HAMILTON — The Top 40 draft eligible players from the CHL for June’s NHL Draft descended in Hamilton over the last few days and wrapped up with the Top Prospects Game on Thursday night.
NHL Central Scouting released its midterm rankings earlier in the week, which laid the groundwork for where each player was at entering the game.
While Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic is a very firm No. 1 on the list, there were several players at FirstOntario Centre who were looking to raise their draft stock with NHL scouts and executives on hand.
With that in mind, here’s five players who were able to do so, and where Central Scouting ranked them among North Americans at the mid-way point of the season.
Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa 67’s — Rank: No. 9
Quinn displayed a strong two-way game and earned player of the game honours for Team Red after scoring its second goal of the game late in the first period.
His strong positioning in front of the net led to the goal and he showed poise throughout the game by holding onto the puck to create more scoring opportunities.
The 18-year-old from Cobden, Ont., had a nice deke on defenceman Jamie Drysdale (ranked No. 3) in the second period.
Quinn’s backcheck and strength on the puck were also impressive.
He’s picked up his game over the past month and a strong performance Thursday could help jump start an even better second half.
Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John Sea Dogs — Rank: No. 16
Paired with Drysdale, Poirier looked comfortable on the left side and showed good puck control off the opening faceoff.
Jumping into the play and carrying the puck are part of his game and he showed plenty of it throughout the match. It led to a first period goal as he came down from the point to wire a slap shot into the back of the net.
Poirier took a big hit in the second, but bounced right back up and also had a nice dangle to open the third before being stopped by goaltender Dylan Garand. He led the game with five shots.
Currently third in defencemen scoring in the QMJHL, Poirier’s nice offensive touch could help him going forward.
Connor Zary, C, Kamloops Blazers — Rank: No. 12
Zary showed he’s more than just a sniper on Thursday with three beautiful assists for Team White.
Not only was his vision really good, but he also had a few scoring opportunities and was 9-of-13 in the face-off circle.
His performance was just another positive step forward after some good showings earlier this season in the spotlight, most notably in the Canada-Russia Series. It helped him get a late invite to Canada’s world junior camp although he was later cut.
Playing on a strong Kamloops Blazers team, Zary will only have more chances to shine going forward.
Kasper Puutio, D, Everett Silvertips — Rank: No. 84
The second-lowest ranked player participating at the Top Prospects Game was able to stand out by using his strength.
He wasn’t afraid to throw his body around and had a pair of big hits and some nice defensive stops.
The Finnish defenceman, listed at six feet and 185 pounds, had some solid stick play and was able to use a long reach to knock pucks away on the opposition’s scoring opportunities.
Puutio is a stay at home defenceman who was just traded to the Everett Silvertips from Swift Current.
Tyson Foerster, RW, Barrie Colts — Rank: No. 41
Foerster calls his shot his greatest strength and it was evident during this game, scoring two goals and adding an assist.
Both goals featured his nice shot, with the first one placed perfectly under goaltender Brock Gould’s blocker and the second one going top corner after a nice passing play.
His third period assist on defenceman Braden Schneider’s goal was a nice one and any time you can put up points in these types of games, it will only help you in the eyes of scouts.
Foerster will now go back to a Barrie team that recently traded star forward Ryan Suzuki, so Foerster — the team’s leading scoring — will be leading the charge.