The QMJHL will have two teams vying for the title, the host Shawinigan Cataractes and the defending Memorial Cup champions, St. John Sea Dogs. Rounding out the contenders are the WHL champions, Edmonton Oil Kings, and the London Knights representing the OHL.
London Knights (OHL champions)
Regular Season Record: 49-18-0-1
Playoff Record: 16-3
For years the London Knights have been a thorn in the side of their competitors. They have been building a team to make a successful run for the Memorial Cup and 2012 was finally their championship year.
The Knights big three on the blue line have led to the success of the club. First-round pick Olli Määttä has been joined by the dynamic duo of Jarred Tinordi and Scott Harrington. Määttä alone has racked up 23 points in the past 19 games. If the opposing team can make their way through the 'Big Three', they have to then face goaltender and OHL MVP Michael Houser. Houser finished the season with 46 wins and an impressive 2.47 GAA.
To round out the Knights, Head Coach Mark Hunter plays a solid four lines featuring 45 goal-scorer, Seth Griffith and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, Vladislav Namestnikov.
Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL champions)
Regular Season Record: 50-15-3-4
Playoff Record: 16-4
At the beginning of the season the Oil Kings and Memorial Cup contention didn't really fit in the same sentence. But, after only five years in the WHL, the Oil Kings finished with an impressive 50-15-0-7 record. They strung together a 22 game winning streak in the final 11 games of the regular season and 11 in the playoffs.
The Kings are lead by goaltender Laurent Broissoit who lead the league with 42 wins and also holds a 2.47 GAA. Just in front of Broissoit will be the incredible defensive pairing of Mark Pysyk and Keegan Lowe.
The Kings will have to start the tournament missing a key element in Dylan Wruck who is out with an injury and it has not been announced when he'll be back on the ice.
St. John Sea Dogs (QMJHL champions)
Regular Season Record: 50-15-0-3
Playoff Record: 16-1
Money is on the defending Memorial Cup champs after they posted impressive numbers and claimed the QMJHL title. The Sea Dogs have mostly returning players from last year's winning roster, having only lost only one key player in defenseman Simon Despres.
The Sea Dogs offense is carried by Jonathan Huberdeau who posted 72 points in 37 games after missing a good chunk of the season with an injury. Completing the dangerous offense are Stanislav Galiev, Tomas Jurco, and Zach Phillips. Experience, skill, and depth will be the main weapons of the Sea Dogs for this year's cup run. They finished ranked first overall in the CHL.
Shawinigan Cataractes (Host Team)
Regular Season Record: 45-16-3-4
Playoff Record: 7-4
The Cataractes had a less than ideal season after getting knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens . As the host city, they earned an automatic berth in the tournament and will be looking to surprise the other three teams. Kirill Kabonov and Michael Chaput will lead the Cataractes offense, and had a late addition of star World Junior defenseman, Brandon Gormely from the Moncton Wildcats.
These four teams have conquered a grueling season and poured their hearts into the opportunity to compete in this tournament. Will it be a battle of the CHL's top goaltenders? Will the underdog come through and win on home ice? Or, will the defending champs take it again? The most anticipated time in junior hockey is finally here and it promises to be the most exciting 10 days in May.