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Getting to know the top prospects for the 2020 NHL Draft

There are 40 kids suiting up in tonight’s showcase event, but who are they really?

Rimouski Oceanic v Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
This is as close to Lafreniere being associated with the Leafs as we’ll get
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Every year the Canadian Hockey League gathers the top ranked prospects playing in the Western, Ontario, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey Leagues and puts on a showcase event after the World Juniors have ended and we begin to turn an eye to the NHL draft.

This year the 2020 Kubota NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game is tonight at 7PM at F1rstOntario Centre in Hamilton, and if you can’t make it, the game will be on Sportsnet, TVA Sports, the NHL Network and CHL Live.

There’s a lot of availability for these players to show off their skills, and there are a lot of more qualified people writing about how well a player releases a shot, or who has the best saucer pass. When I went to the Top Prospects game in Guelph in 2018 there was a whole day spent in the gym as players had their own combine, and all I really learned was I had no idea what was happening aside from how much the sweat smell was increasing as the day went on.

However, I did find out that the best part of the entire event was flipping through the media guide and picking apart the oddest aspects of the profiles, then bothering those teens with that information.

I have a job now, unlike in 2018, so I couldn’t go and get the full prospects experience this year. I’ll be at the game in Hamilton tonight, but first I thought I’d peruse the media guide to find out more about these teens.

2020 Top Prospects Game roster

Name Position Team League NHL Scouting Rank TP Team Fave NHL Team Fave NHLer Fave Athlete Little known fact
Name Position Team League NHL Scouting Rank TP Team Fave NHL Team Fave NHLer Fave Athlete Little known fact
Jeremie Poirier D Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL 16th Red Washington Capitals Thomas Chabot Tiger Woods Good at Fishing
Lukas Cormier D Charlottetown Islanders QMJHL 27th Red Pittsburgh Penguins Kris Letang LeBron James Skipped a grade in school
Jamie Drysdale D Erie Otters OHL 3rd Red Toronto Maple Leafs Morgan Rielly Fred VanVleet N/A
Thimo Nickl D Drummondville Voltiguers QMJHL 51st Red Chicago Blackhawks Erik Karlsson Erik Karlsson Always Laughing
Donovan Sebrango D Kitchener Rangers OHL 59th Red Ottawa Senators Erik Karlsson Ray Lewis Lovs Cats
Kasper Puutio D Swift Current Broncos WHL 84th Red Vegas Golden Knights Charlie McAvoy Sidney Crosby Loves Dogs
Ozzy Wiesblatt F Prince Albert Raiders WHL 14th Red Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby Tom Brady Knows 4 languages
Jacob Perrault F Sarnia Sting OHL 17th Red Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane Steph Curry Fluent in English and French
Jean-Luc Foudy F Windsor Spitfires OHL 20th Red Toronto Maple Leafs Erik Karlsson Usian Bolt N/A
Justin Sourdif F Vancouver Giants WHL 23rd Red Washington Capitals TJ Oshie Aaron Rodgers Enjoys Formula 1
Quinton Byfield F Sudbury Wolves OHL 2nd Red Tampa Bay Lightning Cale Makar Ja Morant Loves Ice Cream
Jake Neighbours F Edmonton Oil Kings WHL 30th Red Edmonton Oilers Matthew Tkachuk Pascal Siakim An only child - exccept his multiple step-siblings
Antonio Stranges F London Knights OHL 39th Red Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane Tom Brady N/A
Jack Finley F Spokane Chiefs WHL 46th Red Detroit Red Wings Auston Matthews Auston Matthews Can ride a unicycle
Luke Evangelista F London Knights OHL 58th Red Toronto Maple Leafs Nathan MacKinnon LeBron James Has two metal platers in his left arm
Marco Rossi F Ottawa 67's OHL 5th Red None Pavel Datsyuk Dominic Thiem N/A
Dawson Mercer F Chicoutimi Sagueens QMJHL 6th Red None Patrice Bergeron Patrice Bergeron Was a competetive swimmer
Jack Quinn F Ottawa 67's OHL 9th Red Ottawa Senators Nathan MacKinnon Tiger Woods Good golfer
Nico Daws G Guelph Storm OHL 1st - Goalie Red Toronto Maple Leafs John Gibson Braden Holtby Born in Germany
Brock Gould G Moose Jaw Warriors WHL 4th - Goalie Red Colorado Avalanche Marc-Andre Fleury Lamar Jackson Loves to fish & play guitar
Ryan O'Rourke D Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 32nd White Los Angeles Kings Drew Doughty Jordan Spieth Off-the wall sense of humour
Christoffer Sedoff D Red Deer Rebels WHL 50th White Chicago Blackhawks Roman Josi LeBron James Shares a birthday with his father
Jack Thompson D Sudbury Wolves OHL 67th White Toronto Maple Leafs Drew Doughty Ricky Fowler Good golfer
Kaiden Guhle D Prince Albert Raiders WHL 7th White Edmonton Oilers Drew Doughty LeBron James Has a scar from a toy lightsabre
Luke Prokop D Calgary Hitmen WHL 86th White Edmonton Oilers Shea Weber LeBron James Loves puzzles
Braden Schneider D Brandon Wheat Kings WHL 8th White Vancouver Canucks Shea Weber Giannis Antetokounmpo Likes fishing
Connor Zary F Kamloops Blazers WHL 12th White Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews Sidney Crosby Played many sports
Seth Jarvis F Portland Winterhawks WHL 19th White Winnipeg Jets* Claude Giroux Saquon Barkley Played football
Alexis Lafrieniere F Rimouski Oceanic QMJHL 1st White Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane Roger Federer Played Baseball
Will Cuylle F Windsor Spitfires OHL 21st White Boston Bruins Tom Wilson Tom Wilson Star Wars nerd
Mavrik Bourque F Shawinigan Cataraces QMJHL 24th White Montreal Canadiens Matthew Barzal Sidney Crosby N/A
Ridly Grieg F Brandon Wheat Kings WHL 25th White Philadelphia Flyers Claude Giroux Claude Giroux Played in 2 Little League World Series
Vasily Ponomarev F Shawinigan Cataraces QMJHL 29th White N/A N/A N/A N/A
Jaromir Pytlik F Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 38th White None Connor McDavid Conor McGregor N/A
Tyson Foerster F Barrie Colts OHL 41st White Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin Alexander Ovechkin Has Walked the Great Wall of China
Ryan Francis F Cape Breton Quiet Eagles QMJHL 42nd White Pittsburgh Penguins Matthew Barzal Kawhi Leonard Enjoys PEI
Brandon Coe F North Bay Battalion OHL 47th White Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby Sidney Crosby good at drawing
Cole Perfetti F Saginaw Spirit OHL 4th White None Mitch Marner LeBron James Can solve a rubik's cube in under 1 min
Samuel Hlavaj G Sherbrooke Phoenix QMJHL 3rd - Goalie White Tampa Bay Lightning Andrei Vasilevskiy Conor McGregor N/A
Dylan Garand G Kamloops Blazers WHL 7th - Goalie White Montreal Canadiens Sergei Bobrovsky Grant Fuhr Drinks 12-15 bottles of water a day

My favourite part of this guide is always the “little known fact” section. Some players know exactly what we’re looking to see, like Will Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires is a big ol’ Star Wars nerd or that Dylan Garand of the Kamloops Blazers is some kind of sentient jellyfish and needs 15 bottles of water a day to stay alive. Others don’t quite get the “little known facts” and let us know that they like ice cream - thanks Quinton Byfield.

We can also sort the players by how smart they are as hockey fans; who likes the Toronto Maple Leafs? Who does not? I’ve tallied the results, and here they are:

Most Popular NHL Team:
Toronto Maple Leafs

Six players named the Toronto Maple Leafs as their favourite NHL team: Nico Daws (Guelph Storm), Jamie Drysdale (Erie Otters), Luke Evangelista (London Knights), Jean-Luc Foudy (Windsor Spitfires), Jack Thompson (Sudbury Wolves), and Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers).

The second most popular teams are the Chicago Blackhawks and ‘none’ with five players each picking those as responses. After those two illustrious answers are the Pittsburgh Penguins (4), Washington Capitals/Edmonton Oilers (3), Montreal Canadiens/Ottawa Senators/Tampa Bay Lightning (2), and the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, and the Vegas Golden Knights each get a nod of appreciation.

Favourite NHL Player:
Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Patrick Kane

Those four players were mentioned three times each by prospects as their favourite NHL player. Auston Matthews (2 - Jack Finley, Spokane & Connor Zary, Kamloops) and Mitch Marner (1 - Cole Perfetti, Saginaw) were also mentioned.

Sidney Crosby got two nods as a favourite player but Connor McDavid? Not cared for much at all.

Favourite Athlete:
LeBron James

James got mentioned six times as a players favourite athlete, someone to look up to. Back in 2018 non-hockey players weren’t mentioned a lot, but this year players are branching out more when finding athletes to look up to. In fact only 12 prospects named a hockey player as their favourite athlete, 28 went out to other sports with NBA players making up the majority of those picks.

Who should we be watching?

With the Maple Leafs not having a first round pick this year, we’ll be looking to hit a home run in the second round like we did last year with Nick Robertson. We’re looking for a late teens/early 20s pick at worst so players ranked in the 50’s would be what we want to see. Below are the best players in the Leafs range playing tonight:

Christoffer Sedoff - Ranked 50th
Hometown: Helsinki, Finland
D - Red Deer Rebels, WHL
Stats: 41GP - 3G - 12A - 15Pts
Nickname: “Seds”
Loves math, favourite fan memory is the Blackhawks 3 Stanley Cups, and this is his first year playing in North America

NHL Central Scouting:
Smart two way defender that has offensive upside – among the league leaders for rookie scoring by defenseman – plays top pair minutes in all situations as a first year player – very good mobility, and closes out the opposition very well – smart puck mover that sees the ice well and can pick apart the forecheck – good skater that is strong on his skates and difficult to knock off the puck – played for Team Finland in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Thimo Nickl - Ranked 51st
Hometown: Klagenfurt, Austria
D - Drummondville Voltiguers
Stats: 36GP - 6G - 19A - 25Pts
Says he loves to laugh, enjoys math, and wants to study medicine

NHL Central Scouting:
Solid two-way defenseman that brings a good puck game and a physical element – good size and uses it well; defends well using his stick and body position – strong skater with good mobility & agility – hard shot from the point – plays big minutes for Drummondville in all situations; plays an important role on the power play and penalty killing unit – played for Austria at the U20 World Junior Championships.

Donovan Sebrango - Ranked 59th
Hometown: Kingston, ON
D - Kitchener Rangers
Stats: 35GP - 3G - 15A - 18Pts
Nickname: “Jango”
His mother ran the National women’s soccer team and his father was a professional soccer player

NHL Central Scouting:
Is a defenseman that plays a strong two-way game. A skilled defender with a high compete level that plays physical and is willing to battle while playing a positionally sound game. A mobile puck moving D with great vision who makes smart decisions with the puck and possess a hard-accurate shot from the point. Calm and composed with the puck and the ability to skate the puck out of trouble or advance it with smart accurate up-ice passes hitting teammates in stride. Proficient along the offensive blue-line, making well-timed pinches and jumping down to create scoring chances in the offensive zone.

Luke Evangelista - Ranked 58th
Hometown: Oakville, ON
F - London Knights
Stats: 40GP - 16G - 24A - 40Pts
Nickname: “Vange”
Second cousin to Brendan Shanahan, wears 14 because it was his draft number, Superstitions include never letting a fresh tape job touch the ground before a game.

NHL Central Scouting:
Play-making winger with exceptional vision who can make plays in both space and in traffic – possesses an impressive set of hands and can control the puck moving with speed or maneuver through traffic to make plays – has a hard-accurate shot with a quick release – A strong skater with good quickness and edge-work. An intelligent player who shows an ability to set-up teammates for chances and also puts himself in good scoring positions – strong along the boards and is willing to crash the net for rebounds and loose pucks and is an asset on the power play.

Jack Thompson - Ranked 67th
Hometown: Courtice, ON
D - Sudbury Wolves
Stats: 41GP - 10G - 11A - 21Pts
Nickname: “Thommer”
Loves the Maple Leafs, favourite hockey memory was his first Leafs game, is even ranked 67th. Guaranteed not to be drafted by Toronto.

NHL Central Scouting:
Very good skater that is hard and direct on plays – Quick feet and very good mobility and is quick to join the play up ice – Moves the puck well and finds the right support to advance play from his own zone – Heads up game with the puck and can execute passes in all zones – Works the offensive zone blueline well and gets off a quick release shot from the point – Good choices when to pinch and is effective keeping plays alive and maintaining zone time – Activates in the o-zone at the right times with a purpose and has goal scoring ability in tight – Good positional defender that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes – Good recovery gear to get back quickly on plays – Plays a calm and steady positional game – Quick to retrieve pucks – Strong compete level – Steady two-way defenceman.

If only he could wear a hat properly...

Tonight you can see all of these kids on the ice in the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects game presented by Kubota; Kubota - the preferred tractor of teenagers in 2020.