The 2009 NHL Entry Draft is just two weeks away with many of the Canadian Hockey League’s top young talent anxiously awaiting the opportunity to hear their name called in Montreal. Last season, 20 players including the first five picks of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa were products of the CHL.
This season, 20 CHL players are ranked in the top 30 amongst North American skaters as determined by NHL Central Scouting including John Tavares of the London Knights, Matt Duchene of the Brampton Battalion, Evander Kane of the Vancouver Giants, and Brayden Schenn of the Brandon Wheat Kings who are ranked in the top four respectively. 19 of these players had the opportunity to showcase their talents at the 2009 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Oshawa back in January.
For many players, competing at the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in front of hundreds of NHL Scouts raises their draft profile. Players such as Cody Eakin of the Swift Current Broncos, currently ranked 29th by NHL Central Scouting, was ranked 52nd prior to the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game where he was named Game MVP for Team Orr with two goals in the 6-1 victory.
“It probably started with Top Prospects,” Director of NHL Central Scouting E.J McGuire said. “A lot of people say the Top Prospects Game is only one game, but he grabs people’s attention in January at that game and forced scouts to go watch him in the regular season and he didn’t disappoint. Cody Eakin took that most valuable player for his team at the Top Prospects and built on it to the point where we predict he’ll be a No. 1-round choice.”
“I didn’t really know what to expect at the Top Prospects Game,” Eakin told NHL.com. “The caliber of players there was unbelievable. They were the top junior players in Canada, so I went in with an open mind. I was set up on a good line with John Tavares and I couldn’t have asked for anything better, so we managed to win.”
The Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game also provides a skills testing element that prepares players for pre-draft events such as the NHL Combine which took place at the end of May.
“Just as with the Top Prospects Game, at the Combine players have the opportunity to show off their individual skills and worth to a particular team” said McGuire. “At the Combine you are alone and without teammates which can make things interesting as a way for Scouts to measure a player’s individual skill against each other and the rest of the competition.”
CHL players certainly faired well in the NHL Combine with a heavy presence throughout the top 10 results in each of the 30 categories, with 10 players from the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game leading in individual categories.
Defenceman Taylor Doherty led the way in four different tests including Hand Eye Coordination and Vertek Leg Power Average with and without a Pause. He also had the longest wingspan of the field at 80 inches. Carter Ashton of the Lethbridge Hurricanes showed the strongest left hand grip at 156 pounds as well as the largest push strength at 352 pounds. Jared Cowen of the Spokane Chiefs had the strongest right hand grip at 167 pounds, and Scott Glennie of the Brandon Wheat Kings had a ground time of 0.90 seconds in the 4 Jump Mat Mode. Other leaders include Brayden McNabb of the Kootenay Ice who had the lowest fatigue index at 37.1 and Ryan O’Reilly of the Erie Otters who tied Jordan Szwarz of the Saginaw Spirit with 18 Bench Press repetitions of 150 pounds.
For more information please visit the new NHL Central Scouting website to view the top 10 results in each of the 30 Combine test categories.
Stay tuned to chl.ca over the next two weeks for complete coverage of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft including player profiles of the top rated CHL prospects.
Click here to visit the homepage for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Written by Paul Krotz/CHL with files from www.nhl.com
Photo of Cody Eakin by Aaron Bell/CHL