2024 Memorial Cup – Tournament Preview

Remparts celebrate Memorial Cup win
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

The stage is completely set for the upcoming Memorial Cup, which is about to get underway this Friday, May 24th, in Saginaw, Michigan. The Memorial Cup is a very exciting tournament each year, and this year is shaping up to be one of the most talent-filled and entertaining tournaments in recent memory. Another interesting fact about this year’s event is that this year was the first year in history that each of the leagues (QMJHL, OHL, and WHL) ended in sweeps.

The purpose of this piece is to provide a somewhat comprehensive guide to watching some of the best talent that the CHL has to offer.

Saginaw Spirit – (Host) 

One of the most interesting aspects of the Memorial Cup is the fact that the team that hosts the tournament also has a spot in it. It adds another dimension to the tournament that makes things very interesting. Although the host doesn’t win often, it can certainly happen. The most recent example of this is the Saint John Sea Dogs in 2022 under the guidance of USPORTS legend Gardiner Macdougall.

In Saginaw’s case, this notion doesn’t seem overly far-fetched. The Spirit had a remarkable regular season, finishing with a record of 50-16-1-1, eclipsing the 100-point mark for the first time in the team’s 22-year history.

The Spirit had a very solid playoff run and even took two games off of London (arguably the best team in the country) before being eliminated in the third round of the OHL playoffs. It is also worth noting that London only lost two games throughout the OHL playoffs.

Players to watch:

Zayne Parekh (D) – This electrifying defenseman is a top prospect eligible for the upcoming NHL Entry draft, possessing a remarkable offensive touch and stellar speed and edge work, Parekh is a player that you’ll want to keep an eye on. Parekh led all defensemen with an eye-popping 96 points in the regular season. 

Micheal Misa (F) – If this is your first time hearing about Micheal Misa, it likely won’t be your last. Misa made major headlines when he was granted exceptional status a few years back. Now, the 17-year-old is expected to go early in the 2025 NHL Entry Draft after another outstanding OHL season. 

Rodwin Dionicio (D) – Dionicio is an Anaheim Ducks prospect who is coming off a fantastic OHL playoff performance, he led OHL defensemen in points with 17 in 17 games. Additionally, the ink is still drying on his Entry Level Contract that was just signed. The 20-year-old defenseman is riding high and will be looking to continue his dominance at the Memorial Cup.

Although they are likely the biggest underdogs in the tournament, Saginaw will be coming into the Memorial Cup as the healthiest and most well-rested team and will certainly be looking to surprise.

London Knights (OHL Champion)

The London Knights are a CHL powerhouse, year in and year out. They boast one of the most impressive lists of NHL alumni and it appears that this year’s team is no different. The Knights breezed through playoffs, only losing two games and finishing atop the league in the regular season with an impressive record of 50-14-4. 

As mentioned above, the Knights are a well-oiled machine with a roster packed with high-quality NHL prospects and are the likely favorites this year. Led by Maple Leafs prospect Easton Cowan, who earned the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player award as well as the OHL Playoff MVP, London looks to earn their third Memorial Cup (2005, 2016) in their 6th Memorial Cup appearance. 

Players to watch: 

Easton Cowan (F) – There isn’t much to be said about Easton Cowan that hasn’t already been said. The Maple Leafs draft pick has elevated his play over the past season to a level that has Leaf’s fans counting the days until he dons the blue and white. Arguably one of the most dominant offensive players in the CHL, look for Cowan to make major waves at the National level. 

Sam Dickinson (D) – Dickinson is one of this year’s draft-eligible defensemen that I am most excited about. Armed with a heavy shot, a very active stick, and great knowledge of when to jump up into the rush, Dickinson will be a productive two-way defenseman for years to come. He is also a fantastic skater and was one of the players that stood out to me most at the CHL Top Prospects game in Moncton this year.  

Denver Barkey (F) – Barkey is a former 3rd round pick for the Flyers, who led all London Knights skaters with 102 points this season. He is a highly skilled passer and can get himself into dangerous areas with relative ease. The 19-year-old is undersized, but it doesn’t seem to impact his game at the OHL level. 

Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL Champion)

While the Warriors didn’t have a regular season that was as impressive as their cohorts, they are more than deserving of a spot at the 2024 Memorial Cup. Armed with a roster fully stocked with future NHL talent, Moose Jaw faced some adversity throughout the WHL playoffs when their series against the Saskatoon Blades went to OT in 6 out of 7 games. Overcoming a series like that brings a team together, and I think they will come out flying as soon as the tournament gets underway. 

Moose Jaw has no difficulty putting the puck in the net, as the top 4 scorers in the WHL playoffs are all Warriors. Additionally, this is the team’s first appearance at the Memorial Cup.

Players to watch: 

Brayden Yager (F) – Yager is a dynamic forward who has improved his scoring abilities significantly since being drafted 14th overall in 2023 by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is becoming more dangerous as a goal-scoring threat and finished the regular season with 35 goals and 95 points.

Jagger Firkus (F) – Firkus, a former second-rounder to Seattle in 2022, is an absolute weapon offensively. Finishing each of his seasons in the WHL at well over a point per game, most recently leading the WHL regular season with 126 points and the WHL playoffs with 32 points. He can make an immediate impact on each game he is a part of and will most definitely be a key part of any success the Warriors hope to have.

Denton Mateychuk (D) – If you remember this year’s World Junior Championship, then you probably remember Mateychuk. He is an average-sized offensive defenseman with above-average statistical output. He is well over a point per game during his time in the WHL and has shown excellent leadership abilities as the Captain of the Warriors over the past two seasons. A true impact player, Mateychuk is hard to miss out there and will be a key part of the Columbus Blue Jackets blue-line for the years to come.

Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL Champion)

Drummondville put together an excellent regular season, in which they finished 2nd in the QMJHL. They breezed through the playoffs, putting together a record of 16-2-1 with a goal differential of +46. The Voltigeurs also have an incredible penalty kill which was good for 85% throughout the QMJHL playoffs. As aforementioned, only one team finished higher than Drummondville in the regular season: Baie Comeau, who they swept in four straight to win their second-ever Gilles-Courteau Trophy.

Players to watch: 

Mikaël Diotte (D) – Diotte has been a bit of a late bloomer, however he is fully up to speed now. The Quebec native went undrafted but has recently been signed by the New Jersey Devils. With an offensive touch and a very sound defensive game (he finished the regular season at a +55), Diotte is a crucial part of Drummondville’s success.

Ethan Gauthier (F) – Gauthier is a 2023 second-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who led the Voltigeurs in scoring over the regular season with 71 points. He also finished second in playoff scoring with 25 points. A driving force in Drummondville’s high-powered and deep forward group, Gauthier is someone you are going to want to watch next week.

Riley Mercer (G)– The only goalie I’ve included on my list, Mercer has been a brick wall for the Voltigeurs throughout the QMJHL playoffs. With a playoff record of 16-2-1 and an SV% of .934, Mercer can steal games for his team. Fun fact, he is also the younger brother of Devil’s forward Dawson Mercer.

For any prospective viewers in Canada, the entire event will be aired on TSN and RDS. The first game is on Friday, May 24th, and the finals will air on June 2nd, 2024. For any US-based fans, the tournament will be broadcast on the NHL Network, as well as CHL.TV for subscribers outside of North America.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Ryan Scott

Maritimer, lifelong hockey fan and Prospect Writer.

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