2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters Announced

40 top NHL Draft eligible CHL players will compete January 28, 2016, in Vancouver, BC
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Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with the host Vancouver Giants Hockey Club, and title partner BMO Financial Group, today announced the 40 players that will compete in the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver, BC, on Thursday January 28, 2016.

The 40 CHL players competing in the game were chosen by all 30 NHL clubs and divided into teams by NHL Central Scouting.  This season’s event marks the 21st annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL Draft eligible players featuring talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League competing before hundreds of NHL scouts in attendance.

“The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is one of the highlights of the hockey season,” said CHL President David Branch. “Since 1996 the CHL’s top prospects have showcased their skills in this event providing NHL scouts, General Managers, and fans the opportunity to catch the next wave of NHL talent which in recent years has featured first overall picks Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. We look forward to January 28 with coaches Don Cherry and Bobby Orr, and 40 of the top CHL players eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft competing before the passionate hockey fans in Vancouver and to CHL fans across Canada watching live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.”

The Giants’ Tyler Benson and Port Moody, BC, native Lucas Johansen of the Kelowna Rockets are among the 20 players to suit up for Team Cherry along with Canadian National Junior Team member Julien Gauthier of the Val-d’Or Foreurs, and OHL top goal scorer Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters who won World Junior bronze with the United States.  Team Orr features World Junior gold medalist Olli Juolevi of the London Knights, fellow Knight and World Junior bronze medalist Matthew Tkachuk, Canadian National Junior Team Selection Camp invite Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and Alexander Nylander of the Mississauga Steelheads who led Sweden in World Junior scoring.

“We are thrilled for the up-and-coming talent chosen for this year’s BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game,” said Michael Bonner, Senior Vice President, BC and Yukon Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. “As the Official Bank of the CHL, we’re proud to sponsor an event that allows Canadians to watch some of the top young athletes across the country, and we’re excited to bring them to Vancouver later this month.”

25 of the CHL’s 60 member clubs are represented on the rosters.  The 40 competing players include 20 from the OHL, 12 from the WHL, and eight from the QMJHL.  13 CHL Players who competed in the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in St. Catharines, ON, were selected in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft.  In 20 years, 278 CHL players from this event have been chosen by NHL clubs in the first round of the NHL Draft representing 47% of all players selected.

“The BMO 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,” said NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr. “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.”

Since the event was first introduced in 1996 the game has featured 13 players selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft including Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Marc-Andre Fleury, Rick Nash, Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton, and Chris Phillips.

2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters:

Team Cherry:

Goaltenders:

Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke Phoenix)

Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Defencemen:

Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting)

Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings)

Sean Day (Mississauga Steelheads)

Samuel Girard (Shawinigan Cataractes)

Lucas Johansen (Kelowna Rockets)

Markus Niemelainen (Saginaw Spirit)

 Forwards:

Vitalii Abramov (Gatineau Olympiques)

Tyler Benson (Vancouver Giants)

Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires)

Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)

Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets)

Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or Foreurs)

Tim Gettinger (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Noah Gregor (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Max Jones (London Knights)

Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)

Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)

Sam Steel (Regina Pats)


Team Orr:

Goaltenders:

Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)

Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes)

Defencemen:

Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen)

Luke Green (Saint John Sea Dogs)

Libor Hajek (Saskatoon Blades)

Olli Juolevi (London Knights)

Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires)

Logan Stanley (Windsor Spitfires)

Forwards:

Nathan Bastian (Mississauga Steelheads)

Will Bitten (Flint Firebirds)

Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)

Brett Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Jack Kopacka (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville Tigres)

Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads)

Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)

Otto Somppi (Halifax Mooseheads)

Simon Stransky (Prince Albert Raiders)

Matthew Tkachuk (London Knights)


The 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner BMO Bank of Montreal, and CHL associate sponsors Cooper Tire, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.

For more information please visit www.bmotopprospects.ca.

BMO and the Canadian Hockey League:
BMO Financial Group and the Canadian Hockey League announced BMO as the Official Bank of the Canadian Hockey League in 2011. The sponsorship builds on BMO’s partnership with the CHL of more than 10 years and affirms BMO’s exclusivity as a financial services sponsor of the league in the retail banking category. It also engrains a presence with the 48 teams which currently participate in the BMO CHL Affinity MasterCard program, which enables CHL fans to support their favourite teams through a co-branded credit card.

Super series

OHL’s Draft Eligible Statistical Leaders: November

The calendar has flipped to December and it’s time to look at various statistical leaders among the Ontario Hockey League players eligible for the 2016 National Hockey League Draft.

As always, we only look at players eligible for the first time – those previously passed over are not included – except for goaltenders where we included those passed over a year ago.

Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters leads not only the draft eligible players in points, but the entire OHL. He’s averaged a hair over 2 points per game with 52 in 25 games. He’s followed closely by the London Knights’ Matthew Tkachuk at 48 points in 24 games. DeBrincat’s teammate Taylor Raddysh is at the head of the next tier with 40 points in 26 games while Alexander Nylander closes out the top 5 with 39 points in 28 games.

DeBrincat also leads the entire OHL in goals with 31, a pace that would equal the OHL record for goals in a season of 87. Nylander sits way back in second with 17 goals followed by the Flint Firebirds’ Will Bitten with 14. Tkachuk and the Kitchener Rangers’ Adam Mascherin follow with 12 a piece.

On defence, the Knights’ Olli Juolevi leads the blue liners with 20 points

Olli Juolevi of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Olli Juolevi of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

in24 games. Markus Niemelainen of the Saginaw Spirit is close behind with 18 points in 26 games followed by Cam Dineen of the North Bay Battalion with 17 and Mikhail Sergachev of the Windsor Spitfires with 16 in 27 games. It’s interesting to note that the top four are all rookies.

Here are the remaining statistical leaders.

Stats 1

Stats 2

Stats 3

Stats 4

Stats 5

Stats 6

Markus Niemelainen – Player Profile – Saginaw Spirit

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 200 pounds

Date of birth: June 8, 1998. Kuopio, Finland

Position: Defence

Catches: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 18th overall, 2015 CHL Import Draft

KHL Draft: Round 3, 63rd overall, 2015 KHL Draft, Dynamo Riga

Niemelainen enters his draft year as one of the most internationally experienced players available for the NHL Draft. He’s played for Finland at the U-16, U-17 and U-18 as well as the WHC U-17, WJC U-18 and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial.

Prior to being selected in the CHL Import Draft, Niemelainen was selected in the KHL Draft. That was followed by being selected by the Fargo Force in the USHL Entry Draft (13th round, 199th overall).

There are a few 6’6” defensemen available from the OHL in the draft class that include Niemelainen’s teammate Keaton Middleton and the Windsor Spitfires Logan Stanley. But unlike his draft cousins, he will need to add plenty of bulk to that imposing frame.

Markus Niemelainen of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Markus Niemelainen of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Niemelainen moves surprisingly well for a player of his size. Despite that skating ability, he’s a pass first defender when trying to clear the zone – a pass he completes extremely well. He also shy’s away from using that skating ability to join in the rush offensively. He’s not a risk taker and plays it extremely safe in that regard. The tools are there and I think the more he becomes accustomed to the North American game, the more they will come to the forefront.

In the offensive zone Niemelainen is not averse to taking chances. However, he’ll need to better choose when to pinch and when to back off. He sometimes shows hesitation or indecisions on when to pinch and can leave himself out of position. He has a deceptively quick release on his shot and he shoots with a purpose – whether he’s shooting to create a rebound or a shot that can easily be tipped in by a teammate. He does possess some intriguing offensive abilities and the vision to be creative.

Defensively, Niemelainen is excellent in his positioning. He knows where to be on the ice and is very adept at blocking lanes. He has a very active stick and his reach is one of his biggest assets. Despite his imposing size, he’s not as physical as he can be – he shows hesitation when the hit is there. Perhaps it’s because he worries about leaving himself out of position or perhaps it will come with the adjustment to the smaller rink and the North American game.

Niemelainen appeared on NHL Central Scouting’s list of players to watch on their preliminary list as a B prospect and remained there on the updated November list. A B prospect is a second or third round prospect.

Niemelainen could very well turn out to be a low risk high reward pick.