With the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game fast approaching, the attention of the Canadian junior hockey community shifts to Vancouver 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.
WATCH: Team Cherry’s Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting) gets to know teammates Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings) and Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke Phoenix)
Sarnia Sting blueliner Jakob Chychrun leads from the back end while highly touted forwards Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or Foreurs) and Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads) look to carry the load offensively and help Team Cherry 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) EVAN FITZPATRICK – Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL) 
Sophomore netminder was fourth overall pick in 2014 QMJHL Draft and enters the event as the QMJHL’s first star of the week following a 20-save shutout in Blainville-Boisbriand on Saturday. Leads the QMJHL in saves (1109) and is third in minutes played (2290) this season.
NHL Central Scouting says: : “Excellent positional style goalie who has a very big presence in the net. Plays ‘big’ in all situations. Features great angle play as a real strength to his game, often playing at the top of the crease to take room away from shooters. Very confident and holds his ground well.”
(G) ZACH SAWCHENKO – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) 
18 year-old is in his third season in Moose Jaw and represented the WHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Went 6-1-0-1 with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in the month of October. Has had a strong month of January, going 5-1-1-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.
NHL Central Scouting says: : “A very quick, athletic goalie that plays with focus and determination to hold his ground. Has a strong stance and powerful leg drive when moving laterally, leading to excellent east/west play. Has great butterfly coverage to seal the ice and protect the five hole. Never gives up on a play.”
(D) JAKOB CHYCHRUN – Sarnia Sting (OHL) 
Former first overall pick of the 2014 OHL Priority Selection leads Sarnia blueliners in goals, assists and points and is second on the Sting behind Travis Konecny in shots on goal with 138. Has a pair of three-point performances this season including Oct. 23 at Sault Ste. Marie (2-1—3) and Dec. 5 at Flint (0-3—3). Enters the event with points in five of his last six games. Is the son of former NHL defenceman Jeff Chychrun.
NHL Central Scouting says: “A complete defenceman. Excellent skater who plays with confidence and poise. Possesses high-end hockey sense and passing ability. Very good offensive instincts with a powerful shot. Plays a sound defensive game and is rarely found out of position. Highly reliable and consistent while displaying strong leadership qualities.”
(D) KALE CLAGUE – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 
After injury-shortened 2014-15 campaign, Clague is one of five Wheat Kings to play in all 47 of team’s games so far this season. Has recorded four multi-point games, collecting two assists on Oct. 3 at Regina, Oct. 9 vs. Kootenay, Dec. 12 vs. Kelowna and Jan. 23 at Saskatoon. Represented the WHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series, scoring once in two contests.
NHL Central Scouting says: “His skating asset is strong; eludes defenders while being checked or starting an offensive play. He displays excellent vision when moving the puck, makes solid first pass out of zone. Has ability to make good decisions on when to lead or join the rush and uses his smarts to strip opponents off the puck to gain possession. He’s a composed player who makes good choices under pressure.”
(D) SEAN DAY – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) 
Former prospect who received exceptional status to play in the OHL as a 15 year-old, Day is second in scoring among Mississauga blueliners behind teammate Stefan LeBlanc. Recorded points in six straight games from Oct. 17-29 and finished October with eight points (3-5—8) in 13 games. Favourite NHL defenceman is Drew Doughty.
NHL Central Scouting says: “An NHL skater with a smooth and powerful stride; deceptive speed & quickness makes him one of the best skaters in this Draft class. Has speed that allows him to make a difference in all zones and possesses a capable game carrying the puck out of the zone and up the ice quickly. A good puck handler who makes a hard quick first pass. Is very strong physically and is effective in one on one plays and when he takes the body.”
(D) SAMUEL GIRARD – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) 
Girard leads QMJHL defencemen in assists (43) and points (49). He is Shawinigan’s leading scorer among blueliners and is fifth in team scoring. 24 (5-19—24) of his 49 points this season have come on the powerplay. Had a solid month of October, finishing with 19 points (3-16—19) in 12 games. Represented the QMJHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series, collecting three assists in two games.
NHL Central Scouting says: “An undersized puck moving defenceman that is dynamic on offensive side of game. Quarterbacks the power play and distributes the puck well with good vision. Good skater, quick and mobile game with the puck. Managing risk-reward decisions well to make responsible choices on the play.”
(D) LUCAS JOHANSEN – Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 
Leads Rockets defencemen in goals (7) and points (26). Recorded a career-high three points (1-2—3) on Jan. 9 vs. Tri-City. Has had five multi-point performances this season. Is the younger brother of WHL graduate and Nashville Predators centreman Ryan Johansen.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Possesses good size and strength and is developing into solid two way defenceman. Has good hands and puck skills to manage the play at the offensive blue line. Boasts an excellent short game with his passes and has a good shot from the point. Plays an effective game with and without the puck.”
(D) MARKUS NIEMELAINEN – Saginaw Spirit (OHL) 
Is tied for the Spirit lead in scoring among defencemen with Marcus Crawford. Recorded 11 assists in his first full month in the OHL. Scored his first OHL goal as part of a three-point performance (1-2—3) on Nov. 28 vs. Windsor. Favourite NHL player is a WHL graduate in Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith.
NHL Central Scouting says: “A good sized defenseman who is a very mobile skater and is quick and agile in own zone. Defends one on one’s well with good body position and use of his long stick. Shows an offensive upside to his game skating and carrying the puck and handles the puck well at offensive blue line. Makes good choices joining the rush and pinching into zone. Boasts a very good work ethic and frequently makes an extra effort on the play.”
(RW) VITALII ABRAMOV – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) 
Leads the QMJHL in rookie goals (30), assists (43) and points (73)…leads Gatineau in scoring this season and is second on team with eight powerplay goal. Began his QMJHL career with points in his first eight straight contests. Recorded a season-high five points with three goals and two assists on Jan. 9 at Halifax. Has recorded three hat-tricks so far this season with two in the month of January. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on a four game trend of multi-point performances.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Highly skilled forward with excellent vision and playmaking skills. Small but with a high compete level and plays well in traffic. NHL skater with an accurate shot and one who can finish around net. Great anticipation, thinks the game very well and thrives on opportunity.”
(LW) TYLER BENSON – Vancouver Giants (WHL)  – Unable to participate due to injury
Was named Giants Captain on Sept. 24. Got a late start to the season, making his debut on Oct. 23 after undergoing surgery for a lower-body injury. Tied a career-high with three points (1-2—3) on Dec. 6 vs. Prince George. Had a productive month of December, recording 15 points (3-12—15) in 12 games. Has been sidelined since Dec. 30 with a lower-body injury.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Is a smart and skilled winger with high end offensive instincts. Plays a very strong game on the puck and is effective in all game situations. A very good passer with excellent vision and play making ability. He plays with an edge and will stand up for his teammates. Possesses strong leadership ability.”
(C) LOGAN BROWN – Windsor Spitfires (OHL) 
Leads Windsor in assists (35) and is second in points behind teammate Christian Fischer with 43. Is 53.3% (379/710) in the faceoff circle this season. Had points in his first six games of the season enroute to collecting 13 points (2-11—13) in nine October contests. Was named to the Team OHL roster for the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series but was unable to compete due to injury. Recorded a career-high four points (1-3—4) on Jan. 21 vs. Flint. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on a three-game point streak.
NHL Central Scouting says: “A playmaking centreman with excellent size who brings a big presence up the middle. Has very good puck handling skills and sees the ice well, making tape to tape set up passes. Confident and poised game with the puck. Skates well with a long, fluid stride and has deceptive speed for his size. Works the power play well and is very effective in the faceoff circle.”
(RW) ALEX DEBRINCAT – Erie Otters (OHL) 
2015 CHL and OHL Rookie of the Year currently leads the Otters in goals (35). Has recorded a total of four hat-tricks this season and has collected five points in three different games. Set a new Otters regular season franchise record, scoring five goals in a 6-1 win in Niagara on October 10th. Named the OHL’s Player of the Month for October after scoring 16 goals and adding seven assists for 23 points in 12 games. Followed up October performance with 27 points (14-13—27) in 12 November contests, going on a 16-game point streak from Oct. 28 to Dec. 2. Represented the United States at the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Elite hockey sense and finishing ability which can’t be taught. Excellent movement away from the puck and an awareness of where to go to score goals. Tenacious on pucks and isn’t afraid to play in traffic despite his size.”
(C) DILLON DUBE – Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 
Is second in Kelowna scoring behind teammate Tyson Baillie. Recorded career-high four points (2-2—4) on Oct. 17 at Prince George. Was named to the Team WHL roster for the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series but couldn’t compete due to injury. Favourite NHL player growing up was Joe Sakic. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with points in three of his last four contests.
NHL Central Scouting says: “A strong skater with good straight away speed. Is strong on his feet and boasts an effective puck protection game. Plays a very responsible two way game. Has good hockey sense to contribute offensively paired with a very good play making ability and good finishing shot. Is willing to give and take in physical play.”
(RW) JULIEN GAUTHIER – Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL) 
Tied for third among QMJHL players in goals (33) with Val-d’Or teammate Anthony Richard…fifth in points (43) on the Foreurs. Has a team-leading nine powerplay goals. has recorded two hat-tricks this season, coming on Sept. 18 vs. Sherbrooke and Dec. 6 at Moncton. Represented the QMJHL In the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series, recording one assist in two games. Is the nephew of former NHL defenceman Denis Gauthier. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with points in 16 of his last 17 games dating back to Nov. 1.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Skilled power forward that can score. Very good skater with size and strength, has a strong fluid stride with deceptive speed. Plays physical game, willing to battle for pucks down low and positioning to the net. Adept hockey sense, offensive instincts and playmaking skills to get open on the play and finish his chances. Responsible and hard working in all zones.”
(LW) TIM GETTINGER – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) 
After being named to OHL First All-Rookie Team last season, is seventh in Greyhounds scoring and fifth on the team in shots on goal with 113. Has recorded a pair of three-point games this season, coming Oct. 2 at Guelph (0-3—3) and Jan. 20 vs. Sudbury (1-2—3). Favourite NHL player is Alexander Ovechkin.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Big winger who skates well and possesses nice hands. Protects the puck with a purpose and is able to use his size and strength to create offensive opportunities for himself and his teammates. Good hockey sense while playing an effective 200 foot game.”
(C) NOAH GREGOR – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) 
Third in points among WHL rookies (43) and is tied for the WHL lead in powerplay goals (12). Has scored twice in a game five times this season…recorded a career-high four points (1-3—4) on Nov. 6 at Saskatoon. Collected 16 points (9-7—16) in 13 November contests. Recent strong performance featured two goals including the game winner in 5-1 win at Calgary on Jan. 22.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Solid two way center with skill and smarts. Excellent on the penalty kill; never gives up on a play while back checking and is responsible to stay with his check. Battles hard in all areas, strong skater that does a lot of the hard work for line mates.”
(LW) MAX JONES – London Knights (OHL) 
Third in scoring among OHL rookies with 37 points. Leads the league with three overtime winners. Scored his first OHL hat-trick on Oct. 24 vs. North Bay, following up with his second on Oct. 31 at Saginaw. Had a strong month of December, recording 15 points (6-9—15) in 11 games including a pair of overtime goals. Went on a 12-game point streak from Dec. 5 to Jan. 8. Favourite NHL player is Rick Nash.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Power forward who is an excellent skater and displays separation speed. Hard hitting player who plays the game with an edge. Very good shot with a quick release. Loves to take the puck to the net and has good hands in tight.”
(RW) JORDAN KYROU – Sarnia Sting (OHL) 
Fourth in Sting scoring behind Travis Konecny, Pavel Zacha and Matt Mistele. Represented the OHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series, scoring a goal. Matched a career-high three points (1-2—3) on Dec. 13 vs. Flint. Finished December with 12 points (3-9—12) in nine games. Has had six multi-point performances this season.
NHL Central Scouting says: “High end skater who possesses break-away speed. Is able to make plays at full speed. Has a dynamic element to his game making him very dangerous in one on one situations. He can be a creative playmaker and has a quick release shot.”
(C) MICHAEL McLEOD – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) 
Second in Steelheads scoring behind Alexander Nylander. Leads the team in shorthanded goals (3) and shots on goal (139). Is 58.9% (600/1018) in the faceoff circle this season. Had a strong month of November, recording 16 points (6-10—16) in 13 games. Represented the OHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series. Registered a career-high four points (2-2—4) on Dec. 6 vs. Barrie. Favourite NHL player is Jason Spezza.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Excellent hard-working, two way forward with speed, quickness and smarts. Plays with drive and determination to the net making him very hard to check. Is very effective generating chances on the rush or on the forecheck. Very good offensive skills as a playmaker handling and moving the puck. Strong along the boards and battles for pucks effectively by using smart body positioning. Capable and consistent in all situations.”
(RW) TY RONNING – Vancouver Giants (WHL) 
Has bounced back from injury shortened 2014-15 campaign to lead the Giants in goals this season (26). Leads the team in powerplay goals (7) and is second in Giants points behind Chase Lang. Scored his first WHL hat-trick on Oct. 9 at Regina. Scored three goals on Dec. 2 vs. Moose Jaw. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on a four-game point streak that has produced five goals, three assists and eight points. Is the son of former NHL forward Cliff Ronning. Favourite NHL player is Johnny Gaudreau.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Smart and skilled player with very good hands. Is among the top goal scorers in the WHL and has a very good shot with a quick release. Is willing to go to the dirty areas to score goals. Strong on his feet and can protect the puck well. Boasts very good vision and play making ability along with a high compete level.”
(C) SAM STEEL – Regina Pats (WHL) 
Second in Pats scoring behind Adam Brooks. Has recorded three points three times this season, including on Oct. 13 at Medicine Hat (1-2—3), Nov. 11 vs. Red Deer (1-2—3) and Jan. 9 at Spokane (2-1—3). Scored twice on Jan. 23 vs. Prince Albert. Enters the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game with nine points (6-3—9) so far in the month of January.
NHL Central Scouting says: “Excellent skater with breakaway speed. Displays high level vision to match top end skill set. Plays a quick read and react game and sets up his teammates as well as any play maker in the WHL. Heads up player in all zones, quick to cause turnovers and scoring chances on the penalty kill. Not physical, but doesn’t back away in a physical game.”
The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, which takes place on Thursday January 28, features 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible players for the 2016 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 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner BMO, along with associate sponsors , Cooper Tires, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams. The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and in the United States on NHL Network.
For more information about the event please visit www.bmotopprospects.ca.