If it wasn’t for the lockout, we would be getting ready for the start of the NHL season right now. However, the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League have already been running for weeks. Let’s take a look at some of the standouts in the three Canadian Hockey Leagues thus far.
Josh Leivo (TOR – Sudbury Wolves) – Leivo kicked off October with a bang, scoring six goals in just three games. That propelled the Wolves to three straight victories with Leivo accounting for two of the game-winning goals. He now has seven goals and nine points in eight contests to go along with a plus-five rating. After being taken by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Wolves forward took a leap forward in 2011-12 when he scored 32 goals and 73 points in 66 OHL games.
Alex Galchenyuk (MON – Sarnia Sting) – If it wasn’t for the lockout, Galchenyuk might have been mere days away from making his NHL debut. Instead he’s tearing up the competition with the OHL Sarnia Sting. Galchenyuk has three goals and six points in three October contests, putting him up to nine points in seven games. He’s looking to build off of his strong, 31-goal, 83-point rookie season in 2010-11 and bounce back from the knee injury that limited him to just two games last season. The Montreal Canadiens believed in Galchenyuk enough to make him the third-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft even after he missed almost an entire season.
William Carrier (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) – Carrier has recorded at least a point in each of his first nine games of the 2012-13 campaign. He now has five goals and 16 points, but it hasn’t been enough to keep the Screaming Eagles above water. Cape Breton has just seven points in nine contests. Carrier had 27 goals and 43 assists in 66 QMJHL games last season, a huge jump from his 12-point 2010-11 rookie campaign.
Mikhail Grigorenko (BUF – Quebec Remparts) – After scoring 40 goals and 85 points in 59 QMJHL games in 2011-12, Grigorenko is looking to push his game even further this season. He’s gotten off to a great start with six goals and a league-leading 17 points in eight contests. His efforts have helped the Quebec Remparts get off to a 7-1-0-0 start. Grigorenko was regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but he slipped all the way to 12th overall because teams were hungry for defensemen. Grigorenko was just the fourth forward selected in the draft and the Buffalo Sabres might have ended up with a bit of a steal. It’s also noteworthy that teams asked Grigorenko before the draft if he might end up returning to Russia rather than staying in the NHL, but Grigorenko insisted it was his dream to play in the NHL. It’s telling that he’s still playing in the CHL during the lockout while fellow 2012 Draft pick Nail Yakupov has left the OHL Sarnia Sting to play in the KHL for the duration of the work stoppage.
J.C. Lipon (Kamloops Blazers) – Lipon caught fire with three goals and seven points in the first two games of October. Through Monday’s contests, he’s in a four-way tie for first place in the WHL with 12 points in six contests. Lipon had 65 points and 111 penalty minutes in 69 WHL games last season after recording just 21 points and 109 penalty minutes in 2010-11. Kamloops got off to a 5-0-0-1 start after winning the BC Division last season.
Eetu Laurikainen (Swift Current Broncos) – Laurikainen’s career with the WHL is just barely underway, but he’s gotten off to a solid start. The Finnish goaltender turned aside 71 of 73 shots in his first two October games. He now has a 2.41 GAA and .922 save percentage in six starts with the Swift Current Broncos. The Broncos earned 10 points in seven games and have yet to lose a contest is regulation time. That’s a solid start for a team that failed to make the playoffs last season.
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