With Thursday’s BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game taking centre stage around the hockey world thanks to the NHL going dark in preparation for All-Star Weekend, all eyes will be opn the Canadian Hockey League’s top NHL Draft-eligible players.
Each month, Damien Cox releases his NHL Draft rankings. Below you’ll find power rankings of CHLers to watch in tonight’s game based on Cox’s January list. Numbers in parentheses are the December rankings. Some players are also injured or ill and will not play.
Catch the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game live at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet 590 The Fan and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. Also, watch along on sportsnet.ca with a live stream of the ref cam and highlights as they happen.
Be sure to follow @SNetJunior for live tweets, including scouting takes on all the players.
1. (1) Connor McDavid, C, Erie (OHL) Any doubt anyone should have had erased by his strong world juniors. With the Otters reinforced by trades, they should beready to take run at MasterCard Memorial Cup.
4. (4) Lawson Crouse, LW, Kingston (OHL) Strong play in a support role for Canada at world juniors solidified his top-5 standing.
5. (5) Dylan Strome, C, Erie (OHL) He plays in Top Prospects game next week four years after his brother, Ryan, played in the same game.
7. (6) Mitch Marner, C, London (OHL) Leads Ontario league in scoring, averaging more than two points per game.
8. (7) Mathew Barzal, C, Seattle (WHL) As with Morgan Rielly and Alex Galchenyuk in 2012, it’s going to be a challenge for scouts to evaluate his partial season. He’s played just 16 games so far.
10. (9) Nick Merkley, RW, Kelowna (WHL) With Medicine Hat forwards getting hot, has fallen to third in WHL scoring. The addition of Leon Draisatl could help him face weaker checking.
11. (10) Ivan Provorov, D, Brandon (WHL) Almost a point-per-game with the Wheat Kings. He’s physically strong, doesn’t get rattled and is poised beyond his years say scouts.
12. (12) Pavel Zacha, C, Sarnia (OHL) A first half puzzle. Was suspended twice and had an average world juniors. Scouts need to see more from Zacha in second half to get him back into top 10.
13. (16) Daniel Sprong, RW, Charlottetown (QMJHL) Given that the Dutch-born forward didn’t have a team to play for at the world juniors, scouts will be eying him closely at the Top Prospects Game.
14. (15) Travis Konecny, C/RW, Ottawa (OHL) His season is picking up steam as the 67’s continue to surprise in OHL’s Eastern Conference.
15. (14) Filip Chlapik, C, Charlottetown (QMJHL) Failed to make the Czech team for world juniors, but has the size and hands to get scouts’ attention.
16. (17) Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John (QMJHL) Also didn’t make Czech team and was then felled by a knee injury and isn’t expected to appear in Top Prospects Game.
20. (20) Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke (QMJHL) Leads all Quebec league defencemen in scoring with five goals and 33 points.
21. (23) Evgeni Svechnikov, RW, Cape Breton (QMJHL) The No. 1 star in QMJHL last week with three goals and nine points in three games.
22. (21) Matthew Spencer, D, Peterborough (OHL) Will face new challenges playing for the Petes after top veterans were traded away at the deadline. Steady force at back end.
23. (NR) Thomas Chabot, D, Saint John (QMJHL) Trending upwards aggressively. He’s a strong mobile skater making move similar to Travis Sanheim last June, who went 17th.
24. (24) Nikita Korostelev, RW, Sarnia (OHL) A shoulder injury may keep him out of Top Prospects Game. But he’s pure scorer—16 goals in 34 games.
26. (27) Timo Meier, RW, Halifax (QMJHL) Continued to impress scouts skating for Switzerland at the world juniors. Plays a North American style game.
27. (28) Paul Bittner, LW, Portland (WHL) His season has picked up with 18 goals. Scouts love the size (6-foot-4, 202 lb.), but want to see more consistency in the second half.
28. (30) Adam Marsh, LW, Saint John (QMJHL) Perhaps a dark horse in the draft. Good with puck in the offensive zone with a big-time shot.
On The Radar
Brandon Carlo, D, Tri-City (WHL)
Nicolas Roy, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Dennis Yan, LW, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Nicolas Meloche, D, Baie Comeau (QMJHL)
Vince Dunn, D, Niagara (OHL)
Noah Juulsen, D, Everett (WHL)
Blake Speers, RW, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Jansen Harkins, C, Prince George (WHL)