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CHL Top Prospects game preview: How to watch, who to watch, why you should watch

It’s like an All-Star Game but it actually matters to the players

2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
Future Toronto Maple Leaf Mitch Marner plays in the 2015 Top Prospects game in the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario where the WiFi actually works.

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

Number Player Position CHL Team Stats CS Rank Shoots Height Weight DOB Hometown
Number Player Position CHL Team Stats CS Rank Shoots Height Weight DOB Hometown
8 Noel, Serron RW Oshawa Generals (OHL) 40GP - 17G - 17A - 34Pts 9th R 6.05 205 2000-08-08 Ottawa, ON
14 Svechnikov, Andrei RW Barrie Colts (OHL) 24GP - 19G - 13A - 32Pts 1st L 6.03 184 2000-03-26 Barnaul, RUS,
17 Zavgorodniy, Dmitry C Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) 41GP - 15G - 13A- 28Pts 54th R 5.09 168 2000-08-11 Omsk, RUS,
18 Foudy, Liam C London Knights (OHL) 43GP - 8G - 5A - 13Pts 91st L 6.01 182 2000-02-04 Scarborough, ON
19 Groulx, Benoit-Olivier LW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) 47GP - 19G - 16A - 35Pts 18th L 6.01 190 2000-02-06 Gatineau, QC
27 Burzan, Luka C Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 48GP - 6G - 18A - 24Pts 89th L 6.01 180 2000-01-07 Surrey, BC
41 Sutter, Riley RW Everett Silvertips (WHL) 45GP - 20G - 17A - 37Pts 72nd R 6.03 205 1999-10-25 Calgary, AB
42 Fonstad, Cole LW Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) 47GP - 12G - 35A - 47Pts 78th L 5.1 162 2000-04-24 Estevan, SK
61 McShane, Allan C Oshawa Generals (OHL) 45GP - 10G - 26A - 36Pts 33rd L 5.11 187 2000-02-14 Collingwood, ON
71 Nizhnikov, Kirill RW Sudbury Wolves (OHL) 17GP - 4G - 9A - 13Pts 161st L 6.01 190 2000-03-29 Moscow, RUS,
91 McLeod, Ryan C Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) 45GP - 15G - 35A - 50Pts 16th L 6.02 205 1999-09-21 Mississauga, ON,
92 MacDonald, Anderson LW Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) 43GP - 24G - 13A - 37Pts 65th L 6.02 190 2000-05-16 Quispamsis, 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

# Player CHL Team Stats CS Rank Shoots Height Weight DOB Hometown
# Player CHL Team Stats CS Rank Shoots Height Weight DOB Hometown
2 Addison, Calen Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) 46GP - 7G - 40A - 47Pts 34th R 5.11 178 2000-04-11 Brandon, MB
15 McIsaac, Jared Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) 45GP - 5G - 21A - 26Pts 12th L 6.01 193 2000-03-27 Truro, NS
24 Smith, Ty Spokane Chiefs (WHL) 46GP - 6G - 38A - 44Pts 14th L 5.1 170 2000-03-24 Lloydminster, AB,
53 Dobson, Noah Acadie-Bathrust Titan (QMJHL) 46GP - 10G - 37A - 47Pts 8th R 6.03 178 2000-01-07 Summerside, PE
55 Bernard, Xavier Drummondville Voltiguers (QMJHL) 43GP - 10G - 17A - 27Pts 37th L 6.03 209 2000-01-06 Mercier, QC
88 Bahl, Kevin Ottawa 67's (OHL) 45GP - 1G - 13A -Pts 30th L 6.06 231 2000-06-27 Mississauga, 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

# Player CHL Team Stats CS Rank Catches Height Weight DOB Hometown
# Player CHL Team Stats CS Rank Catches Height Weight DOB Hometown
1 Gravel, Alexis Halifax Mooseheads 24GP - 3.28GAA - .896sv% - 0SO 1st R 6.03 220 2000-03-21 Asbestos, QC
31 Mandolese, Kevin Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) 23GP - 3.61GAA - .889sv% - 0SO 4th L 6.03 180 2000-08-22 Blainville, 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

# Player Pos CHL Team Stats CS Rank Shoots Height Weight DOB Hometown
# Player Pos CHL Team Stats CS Rank Shoots Height Weight DOB Hometown
8 Hillis, Cam C Guelph Storm (OHL) 44GP - 17G - 23A - 40Pts 59th R 5.11 163 2000-06-24 Enniskillen, ON
9 Veleno, Joe C Drummondville Voltiguers (QMJHL) 41GP - 8G - 38A - 46Pts 13th L 6.02 194 2000-01-13 Kirkland, QC
11 Zadina, Filip RW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) 38GP - 27G - 26A - 53Pts 2nd L 6.01 192 1999-11-27 Pardubice, CZE,
14 Florchuk, Eric C Saskatoon Blades (WHL) 48GP - 10G - 25A - 35Pts 93rd L 6.01 173 2000-01-10 Ft. Saskatchewan, AB
18 Dudas, Aidan C Owen Sound Attack (OHL) 44GP - 20G - 24A - 44Pts 131st R 5.08 156 2000-06-15 Parry Sound, ON
23 Kotkov, Vladislav LW Chicoutimi Sagueens (QMJHL) 39GP - 12G - 21A - 33Pts 74th R 6.05 202 2000-01-08 Moscow, RUS,
26 Sokolov, Egor RW Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) 44GP - 16G - 16A - 32Pts 73rd R 6.03 222 2000-06-07 Yekaterinburg, RUS,
27 Hayton, Barrett C Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) 44GP - 17G - 25A - 42Pts 6th L 6.01 191 2000-06-09 Peterborough, ON,
44 Thomas, Akil RW Niagara IceDogs (OHL) 44GP - 12G - 38A - 50Pts 10th R 5.11 170 2000-01-02 Brandon, FL
53 Dellandrea, Ty C Flint Firebirds (OHL) 44GP - 17G - 18A - 35Pts 76th R 6 190 2000-07-21 Port Perry, ON
91 Fortier, Gabriel C Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL) 45GP - 16G - 21A - 37Pts 35th L 5.1 190 2000-02-06 Lachine, QC
96 Kurashev, Philipp C Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) 42GP - 11G - 30A - 41Pts 68th L 6 187 1999-10-12 Munsingen, 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

# Player CHL Team Stats CS Rank Shoots Height Weight DOB Hometown
# Player CHL Team Stats CS Rank Shoots Height Weight DOB Hometown
2 Bouchard, Evan London Knights (OHL) 45GP - 15G - 39A - 54Pts 5th R 6.02 191 1999-10-20 Oakville, ON
6 Merkley, Ryan Guelph Storm (OHL) 44GP - 11G - 41A - 52Pts 21st R 5.11 163 2000-08-14 Mississauga, ON
12 Vallati, Giovanni Kitchener Rangers (OHL) 44GP - 3G - 17A - 20Pts 38th L 6.02 178 2000-02-21 Ottawa, ON
19 Sandin, Rasmus Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) 32GP - 5G - 23A - 28Pts 15th L 5.11 190 2000-03-07 Uppsala, SWE,
20 Bouchard, Xavier Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL) 44GP - 2G - 12A - 14Pts 41st R 6.03 190 2000-02-28 Trois-Rivieres, QC
66 Gross, Nico Oshawa Generals (OHL) 36GP - 4G - 6A - 10Pts 47th L 6.01 183 2000-01-26 Pontresina, 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

# Player CHL Team Stats CS Rank Catches Height Weight DOB Hometown
# Player CHL Team Stats CS Rank Catches Height Weight DOB Hometown
1 Ingham, Jacob Mississauga Steelheads 31GP - 3.82GAA - .876sv% - 0SO 3rd L 6.03 185 2000-06-10 Barrie, ON
33 Rodrigue, Olivier Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) 37GP - 2.62GAA - .901sv% - 3SO 2nd R 6.01 155 2000-07-06 Chicoutimi, 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.