On Wednesday night, 40 of the CHL’s best NHL draft-eligible prospects gathered in Guelph, ON for an ultimate showdown. The two teams were broken up and played under hockey legends, Don Cherry and Eric Lindros – who was filling in for Bobby Orr. In a game that attracted entire NHL scouting staffs, Team Cherry defeated Team Orr 7-4.
While this one game showdown won’t have a major impact on a given player’s ranking, it is an additional opportunity for these NHL draft-eligibles to play against their most talented peers. Of the 36 skaters, 31 registered at least a point in the game while eight players registered two or more.
Here’s my thoughts on the OHLers participating:
OHL’s Best Performers
Ty Dellandrea (Flint Firebirds): Dellandrea scored two goals in 20 seconds and was one of the OHL’s top performers in the game. While he doesn’t have the biggest frame, he uses his strength to park himself in front of the net for an increased scoring chance. He’s smart player that has a strong net presence. His full two-way game was on display and it’s no different than during the regular season. Dellandrea isn’t going to wow you by dangling around players, but he does have a good shot and good hands in close.
Aidan Dudas (Owen Sound Attack): Dudas was another player that really stood out and was flying all over the ice. He registered two goals during the game and showed off his stick skills and creativity. Dudas was a late addition to Team Cherry’s roster replacing the injured, Kody Clark. Dudas is a high energy player that is involved in all zones and is willing to drive straight to the net. He shows off a great amount of confidence and patience with the puck.His skating isn’t perfect, but he can easily move around tight spaces.
Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s): The towering defender was a force on the blueline both defensively and offensively while notching a goal and an assist on the night. Not known for his offensive prowless, Bahl showed his comfort jumping into the rush or taking a post on the point. He has a big frame, his sound defensively, skates well and is extremely hard to play against. He has the ability to become a scary defender but doesn’t use his size as much as one may want. Bahl’s hard work was rewarded after he was name the Player of the Game for Team Orr.
Evan Bouchard (London Knights): The London Knights' captain tallied four assists which tied the record for most points during a Top Prospects Game. His four assists was enough to grab him Player of the Game honours for Team Cherry. Bouchard is a capable two-way defenseman who is able to quarterback a powerplay and set up plays. He makes good decisions and can see the ice very well which allows him to thread passes through small areas on the ice.
Serron Noel (Oshawa Generals): Noel scored a goal off a tip-in in front of the net while demonstrating soft hands throughout the match. He was making some good plays in the offensive zone and used the walls effectively to bank pucks off it. He found open spaces on the ice and was able to get a couple really good shots off. Noel is a smart player but hasn’t quite come into his own yet. He's raw, but owns impressive potential.
Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm): Merkley showed a couple of great aspects from his game including a couple outlet passes and his ability to separate himself from his opponents with his skating ability. He got a little lost defensively at times, but that’s a part of his game he’s looking to clean up to make it to the next level.
Barrett Hayton (Soo Greyhounds): Hayton played a very good supporting role with two assists in this game. His helpers showed off his playmaking ability as well of his awareness of who is on the ice and who has a better chance to score from that position. He forced a turnover and was really hard on the puck.
Ryan McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads): Younger brother of Devils' prospect, Michael, McLeod had a couple good chances early in the game, but those started to disappear as the game progressed. Consistency has been a question for him, but he has the skills (vision, playmaking, skating) to be a solid NHL prospect.
Rasmus Sandin (Soo Greyhounds): The Swedish defender is always exciting to watch. He’s a creative player with a lot of good tools to support him. He played well on both ends of the ice and makes quality decisions. He scored a goal in the game and it was a bullet of a shot.
Giovanni Valatti (Kitchener Rangers): Valatti had one assist but had several other good chances early in the game. His skating and size are two of his biggest assets but wasn’t overly consistent throughout the night.
Had a Quiet Night
– Kathryn Jean
Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts)
Akil Thomas (Niagara Ice Dogs)
Allan McShane (Oshawa Generals)
Cam Hillis (Guelph Storm)
Kirill Nizhnikov (Sudbury Wolves)
Liam Foudy (London Knights)