There’s just one Maple Leafs prospect still playing, and it’s the least likely of them all. Nicolas Mattinen, drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 NHL draft, will play on the blue line for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL Championship series beginning tonight.
The Bulldogs have advanced to the final round of the playoffs for the first time since moving from Belleville in 2015, defeating the Ottawa 67’s, Niagara IceDogs, and Kingston Frontenacs in five games each. The Bulldogs have been off since April 26th, glancing at their watches, tapping their foot, waiting for the Soo Greyhounds to finally beat the Kitchener Rangers in the Western Conference Final.
The Greyhounds had a harder path to the finals. After sweeping the Saginaw Spirit, the Greyhounds played two close and hard fought series that went to seven games each against the Owen Sound Attack and then needed double overtime in game seven to beat the Kitchener Rangers.
Some people will say the Greyhounds path to the finals was tougher because the west is the superior conference, some will say it’s because they had better built opponents. I say it’s because they didn’t have a Maple Leafs prospect on their team. Look at the past three Memorial Cup winners:
2015 - Oshawa Generals, coached by DJ Smith - current Toronto Maple Leafs coach
2016 - London Knights, captained by Maple Leafs star Mitchell Marner
2017 - Windsor Spitfires, tournament highlights provided by Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco
Recent history is on the Bulldogs side.
Game 1: May 3rd, Hamilton at Sault Ste. Marie - 7:07PM
Game 2: May 5th, Hamilton at Sault Ste. Marie - 7:07PM
Game 3: May 7th, Sault Ste. Marie at Hamilton - 7:00PM
Game 4: May 9th: Sault Ste. Marie at Hamilton - 7:00PM
Game 5: May 11th: Hamilton at Sault Ste. Marie - 7:07PM
Game 6: May 13th: Sault Ste. Marie at Hamilton - 2:00PM
Game 7: May 14th: Hamilton at Sault Ste. Marie - 7:07PM
How to Watch
Select games will be broadcast on Sportsnet, depending on the NHL playoff schedule. You can also buy the series on OHL Live for (god damn) $29.99. If you live in the Soo or Hamilton the games will be available on your local public access stations.
This should be an excellent series, with two teams who had record seasons facing off for the J. Ross Robertson Trophy and the right to represent the OHL in the Memorial Cup. This will either be a great seven game series or a terrible sweep.
I can’t wait.