40 of the CHL’s Top Draft eligible prospects have come from far and wide, descending on Quebec City for the 22nd Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Monday.
Players took in the sights of the state-of-the-art Centre Vidéotron and met their new teammates upon arrival Saturday evening.
“It’s quite the sight,” said Team Cherry captain Nolan Patrick (Brandon Wheat Kings). “A nice thing to see at the end of a long day. This is the nicest rink I think I’ve ever seen. It’s very big and the ice looks good, so I’m excited to get out there.”
The top ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings released on January 18th, Patrick wears the ‘C’ for Team Cherry, trying to lead his club back into the win column for the first time since back in 2010.
Patrick, who recently overcame an injury that sidelined him from early October to mid-January, has 17 points (8-9–17) in 11 games with Brandon this season.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun with that much skill and talent on the ice at one time,” he noted. “I’m not putting any added pressure on myself. I’m just going to go out there, work hard and have fun and the rest will take care of itself.”
The second ranked North American skater in the Midterms, Swiss scorer Nico Hischier (Halifax Mooseheads) will wear the ‘C’ for Team Orr. He immediately acknowledged the special opportunity upon his arrival.
“It really is an honour to be chosen as captain,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting with my new teammates and getting ready to play together on Monday.”
Hischier, who comes off a tremendous showing at the World Junior Hockey Championship last month, is honoured by comparisons to recent Halifax Moosheads greats in Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon, both competitors in the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
“Those guys are both great players,” he said, “but I have to just stick to being Nico and continuing to do the things that have brought me success. I am really looking forward to the game.”
24 of the top 31 ranked skaters in the NHL Central Scouting Midterms are competing in the game that will feature Québec Remparts graduate and long-time NHL forward Simon Gagné behind the bench of Team Cherry while QMJHL coaching legend Guy Chouinard serves as the head coach of Team Orr.
Of the 40 CHL players suiting up on Monday, the OHL leads the way, providing 19 players from 11 different teams, followed closely by the WHL with 15 players from 11 different teams and the QMJHL with six players from six teams.
The Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is back in Quebec City for the first time since 2007 when Remparts forward Ruslan Bashkirov potted a pair of goals to lead Team Burns-Bergeron to a 5-3 win over Team Bowman-Demers at the Colisée.
Two well-balanced teams will undergo on and off-ice testing on Sunday along with interviews with participating media before Monday’s big game that gets underway at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT. The game can be seen live across the country on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and in the United States on the NHL Network.