CHL Top-10 Rankings: Rouyn-Noranda tops preseason rankings ahead of 2023-24 campaign
The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) announced today the preseason edition of its CHL Top-10 Rankings for the 2023-24 season.
Sitting atop the list to begin the regular season are the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL, while the London Knights of the OHL and the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL round out the top three.
The preseason rankings were determined with input from NHL Central Scouting ahead of the start of the regular season, which officially begins this Friday, September 22, with 16 games across the CHL. Specifically, seven of those contests on Friday will help usher in a new QMJHL campaign.
CHL Top-10 Rankings – Preseason
- Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): Following a busy summer that saw the Huskies bring in Andrei Loshko (SEA), 2020-21 QMJHL Offensive Rookie of the Year Antonin Verreault and a pair of Memorial Cup champions in defenseman Jérémy Langlois (ARI) and goaltender William Rousseau, Rouyn-Noranda appears set for a strong season under first-year head coach Martin Dagenais. On top of the injection of talent, the Huskies welcome back Daniil Bourash, who led the team with 41 goals last season, along with skilled two-way defenseman Dyllan Gill (TBL).
- Next three games: @ Val-d’Or (Sept. 23), vs. Val-d’Or (Sept. 24), vs. Drummondville (Sept. 29)
- London Knights (OHL): Although they fell just short of a fifth OHL championship last season, the 2023-24 London Knights are poised to make another run at it. In addition to a strong backend that features top 2024 NHL Draft prospect Sam Dickinson, Oliver Bonk (PHI), and Isaiah George (NYI), the Knights will have plenty of firepower upfront that will undoubtedly make them tough to defend. In addition to welcoming forward Kasper Halttunen (SJS) to the fold, London’s potent attack will be elevated by 2023 NHL Draft picks Denver Barkey (PHI) and Easton Cowan (TOR).
- Portland Winterhawks (WHL): With an off-season highlighted by the acquisition of forwards Tyson Yaremko and Josh Davies (FLA), Portland will be looking to record their twelfth 40-win campaign of the last 14 seasons. Bolstered by a blueline featuring 2023 NHL Draft picks Luca Cagnoni (SJS) and Carter Sotheran (PHI), the Winterhawks should be strong defensively, given that they are expected to welcome back defenseman Marek Alscher (FLA) and bring in netminder Jan Špunar. Upfront, Portland will rely on overagers Gabe Klassen, Jack O’Brien and James Stefan, who were all among the Winterhawks leading scorers last season.
- Saginaw Spirit (OHL): The 2024 Memorial Cup hosts should be a force and contenders to win their first-ever OHL championship this season. Led by reigning OHL rookie of the year Michael Misa, who recorded 56 points in 45 games last season, and projected 2024 NHL first-round pick Zayne Parekh, who set a new OHL record in 2022-23 for goals by a 16-year-old defenceman with 21, the Spirit certainly don’t lack the talent. In addition to this pair of promising prospects, Saginaw will be highlighted by talented two-way centre Matyas Sapovaliv (VGK), Hunter Haight (MIN), OHL first team all-rookie member Joey Willis (NSH) and newly-acquired defenseman Braden Haché.
- Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL): Having fallen in the second round of the 2023 WHL Playoffs, the Moose Jaw Warriors have every reason to believe that they are built for a longer run in 2023-24. Expected to lead them into this latest campaign will be the club’s top-three scorers from last season: Jagger Firkus (SEA), Brayden Yager (PIT) and 20-year-old Atley Calvert – all of whom topped the 70-point plateau in 2022-23. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ defensive corps will be highlighted by captain Denton Mateychuk (CBJ) and overager Lucas Brenton as Moose Jaw renews its quest for a first-ever Ed Chynoweth Cup.
- Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): Although Halifax said goodbye to a pair of high-scoring forwards in Alexandre Doucet (DET) and Josh Lawrence, the Mooseheads will still have no shortage of firepower up front in 2023-24. Among their returning forward group is Jordan Dumais (CBJ), who topped 140 points last season, and two 30-goal scorers in Markus Vidicek and Mathieu Cataford (VGK). Moreover, the Mooseheads will welcome back steady netminder Mathis Rousseau along with defensemen Jake Furlong (SJS) and Dylan MacKinnon (NSH), all key pieces for Jim Midgely in his return as Halifax’s head coach.
- Next three games: vs. Charlottetown (Sept. 22), @ Charlottetown (Sept. 23), @ Moncton (Sept. 30)
- Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL): After a season that saw them place among the top-five in the QMJHL, the Tigres are once again poised to be a contender for the Gilles-Courteau Trophy in 2023-24. Highlighted by one of the CHL’s strongest goaltending duos in 2023 CHL Goaltender of the Year Nathan Darveau and 2025 NHL Draft prospect Gabriel D’Aigle, the Tigres’ backend will be a position of strength thanks also to star blueliners Pier-Olivier Roy and the newly acquired Noah Warren (ANA). In terms of their forward group, the Tigres will see the return of their top-two point getters from a season ago and a pair of 40-goal scorers in Tommy Cormier and Maxime Pellerin.
- Next three games: @ Rimouski (Sept. 22), vs. Gatineau (Sept. 24), vs. Chicoutimi (Sept. 29)
- Sudbury Wolves (OHL): Holding a collection of talented forwards, the Wolves shouldn’t just be a strong contender for their second OHL Central Division title since 2002, but also in contention for the franchise’s first J. Ross Robertson Cup. Helping to form Sudbury’s potent offense will be six of the club’s top-seven scorers from last season, including 92-point producer David Goyette (SEA), 2023 NHL first-round pick Quentin Musty (SJS), 20-year-old veteran Landon McCallum and Alex Pharand (CHI). Although they’ll start the season with injuries, defensemen Nolan Collins (PIT) and Matthew Mania (LAK) will strengthen Sudbury’s backend, along with Czechia import goaltender Jakub Vondras (CAR) who’s expected to man the crease.
- Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Only a few months removed from reaching the WHL Eastern Conference Championships for the first time since 1994, the Blades will be hoping to repeat the feat and more in 2023-24. To help achieve the latter, Saskatoon will see 2023 first-round pick and defenseman Tanner Molendyk (NAS) slide into a bigger role following the departure of captain Aidan De La Gorgendiere. Taking over as the team’s captain will be 20-year-old forward Trevor Wong, who has averaged more than a point per game through two seasons with Saskatoon. In addition to Wong’s contributions, the Blades’ offense should be complemented by a solid crop of forwards that include Egor Sidorov (ANA), Brandon Lisowsky (TOR), and Jake Chiasson (EDM).
- Owen Sound Attack (OHL): Having won at least 30 wins in each of their last 12 seasons, the Attack are in a great position to both repeat that and be among the contenders in the OHL. Led by the 2023 NHL first-round pick Colby Barlow (WPG), Owen Sound is expected to have a formidable offense supported by Cedrick Guindon (MTL), Servac Petrovsky (MIN) and some strong overage options in Deni Goure, Ethan Burroughs and Kaleb Lawrence (LAK). Fresh off earning the starting job and winning gold for Team Canada at this summer’s 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, netminder Carter George will be poised to share the crease with teammate Corbin Votary. Additionally, new import defender Martin Matejicek should help elevate the Attack’s blueline.
The next CHL Top-10 Rankings will be released the week of October 2, following the first week of regular season action in all three member leagues of the CHL.