the playoffs but had seven points in London's final nine games, providing an extra dose of offensive creativity late in the playoffs.
Also keep an eye on
Andreas Athanasiou, wing, London Knights (ranked 40th by Central Scouting): Athanasiou is a skilled winger who possesses uncanny wheels and highlight-reel dangles. Nonetheless, the consensus among scouts is he underachieved this year. The 6-foot, 174-pound winger netted 22 goals and 37 points in 63 regular-season games.
The 17-year-old also had a rough road in the playoffs. He sat out as a healthy scratch some games and only managed to muster up a single goal in the 11 games he did play.
Josh Anderson, wing, London Knights (57th): Anderson, 18, became a valuable depth scorer for the Knights in his rookie season this year. He posted 12 goals and 22 points in 64 games.
As pointed out in BTN's draft tracker, hockey is in Anderson's bloodlines. The 6-foot-1, 183-pound winger is related to former NHL greats, Frank and Pete Mahovlich.
"The Mahovliches are always around the house at special events like Christmas dinner, or my mom's cousins' dinner," says Josh Anderson, who's evolved from sleeper to a possible early-round selection this summer. "He [Frank Mahovlich] always talked to me about hockey and how moving on to the next level is going to be hard. Sometimes at Christmas I'm on the ice just for fun with him and his kids.
Mitchell Moroz, wing, Edmonton Oil Kings (72nd): Moroz has steadily shown vast improvements in his game throughout his rookie season in Edmonotn. This was evident in the playoffs. The 6-foot-2, 208-pounder looked leaps and bounds better than how he looked straight out of training camp. He was able to muster up four goals and eight points in 20 playoff games, proving to be a valuable depth scorer.
Henrik Samuelsson, centre, Edmonton Oil Kings (Central Scouting's 75th North American skater): Evoking comparisons to his father's rugged game, the son of Ulf Samuelsson has made his presence known at both ends of the ice in Edmonton since joining the Oil Kings in early January.
Samuelsson, who scored seven goals and 23 points in 28 regular-season games this year, is one of the Oil Kings' top two-way forwards. He hits, scores, and ruffles feathers. This appealing complete game has other independent scouting services ranking him a lot higher than Central Scouting.
Seth Griffith, wing, London Knights (not ranked) : The 19-year-old Griffith has undoubtedly turned scouts' heads this year. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound winger broke out this year, posting 45 goals and 85 points in 68 games.
Griffin has yet to cool off since the regular-season ended. He tied Määttä as the Knights' leading point getter in the post-season, notching 10 goals and 23 points in 19 games. He and Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder Vladislav Namestnikov form an excellent second line for the Knights.
Alex Dubeau, goaltender, Shawinigan Cataractes (not ranked): Central Scouting didn't rank Dubeau in their final rankings; nevertheless, he is still on the draft radar as one of the top draft eligible puck-stoppers in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Dubeau held his own in between the pipes in Shawinigan this year. He posted a 2.56 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage throughout 40 regular-season games. In addition, he didn't let up in the playoffs, maintaining a 2.08 average and a .919 save percentage.
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen.
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