A future Blackhawks player may take the ice Wednesday for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at ENMAX Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta.
The game will feature 19 of the top 31 players in Central Scouting’s midterm ranking of North American skaters for this June’s NHL draft, which will be June 21-22 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Former NHL goaltender Kelly Hrudey will coach Team Bobby Orr and Team Don Cherry will be coached by Sportsnet’s “Hockey Night in Canada” host Ron MacLean. The game includes 15 players from the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League, and 10 from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
In 2017, defenseman Henri Jokiharju was named the player of the game for Team Cherry before he was drafted in the first round by Chicago. The rookie has 12 assists in 37 NHL games this season for the Blackhawks, who sit in 27th place in the 31-team league with 45 points.
The top two players to watch in this year’s game are WHL centers Kirby Dach and Dylan Cozens, who rank No. 2 and 3, respectively, in midterm rankings behind Jack Hughes of the United States National Development Program. Dach will captain Team Orr, while Cozens wears the captain’s C for Team Cherry.
Dach (6-foot-3, 199 pounds) paces the Saskatoon Blades with 50 points (18 goals, 32 assists) in 43 games. He has great vision, passing and puckhandling skills, and can quarterback a power play.
Kirby Dach's vision and puckhandling gets lots of talk (deservedly so), but I've also been impressed with his defence. He's so active on the backcheck, preventing entries and forcing dump ins.— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) October 12, 2018
A few clips from Oct 5. He led his team in failed entries against (6).#2019NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/wrWqEVh7vA
Cozens (6-3, 181) is second in scoring with the Lethbridge Hurricanes at 58 points (25 goals, 33 assists) in 45 games. Nick Henry, a 2017 fourth-round draft pick by Colorado, leads Lethbridge in scoring at 65 points (18 goals, 47 assists). Cozens has a powerful and accurate right-handed shot, and great speed to pull away from defenders.
- Reaction with Puck
- Grip Left
- Grip Right
- 30-meter Forward Skate
- Transition Agility with Puck
- Weave Agility
- Weave Agility with Puck
- Broad Jump
Top skating talents:— CanadianHockeyLeague (@CHLHockey) January 23, 2019
Here’s a closer look at #NHLDraft prospects Dylan Cozens of @WHLHurricanes, Brett Leason of @PARaidersHockey, and Raphael Lavoie of @HFXMooseheads who scored highest in on-ice drills at the @SportTesting #SWTP Combine pic.twitter.com/a6IdM8NKby
The game will have four other players ranked in the top 10: No. 4 defenseman Bowen Byram of WHL Vancouver, No. 8 center Peyton Krebs of WHL Kootenay, No. 9 defenseman Thomas Harley of OHL Mississauga and No. 10 center Ryan Suzuki of OHL Barrie.
Krebs (5-11, 180) paces the Ice with 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists) in 44 games, while Suzuki (6 foot, 170) has 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists) in 41 contests. Suzuki was selected first overall in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, and is the younger brother of Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki (2017 first rounder by Vegas).
How to watch
What: CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: ENMAX Centrium; Red Deer, Alberta
TV: NHL Network