Saturday, January 10, 2009

Three WJC Stars Invade Top Prospects Game


It will be a golden reunion for three players that are participating in the Home Hardware CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game next week in Oshawa.

John Tavares of the host Oshawa Generals will welcome Team Canada teammates Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires and Evander Kane of the Vancouver Giants when the event is hosted at the General Motors Centre on January 13-14.

They are among the 40 top prospects from the CHL that will play in the two-day event that includes a skills competition on Tuesday followed by the game on Wednesday.

Tavares was named MVP of the World Junior Championships after leading all goal scorers with eight and was second to teammate Cody Hodgson of the Brampton Battalion with 15 points. As the CHL’s top rated prospect for the draft, a lot was expected of Tavares in this tournament and he delivered. Ellis and Kane came in with a lot less fanfare but both proved to be valuable pieces to Canada’s championship.

Ellis enjoyed sensation rookie year last year and was already high on scout’s lists heading into his draft year. He was tabbed by Canadian coach Pat Quinn to be a key member of Canada’s powerplay despite being just 17-years-old. Ellis finished the tournament with a goal and six assists for seven points in six games and broke Wade Redden’s team scoring records for a 17-year-old defenceman.

Obviously Ellis’ performance on the world stage tuned scouts into how good he is but he said that he hasn’t spent much time thinking about how it will affect him when the draft rolls around in June.

“As far as draft status, I don’t know; I don’t really look at that,” Ellis said. “I think it just gives me more confidence to build on. To know that I played here and played well, going back (to Windsor) and playing well is key.”

Kane was the WHL’s top rated forward in the NHL Central Scouting rankings that were released in November. His play at the World Juniors will only help to move him up the draft order.

Kane was a last minute addition to Team Canada when Dana Tyrell of the Prince George Cougars was forced out of the tournament with an injury suffered in an exhibition match against Sweden a week before the tournament.

“These last couple of weeks have just been great,” Kane said during the tournament in Ottawa. “Coming to camp I thought I would make the team but unfortunately I was let go. But then I was called back for the tournament and I was extremely excited. I just tried to contribute as best as I can.”

Kane said that he is looking forward to coming to Oshawa for the Top Prospects Game.

“It’s obviously going to be a great event and it’s something that you always want to be part of heading into your draft year,” Kane said. “It’s an opportunity to showcase yourself among the top eligible guys. It’s going to be a long ride but obviously I’m looking forward to it and it’s going to be a good opportunity as well.”

All three players are eligible to return when Canada goes for a record-setting sixth straight championship next Christmas in Saskatchewan.

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

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