The annual marquee draft event, the CHL Top Prospects Game just concluded with Team Cherry taking home the 7-4 victory over Team Orr. The result of the game really doesn’t matter but the showcase of the best CHL prospects from the trio of the WHL, OHL and QMJHL leagues all in one place is a scouting dream. It’s just one snippet of the process but full steam ahead now into the second half of the draft season when teams start to narrow lists and focus on who they would like to select one the NHL entry draft in June.
The top duo in this event were forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina. Both are highly skilled and powerful wingers and should go very high in the draft, possibly both in the top three. However, the order in which the two will go off the board is getting murkier and I suspect will become a greater conversation through the spring. Svechnikov hasn’t done anything to really lose his spot as he is a smooth, powerful and cerebral player with NHL ready size and good defensive responsibly already in his game. Svechnikov hasn’t had that signature wow moment on a big stage while Zadina can’t stay off the scoreboard with two goals and seven shots in this event to just one shot from Svechnikov. Zadina is always lurking around the net with and without the puck, it is very difficult to deny the fact that he is going to somehow deposit the puck in the back of the net. Zadina scored off of one of his signature shots in the slot but also offered up a terrific diving lunge at a rebound for his second tally which no doubt impressed those in attendance.
Avalanche fans are going to need to have Serron Noel on their radar sooner or later because if a scoring right winger is what they want Noel has the package and then some. Noel is a giant 6’5 power winger who skates like the wind and has the skill to go along with goal scoring ability. He is still a bit awkward and raw at times and his game overall falls into inconsistent patterns not uncommon for big players. But he was all over the ice in this contest and not afraid to make plays. Noel scored a goal off a nice tip from in front of the net and overall had one of the more standout showings.
The Top Prospects Game always offers the opportunity for one or two under the radar players to step up and make a name for themselves and that was the case for a couple of OHL forwards in Aidan Dudas and Ty Dellandrea. Along with Zadina both scored two goals for Team Cherry to help seal the victory. Dudas is a 5’8 spark plug from Owen Sound and was a last minute injury replacement for one of my favorites Kody Clark. Dudas certainly made the most of his opportunity with his relentless energy and knack for making things happen. Dellandrea is a bigger forward at 6’0 but also played with a lot of determination. They were ranked 131 and 76 respectively by the just released NHL Central Scouting list and will no doubt find themselves higher than those rankings due to this event.
— Shayne Pasquino (@shaynepasquino) January 26, 2018
Judging how the group of high end defensemen stack up next to each other was another storyline going into the event but ended up with few answers. Evan Bouchard seemed to cement himself as a probable top 10 pick with tying a tournament record four assists and was named top player for Team Cherry. Kevin Bahl took the same honors for the losing Team Orr squad with a goal and an assist to his credit. Hot names Ty Smith and Noah Dobson showed their skills but each had a rougher outing for Team Orr and Smith in particular was on the ice for four of the goals that went against them. This isn’t a concern individually as this game has loose defensive structure to begin with but just not the outing some hoped to have. A duo of giant QMJHL defensemen Xavier Bouchard and Xavier Bernard both showed well and eventually will be under the radar gems somewhere in the top 100 picks for teams who took the time to scout them.
This is definitely not the event for goaltenders with the aforementioned loose defensive structure but nonetheless the top four NHL Central Scouting rated goalies were in this event. Alexis Gravel had the toughest time with five goals against and looked the most awkward of the four that evening. Olivier Rodrigue just keeps chugging along picking up accolades as he only gave up one goal and got credited for the Team Cherry victory.
Check back early next week for a special Midseason deep dive draft podcast. Any questions please leave in the comments. As always, look out for more draft coverage as the second half of draft season is beginning to heat up.