Typically there isn’t much interest in a 7-1 game. But with 40 of the CHL’s best draft eligibles on the ice for the Top Prospects Game, it wasn’t the score scouts were interested in. Assembled primarily as a scouting exercise, the game allows a glimpse at the top talent available for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in June.
So with the game in the books, here’s what scouts have taken from the affair:
-Hard not to be impressed with the way Vancouver Giants defenseman David Musil played. Typically a defenseman of his style has a good game when he’s not noticed, but Musil had a great game for when he was. His point shot allowed for Jonathan Huberdeau’s rebound goal, but more importantly, the son of former NHLer Frank Musil came to the defense of smaller teammates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sven Bartschi, throwing down with Saskatoon Blades defender Duncan Siemens. While Siemens is one of the tougher players in the WHL, Musil has just one fighting major in his Major Junior career. Siemens has four this season.
-The Top Prospects Game was the perfect articulation of what Ryan Murphy brings to a game. The Kitchener Rangers defenseman, who leads all CHL defensemen in points with 52, dazzled with two incredible end-to-end rushes that resulted in scoring chances for Team Cherry. On the flipside, it was Murphy who got caught pinching on Daniel Catenacci’s shorthanded marker to open the scoring. High risk, high reward out of the defenseman who was named Team Cherry’s player of the game.
-Nugent-Hopkins, who was Team Orr’s player of the game, did more than just produce offensively. The Red Deer Rebels standout worked well on a flawless penalty kill and played a full 200 feet of ice. Even on the powerplay with three minutes remaining and a 6-1 score on the board, ‘RNH’ delivered a 150 foot backcheck to break up a shorthanded 2-on-1.
-No defenseman did more for himself on the night than Reece Scarlett of the Swift Current Broncos. While he factored in on just one of Team Orr’s seven goals, Scarlett played as flawless a game as you can play given the situation. The Sherwood Park, AB. native was never caught out of position and his passing was among the best any blueliner had to offer in the game.
-Just as Scarlett improved his status among defensemen, Catenacci did the same among eligible forwards. Catenacci displayed blazing speed and an ability to finish in opening the scoring on a shorthanded break. The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhound also won the fastest skater title at the skills competition.
-As exciting as Nugent-Hopkins performance was, Sean Couturier was relatively invisible. The Team Cherry captain looked slow in the first period and non-existent in the second and third frame. In fact, Couturier recorded just one shot on the evening. That said, one sub-par game will not sink what some have described as the most complete player in the 2011 draft.
-Not a bad showing for goaltender Liam Liston. The Brandon Wheat Kings netminder made his first start in three weeks at the Top Prospects Game and while he showed a little bit of rust, was the only goaltender on the night to keep the opposition at bay. In fact, Liston withstood a barrage of 13 shots in the opening frame and stopped 18 in total. That said, the way the goaltending chips fall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft will not fall on a period and a half of play.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!