Meet the main men of 2016 Memorial Cup and future NHL stars

Buzzing The Net
Meet the main men of 2016 Memorial Cup and future NHL stars
Meet the main men of 2016 Memorial Cup and future NHL stars

There is no shortage of elite talents set to take part in the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The tournament includes some of the NHL’s top prospects such as Toronto Maple Leafs prized pick Mitch Marner, Philadelphia Flyers draft choice Ivan Provorov and San Jose Sharks first-rounder Timo Meier.

Beyond NHL-drafted players, Red Deer will see some of the 2016 NHL draft’s top prospects. London Knights forward Matthew Tkachuk and defender Olli Juolevi are the top two prospects in the tourney. Brandon Wheat Kings blueliner Kale Clague is another high-end prospect while teammate Nolan Patrick is a 2017 draft phenom.

Without further ado, here’s a look at the tournament's top 10 future NHL stars. The puck drops on the tournament Friday night in a matchup between the host Red Deer Rebels and London Knights.

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1. Mitch Marner, centre, London Knights – The Thornhill, Ont., native is the hottest scorer set to lace up the skates in the Memorial Cup. He led the OHL in playoff points and averaged 2.44 points per game with 16 markers and 28 assists in 18 games. Expect him to make the jump to The Show next year if he can add to his 5-foot-11, 164-pound frame in the offseason.

2. Nolan Patrick, centre/wing, Brandon Wheat Kings – The 6-foot-3, 194-pound Patrick is regarded as a front-runner to go No. 1 in the 2017 NHL draft for a reason. He’s a dynamic offensive forward whose skill-set is off the charts for his age. Look no further than his numbers for proof of that, as he managed to net 41 goals and 102 points in 72 games as a WHL sophomore.

3. Matthew Tkachuk, wing, London Knights – Similar to his father, former NHL star Keith Tkachuk, the 6-foot-1, 194-pounder plays a hard-nosed game and knows how to find the back of the net. He looked anything but a freshman in his first season in the OHL this year, as he posted 30 goals and 107 points in 57 contests. He’s expected to go up to the stage within the first five picks of the 2016 draft.

4. Ivan Provorov, defence, Brandon Wheat Kings – Provorov is touted as one of the top blueliners in the CHL, let alone the WHL. He possesses an enticing combination of a smooth skating ability, high-end hockey sense, a strong work ethic and incredible offensive skills. The Russian product’s offensive talent was made evident in how he produced 21 goals and 73 points in 62 games this season.

Juolevi is the latest Finnish-born blueliner to excel for the Knights.
Juolevi is the latest Finnish-born blueliner to excel for the Knights.

5. Olli Juolevi, defence, London Knights – The Finland native is in the running to be the first defenceman selected in the 2016 draft. He’s a strong all-around rearguard who possesses high-end playmaking abilities and a strong understanding of the game. Some scouts feel he compares well to former Knight and Pittsburgh Penguins first-rounder Olli Maatta.

6. Timo Meier, wing, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies – The Switzerland native enhanced the Huskies’ offense when they acquired him from the Halifax Mooseheads this season. He’s a versatile forward who can score the big goals and shutdown opposing stars in a shutdown role. His strong two-way play is what pushed the Sharks to select him ninth overall in the 2015 draft.

7. Jake DeBrusk, wing, Red Deer Rebels – The Boston Bruins first-round pick quickly became Red Deer’s top forward after they landed him in a trade deadline deal with the Swift Current Broncos. He’s a steady two-way forward who possesses elite goal-scorer instincts and good mobility. Moreover, he’s not as feisty as his father, former NHLer Louie DeBrusk, but he plays with an edge and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

8. Christian Dvorak, wing, London Knights – Dvoark has made the Arizona Coyotes’ scouting staff look smart for selecting him 58th overall in the 2014 draft. He lit the OHL on fire this season by scoring 52 goals and 121 points in 59 games. He seems set to join his former teammate Max Domi in Glendale next season.

9. Jayce Hawryluk, wing/centre, Brandon Wheat Kings – The 5-foot-10, 194-pound Hawryluk, whom the Florida Panthers chose in the second round of the 2014 draft, elevated his game to the next level in his 19-year-old season. He tallied 47 goals and 106 points in the regular-season followed by seven goals and 30 points in 21 post-season matches. On top of his offensive production, he makes an impact as an agitator on the ice.

10. Haydn Fleury, defence, Red Deer Rebels – The Carolina Hurricanes prized pick anchors Red Deer’s back end. He uses his imposing 6-foot-3, 207-pound frame to his advantage with a physical style of play and possesses elite offensive abilities. He netted 12 goals and 41 points in 56 contests this season.

Honourable mention: Kale Clague, defence, Brandon Wheat Kings – The Lloydminster, Alta., native, who is a crafty, smooth-skating blueliner, is regarded as a potential first-round pick in the 2016 draft. In addition to posting six goals and 43 points in 71 games this season, he broke Dion Phaneuf’s bantam ‘AAA’ defensive scoring record in Alberta with 77 points in 33 matches in 2012-13.

Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

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