NHL Draft preview: CJHLers look to hear their names called during two-day event

CALGARY, Alta. ? The National Hockey League will hold its annual draft Oct. 6-7, in a virtual online event, and a number of Canadian Junior Hockey League standouts will look to be selected by NHL clubs.

A total of 15 CJHLers were named to NHL Central Scouting?s final draft rankings, which were released back in April.

Among the draft eligible elite on that list is CJHL most valuable player, top goaltender and rookie of the year Devon Levi of the Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL).

Levi, who was also named MVP at the most recent World Junior A Challenge, was tabbed eighth overall, among North American netminders, in the NHLCS tabulations.

The top ranked CJHL skater was forward Carter Savoie of the Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL), who was rated 50th overall among North American skaters.

After Savoie was his Sherwood Park teammate, defenceman Michael Benning, who was slotted 57th on the North American list.

Each of these individuals were among those selected by the NHL Central Scouting to compete in the 2020 CJHL Prospects Game, held this past January in Hamilton, Ont.

Ethan Bowen of the Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) was unable to participate in that contest however, due to injury.

The first CJHL selected in this year?s draft will be the recipient of the John Grisdale Award, which is presented annually to the highest selected CJHL player, chosen in each year?s NHL Draft.

It is in named after the former BCHL commissioner and CJHL Life Member.

As a preview heading into the NHL Draft, the CJHL elicited the opinions of each of the respective head coaches of those 15 individuals, as to what makes them the type of player that had NHL scouts taking notice and what qualities did they see, that made them such solid players.

The following lists the CJHLers on the final NHL Draft Rankings, where they were slotted, as well as their 2019-20 team, league and what their coaches had to say:

Devon Levi, G (8th) ? Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL)

Coach: Jason Clarke ? First and foremost, Devon is an unbelievable person. ? He takes a lot of pride in doing the right thing, on and off the ice, and as a teammate. ? The respect he has from his peers speaks volumes about who he is as a person. ? Devon reads plays better than any goaltender I have seen at this level. ? His anticipation, quickness and reads are at an elite level. ? He has a chance to play the game at the next level.

Carter Savoie, LW (50th) ? Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)

Coach: Adam Manah ? Carter has the pure ability to score goals. ? 50-goal guys don’t come around very often, so when a team has a chance to take a guy like that, you take him. ? Let alone all the other terrific things he brings to his game such as his vision, hockey sense, work ethic, playing physical, and being hard to play against.

Michael Benning, D (57th) ? Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)

Coach: Adam Manah ? Mike’s game is similar to a Cale Makar, in which he may not be as big stature wise, but his play is resemblant. ? He skates well, is active in the rush, runs the top on the powerplay, sees the ice extremely well and has a terrific shot. ? He has the ability to sidestep players in every zone, by how deceptive he is with the puck.

Coach Manah on both Savoie & Benning ? They both are unique and different players from the rest in the NHL Draft. ? These players are fearless on the ice. ? They both play hard every shift and one thing they had to learn after the first season with us is to know how to defend themselves when they are getting checked hard. ? I’ll add by saying these two kids are driven, passionate about the game, and will be NHL players in the near future. ? They are hungry to want to improve every day and they don’t seem to let anything phase them. ? Not even the pressure of the draft got to them last year, let alone being checked hard every game and leading our team to win every night. ? Lastly, off the ice they are spectacular human beings. ? Very respectful kids who bring a smile to their face every day at the rink and just have fun playing the game they love.

Ethan Edwards, D (77th) ? Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)

Coach: Bram Stephen ? Ethan is an exciting player because he is an excellent skater who plays the game hard and with lots of energy. ? He moves pucks well, gets in the play on the rush a lot and has a good shot that can create on the power play and offensively in all situations. ? Better yet, he defends well and is reliable in big situations against top end offensive players. ? More importantly, he?s a mature young man with a growth mindset and a desire to get better everyday. ? He?s very energetic and enthusiastic as a teammate and a favourite in the dressing room.

Matteo Costantini, C (96th) ? Buffalo Jr. Sabres (OJHL)

Coach: Nick Tuzzolino ? Matteo has a very old school type of game. ? He plays a 200-foot game and has a tremendous hard-working effort as to how he approaches everything. ? He?s highly skilled, has that 200-foot approach on the ice and is always prepared. ? He shows tremendous leadership and is a first one on the ice, last one off it, type of player. ? You know, I think his speed is one thing that stands out. ? He?s always moving at top speed and has a great hockey IQ. ? His efforts are highly contagious as his work ethic and overall approach to the game makes his teammates better. ? He got the entire team to buy in, just by watching his effort and approach to the game. ? His overall skill set shows how good of a player he is.

Ethan Bowen, C (119th) ? Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)

Coach: Brian Maloney ? Ethan is a player that brings a lot of quality intangibles to the game. ? He has been a scorer and point producer his entire career. ? His offensive instincts are very strong and he has the skating ability, and edge work, to beat defenders one-on-one as well as an innate ability to create offense off the rush. ? One thing that we really appreciate about Ethan is his commitment. ? He has really taken ownership of his game over the past couple of seasons. ? He has put the work in off the ice, spent the time to ask questions and to educate himself to better his game on and off the puck. ? His size, skill, and skating ability are three big benefits to his game that attract the attention of NHL scouts. ? As mentioned, Ethan possesses good size, skating ability, and skill. ? He has a good release on his shot that allows him to catch goaltenders off guard. ? He is committed to becoming the best player he can, not just in the offensive zone. ? His coachability and willingness to learn are qualities that will allow him to succeed as he keeps climbing the hockey ladder. ? One area that he also excels in is the grit that he plays the game with. ? Ethan is willing to get in on the fore-check and finish checks and is a player that will take a hit to ensure a play is made. ? He is a good teammate and is always there when the going gets tough in the hard areas of the ice. ? These other dimensions will allow him to round out his game at the next level.

Ryan Tverberg, C (140th) ? Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL)

Coach: Vince Bellissimo ? Ryan plays with elite level speed and power ? He has the ability to score goals, getting 26 for us in 2019-20. ? Offensively he was over a point-per-game player. ? His priority is to take the puck to the net with force. Ryan plays with a high level of compete in tight spaces. ? He?s a very defensively sound player and is extremely good in transition, both ways.

Danny Weight, C (142nd) ? Penticton Vees (BCHL)

Coach: Fred Harbinson ? Danny boasts an extremely high compete level. ? He also has a tremendous hockey IQ. ? His passion for the game is elite and that goes along very well with a solid skill set that he possesses. ? When the game was on the line, he was the type of player who always wanted the puck on his stick.

Alex Young, C (145th) ? Canmore Eagles (AJHL)

Coach: Andrew Milne ? He is a very intelligent player and has great vision on the ice. ? Alex sees plays develop very quickly, allowing him to be one step ahead. ? He has very strong internal motivation. ? Alex is not the most vocal kid, but is extremely driven and has a very high standard that he holds himself to. ? He strives for perfection in all areas of his life, especially on the ice.

Ryan Alexander, C (161st) ? St. Michael?s Buzzers (OJHL)

Coach: Rich Ricci ? Ryan was a significant part of the 2019-20 St. Michael?s Buzzers as a 17-year-old. ? A powerful skater with high-end speed, Ryan has a top-end work ethic matched with skill. ? He was the Team East MVP at the CJHL Prospects Game. ? He is highly proficient at winning face off draws, which makes him a valued asset in key situations. ? Lastly, his offensive instincts are equally weighted as play-maker to scorer. ? He will be attending Arizona State on NCAA scholarship in 2021.

Carter Loney, C (167th) ? Steinbach Pistons (MJHL)

Coach: Paul Dyck ? Carter plays the game with pace, if he is attacking the offensive zone, or if he is tracking into the D-zone. ? He has a very good skill set and a good mind for the game. ? Despite currently being a smaller body, he plays with courage; taking pucks to the net and thriving in the hard areas of the ice. ? His 200-foot game and ability to play up the middle, or on the wing, make him very versatile as well. ? There are several attributes that Carter possesses that I have seen over the past couple of years that have contributed to his success. ? He has tremendous edges and explosiveness that allows him to create a lot of time and space for himself. ? Combine this with a very high compete level and now he becomes a player that wins a high percentage of contested pucks. ? He plays with an edge and won’t hesitate to take on much larger opponents.

Kyler Kovich, LW (168th) ? Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL)

Coach: Darren Naylor ? Kyler plays a complete 200-foot game. ? He combines the rarity of being a tremendous offensive player while being an even-better defensive type player. ? The last two seasons, which he was regarded as an underage in the BCHL, saw Kyler play both the powerplay and penalty kill, which is somewhat unheard of at this level. ? Kyler’s work ethic on the ice, and in the gym, is through the roof. ? He is a dedicated player who comes to the rink each day wanting to learn and improve. ? I’ve personally known Kyler for a lot of years and have always admired how he plays the game. … He never cheats plays, is honest and is one of the hardest working players I’ve coached. … In his minor hockey days, Kyler was a scoring machine, but he knew in order to get to next level he needed to become a complete player, which he has. ? Kyler will be our captain this season and he exemplifies the true meaning of what a captain is. ? He is a nice young man who I enjoy coaching very much.

Cole O?Hara, RW (170th) ? North York Rangers (OJHL)

Coach: Geoff Schomogyi ? Cole has caught some attention from NHL scouts with his ability to make plays at high speed and in tight areas. ? He sees the ice very well and plays a very mature game. ? Cole is very self-motivated and has such a great growth mindset. ? He constantly wants feedback and is always striving to get better each day. ? He always pushes all his teammates around him to be better each day as well. ? We are very excited for the draft for Cole and believe if any team drafts him, they are getting a great young man, with tremendous upside and potential.

Tucker McIntosh, D (174th) ? Ottawa Jr. A Senators (CCHL)

Coach: Martin Dagenais ? Tucker is a smooth skating defenceman, who makes a good first pass and doesn’t shy away from the physical stuff. ? He’s also very responsible in the defensive zone, which makes him an excellent two-way defenceman. ? The nice thing about Tucker is that he just keeps getting better. ? He’s a late-bloomer, who really came into his own as the season progressed. ? I felt he played with much more confidence in the second half of the season, when he realized how good he could actually be in our league.

Trey Taylor, D (216th) ? Vernon Vipers (BCHL)

Coach: Jason McKee ? Trey’s greatest asset is his ability to defend. ? He is a player that has great mobility and uses a great stick to his advantage when playing against the top players on other teams. ?  Trey continues to work hard to grow his offensive game and has matured into a top pairing defenceman with us here in Vernon.