Top 10 Former BCHLers Playing in the NHL

The British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) does not get the attention it deserves. It is a league that has produced three 1,000-point scorers in the NHL, including Brett Hull, Mark Recchi, and Glenn Anderson, and long-time NHL stars such as Duncan Keith, Paul Kariya, and Ray Ferraro. It has also produced multiple award winners, including Vezina Trophy winners Carey Price and Olaf Kölzig, along with Calder Trophy winner Scott Gomez.

Mathew Barzal New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As seen on this top ten list, the BCHL continues to produce high-end talent that have become difference-makers at the NHL level today. Note: to be included in this list; a player must have played at least one game for a BCHL team and one game for an NHL team during the 2022-23 season.

10. Josh Manson

From 2009-11, Josh Manson applied his trade with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. During his 111-game career in the BCHL, he recorded 22 goals along with 49 assists. He was so valuable to the team that he was named part of the leadership group for the 2010-11 season, as he wore an “A” during the campaign. His play was also strong enough that it got the attention of the Anaheim Ducks, who drafted him in the sixth round of the 2011 Draft.

Related: Colorado Avalanche Sign Josh Manson to 4-Year Contract

Since his BCHL days, Manson has developed into a strong defensive defenceman. He helped the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup last season and has started the 2022-23 season strong with 35 hits in his first 15 games. Just like his days with the Silverbacks, he plays an important role on the Avalanche as he looks to help them repeat as champions in 2023.

9. Kent Johnson

One of the most exciting prospects to ever come out of the BCHL, Kent Johnson applied his trade with the Trail Smoke Eaters from 2017-20. During his three seasons, he played 111 games and recorded 147 points. His final season was his best, as in 2019-20, he recorded 41 goals and 101 points in 52 games. For his efforts, he won the BCHL’s MVP award and was named the top forward in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL).

After lighting up the BCHL, Johnson was drafted fifth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, he has competed at the Olympics, World Championships, and the World Juniors, where he scored the Golden Goal in overtime during the 2022 tournament. Now a full-time member of the Blue Jackets, he is making his presence felt with eight points in his first 13 games of the season. If he keeps up his strong play, it is only a matter of time until he is fighting for the top spot on this list.

8. Alex Kerfoot

A strong two-way center, Alex Kerfoot had a strong career with the Coquitlam Express from 2010-13. He was over a point-per-game player with 88 points in 72 games and was named the BCHL’s Coastal Division Rookie of the Year during the 2011-12 season. His strong play not only helped him get drafted by the New Jersey Devils in 2012 but also led to him playing for Harvard at the NCAA level.

Related: Maple Leafs Commentary: Alex Kerfoot, Versatile & Unappreciated

Kerfoot has had a good career up to this point. Now with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he is coming off a career year that saw him record 51 points in 82 games. A key part of the Leafs’ middle six, his next task will be helping them finally win a playoff series for the first time since 2004.

7. Justin Schultz

Before his success in the NCAA, Justin Schultz was a star for the Westside Warriors. He played parts of three seasons from 2006-09 and collected 91 points in 108 games. He was named Best Defenceman for the BCHL’s Interior Division in back-to-back seasons and was drafted by the Ducks in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Schultz has had a fantastic career up until this point. He won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and was named American Hockey League (AHL) Defenceman of the Year during his rookie campaign. Now with the Seattle Kraken, he is looking to help the NHL’s newest franchise qualify for their first-ever playoffs in just their second season.

6. Tyson Barrie

Tyson Barrie’s time in the BCHL was short and sweet. He never played a regular season game with the Victoria Grizzlies but did suit up for three playoff games during the 2007 postseason. Playing on the same team as Jamie and Jordie Benn, he recorded two points before making the jump full-time to the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL).

Related: Grading Blue Line & Goalies 10 Games Into Oilers 2022-23 Season

Barrie has developed into a decent offensive defenceman at the NHL level. He has captured gold and silver at the World Championships and led all NHL defencemen in points during the 2020-21 campaign. A staple on the Oilers’ blue line, he is once again off to a strong start with 12 points in his first 18 games.

5. Brandon Tanev

The Brandon Tanev story is an interesting one, as after playing one season for the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), he made his way to the BCHL to play for the Surrey Eagles. The move paid off as after posting 33 points in 58 games during the 2011-12 season, he earned the chance to play for Providence College in the NCAA, which led to him signing a contract with the Winnipeg Jets.

Brandon Tanev Seattle Kraken
Brandon Tanev, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tanev now applies his trade in Seattle, where he has become a fan favourite. From throwing big hits to scoring big goals, he has been everything the Kraken hoped for and more over the past two seasons. A player who was never drafted, he is the perfect example of what is possible if a player works hard and never gives up on his NHL dream.

4. Jamie Benn

Before leading the Kelowna Rockets to a Memorial Cup berth, Jamie Benn applied his trade with the Victoria Grizzlies. Playing parts of three seasons from 2005-2007, he racked up 65 points in 61 games and was named the BCHL’s Coastal Division’s Rookie of the Year during the 2006-07 season. After winning the award, he was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round of the 2007 Draft.

Related: Stars’ Seguin & Benn Are Key To Team Success

Benn has had a very successful career since his days in the BCHL. He has won an Olympic gold medal as well as an Art Ross Trophy and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy during the 2015-16 season. The long-time Stars captain sits second in all-time points in franchise history and is closing in on becoming just the second player in the team’s history to record 800 points.

3. Ryan Johansen

While most remember Ryan Johanson as a Portland Winterhawk, he first stepped on the ice as a member of the Penticton Vees. He only played one season with the storied franchise, recording 17 points in 47 games. While his regular season was nothing to write home about, he had a strong postseason with seven points in 10 games.

Ryan Johansen Nashville Predators
Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After spending parts of five seasons in Columbus, Johanson has found a home with the Nashville Predators. He just recently played his 800th career game and is closing in on 550 career points. If he keeps up his strong start, he could find himself in the top five for assists with the Predators franchise by the end of the season.

2. Devon Toews

Devon Toews was a rock for the Surrey Eagles from 2011-13. Despite being known as a defensive defenceman, he was able to bring the offence from the blue line with 76 points in 102 games. He was named to the BCHL All-Rookie Team during the 2011-12 season and helped the Eagles win the BCHL Championship. While the Eagles could not capture the RBC Cup that season, he was named the Top Defenceman of the tournament after posting seven points in five games. His strong play also helped him secure a spot at Quinnipiac University which led him to be drafted by the New York Islanders in 2014.

Related: 5 Longshots for the 2022-23 Norris Trophy

Now with the Avalanche, Toews has developed into one of the top defensemen in the NHL. Playing alongside Cale Makar, who also played Junior “A” in Alberta with the Brooks Bandits, they have created one of, if not the best defensive pair in the NHL. If the Avs have sights on back-to-back Stanely Cups, he will have to try and replicate his strong 2022 postseason performance that saw him record 15 points in 20 games.

1. Mathew Barzal

Before he was a star with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Mathew Barzal played six games with the Coquitlam Express during the 2012-13 season. While he did not score, he recorded two assists playing on the same team as Kerfoot. It was a great springboard as he was able to learn the junior ropes before making the jump to the WHL.

Barzal has developed into one of the best young centermen in the NHL. He won the Calder Trophy during the 2017-18 season and has a World Championship silver medal to his name. With 21 points in his first 19 games this season, he is on pace to break his career-high of 85.

Plenty of BCHL Talent Across the League

So far this season, 27 former BCHLers have skated in at least one game this season. Some who did not make the list include Danton Heinen, Dante Fabbro, and Milan Lucic. There is also plenty of NHL-drafted prospects like Massimo Rizzo, Fraser Minten, and Henrik Rybinski, who applied their trade in the BCHL during their junior career. It is safe to say that the BCHL has had a major effect on the NHL in the past and present, and will no doubt continue to in the future.

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