It’ll serve as just one of almost a hundred games some prospects for the 2020 NHL Draft will suit up for, but none will have the singular focus of scouts like the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Personnel from 31 National Hockey League teams will be present in Hamilton to watch 40 draft eligible display their skills in an exhibition bout.
A singular standout performance won’t elevate a prospect dramatically nor will a subpar skate shuttle a skater down the ranks significantly, but the showcase will certainly have implications both immediately and down the road.
Here’s who Future Considerations scouts are most anxious to see at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Jack Quinn, C, Ottawa (OHL), 5.11, 176, 9-19-2001
Future Considerations Winter Ranking: 39
Quinn has risen up Future Considerations’ draft board over the past few months, and with good reason. The Ottawa pivot has produced well in his second full season in the Ontario Hockey League, and has already shattered his previous point totals from his rookie season in 2018-19. Last year, Quinn had 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in 61 games. Through 38 skates this season, the 18 year old has 48 points (30 goals, 18 assists).
“Quinn is enjoying a nice rise in the draft rankings through the first half of the season,” Future Considerations head Eastern scout Dylan Galloway said. “As a highly intelligent and well rounded player, Quinn is excellent at creating plays and making space for himself and his teammates. He likes to skate with the puck and is constantly surveying the ice looking for the next play. As an older player I’m interested to see Quinn standout from the crowd of the top CHL prospects this week.”
Jaromir Pytlik, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), 6-2, 201, 9-25-2001
Future Considerations Winter Ranking: 34
Pytlik, the No. 118 pick in the 2018 CHL Import Draft, has also shown good progression and has flirted with first-round status since the start of the season. The 18-year-old pivot has been productive with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 33 games with Sault Ste. Marie, though showings at both the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August and IIHF World Junior Championship more recently haven’t been as fruitful.
“Pytlik is an interesting player to me because I think he plays with a great pace and I have been impressed with his skating and transition game,” Galloway said. “He’s a great offensive talent that combines smarts, skill, speed and compete to get pucks to the centre lane in the offensive zone. I’m looking forward to seeing how he lines up against some of the best defensive and goalie prospects the CHL has to offer.”
Donovan Sebrango, D, Kitchener (OHL), 6-0, 179, 1-12-2002
Future Considerations Winter Ranking: NR
Sebrango peaked at No. 88 in Future Considerations’ Fall ranking for the 2020 draft, but slipped outside of top-100 consideration this month. The recently-turned 18-year-old rearguard has amassed 35 points (three goals, 15 assists) through 35 games, but blends a more two-way game from the blue line.
“He’s a shifty defender who relies on creative foot work and solid speed to jump up on the rush and attack the offensive zone,” Galloway said. “Sebrango has a ton of heart and compete and I’m looking forward to seeing him bring that work ethic to the Top Prospects Game.”
Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL), 6-1, 196, 11-10-2001
Future Considerations Winter Ranking: 1
There’s little to add to Lafreniere’s name at this point. The consensus No. 1 pick for the 2020 draft has impressively showcased at every stop this season. He has 73 points (24 goals, 49 assists) in just 34 games with Rimouski, was named best forward, MVP, and tournament all-star in helping Canada to gold at the World Juniors, and already has a mantle full of awards and accolades leading into his draft eligible season. Lafreniere may have the least to prove of the 40 attendees, but that doesn’t make him any less interesting to watch.
“Lafreniere will try to shine once again under the spotlight as all eyes will be turned to him this Thursday,” Future Considerations Quebec-based scout Andy Lehoux said. “The Canadian has created buzz everywhere he has passed the last three seasons and he could look to leave his mark the same way in the CHL Top Prospect Game. With little left to prove, but a ton of excitement surrounding this game, I expect him to raise to the occasion and showcase his full talent.”
Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John (QMJHL), 6-0, 199, 6-2-2002
Future Considerations Winter Ranking: 13
Poirier, the top-ranked defenseman from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (and second only to Jamie Drysdale of Erie in the OHL), has already solidified himself as one of the draft’s more intriguing blue line options. The 17-year-old has amassed 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 43 games with Saint John — both career highs in his second season in the league — and it has only pushed more intrigue on the defenseman.
“Poirier is a skilled and talented puck-rushing defenseman who can dominate in the offensive end using his elite puck skills, excellent offensive instincts and great creativity,” Lehoux said. “Poirier’s flashy dekes and impressive end to end rushes catches the attention of many, but not to be dismissed is his ability to create scoring chances all around the attacking zone. He’ll certainly be one of the most exciting prospect to watch this Thursday.”
Vasily Ponomarev, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL), 6-0, 176, 3-13, 2002
Future Considerations Winter Ranking: NR
Ponomarev, the ninth overall pick in the 2019 CHL Import Draft, has shown little issue adjusting to life in the QMJHL. The Zelenograd, RUS product has consistently been slotted between 30-40 through three rankings at Future Considerations to date, and with good cause. He was a standout for Russia at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and World Junior A Challenge, and has continued that play with Shawinigan to the tune of 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) through 35 games.
“Ponomarev will try to use the CHL Top Prospect Game to catch ever more attention from NHL scouts,” Lehoux said. “The right winger is a skilled offensive attacker who displays great shiftiness, puck-handling abilities and competitiveness every shift. If his decision-making with the puck needs to be polished, his creativity and ability to spark things offensively are certainly not up to debate. He’s able to leave his mark on every game and he’ll try to continue on this path this Thursday.”
Seth Jarvis, RW, Portland (WHL), 5-10, 179, 2-1-2002
Future Considerations Winter Ranking: 32
Jarvis has been a significant cog in Portland this season. He paces the club with 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 37 skates, and has a competitive charge to his game that allows him to play in all situations. Jarvis, selected with the No. 11 pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, is the third-ranked Western Hockey League skater for the 2020 draft.
“Slight player but has really elevated his game to be an offensive driver and all around 200-foot player,” Future Considerations head Western scout Justin Froese said. “Physicality and an explosive first step are his only slight downfalls but the ability to think has him all over the puck and there’s a lot of upside for growth into a contributor as a pro. I am interested to see him carry out his game on a best versus best scenario.”
Jake Neighbours, LW, Edmonton (WHL), 6-0, 197, 3-29-2002
Future Considerations Winter Ranking: 59
Neighbours, selected fourth overall in the 2017 Bantam Draft, has seen his vision and playmaking abilities transfer into production in his second season in the WHL. The 17-year-old has 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) in 44 games. Edmonton’s Academic Player of the Year recipient in 2018-19 thinks the game well.
“A smaller dump truck like player who excels in areas off the puck but has been a reliable contributor on,” Froese said. “Neighbours doesn’t play a overall flashy or explosive game but is effective in picking spots, being all around the puck and simply executing. He projects as the ultimate utility third liner who can play up and down the line up. Good floor, but wondering if he has the feet to be grouped into talks with the top end of our WHL grouping.”
Justin Sourdif, C, Vancouver (WHL), 5-11, 173, 3-24-2002
Future Considerations Winter Ranking: 50
Sourdif, whose draft ranking has bounced between being a late first-round pick to a mid second-round selection this season, has shown plenty of intriguing upside with Vancouver. He had 46 points (23 goals, 23 assists) in 64 games as a 16-year-old rookie a season ago and, through 36 games this season, the third overall pick in the 2017 Bantam Draft has registered 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists).
“He’s a safer bet based on his IQ alone but has some strong offensive tools and excels around the tough areas of the ice by creating space for himself and teammates,” Froese said. “His downfall is that he lacks explosive elements in his skating and can blend for periods of play as he fits in nicely as a wingman as opposed to a guy steering the ship. I’m interested to see if he can elevate his play down the stretch as he’s fallen off in my eyes.”