Every season, the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game brings together the top 40 draft eligible prospects for one of the most anticipated events of the year.
With few chances to play in front of National Hockey League general managers and a national TV audience, the game truly allows prospects to leave a lasting impression in the heads of hockey’s biggest decision makers.
So who impressed?
Without a doubt the best performance in the game was that of Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds pivot Jared McCann.
Clutch, dynamic, and energetic are just a few adjectives to describe his game. Throughout the contest he controlled the middle of the ice and showed he can make plays as a 200-foot player. He displayed quick hands and his game winning wrist shot won’t soon be forgotten in the minds of scouts.
Saskatoon Blades forward Nikita Scherbak played an outstanding game as well.
Scherbak, a player who I have been hard on in the past, completely dominated. He used his strong skating skills to force the issue and was constantly creating offense. His raw speed and talent attracted a lot of attention and his overall performance should give him a lot of momentum down the stretch.
Sarnia Sting winger Nikolay Goldobin was another dynamic forward that made an impact every time he stepped on the ice.
He showed dazzling hands and was consistently playing the game at a high tempo. Few players were able to match the speed with which he attacked the zone and made decisions. Goldobin’s offensive instincts and anticipation of the play allowed him to stand out on his way to being named Team Cherry’s Player of the Game.
Then who disappointed?
Swift Current defenseman Brycen Martin did not have his best game.
Playing on a pairing with fellow Broncos blueliner Julius Honka, Martin was overshadowed for much of the contest by his slick teammate. He didn’t seem comfortable and never really defined his game. One shift he was trying to be a puck mover, the next he was trying to stay at home, and he wasn’t able to be successful in any of those areas.
Another player I had expected more from was Kingston Frontenacs forward Spencer Watson.
Coming in touted as a highly skilled and speedy winger, Watson was not able to grab the spotlight during the contest. In a fast-paced game, you would’ve liked to see a couple flashes of the scoring tools and quickness that others raved about.
So who surprised?
The best surprise for me was Team Orr injury replacement Brayden Point.
With Future Considerations’ fourth-ranked skater Sam Bennett unable to attend, Point stepped in and played a fantastic game. He showed off his quickness and smarts throughout the game and even got his name on the score sheet with an assist on Josh Ho-Sang’s goal. Point was all over the puck for the full 60 minutes and won a key faceoff in the dying seconds of the game to secure the win for Team Orr. He could not have done more to impress.
Aaron Irving is another player that made a big impact.
When the rosters were announced, I was surprised Irving was even named to the game, but his performance was very impressive. Irving played a simple and effective game. He was throwing his weight around and got off a couple hard shots from the point. Irving certainly raised his stock with a strong all-around outing.
Kitchener Rangers forward Ryan MacInnis was a player that always caught my eye when he was on the ice.
He is a centre with a big frame that really moves out there. Although he is lacking brute strength, his raw skill set and smarts with the puck allowed him to make an impact. As a guy in the West that doesn’t get to see much of MacInnis, he certainly showed he was able to succeed at a high pace.