Top prospects and teams in the Canadian Hockey Leagues return for the 2021-22 season after most games were cancelled during the 2020-21 season.
After a lengthy layoff, the 60 teams across the Canadian Hockey League finally return to the rink this fall to compete in a full season ending with the 2022 Memorial Cup in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Junior Hockey Returns Across Canada
It has been a long time since we have seen junior hockey, CHL odds, and the best upcoming NHL prospects playing in Canada. Much of the CHL has not operated (or did in minimal capacity) since March 2020 – leaving a void for many Canadians.
Yet, there is no reason for pessimism anymore as the three CHL leagues – the OHL, WHL, and QMJHL – are all back and ready to roll for the 2021-22 season.
Early Reactions to the Return are Positive Across the Country
While the NHL and NHL betting sites are the biggest business in Canada, for many smaller communities their junior hockey teams are just as important – if not more important than any other sport. Since most places have been without junior hockey since March 2020 – the return of the leagues has brought with it much excitement and fanfare.
Early results show fans are returning to the games at a modest pace, with numbers likely to increase through the season. Full capacity is allowed just about everywhere in Canada and the United States – leaving it up to fans to decide their level of comfort attending games.
Schedules and Other Changes to the Season
The individual leagues have made adjustments to their typical league schedules for the 2021-22 seasons – mainly to limit travel. In the OHL this season, Western and Eastern Conference teams only play teams within their conferences.
In the WHL this year, the American teams start the season playing against only American teams for the first few weeks – a smart scheduling strategy considering the border re-opens for Canadians on November 8.
Doing everything possible to make the leagues run smoothly is very important. Unlike the NHL and other major leagues in North America, junior hockey leagues do not have as deep of pockets and resources. Another year of cancellations and rescheduling only hurts the league – and if too many issues arise some fans may lose interest.
Players may also opt-out and look at US colleges as a more viable option to build up draft stock ahead of the NHL Draft. So far, though, everything looks good and we remain positive that the 2021-22 season ends as a glowing success.
The CHL also mandated vaccines for all their coaches and players. The mandate should help limit players missing time during the season, while also helping players who need to cross the border able to do so with less hassle.
The CHL is Loaded with Talent
Success is best achieved in junior hockey with a great showcasing of talent – and this year feels like one of the best years in recent memory. As the leagues were cancelled last year, we have two years’ worth of drafts playing their first full seasons in the CHL.
Two players everyone is excited to watch this season are Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs) and Connor Bedard (Regina Pats).
Shane Wright is considered by many as the top pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Wright was the sixth player ever granted exceptional status and has not disappointed in the OHL. In his first season – entering the league as a 15-year-old – Shane Wright notched 66 points in 59 games. At the IIHF World U18 Championships, Wright helped Canada capture Gold and finished the tournament second in points with 14.
Connor Bedard is the first player granted exceptional status in the WHL – and results from his first season did not disappoint. Bedard made an instant impact for the Regina Pats, picking up 28 points in only 15 games. He joined Shane Wright in Texas for the IIHF World U18 Championships, matching his compatriot with 14 points in the tournament.
Who are the Memorial Cup Contenders in 2021-22?
A few teams stand out as the best CHL teams this season.
London Knights Unbeaten to Start the Season
The London Knight start the OHL season hot – going 5-0-0 with 21 points to only 13 allowed. The Knights are traditionally a powerhouse in the OHL – having won the championship three times since 2012. The team is having great success despite only one top-20 prospect on their team – Denver Barkey. Great depth will help them this season as the players re-adjust to life as junior hockey players.
Quebec Remparts Meeting Expectations
The Quebec Remparts had high expectations for the 2021-22 season – and so far they are living up to them. Quebec has only one loss in seven games this year and has the best goal-differential through seven games at +19. The Remparts should continue to play well through the rest of the season.
No One in the WHL can Stop Winnipeg’s Offence
Winnipeg looks unstoppable on offence this season. The Winnipeg Ice has 43 goals in only seven games (to go with a spotless 7-0-0 record). Their +32 goal differential is more goals than any other team has scored this season. Their domination early in the season is due to having four of the top five points leaders this season. As long as two of those guys keep it up, it will be hard to beat Winnipeg.
Best Online Sportsbooks to Bet on the CHL
Find the best sites to bet on Canadian Hockey League games below.