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Benson, Tkachuk named captains for Prospects Game

by Mike G. Morreale

Vancouver left wing Tyler Benson and London left wing Matthew Tkachuk, each an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list for the 2016 NHL Draft, were named captains Wednesday for their respective teams at the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will be played at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver on Jan. 28 (9 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports).

Benson will captain Team Don Cherry with alternate captains Jakob Chychrun of Sarnia and Julien Gauthier of Val-d'Or. Tkachuk will captain Team Bobby Orr with alternates Jake Bean of Calgary and Pierre-Luc Dubois of Cape Breton.

Benson's status for the game remains in question since he hasn't played since Dec. 30 after sustaining a lower-body injury. The Giants list him as week-to-week. At the time of his injury, Benson had 17 points in 13 games.

Benson missed the first month of 2015-16 after having surgery to remove a cyst near his tailbone.

"We want to make sure he's back at 100 percent before we put him back on the ice again, because throughout it all, at best he was 80 percent," Vancouver coach Lorne Molleken told "So it speaks volumes about his character and how much he wanted to be on the ice to help his team.

"Right now, our goal is to have him play in the [Top Prospects Game]."

The CHL/NHL Top Prospects 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.

Tkachuk (6-foot-1, 195 pounds), the son of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Keith Tkachuk, has 15 goals and 61 points as a rookie in the OHL this season. He had 11 points to help the United States to a bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland.

Benson, who is captain for Vancouver this season, has eight goals and 26 points in 28 games in his second full season with the Giants in the WHL. He represented Canada in the 2015 Under-18 World Championship and the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, helping his country to a bronze and gold medal, respectively.

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).

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



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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