Tonight is the annual CHL/NHL Top Prospects game (sponsored this year by Sherwin-Williams: Sherwin-Williams, where we pour toxic chemicals all over the planet in our logo) where the top players in the three leagues under the domain of the Canadian Hockey League - the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League - to play in one game in front of hundreds of NHL scouts and thousands of local fans.

It’s not an event that draws in fans from across the country like the Memorial Cup will, but it’s something that you’ll want to check out when it’s in your local rink. Two years ago I had some excellent seats a couple row behind the Prime Minister to watch Connor McDavid, Mitch Marner and someone I called “That something-ov kid from Brandon” on Twitter (It was Ivan Provonov, sorry Annie) play what I could only describe as a fast paced game with lots of scoring chances, excellent defense and the chance for a shutout - which Team Orr goalies Liam Herbst (U. Western Ontario) and Nick McBride (retired) combined to do.

This year the game is just up the highway in Guelph, home of the OHL Guelph Storm, and will be played tonight at 7PM at the Sleeman Centre.

How to watch

The game will be broadcast in Canada on Sportsnet Now, 360, Ontario, East, and Pacific. in English and on TVA Sports in French. Sportsnet West will be broadcasting the Oilers vs Flames, which I guess is punishment for something terrible Alberta did.

In the US you can watch the game on the NHL Network, and if you’re not a TV subscriber you can purchase a stream of the game via CHL Live for $7.99. CHL streams are usually HD broadcasts, no need to worry about AHL Live potato cam.

Who to watch

The rosters for this years game are a bit different than the last one we saw, since there’s no superstar in training like Connor McDavid on the ice. These are all excellent players, and I’ve given the NHL Central Scouting Rank for each player as well.

Team Orr Forwards

NumberPlayerPositionCHL TeamStatsCS RankShootsHeightWeightDOBHometown
8Noel, SerronRWOshawa Generals (OHL)40GP - 17G - 17A - 34Pts9thR6.052052000-08-08Ottawa, ON
14Svechnikov, AndreiRWBarrie Colts (OHL)24GP - 19G - 13A - 32Pts1stL6.031842000-03-26Barnaul, RUS,
17Zavgorodniy, DmitryCRimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)41GP - 15G - 13A- 28Pts54thR5.091682000-08-11Omsk, RUS,
18Foudy, LiamCLondon Knights (OHL)43GP - 8G - 5A - 13Pts91stL6.011822000-02-04Scarborough, ON
19Groulx, Benoit-OlivierLWHalifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)47GP - 19G - 16A - 35Pts18thL6.011902000-02-06Gatineau, QC
27Burzan, LukaCBrandon Wheat Kings (WHL)48GP - 6G - 18A - 24Pts89thL6.011802000-01-07Surrey, BC
41Sutter, RileyRWEverett Silvertips (WHL)45GP - 20G - 17A - 37Pts72ndR6.032051999-10-25Calgary, AB
42Fonstad, ColeLWPrince Albert Raiders (WHL)47GP - 12G - 35A - 47Pts78thL5.11622000-04-24Estevan, SK
61McShane, AllanCOshawa Generals (OHL)45GP - 10G - 26A - 36Pts33rdL5.111872000-02-14Collingwood, ON
71Nizhnikov, KirillRWSudbury Wolves (OHL)17GP - 4G - 9A - 13Pts161stL6.011902000-03-29Moscow, RUS,
91McLeod, RyanCMississauga Steelheads (OHL)45GP - 15G - 35A - 50Pts16thL6.022051999-09-21Mississauga, ON,
92MacDonald, AndersonLWMoncton Wildcats (QMJHL)43GP - 24G - 13A - 37Pts65thL6.021902000-05-16Quispamsis, NB

Svechnikov is the player to watch on this team, but he’s out of the Leafs range. As a Leafs fan I would keep an eye on Benoit-Olivier Groulx as a potential first rounder. He’s a really smart player, knows where to be and where to send the puck. Yes the Leafs have more than enough wingers, but not everyone pans out, you know?

Ryan McLeod is another one, he’s a huge Leafs fan ad already wears the jersey. A natural fit for the Mississauga centre.

If you like big players Serron Noel from the Generals is the biggest guy on the team and he could be in the Leafs ranger if they go out in the first round.

Team Orr Defenders

#PlayerCHL TeamStatsCS RankShootsHeightWeightDOBHometown
2Addison, CalenLethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)46GP - 7G - 40A - 47Pts34thR5.111782000-04-11Brandon, MB
15McIsaac, JaredHalifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)45GP - 5G - 21A - 26Pts12thL6.011932000-03-27Truro, NS
24Smith, TySpokane Chiefs (WHL)46GP - 6G - 38A - 44Pts14thL5.11702000-03-24Lloydminster, AB,
53Dobson, NoahAcadie-Bathrust Titan (QMJHL)46GP - 10G - 37A - 47Pts8thR6.031782000-01-07Summerside, PE
55Bernard, XavierDrummondville Voltiguers (QMJHL)43GP - 10G - 17A - 27Pts37thL6.032092000-01-06Mercier, QC
88Bahl, KevinOttawa 67's (OHL)45GP - 1G - 13A -Pts 30thL6.062312000-06-27Mississauga, ON

Noah Dobson is a right handed defender who is high on the Q scoring list. He’s fast, has a good point shot and is built for the NHL. If his skating keeps improving he’ll be a good late round steal.

Team Orr Goalies

#PlayerCHL TeamStatsCS RankCatchesHeightWeightDOBHometown
1Gravel, AlexisHalifax Mooseheads24GP - 3.28GAA - .896sv% - 0SO1stR6.032202000-03-21Asbestos, QC
31Mandolese, KevinCape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)23GP - 3.61GAA - .889sv% - 0SO4thL6.031802000-08-22Blainville, QC

Team Orr will be coached by for Toronto Maple Leaf Eric Lindros, with Guelph Storm coaching staff George Burnett (Head coach), Luca Caputi (Assistant), and Jake Grimes (Assistant) backing him up.

Team Cherry Forwards

#PlayerPosCHL TeamStatsCS RankShootsHeightWeightDOBHometown
8Hillis, CamCGuelph Storm (OHL)44GP - 17G - 23A - 40Pts59thR5.111632000-06-24Enniskillen, ON
9Veleno, JoeCDrummondville Voltiguers (QMJHL)41GP - 8G - 38A - 46Pts13thL6.021942000-01-13Kirkland, QC
11Zadina, FilipRWHalifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)38GP - 27G - 26A - 53Pts2ndL6.011921999-11-27Pardubice, CZE,
14Florchuk, EricCSaskatoon Blades (WHL)48GP - 10G - 25A - 35Pts93rdL6.011732000-01-10Ft. Saskatchewan, AB
18Dudas, AidanCOwen Sound Attack (OHL)44GP - 20G - 24A - 44Pts131stR5.081562000-06-15Parry Sound, ON
23Kotkov, VladislavLWChicoutimi Sagueens (QMJHL)39GP - 12G - 21A - 33Pts74thR6.052022000-01-08Moscow, RUS,
26Sokolov, EgorRWCape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)44GP - 16G - 16A - 32Pts73rdR6.032222000-06-07Yekaterinburg, RUS,
27Hayton, BarrettCSault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)44GP - 17G - 25A - 42Pts6thL6.011912000-06-09Peterborough, ON,
44Thomas, AkilRWNiagara IceDogs (OHL)44GP - 12G - 38A - 50Pts10thR5.111702000-01-02Brandon, FL
53Dellandrea, TyCFlint Firebirds (OHL)44GP - 17G - 18A - 35Pts76thR61902000-07-21Port Perry, ON
91Fortier, GabrielCBaie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)45GP - 16G - 21A - 37Pts35thL5.11902000-02-06Lachine, QC
96Kurashev, PhilippCQuebec Remparts (QMJHL)42GP - 11G - 30A - 41Pts68thL61871999-10-12Munsingen, SUI,

I’m biased but Akil Thomas is a dynamite pick, but I’m just worried that he won’t be available when the time comes for the Maple Leafs to draft him. He’s a dynamite two way player who has the ability to blossom into a top line player, perhaps even a first/second line NHL centre.

Looking at non-IceDogs, Joe Veleno was an exceptional draft pick, entering the QMJHL as a 15 year old. He was a major force for the Saint John Sea Dogs at the Memorial Cup in May, and will be a good long term pick for any team lucky enough to draft him.

Team Cherry Defenders

#PlayerCHL TeamStatsCS RankShootsHeightWeightDOBHometown
2Bouchard, EvanLondon Knights (OHL)45GP - 15G - 39A - 54Pts5thR6.021911999-10-20Oakville, ON
6Merkley, RyanGuelph Storm (OHL)44GP - 11G - 41A - 52Pts21stR5.111632000-08-14Mississauga, ON
12Vallati, GiovanniKitchener Rangers (OHL)44GP - 3G - 17A - 20Pts38thL6.021782000-02-21Ottawa, ON
19Sandin, RasmusSault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)32GP - 5G - 23A - 28Pts15thL5.111902000-03-07Uppsala, SWE,
20Bouchard, XavierBaie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)44GP - 2G - 12A - 14Pts41stR6.031902000-02-28Trois-Rivieres, QC
66Gross, NicoOshawa Generals (OHL)36GP - 4G - 6A - 10Pts47thL6.011832000-01-26Pontresina, SUI,

Ryan Merkley has probably been the name thrown around the most out of OHL defenders leading up to the draft but we shouldn’t count out Evan Bouchard of the London Knights if you’re looking for high scoring right handed defenders. Bouchard is more in the Leafs wheelhouse lately for drafting defenders. He’s over 6 feet, almost 200lbs and plays for the London Knights.

Team Cherry Goalies

#PlayerCHL TeamStatsCS RankCatchesHeightWeightDOBHometown
1Ingham, JacobMississauga Steelheads31GP - 3.82GAA - .876sv% - 0SO3rdL6.031852000-06-10Barrie, ON
33Rodrigue, OlivierDrummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)37GP - 2.62GAA - .901sv% - 3SO2ndR6.011552000-07-06Chicoutimi, QC

Team Cherry will be coached as always by former MIssissauga IceDogs coach Don Cherry and his assistants will be OHL legend and Hockey Hall of Fame honoured member Brian Kilrea, long time Ottawa 67’s coach Bert O’Brien, and Mississauga Steelheads head coach James Richmond.

So, lots of players you probably haven’t heard of. Why should you tune in to this game when the Maple Leafs are playing the Dallas Stars?

Well these are some of the best players in the CHL who are draft eligible. You can discover players are better than you thought, or have a new player to obsess over heading into the draft.

This weekend the NHL will host it’s All-Star Game, and the biggest complaint will be that the players don’t play like it’s a real game, and they don’t care.

Tonight you’ll have a chance to see that game. Players throw real hits, they charge the net to score goals. This is a big chance to impress scouts from every NHL team and even some General Managers and other front office members, all at once with their on-ice play - something that isn’t tested at the draft combine.

This is a game the players care about. This is the game you ant to watch.