As the round robin of the 2015 Memorial Cup comes to a close, just one team stands undefeated: the OHL champions, the Oshawa Generals. After defeating Rimouski Oceanic 4-3, the Quebec Remparts 5-4, and finally, the Kelowna Rockets 2-1 over the course of three tight games, Oshawa has secured a bid in the final game on Sunday, May 31. The other three teams will be fighting for the right to play a rematch against the Gens for the Cup.
Hunter Smith, the only Calgary Flames prospect at this year's Memorial Cup, has a very, very good chance of winning it.
The problem? He hasn't necessarily been a key player for his team. Smith has just one goal over the three games: the game winner against Rimouski. He has no assists, and is eighth in Generals scoring; tied for 29th in the overall tournament. He also has six penalty minutes.
That said, it's only been three games, and it's pretty much pointless to put great stock in that much. (It does confirm he does need to start putting more points on the board in general, though. Despite being bigger than most of his competition, he isn't even a point per game player, which isn't exactly a good sign and should hopefully be rectified over next season.)
Smith does, however, do some things on the ice that don't show up on the scoreboard. His big body makes him an effective screening weapon. A few of Oshawa's goals against the Remparts came as a result of their goalie being unable to see the puck thanks to Smith standing right in front of him, including the game-tying goal that came on the powerplay with just over two minutes to go.
He's also been throwing a number of big hits - nine, to be exact - and even taking players out of the game on occasion by knocking their helmets off in the process. (However, this will be meaningless when he graduates to professional leagues.)
Smith knows his body, and he knows how to effectively use his size. While a slower skater, he has been able to use his size to protect the puck when he has it, and get through opposing players. It's one of his best assets; after all, it's what got him drafted.
And now, the Flames pick will be playing for the toughest trophy to win in junior hockey. If he has the chance to be a hero - he did ring a shot off the post in overtime against Quebec - then all the better.