January 28 is the day where the CHL’s best draft-eligible talent will take to the ice in Vancouver, British Columbia for the annual BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
The way this game works is all NHL teams choose the players they’d like to see compete in the game, and then NHL Central Scouting puts the draft-eligible prospects on to two teams: Team Bobby Orr or Team Don Cherry.
It’s interesting this year because Auston Matthews, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Patrick Laine- the expected 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall picks in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft- all currently play in Europe, and as a result won’t be playing in the CHL’s version of the All-Star game.
This year’s game is interesting because while the top three picks aren’t featured, there’s a bunch of close competition for the fourth-overall spot. Who takes it is the question.
A Few Players To Watch Out For
Undoubtably Tkachuk will draw plenty of attention while he’s captaining Team Bobby Orr at the game.
The dynamic left winger is currently the highest-rated North American skater in the NHL’s Central Scouting’s midterm rankings, and for good reason.
In his first season in junior hockey, Tkachuk has 16 goals and 54 assists, good enough for 70 points and a plus-25 rating for his London Knights in 37 games.
Here’s a name you should get used to hearing often. Brother of William Nylander, Alex has had no troubles establishing his own reputation during his inaugural season in the OHL.
And his 25 goals and 32 assists in 40 games with the Mississauga Steelheads hasn’t gone unnoticed either, with the young Nylander currently leading all OHL rookies in scoring.
And when you watch the game tonight, notice how he handles the puck for Team Orr, it’s amazing.
Expected to be the first defenseman picked at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, it’ll be important for Chychrun to make a good impression tonight.
He’s the No.2-rated North American player according to NHL Central Scouting. And with 7 goals and 29 points, he leads all defensemen when it comes to scoring on his Sarnia Sting.
What’s more is that with the news breaking of Tyler Benson sidelined due to a lower-body injury, Chychrun will now be the captain of Team Cherry. An honour no doubt, but it means his stock could go way down or way up depending on how he plays.
If you like an underdog, Brown’s your guy.
He’s big, he’s fast, and while he isn’t creating a buzz like Tkachuk and a few other of the elite players in the Top Prospects Game, don’t be surprised if he makes an impression against some of the CHL’s best.
He’s got eight goals and 43 points, and was good enough to be rated No. 14 on the NHL Central Scouting’s rankings. He’s got tons of potential to raise his stocks in front of all 30 NHL team’s scouting staffs.
Hart has risen to become probably the best WHL goalie in a number of years. In 43 games, the Everett Silvertip has a record of 27-13-1-2 and leads the Western league with a 1.93 GAA and .927 SAV%, the best stats in the entire CHL.
The No.1 ranked North American goaltender in Central Scouting’s midterm rankings is expected to headline Team Orr, and for good reason.
— Jesse Geleynse (@JesseGeleynse) January 27, 2016
The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game kicks-off at 9:oo p.m. EST, where the best of the CHL’s draft-eligible players will represent Bobby Orr and Don Cherry, as they look to impress scouts and fans alike.
Ben Smith covers the CHL for The Hockey Writers. He also writes for HockeyNow Magazine, FlamesNation and SB Nation.