3 Reasons Blue Jackets Fans Should Watch the Memorial Cup - The Hockey Writers Latest News, Analysis & More (2024)

by Mark Scheig

The CHL’s premier tournament is about to kick off in the coming days. For Blue Jackets’ fans, they will have more than their fair share of things to watch for.

The 2024 Memorial Cup will get underway on Friday night in Saginaw, Michigan. It marks the first time the tournament will be played in Michigan. It also marks the first time in 26 years that the tournament will be played on U.S. soil. It was back in 1998 when Spokane, Washington hosted the event.

The host Saginaw Spirit will open the Memorial Cup on Friday night when they host WHL Champion Moose Jaw. One game per night will be played until the Finals on June 2. You can see a full schedule of the games here.

This year’s Memorial Cup will feature three champions that won their league via a four-game sweep. That will make the games very exciting to watch. Considering who is playing in these games, Blue Jackets’ fans will have extra motivation to pay attention.

Here are three reasons why Blue Jackets’ fans should tune in to this year’s Memorial Cup.

Multiple Blue Jackets’ Prospects

Three of the four teams in this year’s Memorial Cup will feature at least one Blue Jackets’ prospect. The host Saginaw Spirit have goaltender Nolan Lalonde. The London Knights have recent signee Max McCue. And the Moose Jaw Warriors have both Martin Rysavy and WHL Defenseman of the Year Denton Mateychuk.

Lalonde stepped in for an injured Andrew Oke and led the Spirit to the OHL Western Conference Finals before being ousted in six games by the London Knights. McCue scored 22 points in 18 games and led the OHL Playoffs with a +21 rating. Rysavy helped Moose Jaw win the WHL by adding six goals and 16 points in 20 games while Mateychuk was the MVP of the playoffs with 30 points in 20 playoff games after 75 points in 52 games in the regular season.

Mateychuk in particular will get the chance on the CHL’s biggest stage to show just how talented he is. He had a strong case to make the Blue Jackets out of Training Camp last season. However the number of one-way contracts prevented him from staying on the roster. Given his age, he couldn’t go to the AHL and had to report back to Moose Jaw. He captained them to a WHL title and now has his sights set on much more. Fans will see just how close he is to NHL ready.

Multiple Draft-Eligible Prospects

There is also a chance that a high-end draft eligible prospect could become a Blue Jacket in June. A pair of top defensem*n will be on full display. London’s Sam Dickinson and Saginaw’s Zayne Parekh will each get one last chance to make a final impression before they hear their names called at the Sphere.

Dickinson and Parekh each bring a different style of play to the table. Dickinson is a bigger defenseman who excels at both ends of the ice and isn’t afraid of the physical game. Parekh reminds many of the kind of game Erik Karlsson plays. He is excellent in the offensive end and making things happen with the puck. Both players should go in the top-10 at this NHL Draft.

Another low-key name to watch especially given the Blue Jackets’ connections with the London Knights is Sam O’Reilly. He finished third in OHL rookie scoring in 2023-24 and started going up draft boards in the process. While there are some skating and pace concerns, he’s expected to be a later-round pick. But anytime we talk about the Knights and Blue Jackets, one can never rule out that possibility.

GM Search Impact?

The Blue Jackets are still looking for their next general manager. London GM Mark Hunter has been rumored to want to make the jump back to the NHL. He’s been connected to both the Blue Jackets and Oilers at different points.

With Rick Nash admitting he has looked up to Hunter during his time in the front office, it’s a situation that’s worth paying attention to. Hunter has built the Knights into a perennial OHL contender and has had multiple standouts play under him in his time as owner and general manager.

Meanwhile, as I wrote about recently, unless the perfect GM candidate drops to them, I'm not expecting a decision prior to June 1. Some prime candidates still in the playoffs especially if it's the Oilers.

We will see if the extra wait on the Oilers changes anything for #CBJ.

— Mark Scheig (@mark_scheig) May 21, 2024

The Blue Jackets have not been able to speak with Hunter given the ongoing season. That could be a potential reason why the Blue Jackets haven’t named a new general manager yet. Once the Memorial Cup is over, that will be a story worth watching.

This Memorial Cup will afford Blue Jackets’ fans a chance to watch one of their top prospects as well as others on their team. It will also allow them to watch potential future top draft picks. They may also finally be closer to hearing who the new general manager will be including a possible candidate on the London Knights. It’s for these reasons that Blue Jackets’ fans should pay close attention to the happenings in Saginaw over the 10 days starting Friday night.

3 Reasons Blue Jackets Fans Should Watch the Memorial Cup - The Hockey Writers Latest News, Analysis & More (2)
3 Reasons Blue Jackets Fans Should Watch the Memorial Cup - The Hockey Writers Latest News, Analysis & More (2024)
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