Chychrun leads roster for Top Prospects Game

Thursday, 01.07.2016 / 2:05 PM
Mike G. Morreale  - Staff Writer

Jakob Chychrun and Olli Juolevi, two of the top defense prospects for the 2016 NHL Draft were among the 40 players from the Canadian Hockey League picked Thursday to play in the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, to be played at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver on Jan. 28 (9 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports).

The game will include 20 prospects from the Ontario Hockey League, 12 from the Western Hockey League, and eight from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The players competing in the game were chosen by the 30 NHL teams; the rosters were set by NHL Central Scouting.

"The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game provides a unique opportunity for NHL scouts and general managers to evaluate top CHL talent for the 2016 NHL Draft in a best-on-best competition," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "The game is also a unique opportunity for the players to take advantage of the spotlight in what is consistently an exciting and highly competitive showcase."

Chychrun, who plays for Sarnia in the OHL, will be a key part of Team Cherry. He has five goals and 19 assists in 33 games, and his 24 points ranks in the top 10 among OHL defensemen. He's expected to be the first defenseman picked at the 2016 draft.

"I watched the Top Prospects Game last year and it was unbelievable hockey," Chychrun said. "When you get that much talent on one ice surface it's always fun to watch. I remember how great it was to see how competitive the game was. You really see players trying to get their names out there, where they should be, and it was a very physical and highly skilled game. I think it's going to be awesome to play in this type of game."

Val-d'Or (QMJHL) forward Julien Gauthier, who played for Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, and Erie (OHL) forward Alexander DeBrincat, who helped the United States win the bronze medal at the WJC, also will be on Team Cherry.

Juolevi, who plays for London of the OHL, has four goals and 23 points in 28 games. The 6-foot-2, 179-pound left shot defender also was a big reason Finland won the gold medal at the WJC. He tied for the WJC lead among defensemen with nine points, and his nine assists were tied for second among all players.

Among those playing with Juolevi on Team Orr is his London teammate, forward Matthew Tkachuk. Tkachuk was part the U.S. bronze medal effort at the WJC. Also on Team Orr is Mississauga (OHL) forward Alexander Nylander, who led Sweden in scoring at the World Juniors.

The 2015 Top Prospects Game featured 13 players invited who went on to be picked in the first round of the 2015 draft, including six of the top 10 picks: Connor McDavid (No. 1, Edmonton Oilers), Dylan Strome (No. 3, Arizona Coyotes), Mitchell Marner (No. 4, Toronto Maple Leafs), Pavel Zacha (No. 6, New Jersey Devils), Ivan Provorov (No. 7, Philadelphia Flyers), and Timo Meier (No. 9, San Jose Sharks).

McDavid also was the 13th player since the first game in 1996 to go from the Top Prospects Game to No. 1 pick of the draft, joining Chris Phillips (1996, Ottawa Senators), Joe Thornton (1997, Boston Bruins), Vincent Lecavalier (1998, Tampa Bay Lightning), Rick Nash (2002, Columbus Blue Jackets), Marc-Andre Fleury (2003, Pittsburgh Penguins), Patrick Kane (2007, Chicago Blackhawks), Steven Stamkos (2008, Tampa Bay Lightning), John Tavares (2009, New York Islanders), Taylor Hall (2010, Edmonton Oilers), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011, Edmonton Oilers), Nathan MacKinnon (2013, Colorado Avalanche) and Aaron Ekblad (2014, Florida Panthers). Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, the first choice of the 2012 draft while playing for Sarnia (OHL), was injured and unable to play in the game.

Coaching the teams will be Hockey Hall of Fame member Bobby Orr and Don Cherry, host of "Coach's Corner" on CBC. It will be the 13th time they have coached against each other in the game.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mikemorrealeNHL



GOALTENDERS: Evan Fitzpatrick, Sherbrooke (QMJHL); Zach Sawchenko, Moose Jaw (WHL)

DEFENSEMEN: Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia (OHL); Kale Clague, Brandon (WHL); Sean Day, Mississauga (OHL); Samuel Girard, Shawinigan (QMJHL); Lucas Johansen, Kelowna (WHL); Markus Niemelainen, Saginaw (OHL)

FORWARDS: Vitaly Abramov, Gatineau (QMJHL); Tyler Benson, Vancouver (WHL); Logan Brown, Windsor (OHL); Alexander DeBrincat, Erie (OHL); Dillon Dube, Kelowna (WHL); Julien Gauthier, Val-d'Or (QMJHL); Tim Gettinger, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL); Noah Gregor, Moose Jaw (WHL); Max Jones, London (OHL); Jordan Kyrou, Sarnia (OHL); Michael McLeod, Mississauga (OHL); Sam Steel, Regina (WHL)


GOALTENDERS: Carter Hart, Everett (WHL); Dylan Wells, Peterborough (OHL)

DEFENSEMEN: Jake Bean, Calgary (WHL); Luke Green, Saint John (QMJHL); Libor Hajek, Saskatoon (WHL); Olli Juolevi, London (OHL); Mikhail Sergachev, Windsor (OHL); Logan Stanley, Windsor (OHL)

FORWARDS: Nathan Bastian, Mississauga (OHL); Will Bitten, Flint (OHL); Pierre-Luc Dubois, Cape Breton (QMJHL); Brett Howden, Moose Jaw (WHL); Boris Katchouk, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL); Jack Kopacka, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL); Pascal Laberge, Victoriaville (QMJHL); Alexander Nylander, Mississauga (OHL); Taylor Raddysh, Erie (OHL); Otto Somppi, Halifax (QMJHL); Simon Stransky, Prince Albert (WHL); Matthew Tkachuk, London (OHL)

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