Thanks to the lack of high end technology (No PVR damnit!) at home, I was faced with a tough decision tonight: CHL Top Prospects Skills Competition or Leafs vs. Preds. Sadly, I chose the Leaf game. Pretty much a low chance, slow pace snoozer from the get-go so I eventually started flipping back and forth to catch glimpses of the NHL’s next crop of exciting young stars showing off their various talents. Little metaphor there I suppose? Anyways, Iaught bits of the 3 on 3 game which I felt was quite entertaining as it reminded me a lot of your local pickup game filled with breakaways and attempts at fancy moves. It was a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere mostly targetted towards some of the younger audience members in attendance. Goaltender Nathan Lieuwen, a virtual unknown on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings, was fantastic tonight making a number of highlight reel saves.

But that’s enough of that. Tomorrow, it’s all business for these youngsters as they get ready to suit up for tomorrow night’s CHL Top Prospects game on Sportsnet at 7pm ET. If you’re not particularly busy and want to get a preview of some of the guys who may be donning Leaf jerseys at this year’s entry draft in Montreal, you might wanna tune in. Unlike the NHL All-star game which has predominantly become a joke, a mere political affair if anything, the CHL Top Prospects game is a rather intense and competitive event. With over 100 scouts expected from all 30 NHL clubs, this is the chance for elite prospects to solidy their draft standings, sleeper prospects to rise up the rankings, and for non-prospects to get on the radar.

The big Canadian names such as Duchene, Tavares, Kane, Schenn, Ellis, Cowen, Kulikov, Roy, Kassian and Kivisto will all be there.

Team Orr will feature Tavares, Schenn and Glennie up front. Cowen and Ellis will make a formidable two-way duo as the top defensive pairing, and the much hyped Olivier Roy will get the start. Kivisto is another interesting name to look out for as one of the most polished two-way defenders in the draft.

Team Cherry will rely on Duchene, Kane and Kadri to anchor the forwards. Kulikov and Depres will form another impressive two-way pairing on defense, with Nathan Lieuwen between the pipes. Power forward Zach Kassian is sure to draw plenty of intrigue from scouts as well.

Unlike last season where a disastrous season basically snuck up on all of us, Leafs Nation was forewarned by Wilson and Fletcher in the offseason that this season could potentially be a long and arduous one. Like the donkey with a carrot on a stick, we continue to stumble onwards hoping to eventually get rewarded with a young, franchise player at the end of the season. Well, tomorrow night’s the first chance to sneak in a taste.

Below are the full rosters for tomorrow night’s game:

Team Orr (Red)
Forward (12) Teams
Ryan O’Reilly Erie Otters (OHL)
Brayden Schenn Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Peter Holland Guelph Storm (OHL)
Scott Glennie Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Michael Latta Guelph Storm (OHL)
Taylor Beck Guelph Storm (OHL)
Cody Eakin Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Marcus Foligno Sudbury Wolves(OHL)
Levko Koper Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
David Gilbert Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Philippe Paradis Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
John Tavares London Knights (OHL)
Defencemen (6) Team
Jared Cowen Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Brayden McNabb Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Tommi Kivisto Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Ryan Ellis Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Charles-Olivier Roussel Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Calvin de Haan Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Goaltenders (2) Team
Oliver Roy Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Scott Stajcer Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Head Coach : Bobby Orr
Assistant Coach : Chris DePiero (Oshawa Generals)
Trainer : Ivan Bokanovic (Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors)
Trainer : Bryan Boyes (Oshawa Generals)
Team Cherry (White)
Forward (12) Teams
Matt Duchene Brampton Battalion (OHL)
Alex Hutchings Barrie Colts (OHL)
Andrej Nestrasil Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Landon Ferraro Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Zack Kassian Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Carter Ashton Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Evander Kane Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Jimmy Bubnick Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Ethan Werek Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Jordan Caron Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Michal Hlinka Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Nazem Kadri London Knights (OHL)
Defencemen (6) Teams
Taylor Doherty Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Stefan Elliott Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Tyson Barrie Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Dmitry Kulikov Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
Éric Gélinas Lewsiton MAINEiacs (QMJHL)
Simon Després Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Goaltenders (2) Teams
Nathan Lieuwen Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Edward Pasquale Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Head Coach : Don Cherry
Assistant Coach : Brian Kilrea (Ottawa 67’s)
Assistant Coach : Bert O’Brien (Ottawa 67’s)
Trainer : Brian Miller (Peterborough Petes)
Trainer :Russ Hammond (Guelph Storm)

Always a pleasure,

Alex Tran

[email protected]

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