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Grigorenko, Murray, Faksa set for Prospects Game

by Mike G. Morreale
Expect hundreds of NHL scouts and general managers to convene in Western Canada next week when the 17th annual Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is held at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C.

"The top prospects game is an event that all NHL scouts look forward to attending," NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr said. "The 40 players competing in this game were chosen by the 30 NHL clubs, with the game being a unique opportunity to evaluate 40 of the top draft-eligible prospects on a single stage in what has annually become an intense competition."

The rosters include many of the top players recognized on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings for North American players, including seven of the top 10 players on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters, and four of Central Scouting's top six goaltenders.

CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters

Team Orr (Coach Pat Quinn)

Goalies -- Malcolm Subban, Belleville Bulls, OHL; Francois Tremblay, Val d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL.

Defensemen -- Gianluca Curcuruto, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL; Matthew Finn, Guelph Storm, OHL; Olli Maatta, London Knights, OHL; Adam Pelech, Erie Otters, OHL; Derrick Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks, WHL; Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL.

Forwards -- Andreas Athanasiou, London Knights, OHL; Francis Beauvillier, Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL; Raphael Bussieres, Baie-Comeau Drakkar, QMJHL; Radek Faksa, Kitchener Rangers, OHL; Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec Remparts, QMJHL; Tomas Hyka, Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL; Scott Kosmachuk, Guelph Storm, OHL; *Matia Marcantuoni, Kitchener Rangers, OHL; **Branden Troock, Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL; Tanner Pearson, Barrie Colts, OHL; Colton Sissons, Kelowna Rockets, WHL; Chandler Stephenson, Regina Pats, WHL; Lukas Sutter, Saskatoon Blades, WHL.

Team Cherry (Coach Mark Recchi)

Goalies -- Matthew Murray, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL; Brandon Whitney, Victoriaville Tigres, QMJHL.

Defensemen -- Cody Ceci, Ottawa 67's, OHL; Mathew Dumba, Red Deer Rebels, WHL; Nick Ebert, Windsor Spitfires, OHL; *Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough Petes, OHL; **Brett Kulak, Vancouver Giants, WHL; Ryan Murray, Everett Silvertips, WHL; Damon Severson, Kelowna Rockets, WHL.

Forwards -- **Tim Bozon, Kamloops Blazers, WHL; Martin Frk, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL; Brendan Gaunce, Belleville Bulls, OHL; Coda Gordon, Swift Current Broncos, WHL; Charles Hudon, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, QMJHL; Scott Laughton, Oshawa Generals, OHL; *Jarrod Maidens, Owen Sound Attack, OHL; Andrew Ryan, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL; Gemel Smith, Owen Sound Attack, OHL; Dominik Volek, Regina Pats, WHL; Thomas Wilson, Plymouth Whalers, OHL; **Mike Winther, Prince Albert Raiders, WHL; *Nail Yakupov, Sarnia Sting, OHL; Daniil Zharkov, Belleville Bulls, OHL.

* - Injured and won't compete
** - Injury replacement
Among the players that will be taking the ice Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 are center Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Central Scouting's No. 2-rated skater, the Everett Silvertips' Ryan Murray, No. 3 on Central Scouting's list and the top-ranked defenseman; and Kitchener Rangers center Radek Faksa, Central Scouting's fourth-ranked skater.

The No. 1 ranked skater, right wing Nail Yakupov of the OHL's Sarnia Sting, will not participate since he is just recovering from a knee injury suffered while playing for Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Also missing from the game will be a few other highly regarded prospects due to injuries -- Sarnia center Alex Galchenyuk, who has missed all season with a knee injury but was ranked No. 2 among OHL skaters in Central Scouting's preliminary rankings; Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Morgan Rielly, who is No. 5 on Central Scouting's midterm rankings but out for the season with a knee injury; and Peterborough Petes defenseman Slater Koekkoek, No. 17 on the midterm rankings but who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Also injured and unable to participate are Owen Sound forward Jarrod Maidens (concussion-like symptoms) and Kitchener Rangers forward Matia Marcantuoni (upper body).

Replacing them are Prince Albert Raiders center Mike Winther, Kamloops Blazers left wing Tim Bozon, Seattle Thunderbirds right wing Branden Troock and Vancouver Giants defenseman Brett Kulak.

Murray joins Tanner Pearson of the Barrie Colts at Top Prospects after helping Canada win the bronze medal at the WJC.

"It is a huge honor to be named to this event and to play alongside some of the best players in the 2012 NHL Draft class," said Murray. "I've had some great friends compete in this game, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins last season, and I am really looking forward to this opportunity."

Thirty of the 59 CHL clubs will be represented in the contest. The host Kelowna Rockets will be represented by forward Colton Sissons and defenseman Damon Severson.

The two-night affair features a skills contest and 3-on-3 challenge on Jan. 31 and the Top Prospects Game on Feb. 1. Former NHL coach Pat Quinn and three-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Recchi will coach the teams. Quinn will serve behind the bench for Team Orr, with Vancouver Giants coach Don Hay assisting him, while Recchi will lead Team Cherry, with Kelowna Rockets coach Ryan Huska assisting him.

"I am looking forward to playing against and meeting the other top draft-eligible players from the CHL," said Grigorenko, who is ranked No. 2 among North American skaters. "I am honored to play among the best NHL prospects and it will be a great challenge for me."

Last year, Nugent-Hopkins became the tenth player to compete in this event since 1996 to be selected with the first pick in an NHL draft, and 19 players who skated in last year's Top Prospects Game were chosen in the first round of the 2011 draft.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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