6 Players to Watch at the 2023 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is a chance for the best and brightest draft-eligible players from the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) to show scouts and fans what they bring to the table. This year’s group, headlined by Connor Bedard, features plenty of talent and prospects that have the potential to be franchise-changing. Here is a look at six players to watch during the event.

Team Red

Connor Bedard

All eyes will be on Bedard as the projected first-overall pick hits the ice less than an hour from where he grew up. At this point, there is not much more that needs to be said about the Regina Pats center. He is arguably the best prospect since Connor McDavid and will look to dazzle in front of the hometown crowd.

Connor Bedard Regina Pats
Connor Bedard, Regina Pats (Keith Hershmiller / Regina Pats)

At this point, it is hard to see anyone not named Bedard winning CHL MVP this year. He is currently second in scoring across all three leagues with 81 points in 33 games and is riding a 32-game point streak heading into the Top Prospects Game. A generational player, watch for him to have a massive game and potentially walk away as the MVP.

Beau Akey

An offensively minded defenceman, Beau Akey is having a standout year with the Barrie Colts. He leads all defencemen on his team with 33 points and is tied for eighth among defencemen in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He has seven points in his last ten games and is currently ranked 25th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

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Akey’s skating is what really sticks out in his game. He is able to change direction with ease which allows him to not only jump up and join the rush but get back defensively to prevent odd-man rushes. A defenceman who can play in all situations, watch for him to make an impact at both ends of the ice.

Etienne Morin

Etienne Morin is another offensively-minded defenceman who can rack up points without sacrificing his defensive play. Playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), he leads the Moncton Wildcats in assists with 30 and points with 45. He also paces all defencemen across the QMJHL in goals with 15 and sits fifth in points.

Etienne Morin Team Canada
Etienne Morin, Team Canada (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

Ranked 24th among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Morin is an excellent puck mover who can transition the puck with ease. He doesn’t shy away from the physical part of the game and has shown an ability to throw massive hits along the boards. A prospect that is calm and composed in pressure situations, he has all the traits to become a long-time NHLer.

Team White

Colby Barlow

Colby Barlow is having a spectacular season for the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL. Not only does he captain the Attack, but he will also wear the “C” for Team White at the Top Prospects Game. The 10th-ranked North American skater already has 60 points in just 40 games this season and finds himself in the top five for goals and assists across the OHL.

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A physical presence on the ice, Barlow is the exact type of player any team would be lucky to have. He can lead a team, score big goals and play smart, two-way hockey. Someone who is always looking to improve his game, the Top Prospects Game will be a great opportunity to show just how far it has improved over the past year.

Brayden Yager

A potential top-10 pick, Brayden Yager is a special talent. The Moose Jaw Warriors center has 54 points in his first 46 games played and is just five points off his total from last year of 59 in 63 games. He was named CHL Rookie of the Year last season and has shown an ability to take his game to another level this season.

Brayden Yager Team Canada
Brayden Yager, Team Canada (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

One aspect of Yager’s game that really sticks out is his speed. He is arguably one of the fastest players in the entire Western Hockey League (WHL), which allows him to get past defenders and create offensive chances. A difference-maker every time he is on the ice, he should leave a strong impression on the scouts in attendance.

Ethan Gauthier

The son of former NHLer Denis Gauthier, Ethan Gauthier is shooting up the draft charts this season. Currently ranked 14th among North American skaters, the Sherbrooke Phoenix winger has 47 points in 43 games this season. The first overall pick in the 2021 QMJHL Draft is definitely living up to expectations right now.

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Gauthier has a very well-rounded game which makes him a threat all over the ice. Whether it is scoring goals or playing a physical brand of hockey, he is willing to do whatever it takes to win. He is a very intriguing prospect and one that could boost his draft stock with a strong Top Prospects Game.

Top Prospects Game Always Delivers Standout Performances

Once again, the Top Prospects Game is expected to provide highlight reel moments and standout performances. Whether it is one of the six players mentioned above or prospects like Zach Benson, Nate Danielson or Cameron Allen, fans should be highly entertained during this year’s event. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm PST on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, and will be a must-watch for all hockey fans.

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