On Wednesday, the Canadian Hockey League announced the captains, alternates, rosters and coaches for its annual NHL Top Prospects Game — and judging by the names involved, it promises to be a stellar affair.
CBC Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry will coach Team Cherry while longtime NHLer and Stanley Cup champion Mike McPhee will coach Team Orr, with both inheriting one of the top two prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft.
Cherry will get Nathan MacKinnon, the Halifax Mooseheads center that’s tearing up the Quebec League this season with 43 points in 25 games.
McPhee will get Seth Jones, the Portland Winterhawks defenseman who has 17 points in 24 WHL games this year.
McKinnon and Jones will captain their respective squads in what’s traditionally been an important showcase for draft-eligible players.
Since the Top Prospects Game was introduced in 1996, 10 participants have been chosen first overall in the NHL Draft: Chris Phillips, Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Rick Nash, Marc-Andre Fleury, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
It’s widely believed that either Jones or MacKinnon will go first overall in 2013.
That said, this game is not all about those two. A number of players that featured prominently in the Central Scouting draft rankings have also been selected to play — Darnell Nurse and Jonathan Drouin, two of the top-ranked skaters in the OHL and QMJHL, will serve as alternate captains for Team Cherry.
Sean Monahan and Hunter Shinkaruk — The No. 1 and No. 2 ranked skaters in the WHL and OHL respectively — will be the alternates for Team Orr.