All Eyes On Vancouver As Prospects Clash

Kevin Light Photography

January 28, 2016

Thursday January 28, 2016

40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible prospects are geared up and ready to go for the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver as they look to be at their best against the top young talent from across the Canadian Hockey League.

With NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings released on January 19th still fresh in the minds of players and scouts, tonight’s clash presents an excellent opportunity for competitors to further validate or perhaps, create cause for reconsideration their status in the minds of those looking on.

WATCH: Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr weighs in on the big game

“I listened to both coaches talk to the players this morning and they said that this game never hurts anyone,” said Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr on Wednesday. “The fact that these players are selected to be here is a good thing. The thing is, someone is going to be named player of the game and find a way to be that difference maker that will stand out and the teams watching will remember that.”

Though the elite class of 2016 NHL Draft prospects is gradually being solidified, there’s an ongoing discussion among NHL clubs as to who may slot into the low first, second and third rounds come draft day.

“There’s always high-end kids at the top of the draft class and that never changes,” Marr continued, “but this year in our midterm rankings and in talking with NHL clubs, it’s been really hard to find the difference between eight down to 28. They’re very interchangeable at this stage of the season so the second half is going to be very important.”

With all eyes on Vancouver tonight, the butterflies are undoubtedly fluttering inside the young stars, something Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry says will eventually subside once the puck hits the ice.

“There’s no kidding around with these guys here,” he said. “They know there’s going to be 200 scouts and general mangers watching every shift. I remember the last time we had 15,000 fans here back in 2005 and that’s been our biggest crowd.”

“They’re nervous and I think it takes 5 or 10 minutes or a couple of shifts to get that out of their system,” he continued. “These guys just need to focus on doing the things that got them here and shoot the puck. I find so often in this game that guys want to give the puck away. Every coach, every scout says shoot the puck, so that’s the big thing. Try to have some fun and shoot the puck.”

While Cherry was quick to deliver his prediction of a big win for his club, none of the other coaches or scouting personnel around Pacific Coliseum were too eager to go public with their forecast for the game.

“I don’t think I’m allowed to get into that too much,” Marr said with a laugh when asked for his insight. “I will tell you that I think we’re in for an exciting game, with lots of back and forth and I predict a busy night for the goaltenders. They’re going to see plenty of shots.”

The 21st BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game gets underway at 6:00pm PST/9:00pm EST in Vancouver and can be viewed live across the country on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and in the United States on NHL Network.

By Josh Sweetland/CHL

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