Nick Merkley (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
There will be some serious firepower on display tonight in St. Catharines, but which players should you be watching for? Our prospect expert picks out some of the players with the skills to make the highlight reels.
The CHL Top Prospects Game runs tonight in St. Catharines, Ont., home of the Ontario League's Niagara IceDogs. The all-star contest features the best major junior players available for the 2015 draft and this year has the potential to be a high-scoring affair. That's because the top goalies have been dropping like flies and one replacement (Ottawa's Liam Herbst) is being rushed in so last-minute that he wasn't even in St. Catharines yesterday during the on-ice testing portion.
With that in mind, here are 10 players who could have very highlighty nights, wooing both NHL scouts and hockey fans in general. These aren't necessarily the best 10 players overall, but they're all fun to watch.
Dennis Yan, LW, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
The Russian-American winger has lots of offensive skill and a nose for the net. Scouts love his urgency around the puck when there's a chance to score.
Travis Konecny, RW, Ottawa 67's (OHL)
Konecny is a heart-and-soul kind of player who went first overall in the OHL draft two years ago and he has wizard skills with the puck to go along with his tenacity.
Noah Juulsen, D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Juulsen did very well in the agility drills yesterday and that's bad news for opposing forwards, because the Tips defenseman can throw some seriously hard hits.
Nicolas Meloche, D, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
While Juulsen patrols the blueline for Team Cherry, Meloche will provide some magnum force for Team Orr. The Drakkar D-man is nasty and can really dish out punishment.
Daniel Sprong, RW, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
Creativity, vision and high skill are all hallmarks of Sprong, who was born and raised in Amsterdam but moved to Montreal to further his hockey career. He can dazzle.
Mitch Marner, RW, London Knights (OHL)
The highest-scoring player in the entire OHL, Marner is an offensive firecracker in a Patrick Kane package. He'll burn you with hands and speed.
Ivan Provorov, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
It will be interesting to see how Provorov plays this game. At the world juniors, he played his role as a stable D-man for Russia, but he's got speed and knows how to use it.
Nick Merkley, C, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
More of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, Merkley has absolutely sick hands and moves and someone needs to tee up the shooters in this game.
Evgeny Svechnikov, LW, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Think Rick Nash; that's what scouts are saying about the big, talented Russian. He also might be the first Quebec Leaguer off the board this summer because of it.
Connor McDavid, C, Erie Otters (OHL)
You thought I forgot him, didn't you? Of course not. This is yet another big stage for McDavid to awe crowds and scouts with and he rarely disappoints.