With the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game fast approaching, the attention of the Canadian junior hockey community shifts to St. Catharines as many of the CHL’s top 40 draft eligible prospects hit the ice together, putting geographical boundaries aside as the best from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL showcase their skills.
Team Cherry enters Thursday’s game looking for its first win since 2010 when former Regina Pats forward Jordan Weal had a goal and an assist and Windsor Spitfires standout Taylor Hall earned Team Cherry Player of the Game honours.
With a good crop of fleet-footed forwards and a pair of highly touted WHL blueliners, Team Cherry looks to get back in the win column. Here’s a closer look at what Team Cherry will bring to the ice on Thursday. NHL Central Scouting Service Midterm Draft Rankings position is in brackets.
(G) MICHAEL McNIVEN – Owen Sound Attack (OHL) 
Rookie netminder went 5-0 to start his OHL career…earned his first OHL shutout, making 33 saves on Nov. 8 against Windsor…has stopped 64 of the last 66 shots he has faced in victories on Jan. 15 and 18.
NHL Central Scouting says: “An excellent positional style goalie who challenges shooters well. Is strong holding his ground in all situations. Very calm, relaxed and confident with excellent rebound control. He’s been very consistent and reliable in the first half of this season.”
(G) SAMUEL MONTEMBEAULT – Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL) 
Is second in QMJHL goals-against-average (2.62) and wins (22) and won nine straight decisions from October 12 to November 14…is currently on a seven game winning streak that dates back to December 29…his favourite NHL goaltender is Henrik Lundqvist.
NHL Central Scouting says: “A very big goalie with excellent butterfly style. Plays mostly in the paint area but he’s square and spreads out very well. Excellent balance and overall net coverage whether in his stance or when he’s down in the butterfly. He is one of the better communicating goalies and is very smart at reading situations.”
(D) RASMUS ANDERSSON – Barrie Colts (OHL) 
Leads the Barrie Colts in scoring from the blueline with eight goals and 32 assists…currently fifth in scoring among OHL defencemen…has registered eleven multi-point games this season…father Peter Andersson played in the NHL with the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers from 1992-1994.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Effective defender with good offensive instincts to lead or join the rush. Responsible in his own zone and does not make many mistakes. Good smarts and active in the offensive zone, he gets himself into good shooting positions. Good vision & anticipation to make the good outlet pass out of zone.”
(D) BRANDON CARLO – Tri-City Americans (WHL) 
An assistant captain with Tri-City this season who represented USA in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship…had a goal and two assists in his last WHL game on January 17, a 7-0 win over Spokane…favourite NHL player is Duncan Keith and favourite team is Colorado.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Excellent combination of size, puck skill and skating. Very good mobility for a big man and does an excellent job of defending against the rush. Good puck skill and passing ability. Sees the ice well, one of the better d-men at using the boards effectively to move the puck. Has the ability to lead the rush and the speed to join the rush. Just touching the surface of his potential.”
(D) VINCE DUNN – Niagara IceDogs (OHL) 
Tied for the lead in scoring among Niagara defencemen with seven goals and 18 assists…wears the number 4 because of his admiration of Bobby Orr…favourite defenceman is Drew Doughty.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Exceptionally smart offensive defenceman that demonstrates great decision making with the puck. Is a very good skater with speed, balance and mobility. A key player on the powerplay and penalty kill unitys and is very effective and reliable leading a rush and carrying the puck up ice. A dependable hard-working defenceman.”
(D) BRENDAN GUHLE – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) 
Former third overall WHL Bantam Draft pick is third in scoring among Prince Albert defencemen…scored his first WHL goal on Oct. 4 against Regina…favourite player is Ryan Suter…best NHL hockey memory is the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals between Edmonton and Carolina.
NHL Central Scouting says: “One of the best skaters in the WHL, has speed, quickness and agility to evade trouble in the defensive zone and an extra gear which enables him to lead or join the rush as an offensive threat. Keeps his game with the puck simplified, effective at making a good first outlet pass and not over handling the pucks. Capable to lead a rush and responsible to measure risk and reward plays.”
(D) NOAH JUULSEN – Everett Silvertips (WHL) 
Leads Everett defence in scoring with five goals and 27 assists and is second on the team with a plus-19 rating…has a goal and five assists in eight January games…favourite player is Kevin Bieksa and favourite team is the Vancouver Canucks.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Smart, two way defender with very good speed and mobility. Good puck mover that makes smart decisions with the puck. Good passer that can create offense on the power play or off the rush. The type of player that every coach wants on their team, responsible and reliable to be on the ice to defend a lead as well as chasing a lead. He gets the job done.”
(D) MATT SPENCER – Peterborough Petes (OHL) 
Former OHL Priority Selection third overall pick is second among Peterborough defencemen in scoring…represented the OHL in the 2014 SUBWAY Super Series…favourite playing memory was coming back to eliminate Kingston in seven games in the 2014 OHL Playoffs after being down in the series 3-0.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Strong, fluid skater combining speed, agility and balance. He has been used in all situations this season and has had some success on the power play unit. He is most effective when he keeps it simple and moves the puck quickly. Passes & shoots with authority. Good size / strength game to defend.”
(C) ANTHONY BEAUVILLIER – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) 
Leads Shawinigan in goals, assists and points this season…leads the QMJHL with 225 shots on goal and 641 faceoff wins (59.2%)…is the current CHL Player of the Week…the captain of Team Cherry.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Strong character team player and responsible two way center that plays with energy and emotion. Good puck skills and hockey sense to compliment his “front door” type of game to the net, he drives hard to the net with and without the puck. Very smart and responsible to play in all situations and very effective on face-offs. Leads by example and work ethic; never lets up on the play.”
(C) FILIP CHLAPIK – Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL) 
Tied with Team Cherry teammate Daniel Sprong for the Charlottetown scoring lead…began his QMJHL career with a bang, recording points in six straight games…favourite player is Evgeni Malkin.
NHL Central Scouting says: “A strong skater with very good offensive talent. Has very good vision and puck skills, he shows excellent playmaking and passing ability. He seems to be always in the right position on the ice both with and without the puck, he can jump on loose pucks and transitions quickly. A good combination of size, skating and hockey sense.”
(LW) JAKE DeBRUSK – Swift Current Broncos (WHL) 
Tied for ninth in WHL goals with 25 on the year…recorded a career high five points (3-2–5) in a 6-4 win over Regina on December 10…wears the number 19 because of Joe Sakic…is the son of former NHLer Louie DeBrusk.
NHL Central Scouting says: “A go to guy for his team. Strong compete level, battles hard in all areas; seems to never take a shift off. Very effective game pursuing pucks and driving to the net; willing to pay the price to score goals. Very good speed, especially through the neutral zone, allowing him to create offensive chances. Good hockey sense and playmaking ability, effective on the power play. Great work ethic, solid upside.”
(LW) GRAHAM KNOTT – Niagara IceDogs (OHL) 
Second on the IceDogs with 17 goals this season…has points in seven of his last eight games, a span where the IceDogs have gone undefeated in regulation…favourite player is Sidney Crosby.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Solid two-way forward – exceptionally smart defensive player – excellent positional player away from the puck; very effective penalty killer. A strong skater with a very smooth and fluid stride, capable to arrive on time- very good hands and puck handling skills; strong on his skates to protect the puck. Has good moves & is effective when driving to the net.”
(RW) MITCHELL MARNER – London Knights (OHL) 
Leads the OHL and CHL in points with 90…leads the OHL in goals, assists and plus-minus…has been a two-time OHL and CHL Player of the Week…leads the OHL in hat-tricks with three and scored four goals on November 21 against Mississauga…favourite player is Patrick Kane.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Elevated his game after a slow start this season to the point where he has the lead in OHL scoring. High end skill set with puck handling and playmaking ability. Plays bigger than his size & is not afraid of to get involved in traffic or battle for pucks. He is an excellent skater with very good quickness and agility. Possesses some of the quickest hands in this year’s draft class.”
(C) ADAM MUSIL – Red Deer Rebels (WHL) 
Grandson of Czech hockey legend Jaroslav Holik and nephew of 20-year NHL veteran Bobby Holik…father Frank Musil had a 15-year NHL career…has 11 goals and 17 assists in 40 games.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Plays an effective two-way game. Very strong on his skates, quicker than most defenders think, he’s very quick coming off the wing driving to the net. Good balance and hard to knock off the puck. Good skill set, displays soft hands and touches around the net – sees the play develop and gets into open position for scoring chances – battles hard in all areas; plays a pro style game.”
(LW) DANIEL SPRONG – Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL) 
Tied for Charlottetown’s scoring lead with Team Cherry teammate Filip Chlapik…has 17 multi-point games this season…leads Charlottetown in shots on goal with 169…favourite player is Patrick Kane.
NHL Central Scouting says: “NHL skater with excellent speed & quickness. He likes to have the puck and he is very dangerous in the offensive zone, he can undress a defenceman with outside speed or slip through both defenders. Nice set of hands for tight area puck handling & can score goals with his excellent shot. Dynamic player who is always a scoring threat.”
(C) MITCHELL STEPHENS – Saginaw Spirit (OHL) 
Second in Saginaw scoring, including three powerplay goals and two shorthanded markers…had a career-high four goals in Niagara on December 13…has three goals and five assists in eight January games.
NHL Central Scouting says: “A skilled forward who handles the puck well and generates offense. Used on the top line as well as the #1 power play unit for Saginaw. Most effective when he is skating and playing with high energy. Effective on the forecheck and can win puck battles; gets open for scoring chances & has a very good wrist shot.”
(C) DYLAN STROME – Erie Otters (OHL) 
Second in OHL scoring behind Team Cherry teammate Mitchell Marner…was the OHL’s Player of the Week from Sept. 22-28…has recorded at least three assists ten different times this season…represented the OHL in the 2014 SUBWAY Super Series…is the younger brother of New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Highly skilled power forward. Excellent puck handling and playmaking ability, amongst the best in this year’s draft. He handles the puck very well both forehand and back and he sees the ice very well. Very reliable to come back on play & responsible in own zone. One of the better face-off centers in this year’s draft class.”
(RW) EVGENY SVECHNIKOV – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) 
Started his QMJHL career quickly with points in each of his first nine games…named CHL Player of the Week from Jan. 5-11…has 11 points (4-7–11) in seven January contests.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Good sized winger, smooth skater with decent speed & balance, very good offensive hockey sense with creative instincts. Brings a competitive and physical element to the game; possesses high end puck skills especially when in traffic, always in right position to be open or receive a pass. A presence on the ice, he is always around the net for scoring opportunities, shows up on the play, works and competes with his skills and assets.”
(LW) YAKOV TRENIN – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) 
Had points in seven of his first eight QMJHL games…is 3/5 in shootout attempts this season…favourite player is Evgeni Malkin and favourite team is the New York Islanders.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Big powerful skilled winger, a strong skater that moves well in all directions showing speed and quickness. A player that is very strong on the puck and along the boards, poised with the puck and very confident in handling it. Uses size to protect the puck and bring it to the net, possess a powerful one time shot on the power play.”
(LW) DENNIS YAN – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) 
Leads Shawinigan in plus-minus at plus-16 and is fourth in team scoring…enters Thursday’s game with points in his last seven contests…favourite player is Pavel Datsyuk…grew up in Russia before moving to the US where he has played the last several seasons.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Good sized offensive winger with quick hands and very good puck handling skills. A player that is always on the puck and ready for opportunity; knows how to get himself to open ice in scoring territory. Very effective game taking the puck to the net and generating scoring chances; always ready to go on the offensive. Has a nice touch around the net and can finish his scoring chance.”
Player Portrait Photo Gallery
The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, which takes place on Thursday January 22, 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.