The London Knights are this year's host team. They are also champions of the Ontario Hockey League and already considered one of the great junior teams of all time. The Knights opened the season by going undefeated in 31 games, lost just seven times during the entire 68-game schedule, and went 16-2 in the playoffs. Right winger Corey Perry is the most dangerous scorer in the OHL. Rob Schremp is another outstanding forward. Defenseman Danny Syvret leads an unstoppable power play. But even when opposing teams hold Perry and Syvret in check, they can't match the size and skill throughout the London lineup. A true embarrassment of riches.
From the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Rimouski Oceanic are synonymous with one name: Sidney Crosby, the most exciting Canadian junior star since Wayne Gretzky. Crosby put up 168 points in 62 games, far more than anyone else in the country. He will be closely watched by opponents. So his linemates, Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Dany Roussin, will have to score their share. Like London, the Oceanic were untouchable for most of the season, losing one game in 40 from late December through the end of the playoffs.
The Kelowna Rockets are champions of the Western Hockey League for the second straight year, and defending Memorial Cup champs. Their MVP is Shea Weber, a dominant defenseman who will have to handle the likes of Crosby and Perry. The Rockets can't score like London or Rimouski, but ice the best defense either of those teams has faced this year. Kelowna's chances took a big hit when starting goaltender Derek Yeomans was injured during the WHL final series.
The Ottawa 67s were runners-up in the Ontario League, but get a pass to the big show because the Knights had already qualified as host team. Calling the 67s one of the top four teams in the country is a stretch - they probably aren't even the second-best team in Ontario. Their excellent playoff run was led by goaltender Danny Battochio, who will have to steal games. Ottawa's coach, Brian Kilrea, is a junior hockey legend and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The NHL Draft Picks:
London Knights -
Forwards: Corey Perry (Anaheim), Dylan Hunter (Buffalo), Dave Bolland (Chicago), Rob Schremp (Edmonton), Danny Fritsche (Columbus), Trevor Kell (Chicago), Brandon Prust (Calgary)
Defensemen: Frank Rediker (Boston), Marc Methot (Columbus)
Goaltender: Gerald Coleman (Tampa Bay)
Rimouski Oceanic -
Forwards: Danny Stewart (Montreal), Dany Roussin (Florida), Mark Tobin (Tampa Bay), Zbynek Hrdel (Tampa Bay), Eric Neilson (Los Angeles), Marc-Antoine Pouliot (Edmonton)
Defensemen: Michal Sersen (Pittsburgh), Jean-Michel Bolduc (Minnesota)
Kelowna Rockets -
Forwards: Troy Bodie (Edmonton), Justin Keller (Tampa Bay), Tyler Spurgeon (Edmonton), Blake Comeau (New York Islanders), Lauris Darzins (Nashville)
Defensemen: Mike Card (Buffalo), Shea Weber (Nashville)
Ottawa 67s -
Forwards: Bryan Bickell (Chicago), Lukas Kaspar (San Jose), Mark Mancari (Buffalo), Jakub Petruzalek (New York Rangers)
Defensemen: Will Colbert (Ottawa)