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2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters

January 07, 2016

Thursday January 7, 2016

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with the host Vancouver Giants Hockey Club, and title partner BMO Financial Group, today announced the 40 players that will compete in the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver, BC, on Thursday January 28, 2016.

The 40 CHL players competing in the game were chosen by all 30 NHL clubs and divided into teams by NHL Central Scouting.  This season’s event marks the 21st annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL Draft eligible players featuring talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League competing before hundreds of NHL scouts in attendance.

“The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is one of the highlights of the hockey season,” said CHL President David Branch. “Since 1996 the CHL’s top prospects have showcased their skills in this event providing NHL scouts, General Managers, and fans the opportunity to catch the next wave of NHL talent which in recent years has featured first overall picks Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. We look forward to January 28 with coaches Don Cherry and Bobby Orr, and 40 of the top CHL players eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft competing before the passionate hockey fans in Vancouver and to CHL fans across Canada watching live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.”

The Giants’ Tyler Benson and Port Moody, BC, native Lucas Johansen of the Kelowna Rockets are among the 20 players to suit up for Team Cherry along with Canadian National Junior Team member Julien Gauthier of the Val-d’Or Foreurs, and OHL top goal scorer Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters who won World Junior bronze with the United States.  Team Orr features World Junior gold medalist Olli Juolevi of the London Knights, fellow Knight and World Junior bronze medalist Matthew Tkachuk, Canadian National Junior Team Selection Camp invite Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and Alexander Nylander of the Mississauga Steelheads who led Sweden in World Junior scoring.

“We are thrilled for the up-and-coming talent chosen for this year’s BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game,” said Michael Bonner, Senior Vice President, BC and Yukon Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. “As the Official Bank of the CHL, we’re proud to sponsor an event that allows Canadians to watch some of the top young athletes across the country, and we’re excited to bring them to Vancouver later this month.”

25 of the CHL’s 60 member clubs are represented on the rosters.  The 40 competing players include 20 from the OHL, 12 from the WHL, and eight from the QMJHL.  13 CHL Players who competed in the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in St. Catharines, ON, were selected in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft.  In 20 years, 278 CHL players from this event have been chosen by NHL clubs in the first round of the NHL Draft representing 47% of all players selected.

“The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game provides a unique opportunity for NHL scouts and General Managers to evaluate top CHL talent for the 2016 NHL Draft in a best-on-best competition,” said NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr. “The game is also a unique opportunity for the players to take advantage of the spotlight in what is consistently an exciting and highly competitive showcase.”

Since the event was first introduced in 1996 the game has featured 13 players selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft including Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Marc-Andre Fleury, Rick Nash, Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton, and Chris Phillips.

2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters:

Team Cherry:

Goaltenders:
Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke Phoenix)
Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Defencemen:
Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting)
Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings)
Sean Day (Mississauga Steelheads)
Samuel Girard (Shawinigan Cataractes)
Lucas Johansen (Kelowna Rockets)
Markus Niemelainen (Saginaw Spirit)

Forwards:
Vitalii Abramov (Gatineau Olympiques)
Tyler Benson (Vancouver Giants)
Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires)
Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)
Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets)
Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or Foreurs)
Tim Gettinger (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Noah Gregor (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Max Jones (London Knights)
Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)
Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)
Sam Steel (Regina Pats)

Team Orr:

Goaltenders:
Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)
Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes)

Defencemen:
Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen)
Luke Green (Saint John Sea Dogs)
Libor Hajek (Saskatoon Blades)
Olli Juolevi (London Knights)
Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires)
Logan Stanley (Windsor Spitfires)

Forwards:
Nathan Bastian (Mississauga Steelheads)
Will Bitten (Flint Firebirds)
Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)
Brett Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Jack Kopacka (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville Tigres)
Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads)
Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)
Otto Somppi (Halifax Mooseheads)
Simon Stransky (Prince Albert Raiders)
Matthew Tkachuk (London Knights)

The 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner BMO Bank of Montreal, and CHL associate sponsors Cooper Tire, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports

For more information please visit www.bmotopprospects.ca.

BMO and the Canadian Hockey League:
BMO Financial Group and the Canadian Hockey League announced BMO as the Official Bank of the Canadian Hockey League in 2011. The sponsorship builds on BMO’s partnership with the CHL of more than 10 years and affirms BMO’s exclusivity as a financial services sponsor of the league in the retail banking category. It also engrains a presence with the 48 teams which currently participate in the BMO CHL Affinity MasterCard program, which enables CHL fans to support their favourite teams through a co-branded credit card.

Quebec Ramparts To Host 2017 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

QUEBEC REMPARTS TO HOST 2017 CHL/NHL TOP PROSPECTS GAME

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and the Quebec Remparts Hockey Club, today announced that the 2017 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will be hosted by the Remparts at Centre Vidéotron on Thursday January 26, 2017.

The 2017 event will mark the 22nd annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL draft eligible players featuring talent from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League, and the Western Hockey League competing before hundreds of NHL scouts in attendance.

“On behalf of the Canadian Hockey League, we are very pleased to announce the return of the Top Prospects Game to Quebec City in 2017,” said CHL President David Branch. “Since 1996 this event has annually featured the next wave of NHL talent showcasing their skills before hundreds of NHL scouts and General Managers.  This event is a special experience for players across the CHL who will undoubtedly enjoy competing in the beautiful new Centre Vidéotron in front of Quebec’s passionate fans.”

Next season will be the third time the event is hosted by the QMJHL and second time it will be played in Quebec following the 2007 event.  13 other Canadian cities have hosted including Toronto (1996-98, 2000, 2011), Calgary (1999, 2001, 2014), Saskatoon (2002), Kitchener (2003), London (2004), Ottawa (2006), Edmonton (2008), Oshawa (2009), Windsor (2010), Kelowna (2012), Halifax (2013), St. Catharines (2015), and Vancouver (2005, 2016).

The 2016-17 season marks the 20th campaign for the Remparts since returning to the QMJHL in 1997-98.  This season the club is competing in the brand new Centre Vidéotron and have already established a new franchise record for attendance in a season with over 412,000 fans including an opening night sellout of 18,259 on September 12 against the Rimouski Oceanic.

The Remparts have had 16 players compete in this event with five of them chosen in the first round of the NHL Draft the same season. That list includes Eric Chouinard (Montreal 1998), Simon Gagne (Philadelphia 1998), Maxime Ouellet (Philadelphia 1999), Angelo Esposito (Pittsburgh 2007), and Mikhail Grigorenko (Buffalo 2012).  In 2007, Esposito represented his hometown Remparts at Colisée Pepsi for a team coached by Scotty Bowman and Jacques Demers who fell 5-3 to a team coached by Pat Burns and Michel Bergeron.  Remparts’ forward Ruslan Bashkirov earned Player of the Game honours for the winning side scoring a pair of goals.

Since the event was first introduced in 1996 the game has featured 13 players that were selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft including Chris Phillips (1996), Joe Thornton (1997), Vincent Lecavalier (1998), Rick Nash (2002), Marc-Andre Fleury (2003), Patrick Kane (2007), Steven Stamkos (2008), John Tavares (2009), Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Nathan MacKinnon (2013), Aaron Ekblad (2014), and Connor McDavid (2015).

This season, 35 of the top-60 ranked North American skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft competed on January 28 in Vancouver, BC.  Top ranked Matthew Tkachuk of the London Knights captained Team Orr to a 3-2 victory over Team Cherry that featured number two ranked Jakob Chychrun of the Sarnia Sting.  Pascal Laberge of the Victoriaville Tigres was named Player of the Game with two goals and one assist, competing alongside Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles who scored once with two assists.

The 2017 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by associate sponsors, Cooper Tires, autoTRADER.ca, and Sherwin Williams.  The game will be broadcast live across Canada on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.…

Meet Team Cherry

MEET TEAM CHERRY

January 27, 2016

With the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game fast approaching, the attention of the Canadian junior hockey community shifts to Vancouver as many of the CHL’s top 40 draft eligible prospects hit the ice together, putting geographical boundaries aside as the best from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL showcase their skills.

Team Cherry enters Thursday’s game looking for its first win since 2010 when former Regina Pats forward Jordan Weal had a goal and an assist and Windsor Spitfires standout Taylor Hall earned Team Cherry Player of the Game honours.

WATCH: Team Cherry’s Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting) gets to know teammates Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings) and Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke Phoenix)

Sarnia Sting blueliner Jakob Chychrun leads from the back end while highly touted forwards Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or Foreurs) and Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads) look to carry the load offensively and help Team Cherry get back in the win column. Here’s a closer look at what Team Cherry will bring to the ice on Thursday. NHL Central Scouting Service Midterm Draft Rankings position is in brackets.

(G) EVAN FITZPATRICK – Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL) [2]

Sophomore netminder was fourth overall pick in 2014 QMJHL Draft and enters the event as the QMJHL’s first star of the week following a 20-save shutout in Blainville-Boisbriand on Saturday. Leads the QMJHL in saves (1109) and is third in minutes played (2290) this season.

NHL Central Scouting says: : “Excellent positional style goalie who has a very big presence in the net. Plays ‘big’ in all situations. Features great angle play as a real strength to his game, often playing at the top of the crease to take room away from shooters. Very confident and holds his ground well.”

(G) ZACH SAWCHENKO – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) [3]

18 year-old is in his third season in Moose Jaw and represented the WHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Went 6-1-0-1 with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in the month of October. Has had a strong month of January, going 5-1-1-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.

NHL Central Scouting says: : “A very quick, athletic goalie that plays with focus and determination to hold his ground. Has a strong stance and powerful leg drive when moving laterally, leading to excellent east/west play. Has great butterfly coverage to seal the ice and protect the five hole. Never gives up on a play.”

(D) JAKOB CHYCHRUN – Sarnia Sting (OHL) [2]

Former first overall pick of the 2014 OHL Priority Selection leads Sarnia blueliners in goals, assists and points and is second on the Sting behind Travis Konecny in shots on goal with 138. Has a pair of three-point performances this season including Oct. 23 at Sault Ste. Marie (2-1—3) and Dec. 5 at Flint (0-3—3). Enters the event with points in five of his last six games. Is the son of former NHL defenceman Jeff Chychrun.

NHL Central Scouting says: “A complete defenceman.  Excellent skater who plays with confidence and poise. Possesses high-end hockey sense and passing ability. Very good offensive instincts with a powerful shot. Plays a sound defensive game and is rarely found out of position. Highly reliable and consistent while displaying strong leadership qualities.”

(D) KALE CLAGUE – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) [22]

After injury-shortened 2014-15 campaign, Clague is one of five Wheat Kings to play in all 47 of team’s games so far this season. Has recorded four multi-point games, collecting two assists on Oct. 3 at Regina, Oct. 9 vs. Kootenay, Dec. 12 vs. Kelowna and Jan. 23 at Saskatoon. Represented the WHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series, scoring once in two contests.

NHL Central Scouting says: “His skating asset is strong; eludes defenders while being checked or starting an offensive play. He displays excellent vision when moving the puck, makes solid first pass out of zone. Has ability to make good decisions on when to lead or join the rush and uses his smarts to strip opponents off the puck to gain possession. He’s a composed player who makes good choices under pressure.”

(D) SEAN DAY – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) [43]

Former prospect who received exceptional status to play in the OHL as a 15 year-old, Day is second in scoring among Mississauga blueliners behind teammate Stefan LeBlanc. Recorded points in six straight games from Oct. 17-29 and finished October with eight points (3-5—8) in 13 games. Favourite NHL defenceman is Drew Doughty.

NHL Central Scouting says: “An NHL skater with a smooth and powerful stride; deceptive speed & quickness makes him one of the best skaters in this Draft class. Has speed that allows him to make a difference in all zones and possesses a capable game carrying the puck out of the zone and up the ice quickly. A good puck handler who makes a hard quick first pass. Is very strong physically and is effective in one on one plays and when he takes the body.”

(D) SAMUEL GIRARD – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) [40]

Girard leads QMJHL defencemen in assists (43) and points (49). He is Shawinigan’s leading scorer among blueliners and is fifth in team scoring. 24 (5-19—24) of his 49 points this season have come on the powerplay. Had a solid month of October, finishing with 19 points (3-16—19) in 12 games. Represented the QMJHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series, collecting three assists in two games.

NHL Central Scouting says: “An undersized puck moving defenceman that is dynamic on offensive side of game. Quarterbacks the power play and distributes the puck well with good vision.  Good skater, quick and mobile game with the puck. Managing risk-reward decisions well to make responsible choices on the play.”

(D) LUCAS JOHANSEN – Kelowna Rockets (WHL) [38]

Leads Rockets defencemen in goals (7) and points (26). Recorded a career-high three points (1-2—3) on Jan. 9 vs. Tri-City. Has had five multi-point performances this season. Is the younger brother of WHL graduate and Nashville Predators centreman Ryan Johansen.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Possesses good size and strength and is developing into solid two way defenceman. Has good hands and puck skills to manage the play at the offensive blue line. Boasts an excellent short game with his passes and has a good shot from the point. Plays an effective game with and without the puck.”

(D) MARKUS NIEMELAINEN – Saginaw Spirit (OHL) [46]

Is tied for the Spirit lead in scoring among defencemen with Marcus Crawford. Recorded 11 assists in his first full month in the OHL. Scored his first OHL goal as part of a three-point performance (1-2—3) on Nov. 28 vs. Windsor. Favourite NHL player is a WHL graduate in Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith.

NHL Central Scouting says: “A good sized defenseman who is a very mobile skater and is quick and agile in own zone. Defends one on one’s well with good body position and use of his long stick. Shows an offensive upside to his game skating and carrying the puck and handles the puck well at offensive blue line. Makes good choices joining the rush and pinching into zone. Boasts a very good work ethic and frequently makes an extra effort on the play.”

(RW) VITALII ABRAMOV – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) [56]

Leads the QMJHL in rookie goals (30), assists (43) and points (73)…leads Gatineau in scoring this season and is second on team with eight powerplay goal. Began his QMJHL career with points in his first eight straight contests. Recorded a season-high five points with three goals and two assists on Jan. 9 at Halifax. Has recorded three hat-tricks so far this season with two in the month of January. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on a four game trend of multi-point performances.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Highly skilled forward with excellent vision and playmaking skills.  Small but with a high compete level and plays well in traffic. NHL skater with an accurate shot and one who can finish around net.  Great anticipation, thinks the game very well and thrives on opportunity.”

(LW) TYLER BENSON – Vancouver Giants (WHL) [21] – Unable to participate due to injury

Was named Giants Captain on Sept. 24. Got a late start to the season, making his debut on Oct. 23 after undergoing surgery for a lower-body injury. Tied a career-high with three points (1-2—3) on Dec. 6 vs. Prince George. Had a productive month of December, recording 15 points (3-12—15) in 12 games. Has been sidelined since Dec. 30 with a lower-body injury.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Is a smart and skilled winger with high end offensive instincts. Plays a very strong game on the puck and is effective in all game situations. A very good passer with excellent vision and play making ability. He plays with an edge and will stand up for his teammates. Possesses strong leadership ability.”

(C) LOGAN BROWN – Windsor Spitfires (OHL) [14]

Leads Windsor in assists (35) and is second in points behind teammate Christian Fischer with 43. Is 53.3% (379/710) in the faceoff circle this season. Had points in his first six games of the season enroute to collecting 13 points (2-11—13) in nine October contests. Was named to the Team OHL roster for the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series but was unable to compete due to injury. Recorded a career-high four points (1-3—4) on Jan. 21 vs. Flint. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on a three-game point streak.

NHL Central Scouting says: “A playmaking centreman with excellent size who brings a big presence up the middle. Has very good puck handling skills and sees the ice well, making tape to tape set up passes. Confident and poised game with the puck. Skates well with a long, fluid stride and has deceptive speed for his size. Works the power play well and is very effective in the faceoff circle.”

(RW) ALEX DEBRINCAT – Erie Otters (OHL) [20]

2015 CHL and OHL Rookie of the Year currently leads the Otters in goals (35). Has recorded a total of four hat-tricks this season and has collected five points in three different games. Set a new Otters regular season franchise record, scoring five goals in a 6-1 win in Niagara on October 10th. Named the OHL’s Player of the Month for October after scoring 16 goals and adding seven assists for 23 points in 12 games. Followed up October performance with 27 points (14-13—27) in 12 November contests, going on a 16-game point streak from Oct. 28 to Dec. 2. Represented the United States at the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Elite hockey sense and finishing ability which can’t be taught. Excellent movement away from the puck and an awareness of where to go to score goals. Tenacious on pucks and isn’t afraid to play in traffic despite his size.”

(C) DILLON DUBE – Kelowna Rockets (WHL) [35]

Is second in Kelowna scoring behind teammate Tyson Baillie. Recorded career-high four points (2-2—4) on Oct. 17 at Prince George. Was named to the Team WHL roster for the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series but couldn’t compete due to injury. Favourite NHL player growing up was Joe Sakic. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with points in three of his last four contests.

NHL Central Scouting says: “A strong skater with good straight away speed. Is strong on his feet and boasts an effective puck protection game. Plays a very responsible two way game. Has good hockey sense to contribute offensively paired with a very good play making ability and good finishing shot. Is willing to give and take in physical play.”

(RW) JULIEN GAUTHIER – Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL) [4]

Tied for third among QMJHL players in goals (33) with Val-d’Or teammate Anthony Richard…fifth in points (43) on the Foreurs. Has a team-leading nine powerplay goals. has recorded two hat-tricks this season, coming on Sept. 18 vs. Sherbrooke and Dec. 6 at Moncton. Represented the QMJHL In the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series, recording one assist in two games. Is the nephew of former NHL defenceman Denis Gauthier. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with points in 16 of his last 17 games dating back to Nov. 1.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Skilled power forward that can score.  Very good skater with size and strength, has a strong fluid stride with deceptive speed.  Plays physical game, willing to battle for pucks down low and positioning to the net. Adept hockey sense, offensive instincts and playmaking skills to get open on the play and finish his chances. Responsible and hard working in all zones.”

(LW) TIM GETTINGER – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) [28]

After being named to OHL First All-Rookie Team last season, is seventh in Greyhounds scoring and fifth on the team in shots on goal with 113. Has recorded a pair of three-point games this season, coming Oct. 2 at Guelph (0-3—3) and Jan. 20 vs. Sudbury (1-2—3). Favourite NHL player is Alexander Ovechkin.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Big winger who skates well and possesses nice hands. Protects the puck with a purpose and is able to use his size and strength to create offensive opportunities for himself and his teammates. Good hockey sense while playing an effective 200 foot game.”

(C) NOAH GREGOR – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) [75]

Third in points among WHL rookies (43) and is tied for the WHL lead in powerplay goals (12). Has scored twice in a game five times this season…recorded a career-high four points (1-3—4) on Nov. 6 at Saskatoon. Collected 16 points (9-7—16) in 13 November contests. Recent strong performance featured two goals including the game winner in 5-1 win at Calgary on Jan. 22.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Solid two way center with skill and smarts. Excellent on the penalty kill; never gives up on a play while back checking and is responsible to stay with his check. Battles hard in all areas, strong skater that does a lot of the hard work for line mates.”

(LW) MAX JONES – London Knights (OHL) [11]

Third in scoring among OHL rookies with 37 points. Leads the league with three overtime winners. Scored his first OHL hat-trick on Oct. 24 vs. North Bay, following up with his second on Oct. 31 at Saginaw. Had a strong month of December, recording 15 points (6-9—15) in 11 games including a pair of overtime goals. Went on a 12-game point streak from Dec. 5 to Jan. 8. Favourite NHL player is Rick Nash.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Power forward who is an excellent skater and displays separation speed. Hard hitting player who plays the game with an edge. Very good shot with a quick release. Loves to take the puck to the net and has good hands in tight.”

(RW) JORDAN KYROU – Sarnia Sting (OHL) [45]

Fourth in Sting scoring behind Travis Konecny, Pavel Zacha and Matt Mistele. Represented the OHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series, scoring a goal. Matched a career-high three points (1-2—3) on Dec. 13 vs. Flint. Finished December with 12 points (3-9—12) in nine games. Has had six multi-point performances this season.

NHL Central Scouting says: “High end skater who possesses break-away speed. Is able to make plays at full speed. Has a dynamic element to his game making him very dangerous in one on one situations. He can be a creative playmaker and has a quick release shot.”

(C) MICHAEL McLEOD – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) [6]

Second in Steelheads scoring behind Alexander Nylander. Leads the team in shorthanded goals (3) and shots on goal (139). Is 58.9% (600/1018) in the faceoff circle this season. Had a strong month of November, recording 16 points (6-10—16) in 13 games. Represented the OHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Registered a career-high four points (2-2—4) on Dec. 6 vs. Barrie. Favourite NHL player is Jason Spezza.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Excellent hard-working, two way forward with speed, quickness and smarts. Plays with drive and determination to the net making him very hard to check. Is very effective generating chances on the rush or on the forecheck. Very good offensive skills as a playmaker handling and moving the puck. Strong along the boards and battles for pucks effectively by using smart body positioning. Capable and consistent in all situations.”

(RW) TY RONNING – Vancouver Giants (WHL) [82]

Has bounced back from injury shortened 2014-15 campaign to lead the Giants in goals this season (26). Leads the team in powerplay goals (7) and is second in Giants points behind Chase Lang. Scored his first WHL hat-trick on Oct. 9 at Regina. Scored three goals on Dec. 2 vs. Moose Jaw. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on a four-game point streak that has produced five goals, three assists and eight points. Is the son of former NHL forward Cliff Ronning. Favourite NHL player is Johnny Gaudreau.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Smart and skilled player with very good hands. Is among the top goal scorers in the WHL and has a very good shot with a quick release. Is willing to go to the dirty areas to score goals. Strong on his feet and can protect the puck well. Boasts very good vision and play making ability along with a high compete level.”

(C) SAM STEEL – Regina Pats (WHL) [29]

Second in Pats scoring behind Adam Brooks. Has recorded three points three times this season, including on Oct. 13 at Medicine Hat (1-2—3), Nov. 11 vs. Red Deer (1-2—3) and Jan. 9 at Spokane (2-1—3). Scored twice on Jan. 23 vs. Prince Albert. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with nine points (6-3—9) so far in the month of January.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Excellent skater with breakaway speed. Displays high level vision to match top end skill set. Plays a quick read and react game and sets up his teammates as well as any play maker in the WHL. Heads up player in all zones, quick to cause turnovers and scoring chances on the penalty kill. Not physical, but doesn’t back away in a physical game.”

 

 

The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, which takes place on Thursday January 28, features 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible players for the 2016 NHL Draft.  This annual showcase features the next wave of NHL talent from the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner BMO, along with associate sponsors , Cooper Tires, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and in the United States on NHL Network.

Meet Team Orr

MEET TEAM ORR

January 27, 2016

With the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game fast approaching, the attention of the Canadian junior hockey community shifts to Vancouver as many of the CHL’s top 40 draft eligible prospects hit the ice together, putting geographical boundaries aside as the best from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL showcase their skills.

Team Orr hits the ice with five straight wins under their belt dating back to 2011 when Player of the Game Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist in a 7-1 victory. Since then, a strong goaltending performance from Chris Driedger and Francois Tremblay in 2012 gave Bobby Orr’s group a 2-1 edge, Laurent Dauphin’s goal and assist in 2013 led Orr to a 3-0 victory in Halifax and Jared McCann’s late winner sealed the deal in a 4-3 triumph two years ago in Calgary. Most recently, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Travis Konecny had two goals and an assist to lead Team Orr to a 6-0 win in St. Catharines last year.

WATCH: Team Orr goaltender Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes) gets to know teammates Luke Green (Saint John Sea Dogs) and Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)

Top ranked 2016 NHL Draft prospect Matthew Tkachuk leads Team Orr into battle on Thursday in Vancouver. He’s accompanied by Swedish winger Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads) and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles forward Pierre-Luc Dubois who were also ranked highly in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings on January 19.

Without further ado, here’s a closer look at Team Orr. NHL Central Scouting Service Midterm Draft Rankings position is in brackets.

(G) CARTER HART – Everett Silvertips (WHL) [1]

Leads the WHL in wins (27), shutouts (6) and minutes (2548). Was named the WHL’s Goaltender of the Month for November after going 9-2-0-1 with a 1.16 goals-against average, a .951 save percentage and four shutouts over 12 appearances. Represented the WHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with a 7-2-1-0 record, a 1.69 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in the month of January. Favourite NHL goaltender is Carey Price.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Very poised, patient and calm in the net; doesn’t get rattled. Displays a focused and consistent technique with positioning and crease management. Stays square on the play and plays out to the top of the crease. Very good at reading and reacting to plays. Excellent butterfly coverage and seals the ice well with his pads, keeping his body upright to protect the upper corners. Has very good rebound control to minimize secondary chances.”

(G) DYLAN WELLS – Peterborough Petes (OHL) [5]

Won three of his first four starts of the season, recording a season-high 46 saves in a win on Oct. 10 at Saginaw…represented the OHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Made 40 saves in a win over Hamilton on Jan. 9. Favourite NHL goaltender is Braden Holtby.

NHL Central Scouting says: : “Very quick and athletic style; one of the quickest goalies in the Draft. Very determined and focused, has excellent quickness in his reactions and post to post lateral movement. Very effective with low net coverage and with his extended butterfly to seal the ice and five hole; quick to recover back to his feet. Challenges well to the top of the paint on initial shots. Has a very quick glove hand.”

(D) JAKE BEAN – Calgary Hitmen (WHL) [13]

Currently leads all WHL defencemen in goals with 17 and is fourth in points with 43. Second in Hitmen scoring behind Radel Fazleev. Tied a career-high with four points (2-2—4) on Oct. 9 vs. Red Deer. Has scored twice in a game four times this season. Represented the WHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Had a strong month of December, recording four goals, 10 assists and 14 points in 12 games. Favourite NHL player is Cam Fowler.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Very dynamic and smart offensive player that is poised in all aspects of the game to get the job done. Excellent shot, and can score from the point or off the rush. Good playmaking ability and strong game at the offensive blue line. Defends well using his mobility and smarts and is capable of being a game breaker.”

(D) LUKE GREEN – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) [37]

Former first overall QMJHL Draft pick is tied for second among Saint John blueliners in scoring with Thomas Chabot. Followed up a two-goal effort on Dec. 9 at Moncton with the first hat-trick by a defenceman in Sea Dogs franchise history on Dec. 11 at Halifax. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with seven assists over his last six games.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Highly effective skating, puck moving defenceman. Strong and mobile skater who is capable to lead a rush and who excels at jumping into the attack.  Advances the puck effectively with first pass plays and distributes puck well on power play.  Shoots with authority and can find the shooting lanes from point.”

(D) LIBOR HAJEK – Saskatoon Blades (WHL) [26]

Second overall pick in the 2015 CHL Import Draft is second in scoring among Blades blueliners behind Brycen Martin. Recorded career-high three points (1-2—3) on Oct. 23 at Kootenay. Has represented the Czech Republic in four different international tournaments since 2013 including the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the World Under-18 Hockey Championship and two Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournaments. Favourite athlete is Jaromir Jagr.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Strong skater with very good speed, agility and mobility. Very good at starting the rush and making the first pass out of zone. See the ice well to not put teammates in bad positions and outlets smartly for partner. Good awareness of his defensive responsibilities and solid containment game handling one on one situations. Utilizing size effectively to play the body as well as showing good anticipation to step up in the neutral zone to make a hit.”

(D) OLLI JUOLEVI – London Knights (OHL) [5]

Third in OHL scoring among rookie defencemen behind Cam Dineen and Mikhail Sergachev. Second in Knights scoring among defencemen behind Victor Mete. Registered a career-high three points (0-3—3) on Nov. 27 vs. Owen Sound. Has a total of seven multi-point performances this season. Won World Junior gold with Finland, setting a new tournament record for under-18 defencemen with nine assists in seven games.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Smooth skating, puck moving defenceman with excellent poise and composure. Displays elite hockey sense and instincts with and without the puck. Plays in every situation and possesses the skills and smarts to have a positive impact on the game in a number of different ways.”

(D) MIKHAIL SERGACHEV – Windsor Spitfires (OHL) [10]

Leads OHL defencemen in goals (12) and is third in points (35) behind Barrie’s Rasmus Andersson and North Bay’s Cam Dineen. Recorded a career-high four points (1-3—4) on Nov. 13 at Mississauga. Registered back-to-back two-goal performances on Nov. 29 vs. London and on Dec. 3 vs. Flint…recorded four points (1-3—4) on Jan. 21 vs. Flint. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on a three-game point streak.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Solid two way defenceman with good offensive skills. Plays with poise and confidence. Is an excellent skater with an effortless stride, possesses deceptive speed and quickness. Very good coverage and one on one game utilizing his mobility, gap and body positioning. Very smart player with and without the puck. Boasts good instincts to make the right play at the right time.”

(D) LOGAN STANLEY – Windsor Spitfires (OHL) [23]

Third in scoring among Windsor blueliners behind Mikhail Sergachev and Jalen Chatfield…recorded his first career multi-point game (0-2—2) on Oct. 22 at North Bay…had a plus/minus of plus-12 over the course of nine December contests. Is the cousin of OHL graduate and Washington Capitals forward Michael Latta. Favourite NHL players are Chris Pronger and Tyler Myers.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Excellent size / strength defender who plays with confidence and authority. Mobile enough to handle speed and defend against the rush. Very tough to beat in one on one play and has a good understanding of positioning and very good stick to puck technique utilizing his size & long reach. Plays with authority and maintains coverage in D zone. Is comfortable handling the puck and composed under forecheck pressure to make a good first pass out of zone.”

(C) NATHAN BASTIAN – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) [19]

Third in Steelheads scoring behind Michael McLeod and Alex Nylander. Tied for second on the team with five powerplay goals. Recorded a career-high four points (1-3—4) on Nov. 15 at Sudbury during a span in which he had 10 points in three contests. Had solid month of November with 17 points (3-14—17) in 13 games. Represented the OHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Plays an effective power-forward game using his size and skill to create offense. Good finishing ability in tight and possesses under-rated playmaking ability. Responsible with and without the puck. Plays the game with an edge, making himself hard to play against.”

(C) WILL BITTEN – Flint Firebirds (OHL) [42] 

Leads Flint in goals (21), assists (26) and points (47). Charged out of the gate with points in nine of his first 10 games. Had a great month of November, recording 19 points (7-12—19) in 11 games. Represented the OHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Favourite NHL player is Claude Giroux.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Energetic and skilled forward who skates very well and competes hard on the play. Uses his deceptive speed effectively to challenge defenders on the rush and isn’t afraid to take pucks to the net despite his modest size. Possesses strong leadership qualities and refuses to be denied.”

(LW) PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) [7]

Tied for fifth in QMJHL goals with 30…sixth in league scoring with 68 points. Leads Cape Breton in assists (38), points (68) and shots on goal (168). Is 51.9% (305/588) in the faceoff circle this season. Recorded points in nine of his first 10 games of the season. Was named CHL Player of the Week for the week ending Nov. 22 after recording eight points (1-7—8) in two games…Represented the QMJHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Recorded career-high five points (3-2—5) on Dec. 29 vs. Halifax. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with points in six of his last seven games.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Highly skilled forward that can play all three forward positions.  Knows how to utilize his size and strength to advantage and can play with an edge.  Strong skater with deceptive speed and quickness. Gifted playmaker with elite hockey sense and soft hands; has very good vision and anticipation to generate offense and capitalize on chances.”

(C) BRETT HOWDEN – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) [27]

Fourth in Warriors scoring behind Dryden Hunt, Brayden Point and Noah Gregor. Scored his first WHL hat-trick on Oct. 21 vs. Swift Current. Recorded 13 points (7-6—13) in 12 October games. Has recorded three points in a game five times this season. Is the younger brother of former Warrior and Florida Panthers forward Quinton Howden.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Displays very good speed and acceleration in all areas of the ice. Plays with determination to generate offense when driving to the net from both wings. Very effective on the penalty killing unit utilizing his size, speed and tenacious fore-checking to force turnovers. A valuable team player that can bring different dimensions to the game.”

(LW) BORIS KATCHOUK – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) [32]

Fourth in scoring among OHL rookies behind Alexander Nylander, Cam Dineen and Max Jones. Plus/minus rating of plus-5 is second highest on team. Five of his 14 goals this season have been game winners. Has recorded three points in a game twice this season, first on Oct. 2 at Guelph (2-1—3) and on Dec. 6 vs. North Bay (1-2—3). Is also an accomplished lacrosse player.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Relentless competitor who is most effective playing an assertive “in-your-face” style. Very good hockey sense and offensive instincts with a good finishing touch. Utilizes size and skills to make plays in tight areas and under-pressure.”

(LW) JACK KOPACKA – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) [33]

Tied for sixth in Greyhounds scoring. Fourth in team shots on goal (123). Had a strong month of October, collecting nine points (5-4—9) in 12 games. Has had three multi-point efforts this season. Favourite NHL player is Jamie Benn. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with a goal in his last four games.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Good sized winger who skates extremely well. Possesses good hands and offensive instincts while playing at top speed. Uses his size, reach and skills effectively to create scoring opportunities. Has transitioned nicely in his first year in the OHL.”

(C) PASCAL LABERGE – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL) [31]

Leads the Tigres in assists (25) and shots on goal (124). Second in team scoring behind Maxime Comtois. Recorded a career-high four points (1-3—4) on Dec. 18 at Rimouski. Registered 13 points (4-9—13) in seven December contests. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game coming off a two-point (1-1—2) performance on Jan. 23 in Val-d’Or.

NHL Central Scouting says:”High skilled forward with good offensive hockey sense.  Strong skater with an extra gear to pull away with the puck. Soft hands and good vision to make plays and finish scoring chances. Competes on a high level and willing to go to the dirty areas to score.”

(RW) ALEXANDER NYLANDER – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) [3]

Leads OHL rookies in goals (25) and points (57) and is tied for the lead in assists (32). Leads Steelheads in scoring and powerplay goals (9). Recorded back-to-back three-point games (1-2—3) in his second and third OHL contests on Sept. 27 at Sudbury and Oct. 1 at Peterborough. Was the OHL’s Rookie of the Month for both October and November. Registered four points (2-2—4) on Nov. 15 vs. Sudbury. Scored his first OHL hat-trick on Nov. 20 vs. North Bay as part of a four-point outing. Recorded four points (2-2—4) on Dec. 3 at Niagara. Has registered 15 multi-point efforts this season. Is the son of former NHL forward Michael Nylander.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Dynamic player with an elite skill-set to go along with NHL speed and quickness. Skilled to make plays at top speed and extremely dangerous in one on one situations. Very good offensive hockey sense to create scoring chances and deceptively quick offensive instincts which make him a scoring threat every time he’s on the ice.”

(RW) TAYLOR RADDYSH – Erie Otters (OHL) [34]

Third in Otters scoring behind Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat. Second in team assists (37). Leads the team in powerplay goals (9) has the second most shots on goal (162). Had points in his first nine straight games of the season. Recorded a career-high four points (1-3—4) on Nov. 6 vs. Peterborough. Collected 21 points (7-14—21) in 11 November contests. Represented the OHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Has registered 15 multi-point performances this season.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Skilled and confident offensive player who is a strong skater with good speed. Very capable of splitting or taking the D wide. Drives hard to the net and is effective at protecting the puck down low. Smart passer with decent hands and good offensive instincts to generate opportunities. Very accurate shooter who can find ways to score.”

(C) OTTO SOMPPI – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) [47]

Second in Mooseheads scoring behind Maxime Fortier. Is 54.2% (300/554) in the faceoff circle this season. Recorded three points (1-2—3) in his QMJHL debut on Sept. 11 at Charlottetown. Had a strong month of October, recording 13 points (2-11—13) in 14 games. Has had two multi-goal games, including Dec. 31 vs. Cape Breton and Jan. 5 vs. Charlottetown with two goals each. Favourite NHL players are Jonathan Toews and Teuvo Teravainen.

NHL Central Scouting says:  “Skilled forward that can really skate; plays with a purpose. Possesses good size and consistently brings an excellent two way effort. Playmaker with very good vision distributing the puck and can direct the play while playing point on the power play. Decent scoring touch and finds ways to contribute.”

(LW) SIMON STRANSKY – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) [25]

Third in Raiders scoring behind Reid Gardiner and Jordan Tkach. Had an explosive start to the season with points in 13 of his first 14 games, including five multi-point performances. Finished the month of October with 17 points (6-11—17) in 14 games. Scored twice on Nov. 21 vs. Regina. Had three consecutive multi-point outings from Jan. 9-15, collecting six points (2-4—6) in that span. Is the younger brother of WHL graduate and Dallas Stars farmhand Matej Stransky.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Excellent hard-working, two way forward with speed, quickness and smarts. Plays with drive and determination to the net making him very hard to check. Is very effective generating chances on the rush or on the forecheck. Very good offensive skills as a playmaker handling and moving the puck. Strong along the boards and battles for pucks effectively by using smart body positioning. Capable and consistent in all situations.”

(LW) MATTHEW TKACHUK – London Knights (OHL) [1]

Second in OHL assists (54) behind Barrie’s Kevin Labanc. Is tied for third in OHL scoring with Knights teammate Mitchell Marner. Is third in Knights shots on goal (127). Recorded four straight multi-point performances to begin his OHL career from Sept. 25 to Oct. 4. Posted a career-high six points (2-4—6) on Nov. 6 at Guelph. Scored his first OHL hat-trick as part of a four-point outing on Nov. 22 at Mississauga. Finished the month of November with 25 points (7-18—25) in 10 games. Recorded 12 points (2-10—12) in five December contests. Has recorded four points or more six different times this season. Won bronze with the United States at the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on a six-game point streak dating back to Jan. 15. Is the son of former NHL winger Keith Tkachuk.

NHL Central Scouting says: “Unique with his skill and physical attributes. Possesses elite hockey sense and vision to consistently find ways to contribute and impact. Makes players around him better and has a very good scoring touch around the net. Plays inside the dots and is willing to go to the hard areas to score goals. One of the best puck protection players in the Draft.”

The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, which takes place on Thursday January 28, features 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible players for the 2016 NHL Draft.  This annual showcase features the next wave of NHL talent from the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner BMO, along with associate sponsors , Cooper Tires, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and in the United States on NHL Network.

CHL’S TOP PROSPECTS EXCEL IN SPORT TESTING COMBINE

CHL’S TOP PROSPECTS EXCEL IN SPORT TESTING COMBINE

January 28, 2016

Vancouver, BC – 40 of the CHL’s best young stars were put to the test on Wednesday at Pacific Coliseum one day before Team Cherry and Team Orr face-off at the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

Players seized the opportunity to showcase their individual strengths with Sport Testing once again putting the league’s Top Prospects eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft through a series of tests to gauge fitness and skill levels for NHL management and scouts.

Finishing atop the overall standings in the on-ice portion of the tests were a pair of Sarnia Sting players on Team Cherry led by forward Jordan Kyrou.  The Toronto native, listed 45th in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Ranking of North American Skaters, finished first ahead of teammate Jakob Chychrun, the top ranked defenceman listed second by Central Scouting.  Skating in at third overall in on-ice testing was fellow defenceman Jake Bean of the Calgary Hitmen and Team Orr (ranked 13th by NHL Central Scouting), with forward Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters and Team Cherry (ranked 20th) and Libor Hajek of the Saskatoon Blades and Team Orr (ranked 26th) tying for fourth place in the skating drills.

On-ice tests included forward and backwards sprints, reaction, weave agility, and transition agility each performed with and without the puck.

In specialized Sport Testing for goalies, Dylan Wells of the Peterborough Petes competing as a member of Team Orr, claimed top honours in an array of reaction, agility, and movement challenges.

Off-ice testing conducted earlier in the day also demonstrated the athleticism required to be a top prospect.  Strength testing, agility runs, sprints and leg power evaluations were conducted under the discerning eyes of NHL scouts and agents.

Jakob Chychrun led the way with the top overall score in the off-ice component, followed by Team Orr forward Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles ranked 7th by NHL Central Scouting.  Dylan Wells once again led all goaltenders and finished third overall in off-ice elements, with Team Cherry’s Michael McLeod of the Mississauga Steelheads (ranked 6th) powering his way into fourth spot overall, with Jordan Kyrou rounding out the top-five.  Some notable single event off-ice performances included Noah Gregor of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Luke Green of the Saint John Sea Dogs who dueled in the vertical jump, a key determinant of leg power used across sport.  Ultimately Gregor won by 1.5 inches, with a top score of 32 inches.   Wells  left the competition behind with an outstanding broad jump score of 9’10.5″.

2016 BMO CHL/NHL TOP PROSPECTS GAME SPORT TESTING PHOTO GALLERY

Sport Testing scores provide valuable performance benchmarks to coaches and players at all levels of hockey with data collected at the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game shared with NHL Central Scouting and distributed to all 30 NHL teams.

For more information please visit www.sporttesting.com.

The 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner BMO Bank of Montreal, and CHL associate sponsors Cooper Tire, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams.  Thursday’s game will be broadcast live across Canada on Sportsnet, TVA Sports, and in the United States on NHL Network.

For more information about the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game please visit www.bmotopprospects.ca or follow the conversation @CHLHockey using #BMOTP.

BMO and the Canadian Hockey League:
BMO Financial Group and the Canadian Hockey League announced BMO as the Official Bank of the Canadian Hockey League in 2011. The sponsorship builds on BMO’s partnership with the CHL of more than 10 years and affirms BMO’s exclusivity as a financial services sponsor of the league in the retail banking category. It also engrains a presence with the 48 teams which currently participate in the BMO CHL Affinity MasterCard program, which enables CHL fans to support their favourite teams through a co-branded credit card.

All Eyes On Vancouver As Prospects Clash

Kevin Light Photography
ALL EYES ON VANCOUVER AS TOP PROSPECTS CLASH

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

Laberge and Dubois Shine in 3-2 Team Orr Win

Kevin Light Photography

LABERGE AND DUBOIS SHINE IN 3-2 TEAM ORR WIN

January 28, 2016

Thursday January 28, 2016

Vancouver, BC – A long way from home, QMJHL stars Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville Tigres) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) shone brightly in Vancouver, leading Team Orr to a 3-2 win at the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with three points each.

The two connected for the game’s deciding goal in the third period just 11 seconds after Team Cherry had fought back to tie the score at two. Laberge found Dubois on a nifty give-and-go that started when Dubois picked off a turnover in the neutral zone.

Laberge’s two goals and an assist earned him Jim Gregory Player of the Game honours as Team Orr took a sixth straight decision at the event dating back to 2011.

“Dubois and I played together at Under-17’s and we had good chemistry together tonight,” said Laberge post-game. “It’s just an amazing feeling and my linemates and I worked really well together out there.”

The two clubs played intense, fast-paced hockey in front of over 10,000 fans at Pacific Coliseum, drawing strong praise from Bobby Orr.

“I’ve been a part of a lot of these games and that was probably the best yet,” said the legendary blueliner. “It was a heck of a hockey game and every kid on the ice played very well. There was some great goaltending, strong defence and it’s the best game in this event that I’ve been a part of.”

In fitting fashion, the hometown favourite got on the board first as Vancouver Giants forward Ty Ronning, who was a late addition to Team Cherry’s roster, found the back of the net after connecting on a give-and-go with linemate Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting). Ronning had his initial attempt thwarted by the pad of Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) but stayed with the play to bang in the rebound 3:09 into the first period.

Team Orr had its moments in the first despite coming away from the opening 20 minutes down 1-0. Team Cherry goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke Phoenix) was great when called upon, making a big save off QMJHL opponent Dubois early on and followed up that effort with bang-bang saves off Jack Kopacka (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) in the slot moments later.

With a clean sheet before them, the goaltenders got a workout in the opening half of the second period as a back-and-forth affair saw free-flowing offensive creativity from both teams.

Fitzpatrick continued his strong play for Team Cherry, finishing his half of the game flawless with 17 saves as he turned aside high quality chances from Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads) and Max Jones (London Knights) off the rush.

While Fitzpatrick was replaced by Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors), Hart gave way to Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes) at the opposite end after turning aside 15 of the 16 shots he faced.

With increased pressure, Team Orr managed to knot the score at one before the expiration of the second. Laberge took a pass as his line entered the offensive zone, toe-dragging the puck past an opponent to create a lane to the net and beat Sawchenko over the blocker at 17:09 with assists from Dubois and Libor Hajek (Saskatoon Blades).

Team Cherry held a 22-20 edge on the shot clock after 40 minutes with the two sides deadlocked at one.

After a relatively cautious opening half of the third, Wells would be tested in goal for Team Orr as he was forced to make big-time saves off defenceman Sean Day (Mississauga Steelheads) as he beat his man coming in off the blueline and, moments later, big winger Tim Gettinger (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) on the doorstep.

Wells kept the game tied long enough for Laberge to strike for his second of the night on the powerplay with 10:20 remaining in the third. The former second overall QMJHL Draft selection made his way off the boards on the powerplay, ripping a low release under the pad of Sawchenko.

Team Cherry wasn’t done down 2-1 though as they came back just under two minutes later on a nice passing play orchestrated by Jordan Kyrou. The Sarnia Sting winger found OHL West Division opponent Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires) open in the slot as the big 6’6″ centre made no mistake, beating Wells up high with 8:36 to go.

The game wouldn’t remain tied for long this time.

Team Orr capitalized on a neutral zone turnover 11 seconds later as Dubois picked off an errant pass and proceeded to give-and-go with Laberge as the dynamic QMJHL forwards both registered their third point of the night on the game’s eventual winner.

Despite a heavy push from Team Cherry in the final minutes, fine goaltending from Wells helped Team Orr lock down a sixth straight victory in the event with a 3-2 decision in Vancouver.

While Laberge earned Team Orr Player of the Game honours, Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads), who had an eventful game with several scoring opportunities, received the recognition for Team Cherry.

Despite being out shot 36-27, Orr earned his ninth win in 13 games behind the bench against his counterpart Cherry who falls to a coaching record of 5-11.