Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with the host Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, and BMO Financial Group, today announced the captains and alternate captains for the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game to be played in Calgary on Wednesday January 15.
Canadian National Junior Team members Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice and Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts have both been named captains for the 19th annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL Draft eligible players. Reinhart will lead Team Cherry along with alternate captains Roland McKeown of the Kingston Frontenacs, and Ivan Barbashev of the Moncton Wildcats. Ekblad will lead Team Orr along with alternates Jake Virtanen of the Hitmen, and Nikolaj Ehlers of the Halifax Mooseheads.
Reinhart, an 18-year-old from Vancouver, BC, is playing in his third WHL season and recently competed with Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. The Ice captain has 50 points in 33 games this season and was also a captain for Team WHL at the SUBWAY Super Series game played in Lethbridge on November 28. McKeown, a 17-year-old from Listowel, ON, is playing in his second season with the Frontenacs collecting 28 points through 36 games and was recently named the OHL’s Defenceman of the Month for December. Barbashev, an 18-year-old from Moscow represented Russia and won bronze at the World Junior Championship and has 37 points in 29 games so far in his second season with the Wildcats.
Ekblad, a 17-year-old from Belle River, ON, has 25 points in 29 games playing in his third OHL season. The Colts’ captain was the first overall pick in the 2011 Priority Selection after becoming just the second player to be granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada and recently competed at the World Junior Championship and was named Best Player in the bronze medal game. Virtanen, a 17-year-old from Abbotsford, BC, was also selected first overall chosen by the Hitmen in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft and has produced 41 points in 41 games playing in his second full season. Ehlers, a 17-year-old from Denmark leads all QMJHL rookies in scoring with 56 points in 38 games and also represented his country last month finishing in first place competing in Division 1A of the IIHF World Junior Championship.
Last season’s game in Halifax, NS, featured 19 players that were selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft including Team Cherry captain Nathan MacKinnon of the host Mooseheads who became the 11th player since 1996 to be selected first overall after competing in this game. Team Orr captain Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks was selected fourth overall by the Nashville Predators. In the past 18 years a total of 248 players from this event have been selected in the first round of the NHL Draft representing 47% of all players selected by NHL clubs in the first round.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)