Toronto, ON – Top NHL Draft prospects and Canadian World Junior gold medalists Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves and Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic will be at the forefront of the 2020 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
One week before the puck drops in Hamilton, the pair have been announced as team captains for the Canadian Hockey League’s 25th annual showcase of top talent for the 2020 NHL Draft that will feature 40 players from across the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Hockey League going head-to-head on January 16.
Lafreniere will lead Team White with alternate captains Ryan O’Rourke of the Soo Greyhounds and Braden Schneider of the Brandon Wheat Kings, while Byfield’s Team Red will include alternates Dawson Mercer of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Ozzy Wiesblatt of the Prince Albert Raiders.
“It is an honour for me to be named captain of my team for the Top Prospects Game,” Lafreniere said. “I have been looking forward to participating in this event since I started my junior career and I look forward to stepping on the ice next week with all the other great players attending.”
Still standing atop the CHL’s scoring race with 70 points through 32 games, Lafreniere was named World Juniors MVP with 10 points in just five games for Canada including four goals and six assists. The 18-year-old from Saint-Eustache, Quebec, currently serves as Oceanic captain in the club’s historic 25th season and also wore the ‘C’ for Canada’s gold medal winning Hlinka Gretzky Cup entry in 2018. He was named 2019 CHL Player of the Year and also captured CHL Rookie of the Year honours in 2018 after being the first overall pick in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft.
“It’s definitely a huge honour to be a part of such a great game that includes the best NHL Draft prospects from across the Canadian Hockey League,” Byfield said. “To be named captain of one of the teams is something really special. Lots of great players have been named captain for this game and to know I’m following in their footsteps is huge. It means you are doing something right, and that’s very humbling.”
Byfield currently ranks tied for 12th in CHL scoring with 22 goals and 35 assists for 57 points in just 30 games and returns from the Czech Republic following a World Junior experience in which he recorded one assist over seven games. The 17-year-old from Newmarket, Ontario, was the first overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection and went on to earn CHL Rookie of the Year honours a year ago. His leadership resume also includes serving as an alternate captain at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Lafreniere will be the 21st Oceanic player to compete in this event and second to be named captain following Vincent Lecavalier in 1998. There have been 12 former Wolves to compete in this event however Byfield will be the first to serve as captain.
Team White leaders O’Rourke and Schneider are both defencemen with leadership experience in the OHL and WHL respectively. O’Rourke, a 17-year-old from Pickering, Ontario, was named Greyhounds captain in November. This season he’s produced 21 points in 29 games and also competed for Team OHL in the CIBC Canada Russia Series one year after being named a tournament all-star at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Schneider, an 18-year-old from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, wears an ‘A’ for the Wheat Kings but also served as one of Canada’s captains at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. This season the Canadian National Junior Team Selection Camp invite is having a career season in his third campaign already with 28 points through 38 games.
Mercer’s World Junior experience will help Team Red’s leadership group as the Team Canada forward is one of five NHL Draft eligible players to return from the Czech Republic with a gold medal. The 18-year-old from Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, was an alternate captain for the Drummondville Voltigeurs where he recorded 42 points in 26 games before joining the Sags. Wiesblatt also brings championship experience to Team Red having won the WHL’s Ed Chynoweth Cup with the Raiders last season. The 17-year-old from Calgary, Alberta, has already set career-highs in his second season with 44 points in 41 games and served as a Canadian alternate at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The decade’s list of Top Prospects Game captains includes Dylan Cozens and Kirby Dach in 2019, Ty Smith and Joe Veleno in 2018, Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick in 2017, Jakob Chychrun and Matthew Tkachuk in 2016, Anthony Beauvillier and Connor McDavid in 2015, Aaron Eklbad and Sam Reinhart in 2014, Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon in 2013, Ryan Murray and Colton Sissons in 2012, Sean Couturier and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011, with Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin in 2010.
Click here to see full Team Red and Team White rosters for the 2020 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
The 2020 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by new title partner Kubota Canada, and CHL associate partners CIBC, Kia Canada, and Cooper Tires. The game will be broadcast live across Canada on Sportsnet and TVA Sports, and in the United States on NHL Network.
Tickets are on sale for the 2020 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at ticketmaster.ca or call 855-985-4357. For group and promotional inquiries, please contact the Hamilton Bulldogs at 905-529-8500.
For more information please visit http://kubotatopprospects.ca.
About Kubota Canada
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