The puck drops for the 2020 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Thursday from Hamilton and live on Sportsnet East, Ontario, Pacific, and Sportsnet 360, TVA Sports, and on the NHL Network in the United States at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the annual classic:
- The 2020 edition marks the 25th anniversary of the Top Prospects Game.
- Hamilton is the 17th city to host the event following Toronto (‘96-98, ‘00, ‘11), Calgary (‘99, ‘01, ‘14), Saskatoon (‘02), Kitchener (‘03), London (‘04), Vancouver (’05, ‘16), Ottawa (‘06), Quebec City (’07, ‘17), Edmonton (‘08), Oshawa (‘09), Windsor (‘10), Kelowna (‘12), Halifax (‘13), St. Catharines (’15) Guelph (’18), and Red Deer (’19).
- 14 players have participated in this event before being selected first overall: Chris Phillips (1996), Joe Thornton (1997), Vincent Lecavalier (1998), Rick Nash (2002), Marc-Andre Fleury (2003), Patrick Kane (2007), Steven Stamkos (2008), John Tavares (2009), Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Nathan MacKinnon (2013), Aaron Ekblad (2014), Connor McDavid (2015), and Nico Hischier (2017). Sidney Crosby (2005) and Nail Yakupov (2012) were both invited but unable to compete due to injury and were later chosen first overall.
- 343 players from this event have been selected in the first round of the NHL Draft representing approximately 49% of all players selected by NHL clubs in the first round of the NHL Draft since 1996.
- 12 players from the 2019 game became first round NHL Draft selections led by third-overall pick Kirby Dach (Saskatoon Blades/Chicago Blackhawks) as well as other top-10 selections in Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants/Colorado Avalanche) at fourth overall and Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes/Buffalo Sabres) at seven.
- Nine CHL teams are represented by multiple players in 2020 including the Brandon Wheat Kings, Kamloops Blazers, London Knights, Ottawa 67’s, Prince Albert Raiders, Shawinigan Cataractes, Soo Greyhounds, Sudbury Wolves, and Windsor Spitfires.
- The Knights have had a CHL record 33 players compete in the event since 1996, a figure that includes 2020 competitors Luke Evangelista and Antonio Stranges.
- The Plymouth Whalers hold the record with five players in one game played in 2000 (Tomas Kurka, Jared Newman, Libor Ustrnul, Kris Vernarsky, and Justin Williams). Additionally, 11 teams have had four players in one game including Halifax (2018 and 2003), Mississauga (2016), Rimouski (2013), Saint John (2011), Portland (2011 and 2010), Kingston (2006), Kitchener (2005), Calgary (2004), Red Deer (2001), Seattle (2000), Medicine Hat (1996).
- The Greyhounds (Pytlik, O’Rourke) hold the longest streak of sending players to the event, doing so for an 11th straight year (2010-20).
- 2020 host Hamilton Bulldogs have had three players compete in this event in their five year franchise history including MacKenzie Entwistle and Matthew Strome in 2017, and Arthur Kaliyev in 2019.
- Competing in the 2020 event are five Canadian World Junior gold medalists including Quinton Byfield, Nico Daws, Jamie Drysdale, Dawson Mercer, and Alexis Lafreniere. This marks the first time since 2015’s Lawson Crouse and Connor McDavid that World Junior gold medalists are competing in the event.
- Captains Byfield and Lafreniere represent the first time that two CHL Rookies of the Year will go head-to-head in this event.
- The winning team is awarded the Don Cherry and Bobby Orr CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Trophy first presented in 2006 that includes names of all past players. The Jim Gregory Player of the Game Awards were first presented 2012.