Hockey bloodlines run deep at 2015 BMO Top Prospects Game
A good portion of those who have ever had the privilege of playing the game of hockey can often point to family influences for spurring their interest in the sport at a relatively young age. Hockey is a fixture in Canadian culture and many young players grow up submerged in the sport from their youth. For some though, the advantage of having hockey in their family bloodlines has paid big dividends and continues to impact their career through childhood and into the next level.
Several players competing in the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on January 22 in St. Catharines have grown up under the family influence of players that carry themselves with a pro mentality day in and day out, doing what it takes to push themselves to be their absolute best and overcome adversity. These beneficiaries of family influence in their hockey careers will put their best foot forward next Thursday when scouts from across the NHL will be in attendance to see the CHL’s best young talent go head-to-head.
DYLAN STROME (C) – Erie Otters (OHL)
It wasn’t long ago that Ryan Strome, now of the NHL’s New York Islanders, suited up for Team Cherry in the 2011 CHL Top Prospects Game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. After being the Isles’ first round, fifth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Ryan Strome is blossoming into the productive NHL forward that so many scouts pegged him to be, scoring seven goals and adding 23 assists in 43 games this season.
Now it’s Dylan’s time to shine. The 17 year-old former Ivan Hlinka Under-18 gold medalist is in his sophomore season with the Erie Otters and sits second in OHL scoring with 28 goals, 48 assists and 76 points in 41 games with a plus-minus rating of plus-31. He’s considered a top draft prospect coming into next Thursday’s game and will aim to improve his stock with a strong performance. Strome has been a winner his entire hockey career, with six GTHL minor hockey titles under his belt and a pair of Ontario championships.
ANTHONY BEAUVILLIER (C) – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Team Cherry’s captain has turned heads in the QMJHL this season with his strong presence through the middle in Shawinigan. Apart from being among the QMJHL’s top scorers with 59 points (29-30–59) in 43 games, the Sorel, QC native has also posted strong peripherals, winning a league-high 611 faceoffs (58.9%) and leading the league in shots on goal with 215. Beauvillier has been strongly influenced by older brother and former Florida Panthers draft pick Francis, who is a 313 game veteran of the QMJHL. Francis Beauvillier is a former third overall pick in the 2009 QMJHL Entry Draft and played with Lewiston, Rimouski and Shawinigan. He also helped Team Orr clinch a 2-1 win in the 2012 Top Prospects Game in Kelowna, BC.
Anthony Beauvillier cites his older brother as his greatest hockey influence. “I always wanted to follow in his footsteps and he is a great role model for me,” he said. Smaller in stature than his 6’1″, 193Ib older brother who he skated alongside in Shawinigan last season, Anthony stands in at 5’10”, 181Ib. right now but is considered a speed threat and a dynamic player. He says his favourite NHL hockey memory was seeing Maxime Talbot score twice for Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final against Detroit.
JAKE DeBRUSK (LW) – Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Similar to the comparison between Canadian National Junior gold medalist Max Domi (London Knights) and his father Tie, Jake DeBrusk compliments his father Louie’s sandpaper and unmistakeable on-ice presence with polish and finesse. A sophomore forward with the Swift Current Broncos, DeBrusk got to see the end of his dad Louie’s pro career that spanned 13 seasons and 1161 penalty minutes in 401 career NHL contests. Now a Rogers Sportsnet hockey analyst, Louie DeBrusk played three seasons with the London Knights (1988-1991) before an NHL career spent with Edmonton, Tampa Bay, Phoenix and Chicago.
The younger DeBrusk has 43 points (23-20–43) in 44 games with the Broncos this season and describes himself as skilled, patient, smart, hard-working and fast.
ADAM MUSIL (C) – Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Coming from an iconic Czech hockey family, Adam Musil stands on the shoulders of giants, citing grandfather and Czech Hockey Hall of Fame member Jaroslav Holik as having the greatest influence on his hockey career. Holik, the father of Adam’s uncle and 1314 game NHL veteran Bobby Holik, played 19 seasons in the Czechoslovakian Elite League and is best known for his 1972 breakaway goal to claim gold over the USSR in the World Championships. Adam’s father Frank Musil enjoyed a 20-year NHL career with Minnesota, Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton and remains on the Oilers’ scouting staff today. Adam’s older brother David was a second round pick by Edmonton in 2011 after playing four WHL seasons between Vancouver and Edmonton. He is patrolling the blueline with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons this season. David represented Team Orr in the 2011 CHL Top Prospects Game.
As for Adam, the 17 year-old has accomplished many things himself. The former sixth overall pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft has 10 goals and 17 assists in 38 games with Red Deer this season. ‘Moose’ also enjoys playing soccer and tennis and cites his favourite NHL player as Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin.
RASMUS ANDERSSON (D) – Barrie Colts (OHL)
A recent addition to Team Cherry’s roster for next week’s game, Andersson is following in the footsteps of his father Peter, who played parts of two seasons in the NHL (1992-1994) with the New York Rangers and the expansion Florida Panthers. Peter Andersson was an offensive blueliner who put up quality production numbers during his pro career in the Swedish Elite League and had six goals and 13 assists in 47 career NHL contests.
Andersson’s brother Calle, like their father Peter, is a fourth round draft pick of the New York Rangers. Two years older than Rasmus, the two brothers played together with Malmo in the Swedish Allsvenskan last season.
Rasmus Andersson leads the Barrie Colts in scoring from the blueline this season with 39 points (8-31–39) in 40 games. He says his favourite hockey memory is watching his father’s first NHL goal on video. Peter Andersson is Rasmus’ biggest supporter and he continues to watch every game.
JANSEN HARKINS (C) – Prince George Cougars (WHL)
A player who has really benefitted from family influences, Jansen Harkins leads the Prince George Cougars in scoring this season with 13 goals and 36 assists in 44 games. Harkins’ father Todd is an 11-year minor pro veteran and is also the current General Manager of the Prince George Cougars. Jansen also had the opportunity to learn from a 78 game NHL veteran in uncle Brett Harkins.
Harkins, who models his game after Anaheim Ducks centreman Ryan Kesler describes himself as competitive, a leader, winner, smart player and a committed teammate. He says his dad Todd has been his greatest influence through years of coaching and support. He was a gold medalist at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament last summer.
NICK MERKLEY (C) – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Like his older brother Jay, Nick Merkley is a former first round WHL Bantam Draft selection and enjoying a great WHL career. Two years his senior, Jay Merkley was the third overall pick by Lethbridge in 2010 before being dealt to Swift Current in January 2013. The elder Merkley is in his fourth WHL season and 10 goals and 15 assists in 35 games for the Broncos who are currently third in the East Division.
While Jay didn’t compete in the CHL Top Prospects Game, Nick Merkley will do so next week for Team Orr as the 5’10”, 187Ib. centreman leads the second ranked team in the CHL in scoring with 13 goals and 50 assists in 44 games. A smooth playmaker, Merkley has fueled the Kelowna attack alongside names like San Jose Sharks prospect Rourke Chartier, Washington Capitals prospect Madison Bowey and Winnipeg Jets first round pick Josh Morrissey. Merkley describes himself as a smart, competitive, fast, aggressive and explosive player.
GUILLAUME BRISEBOIS (D) – Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Like Anthony Beauvillier, Guillaume Brisebois had an older brother who spent significant time in the QMJHL. Mathieu Brisebois manned the blueline for four seasons between Lewiston and Rouyn-Noranda, leading the QMJHL in scoring by defencemen in 2013 with 19 goals, 54 assists and 73 points in 64 games. After splitting time between Rockford and Portland in the AHL last season, the elder Brisebois has spent this season with the ECHL’s Indy Fuel.
Guillaume Brisebois helped Canada win gold at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and has had a productive sophomore season in the QMJHL with three goals and 16 assists in 41 games. An assistant captain with the Titan this year, Brisebois’ favourite NHL team is the Montreal Canadiens. He says his father Stephane has had the greatest influence on his career.
RYAN PILON (D) – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
The cousin of 14-year NHL veteran Rich Pilon, Ryan Pilon is an 18 year-old, former third overall pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft from Duck Lake, SK. While cousin Rich cut his teeth with the nearby Prince Albert Raiders before spending much of his career with the New York Islanders, Ryan started out with the Lethbridge Hurricanes before being dealt to Brandon in November 2013. The 6’2″, 212Ib. defender has seven goals and 28 assists in 40 games for the Eastern Conference leading Wheat Kings.
Catch these and several other top young prospects in the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Thursday January 22 in St. Catharines, ON.
The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game features 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible players for the 2015 NHL Draft. This annual showcase features the next wave of NHL talent from the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner BMO, along with associate sponsors SUBWAY, Cooper Tires, and autoTRADER.ca. The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
For more information about the event please visit www.bmotopprospects.ca.
BMO and the Canadian Hockey League
BMO Financial Group was named the Official Bank of the Canadian Hockey League in 2011. The four-year agreement also designates BMO as the Official Bank of each of the CHL’s member hockey leagues: the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. 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 who currently participate in the BMO CHL Affinity MasterCard program, which enables CHL fans to support their favourite teams through a co-branded BMO/CHL credit card.