The 94th edition of the Memorial Cup featuring the best Junior hockey teams in Canada, begins Friday in Shawinigan. The Montreal Canadiens will be well represented with four of their prospects taking part in the premier event hosted by Shawinigan. The Habs two most recent first round picks will both be competing, Nathan Beaulieu for the Quebec League champion and defending Memorial Cup champ Saint John Sea Dogs. Jarred Tinordi’s London Knights are the winners of the Ontario League and will also be taking part. Joining perhaps Montreal’s top two prospects will be two members of the host Shawinigan Cataractes. Morgan Ellis, who was drafted by the Habs in the 4th round of the 2010 draft and Michael Bournival who was taken in the third round of the same draft by the Colorado Avalanche. Bournival arrived in Montreal in a trade for Ryan O’Byrne.
Bournival is a scrappy two way center who is most known for his tireless work ethic and play away from the puck, however he stepped up his offensive game this year scoring 30 goals in just 41 games. This was good enough for second best on a great Cataractes team. Bournival represented Team Canada at the most recent World Juniors playing a shutdown and penalty killing role, taking home a bronze medal for his efforts. He is a great leader and hard worker who is currently in his second year as captain of Shawinigan.
Morgan Ellis is a dominant all around defenceman in the Quebec League. He broke into the league as a 16 year old on a contending Cape Breton Screaming Eagles team and played a big role immediately. His offensive game got better every year and after being dealt to Shawinigan midway through this season he put up 27 points in 26 games playing on perhaps the top D pairing in the league with Coyotes first rounder Brandon Gormley. He followed this strong performance with 11 points in 11 playoff games before the Cataractes bowed out early in the second round of the Q playoffs. Morgan wears an assistants “A” even though he only joined the team mid season. Ellis continues to make the 4th round pick used to select him a steal.
Jarred Tinordi wore the C for the London Knights this season and led them all the way to a league title. He is a physical and enormous defenceman known for shutting down the opposition. Standing 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighing nearly 220 pounds he projects to be play a big role for the Habs in the not too distant future and for many years to come. He led the Knights in the regular season with a +39 and again led the team in the playoffs with a +15. Tinordi was a member of the United States 2012 World Junior team.
Nathan Beaulieu was the Habs first round pick in 2010 and is widely considered their top prospect. He has already built quite a pedigree for himself as a Team Canada World Junior member, and a Memorial Cup champion. In his last three seasons in the Q, he scored a total of 142 points and was a +128. His pairing with Charles Olivier Roussel makes an argument for top D pairing in the Q over the Ellis- Gormley duo. Nathan has improved his game each year in the Q and has become one of the top D in the league. He had a great Memorial Cup tournament last season and is expected to help lead this team to another title. He is part of a leadership group that rotates wearing an A as assistant captain. It will not be long before Nathan is wearing a Habs jersey full time and fulfilling his promise as the teams top prospect.
To have four prospects playing in this tournament is a great sign for the future of the organization. To have all four of those prospects playing prominent roles and also being counted on as leaders of their teams shows that the Habs have plenty of hardworking character players coming up the system. This is a great sign as a team has never complained about having too much character and leadership on the roster.
With three of four teams featuring a big piece of the Habs future there will be something to cheer for in each game of the tournament for fans of the Canadiens. Any Habs fans motto for the tournament should be Go Anybody but Edmonton Go!
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