Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with the three regional leagues, the Kelowna Rockets Hockey Club, and Home Hardware Stores Limited, today announced the 40 CHL players that will compete in the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Prospera Place in Kelowna, BC, on February 1, 2012.
“The Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game showcases 40 of the league’s top prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft,” said CHL President David Branch. “Congratulations to all 40 players selected for this event representing the next wave of talent to the NHL, with the opportunity to showcase their skills before hundreds of NHL scouts in attendance and for fans in Kelowna and CHL fans watching live across Canada on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.”
30 of the CHL’s 59 member clubs are represented in this game including three players from the OHL’s Belleville Bulls. Eight other teams have two players competing in the event including the host Kelowna Rockets who will be represented by forward Colton Sissons and defenceman Damon Severson.
“The Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is an event that all NHL scouts look forward to attending,” said NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr. “The 40 players competing in this game were chosen by the 30 NHL clubs with the game being a unique opportunity to evaluate 40 of the top draft eligible prospects on a single stage in what has annually become an intense competition.”
The rosters include all three players that were ranked first overall in their regional league according to NHL Central Scouting’s Preliminary Draft Rankings including Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting, Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Remparts, and Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips. Murray, along with Tanner Pearson of the Barrie Colts, will compete in this event after representing Canada at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.
“It is a huge honour to be named to this event and to play alongside some of the best players in the 2012 NHL draft class,” said Murray. “I’ve had some great friends compete in this game including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins last season, and I am really looking forward to this opportunity.”
Both Russian-born top prospects were equally thrilled to be named to the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. “I am very excited to play in the Top Prospects Game,” said Yakupov, last year’s CHL Rookie of the Year who has 49 points in 24 games this season. “I am looking forward to playing against and meeting the other top draft eligible players from the CHL.” Grigorenko, who leads all QMJHL rookies with 56 points in 35 games also commented; “I am honoured to play among the best NHL prospects and it will be a great challenge for me.”
Last season Nugent-Hopkins became the tenth player to compete in this event since 1996 to be selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft. 19 CHL players in total from the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game that were selected among the record 21 CHL players chosen in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft along with Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs who was selected third overall, and Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs who was selected fifth overall.
“Home Hardware proudly congratulates the 40 players selected to represent their hometowns and CHL teams in the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game,” said Paul Straus, President and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Limited. “On behalf of the Home Dealer-Owners at more than 1,080 stores, I would like to wish all players the best of luck in Kelowna and look forward to the excitement of the game and seeing the players selected by NHL teams in the draft this June.”
Coaches and support staff for the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will be announced at a later date.
The 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is also supported by associate sponsors Bank of Montreal, Subway, and CCM. The game will be broadcast live to a national audience on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Quebec beginning at 7:00 pm Pacific.
The 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will mark the 17th annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL draft eligible players. The two-day event also features a skills competition and three-on-three challenge taking place on Tuesday January 31, 2012. Ticket packages are still available for the two-day event and can be purchased at http://www.selectyourtickets.com/prospects.php or by calling 250-762-5050.