Updated:
Original:

The Top 100 Players to Watch in Major Junior

It's going to be a big season in the CHL with a pair of phenoms duelling for our attention, not to mention a ton of great NHL prospects.
Shane Wright. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images.

Shane Wright. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images.

The CHL season is upon us with all three major junior circuits starting their regular seasons soon. And with how chaotic (and in the case of the OHL, non-existent) last season was, it will be nice to get back to a somewhat normal year on the ice. Oh, and what a year it promises to be. We've got some fantastic talents taking center stage in the CHL this season and a lot of competitive teams hoping to secure a spot in the Memorial Cup, which will be hosted by the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs.

In the past, I've done league power rankings, but I'm going with something different this time and focusing on the players themselves. Below is a list of the 100 players everyone should know about for the upcoming season, though of course there were too many names to fit in. I've also excluded some top prospects who might end up in the AHL because as of me writing this, those decisions were still up in the air. So the likes of Cole Sillinger, Ty Foerster, Cole Perfetti, Jan Mysak and Daniil Gushchin aren't snubs – I just don't know if they'll be playing junior again (also Zayde Wisdom is out until Christmas with a shoulder injury, but he will likely come back to OHL Kingston).

With all that in mind, here's a look at the 100 CHL players I'm most excited about right now.

1. Shane Wright, C, Kingston (OHL): The consensus No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft has all the tools and the drive to go with it.

2. Connor Bedard, C, Regina (WHL): He'll have to wait until 2023 to get drafted, but the Western wizard is sure to dazzle for the Pats again.

3. Mason McTavish, C, Peterborough (OHL): Big, talented and aggressive, the Anaheim Ducks first-rounder will be hard to slow down.

4. Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie (OHL): So smart, so talented. The Los Angeles Kings first-rounder is magic from the blueline.

5. Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton (OHL): With his shot and power, the Arizona Coyotes first-rounder won't be in junior long - but the Oil Kings will savor every minute.

6. Matt Savoie, C, Winnipeg (WHL): He dazzled in the USHL last season, now the 2022 draft prospect returns to the 'Dub' with a blend of skill and fire.

7. Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau (QMJHL): A two-way difference-maker on the back end, Luneau is a 2022 draft prospect and the best the 'Q' has to showcase this season.

8. Sebastian Cossa, G, Edmonton (WHL): Prototypical NHL goalie of the future was snapped up by Detroit in the first round; should be Canada's world junior starter.

9. Brennan Othmann, LW, Flint (OHL): Great mixture of offense and physicality makes the New York Rangers first-rounder very unpleasant to play against.

10. Zach Bolduc, C, Quebec (QMJHL): Competitive and blessed with a great shot, Bolduc is a St. Louis Blues first-rounder who should thrive on a deep Remparts team.

11. Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL): He's a points machine and a lock for Canada's world junior squad. The Winterhawks will lean on this Carolina first-rounder.

12. Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL): A great skater who brings physicality to the back end, Guhle is a Montreal Canadiens pick and near-lock for Canada's world junior squad.

13. Oskar Olausson, C, Barrie (OHL): A great skater with good puck skills, the Colorado Avalanche first-rounder from Sweden gets his first taste of North American hockey with the Colts.

14. Fabian Lysell, RW, Vancouver (WHL): Highly skilled but raw otherwise, the Swedish import and Boston Bruins first-rounder gets his North American start with the Giants.

15. Zach L'Heureux, C, Halifax (QMJHL): Burly and nasty, L'Heureux is a Nashville first-rounder who continues on with a maturing Mooseheads squad.

16. Carson Lambos, D, Winnipeg (WHL): A puckmover with a great compete level, Lambos is a Minnesota Wild first-rounder with loads of brimming potential.

17. Tyler Peddle, C, Drummondville (QMJHL): He may be just 16, but the Voltigeurs rookie has ripped it up in the pre-season. The 2023 draft prospect has a very bright future.

18. Luke Evangelista, C, London (OHL): The kind of player who just gets it, Evangelista will be a go-to veteran on the Knights. He's a Nashville Predators pick.

19. Tyler Brennan, G, Prince George (WHL): Brennan heads into the season as one of the top goalie prospects in the 2022 draft, so look for him to carry the load for the Cougars.

20. Patrik Hamrla, G, Rimouski (QMJHL): A personal favorite, Hamrla was impressive in the Czech League last season. Now the import and Carolina pick joins the Oceanic.

21. Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg (WHL): Tons of talent and a projectable frame make Geekie a very intriguing 2022 draft prospect on a team with lots of weapons.

22. Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL): Offense and hockey sense are Bourque's calling cards and the Dallas first-rounder has great chemistry with the next kid on the list.

23. Xavier Bourgault, RW, Shawinigan (QMJHL): The Edmonton Oilers first-rounder can really wing the puck and it wouldn't be surprising to see him pot 40 goals this year.

24. Benjamin Gaudreau, G, Sarnia (OHL): Had his coming-out party at the world under-18s, where he was a rock for golden Canada. The San Jose pick is a high-end netminder.

25. Francesco Pinelli, C, Kitchener (OHL): Playmaking center returns to Kitchener after decamping for Slovenia last season. Pinelli is a Los Angeles Kings pick.

26. Daniil Chayka, D, Guelph (OHL): He'll likely be a shutdown defenseman at the pro level, but don't be surprised if the Vegas Golden Knights prospect puts up some decent points with the Storm.

27. Zach Dean, C, Gatineau (QMJHL): Smart and skilled, Dean is working on consistency and will be a driver for the Olympiques. He's a Vegas Golden Knights first-rounder.

28. Pano Fimis, C, Niagara (OHL): One to watch for the 2022 draft, Fimis is a well-rounded center in the Brayden Point mould who had a great summer at Canada's under-18 camp.

29. Olen Zellweger, D, Everett (WHL): The offensive defenseman had a stunning world under-18s for gold-medal Canada; now he's an Anaheim Ducks prospect.

30. Jake Neighbours, LW, Edmonton (WHL): He impressed at St. Louis' camp and once the Blues pick returns to the Oil Kings, he'll bring his usual combo of sandpaper and skill.

31. Ryan O'Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL): Coming back to junior after getting AHL experience last year, the Minnesota Wild pick can be a dominant two-way player.

32. Hendrix Lapierre, C, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL): As I'm writing this, the playmaking wizard is making a strong case to stick with the Washington Capitals – so yeah, the kid is good.

33. Lukas Cormier, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL): Offensive defenseman put up big numbers for the Islanders last year; what will the Vegas Golden Knights pick do for an encore?

34. Stanislav Svozil, D, Regina (WHL): Czech import can move the puck and has some nice sizzle to his game; now the Columbus Blue Jackets pick joins Connor Bedard's Pats.

35. Vince Iorio, D, Brandon (WHL): Big, talented defenseman flew under the radar a bit, but the Washington Capitals weren't sleeping: they snapped up the strong kid in the second round.

36. Leevi Merilainen, G, Kingston (OHL): Coming off a great summer with Finland's national squad, the Ottawa Senators pick has the chance to be a difference-maker in net for the Frontenacs.

37. Riley Kidney, C, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL): A revelation in the playoffs last year, Kidney is a Montreal Canadiens pick who brings good details and a heavy stick.

38. Wyatt Johnston, C, Windsor (OHL): Super-smart two-way center is poised for a real breakout with the Spitfires. Johnston is a Dallas Stars pick.

39. Ozzy Wiesblatt, RW, Prince Albert (WHL): Dynamic and versatile, Wiesblatt is a fierce competitor and flag-bearer for the Raiders. He's a San Jose Sharks first-rounder.

40. Sasha Pastujov, RW, Guelph (OHL): Power play ace with smarts and compete level, the former NTDP standout joins the Storm after getting drafted by Anaheim.

41. Antonin Verreault, RW, Gatineau (QMJHL): Dynamic talent in a smaller package is part of an excellent Gatineau crew up for the 2022 draft. Verreault tied for the team lead in scoring last year.

42. Roman Schmidt, D, Kitchener (OHL): Another NTDP grad headed to the OHL, Schmidt is a big kid who leans towards the defensive side of things. He's a Tampa Bay Lightning pick.

43. Dimitri Kuzmin, D, Flint (OHL): After dazzling with Belarus at the world under-18s, Kuzmin heads to the Firebirds to find his game in North America. He's a Winnipeg Jets pick.

44. Danila Klimovich, RW, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL): Another Team Belarus grad, Klimovich loves to score goals and joins the Huskies after getting drafted by Vancouver.

45. Martin Chromiak, RW, Kingston (OHL): The Los Angeles Kings prospect brings plenty of scoring punch back to Kingston, where he already established chemistry with Shane Wright.

46. Elliot Desnoyers, LW, Halifax (QMJHL): A breakout surprise last season for the Mooseheads, Desnoyers is a Philadelphia Flyers prospect who can really put up numbers.

47. Tristen Robins, LW, Saskatoon (WHL): Talented and hardworking, Robins is poised to put up big offense for the Blades after making his AHL debut last year. He's a San Jose Sharks pick.

48. Mats Lindgren, C, Kamloops (WHL): One of the top 'Dub' prospects up for the 2022 draft, Lindgren's dad played in the NHL as a center; the kid is a talented defenseman.

49. Ben Roger, D, London (OHL): Scouts marvelled at how big and strong Roger got over the past year; now it's time to see what the Ottawa Senators pick can do for the Knights.

50. Evan Nause, D, Quebec (QMJHL): Two-way defenseman with size and great skating could be a shutdown guy or an offensive contributor. Either way, he's a Florida Panthers pick.

51. Ryan Winterton, C, Hamilton (OHL): Energetic and aggressive, the Seattle Kraken pick is going to be a load to handle now that the Bulldogs are back on the ice.

52. Liam Gilmartin, LW, London (OHL): Former NTDP grinder is an excellent penalty-killer but also has offensive flair. The San Jose Sharks snapped him up in the draft.

53. Ryker Evans, D, Regina (WHL): Puckmoving transitional defenseman was a late bloomer, but the Seattle Kraken liked what they saw and grabbed him in the second round.

54. Ryan Francis, C, Saint John (QMJHL): Veteran playmaker and Calgary Flames pick will be crucial to the Sea Dogs offense as they host the Memorial Cup.

55. Justin Robidas, C, Val-d'Or (QMJHL): Undersized but brimming with talent and versatility, Robidas is a Carolina Hurricanes pick and second-generation player (dad is Stephane Robidas)

56. Ridly Greig, C, Brandon (WHL): Aggressive and talented, Greig is not fun to play against, but he'll be fun for Ottawa Senators fans once he's done his duty with the Wheat Kings.

57. Niko Huuhtanen, RW, Everett (WHL): Power forward has a world-class shot and a penchant for punishing hits. He's a Tampa Bay Lightning pick and Finnish import for the Silvertips.

58. Quentin Musty, C, Sudbury (OHL): The top pick in the OHL draft is the latest 'Q' phenomenon in Sudbury and the 2023 NHL prospect also happens to be big and skilled.

59. Will Cuylle, C, Windsor (OHL): Look for Cuylle to play with a lot of aggression and power after spending time in the AHL last year. He's a New York Rangers pick.

60. Jan Bednar, G, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL): A big netminder with a lot of potential, Bednar is a Detroit Red Wings pick starting his sophomore campaign with the Titan.

61. Joshua Roy, C, Sherbrooke (QMJHL): Incredibly talented, Roy is a Montreal Canadiens pick with a wicked shot and he'll be counted on for offense on the Phoenix.

62. Cole Huckins, C, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL): Big dude with smarts will continue to work on his skating. The Calgary Flames pick is also Ryan Malone's cousin.

63. Talyn Boyko, G, Tri-City (WHL); Skyscraper goalie has something you can't teach – a 6-foot-7 frame – and a lot of potential. He's a New York Rangers pick.

64. Luke Prokop, D, Calgary (WHL): The Hitmen defenseman already has NHL size at 6-foot-5, 221 pounds, plus great skating acumen and reach. He's a Nashville Predators prospect.

65. Danny Zhilkin, RW, Guelph (OHL): Skilled kid played a depth role for Canada at the world under-18s and was rewarded with gold. Zhilkin is one to watch for the 2022 draft.

66. Brayden Yager, C, Moose Jaw (WHL): A top prospect for the 2023 draft, Yager made the most of his opportunities with the Warriors last year and is primed for more.

67. Artem Grushnikov, D, Hamilton (OHL): Terrible luck meant Grushnikov didn't play at all last year, but the Dallas Stars still grabbed the defensive defenseman in the draft.

68. Brett Harrison, C, Oshawa (OHL): A great finisher with a promising frame, Harrison rejoins the Generals after playing in Finland last year. He's a Boston Bruins pick.

69. Cameron Whynot, D, Halifax (QMJHL): Skating and offense are Whynot's calling cards and he'll be important for the Mooseheads this year. He's a Calgary Flames pick.

70. Martin Rysavy, C, Moose Jaw (WHL): Big, well-rounded and hard-working, the Czech import will be a perfect fit in the 'Dub,' where he'll develop after Columbus drafted him this summer.

71. James Malatesta, LW, Quebec (QMJHL): Strong, powerful kid returns to the Remparts after his first camp with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Lots of potential here.

72. Olivier Nadeau, RW, Shawinigan (QMJHL): Big-time producer with great size had nearly an assist per game last season for the Catractes. Buffalo grabbed him in the draft.

73. Joe Vrbetic, G, North Bay (OHL): Goalie with ideal NHL size has been learning how to round out his game in net and should be a difference-maker for the Battalion. He's a Montreal pick.

74. Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John (QMJHL): A puckmover who drives plays from the blueline, the Calgary Flames prospect will be a key part of the Memorial Cup hosts.

75. William Villeneuve, D, Saint John (QMJHL): Another Sea Dog defenseman looking at a big year, Villeneuve is a Toronto Maple Leafs pick with smarts who puts pucks in good places.

76. Matt Rempe, C, Seattle (WHL): The towering pivot impressed at New York Rangers development camp and he'll be an imposing physical presence back with the Thunderbirds.

77. Jack Finley, C, Spokane (WHL): Speaking of big, Finley also brings size to the table. The Tampa Bay Lightning pick's game is more about two-way excellence.

78. Ethan Del Mastro, D, Mississauga (OHL): Physical blueliner has some dynamic traits and will play a big role on the Steelheads. He's a Chicago Blackhawks pick.

79. Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec (QMJHL): Big, aggressive and talented center is one to watch for the 2022 draft as he finds his way on a deep Remparts squad.

80. Paul Ludwinski, C, Kingston (OHL): A nice summer at Hockey Canada camp led to a bountiful pre-season with Kingston. The 2022 draft prospect has some great skill.

81. Conner Roulette, LW, Seattle (WHL): A two-way player who really hounds the puck, the Dallas Stars pick will look to be a go-to guy on the Thunderbirds.

82. Chase Stillman, RW, Sudbury (OHL): The New Jersey Devils first-rounder plays with a lot of jam and keeps opponents on their toes. Stillman should put up some nice numbers this year, too.

83. Nolan Allen, D, Prince Albert (WHL): Defensive defenseman can really lower the boom with his physicality. The Chicago Blackhawks liked him so much they took him in the first round.

84. Tyson Hinds, D, Rimouski (QMJHL): A two-way defenseman with great size, Hinds is an Anaheim Ducks pick who will be key to the Oceanic blueline once again.

85. Ty Nelson, D, North Bay (OHL): The Battalion had to wait an extra year to get their No. 1 overall pick on the ice, but it will be worth it thanks to his offensive skill set. He's a 2022 draft prospect.

86. Hakon Haanelt, LW, Gatineau (QMJHL): The German national arrives in Gatineau stronger and will be fun to watch before he inevitably heads to the world juniors. He's a Washington pick.

87. Ryder Korczak, C, Moose Jaw (WHL): Great power play operator will have to come in from the perimeter more, but once he does, the New York Rangers pick will be a fun one.

88. Tristan Lennox, G, Saginaw (OHL): Big, projectable netminder has international experience with Canada. He's a New York Islanders draft pick.

89. Oscar Plandowski, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL): Puckmoving defenseman part of a great blueline cast in Charlottetown. The Detroit Red Wings snapped him up in the draft.

90. Justin Sourdif, C, Vancouver (WHL): Talented offensive producer is coming off a great development camp with the Florida Panthers, which sets up his Giants season nicely.

91. Jack Matier, D, Ottawa (OHL): Solid, stay-at-home D-man won gold with Canada at the world under-18s and returns to the 67's as a Nashville Predators draft pick.

92. Maveric Lamoureux, D, Drummondville (QMJHL): He's 6-foot-7 and can skate – what else do you need? Lamoureux is certainly one to watch for the Volts and the 2022 draft.

93. Ty Tullio, C, Oshawa (OHL): The new captain of the Generals will try to steer a team that lost a Memorial Cup hosting bid to Covid to this year's tourney. He's an Edmonton Oilers pick.

94. Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle (WHL): Talented blueliner with good size will be one to keep an eye on for the 2022 draft while playing for a solid Thunderbirds squad.

95. Colton Dach, LW, Kelowna (WHL): Kirby's younger bro just got his trade wish granted and joins the Rockets, who love his size and skill. Colton is also Chicago Blackhawks property.

96. William Dufour, RW, Saint John (QMJHL): Big-bodied goal-scorer is a 'Q' veteran who joins the Sea Dogs in search of a Memorial Cup. He's a New York Islanders pick.

97. Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw (WHL): An extra on Canada's gold-medal world under-18 team, the offensive D-man can now come into his own. Mateychuk is a 2022 draft prospect.

98. Zack Lavoie, RW, Mississauga (OHL): Goals have been plentiful for Lavoie in the pre-season and that's great news for the Sauga offense. He's a 2022 draft prospect.

99. Isaac Belliveau, D, Gatineau (QMJHL): Coming over via trade last year, Belliveau worked very well with Tristan Luneau on the back end. Belliveau is a valued Pittsburgh Penguins pick.

100. Peter Repcik, C, Lethbridge (WHL): Solid center was excellent for the silver Slovaks at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament. Now the 2022 draft prospect comes over to try 'Dub' hockey.

(Update: Somehow Logan Stankoven from WHL Kamloops got shuffled out of the list, but the Dallas Stars pick was indeed supposed to be there)

TOP HEADLINES

Wolves

Bus Carrying New Brunswick Junior Hockey Team Involved in Fatal Crash

A team bus carrying players and staff from the Miramichi Timberwolves hockey club was involved in a fatal collision with a car while traveling to a game in Fredericton on Sunday.

Connor McDavid
Play

THN Three Stars: Stars – From Edmonton and Dallas – Take Center Stage

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are always expected to perform, but what about Dallas' surging goaltender? Adam Proteau takes a look at the three stars from Week 2 of the NHL.

Patrick Kane
Play

Patrick Kane Likely Out as Blackhawks Try for First Win of Season

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane likely will miss Sunday night’s game against Detroit because of the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.