Teen Beat 2013: Cam Charron’s Five Most Conference III-Ready CHL Prospects

by J.R.

With the NHL Draft coming up June 30, Friend of III Cam Charron takes a look at the five most Conference III-ready prospects from the Canadian Hockey League, which is an organization that operates something called “juniors” that I’ve never watched voluntarily.

An editorial note: Cam is Canadian and we have preserved his Canadian spellings such as “colour,” “defenceman” and “Red Deer.”

Seth Jones, defenceman – Portland Winterhawks

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The Conference III-iest of potential Conference III-picks. Seth Jones was born in one Conference III city (Dallas) raised in another (Denver) (Ed. Note: His dad is from Tennessee, too!). It’s unconscionable to think that the Colorado Avalanche, a team that needs both press and a top defenceman won’t take the chance on Jones.

He’s the total package, and you’ve all read the excitable scouting reports about how Jones showcases the qualities of Conference III teams. He’s big, he’s tough, he’s fast, he has offensive ability, and his decision to play in the CHL instead of the American college hockey system shows that he’s ready to brave out those long, cold road trips to Winnipeg. During Portland’s six-game road trip to Central Canada in the dead cold of winter (middle of October in Saskatchewan and Manitoba), Jones had two goals and three assists.

Patrik Bartosak, goaltender – Red Deer Rebels

PatrikBartosakThe rules don’t apply in Conference III. Conference III messes with geography, lining up opponents from both the Northwest and Southeast Divisions, and it certainly doesn’t want all of its teams on the same time zone. Games between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars—known as the “Chambers Pot“—are known for being so rough that television broadcasts carry a parental warning.

Patrik Bartosak is so good that the Canadian Hockey League changed the rule to not allow him or his kind to play in the CHL no more. Bartosak was not only named the CHL’s top goaltender, but he is neither from Canada nor America, so the CHL is going to kick him out of the league, believing his mere presence in the Western Hockey League is costing a good Canadian kid a goaltending spot on the Red Deer Rebels.

So good, they banned him.

Darnell Nurse, defenceman – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.For those of you not from Northern Ontario, that town name is pronounced “Soo Sainte Marie”, leading the team to be affectionately known as the “Soo Greyhounds”. Darnell himself is a fully-developed prospect. He is 6’4″ and just as mature physically as Seth Jones. Like Jones, he can play a tough game. Unlike Jones, Nurse plays for the only team in the CHL that openly uses advanced statistics.

The only thing larger than Nurse himself is his zone-adjusted Corsi number (presumably) but he played big minutes for a scrappy junior club deemed to be “too young” by local columnists.

Max Domi, forward – London Knights

tie_pizzahutThe young scoring forward plays for the London Knights, a team that wears green and gold. Any self-respecting Conference III fan has the new Dallas and Nashville jerseys proudly hanging in his or her closet. A Max Domi junior sweater would not throw off the colour balance of the space.

There is an argument to be made for Nikita Zadorov or Bo Horvat in this spot, as both also play for the Knights, but Domi is also the son of the beloved former Winnipeg Jet Tie Domi. That was the first iteration of the Jets, so that franchise has long moved to Phoenix, but the Pizza Hut he used to sponsor is still around. In Winnipeg’s latest tourist guide, that Pizza Hut was named the ninth best restaurant in all of Winnipeg.

Anthony Mantha, forward – Val d’Or Foreurs

Mantha-is-sixth-in-QMJHL-scoring-Getty-ImagesLike the London Knights, the official colours of the Val d’Or Foreurs are also green and gold, but their logo is a pickaxe. Mantha is an offensive beast in the QMJHL. He played 67 games and lit 34 lamps. He did score 50 goals, but many of them came in Northern Québec arenas with no electricity.

What’s particularly special about Mantha is his birthdate. Born on September 16, 1994, had he been born just a day earlier he would have been eligible for selection in 2012’s boring old six-division NHL. He held back his birth one extra day based on a life long (and then some) desire to one day be drafted by a Conference III club.

That takes dedication.

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