The CHL Top Prospects game took place on Wednesday January 19th with a large number of the best 2011 Entry Draft prospects taking the ice in one of the marquee events leading up to the draft. You always have to approach this game carefully when analyzing it as these playersoutside the ones who have played together for Canada's Program of Excellence or the rare few who play on the same teamare literally put together and then thrown into the fire. This makes analyzing things like positional play and hockey sense hard at times because a fair amount can be due to unfamiliarity. The following are my thoughts on players from the game.
Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Center, Red Deer (WHL)
Nugent-Hopkins was more of the same for anyone who has seen him the last few years. He has true plus-plus puck skills and showed his great combination of vision, hands and passing ability. While not a plus skater speed-wise (he's still above average), his agility and edge control is way above average, which when combined with his puck skills, lets him be so elusive to defenders and creates a large amount of space for himself. On Zach Phillips' goal, he went hard to the net well and drew attention from defenders, which for a guy who has drawn concerns about his frame is exactly the kind of play you like to see. Behind Adam Larsson, I have Ryan as my likely #2 in the Draft. At the moment, it's between those two and Ryan Murphy in my opinion for the top three spots.
Ryan Murphy, Defenseman, Kitchener (OHL)