Mem Cup missing stars

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:58 PM ET

RIMOUSKI, Que. -- No John Tavares.

No sneak peek at a top gun rated in the top 10 for next month's NHL draft at Montreal.

Not even one of the three candidates for Canadian Hockey League player of the year will skate in the 2009 Memorial Cup, which begins tonight.

"There isn't a Sidney Crosby here," Windsor Spitfires forward Dale Mitchell said.

That's rare for Rimouski, where the star power is often at full wattage. Crosby dangled here for the host Oceanic. So did Vinny Lacavalier and Brad Richards.

The cozy Colisee has housed some sure-fire NHL talent.

But this week, they'll have to get by with the potential first overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft. Windsor's 17-year-old Taylor Hall was the OHL's playoff MVP.

Or shine the spotlight on smallish Spitfires defenceman Ryan Ellis, who is said to be the next Mike Green. He won world junior gold this year in Ottawa.

One of his Canadian teammates was gigantic Kelowna defenceman Tyler Myers.

They'll both play here. But Brampton's Cody Hodgson, Calgary's Brett Sonne and Moncton goalie Nicola Riopel -- all named the best players in their respective leagues — won't.

Hodgson's Battalion surrendered to Windsor in the OHL championship series. Sonne's Hitmen were strangled by Myers' Rockets in the WHL final. Riopel's Wildcats were sunk in the QMJHL's second round by the Oceanic, who will finally play their first game in 23 days.

Tavares couldn't lead the London Knights past Windsor. But Mitchell, his old Oshawa roommate, is still cooking.

"What you have is four very strong teams," the five-foot-nine, 200-pounder from Mississauga said. "You have three league champions and you don't get here by accident. You do it with depth and by playing together. If you're here, it means you're a pretty good team."

Quebec champion Drummondville boasts the highest remaining ranked NHL draft-eligible player next month: Russian defender Dmitry Kulikov, who could go as early as 11th overall.

The Voltigeurs also boasts the biggest scoring talent in the tournament. Sniper Yannick Riendeau piled on 29 goals in 19 playoff games -- heady territory that had him in the same statistical realm as players like Mario Lemieux and J-P Dumont.

"He finished two behind J-P Dumont for the record and Dumont played in more games," Drummondville head coach Guy Boucher said, "so he would've did it."

But this is Riendeau's fifth year in junior and he went undrafted before being signed as a free agent by Boston. When Boucher is asked who is his best player, it's injured world junior champ Chris DiDomenico.

The Voltigeurs star and Toronto draft pick shattered his left femur on a fluke play during an icing call in Game 3 of the QMJHL final. He requires 24-hour-a-day care and, though he arrives today to join his team, his season is over.

"We're pretty beat up right now," Boucher said. "First, we lost Chris. Then, we had Dany Masse (knee injury), it was a miracle he played in Game 7 (of the league final against Shawinigan) and I don't know if we can try for another one here."

Mitchell, also a Maple Leafs prospect, was DiDomenico's roommate at NHL training camp. The two have kept in touch.

"It's the biggest bone in your body and it's unfortunate he can't play," Mitchell said. "When I heard about it, I sent him a message on Facebook. You hate to see that. We grew up playing against each other when he was with North York and I was with the Misssissauga Senators.

"Then, at Leafs camp, we roomed for a week so you get to know the guy."

There are a lot of players to discover at this Cup -- just not many who are already well-known across the country.


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