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Merkley named Assistant Captain for Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

For Immediate Release
Wednesday January 17, 2018

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with Sherwin-Williams today announced the captains and alternate captains for the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game which takes place on Thursday January 25 hosted by the Guelph Storm.


Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs and Joe Veleno of the Drummondville Voltigeurs have both been named captains for the 23rd annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL Draft eligible players as selected by NHL teams.  Smith will lead Team Orr along with alternate captains Jared McIsaac of the Halifax Mooseheads and Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts.  Veleno will lead Team Cherry with alternates Evan Bouchard of the London Knights, and Ryan Merkley of the Storm.


“It’s an honour to be selected to be the captain of Team Orr,” Smith said. “I’ve watched the Top Prospects Game on TV for years now and have watched friends and teammates participate. It was a goal of mine at the beginning of the season to make the roster and to be named captain makes it all that much more special. I’m looking forward to competing against and with many of my buddies from across the CHL as well as meeting some new players.”

A 17-year-old from Lloydminster, Alberta, Smith is playing in his second full season with the Chiefs after being selected by the club first overall in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.  The defenceman has already established career-highs in all offensive categories this season with six goals and 37 assists for 43 points in 44 games.  Internationally, Smith captained Team Canada to a silver medal finish at the 2016 Youth Winter Olympic games, and also served as captain for Team Canada Black at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge earning a silver medal and tournament all-star honours.  Most recently he was an alternate captain at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial helping Canada capture gold.


“Just to be there with all the other prospects means a lot to me and, to be captain, is something very special for myself,” Veleno said. “I think it’s a very special event for players like us who will probably end up getting drafted this summer. It’ll be fun, I’m super excited and proud to be named captain!”

An 18-year-old from Kirkland, Quebec, Veleno is playing in his third QMJHL season after becoming the league’s first player granted exceptional status in 2015 prior to being selected first overall by the Saint John Sea Dogs.  Before joining the Voltigeurs in December, Veleno served as captain for the defending QMJHL champion Sea Dogs where he tallied 114 points in 138 games.  The forward has 10 assists in his first eight games in Drummondville helping the Voltigeurs put together a seven-game win-streak.  Earlier this season Veleno competed for Team QMJHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series, and in August served as Canada’s captain at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial winning gold.


Over the past 22 years, 13 Chiefs and eight Voltigeurs have competed in this event.  Smith is the first from his club to be named captain, while Veleno follows Sean Couturier who captained Team Cherry at the 2011 event in Toronto.


Team Orr leaders McIsaac and Svechnikov have also represented their countries on the international stage in recent months.  McIsaac, a 17-year-old defenceman from Truro, Nova Scotia, played in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series and was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning Ivan Hlinka team.  Svechnikov, a 17-year-old from Barnaul, Russia, competed at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.  McIsaac is playing in his second QMJHL season after being the second overall pick in 2016 and currently has 26 points through 42 games.  This is Svechnikov’s rookie season in Barrie after being chosen first overall by the Colts in the 2017 CHL Import Draft.  In 21 games the forward has 16 goals and 10 assists for 26 points.


Team Cherry leaders Bouchard and Merkley are two of the OHL’s top offensive defencemen and are currently tied for most points at the position with 50.  Bouchard, an 18-year-old from Oakville, Ontario, was recently named Knights captain playing in his third season since being chosen in the first round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.  He competed in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series and has a career-high 15 goals and 35 assists through 43 games.  Merkley, a 17-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario, was the first overall pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection and earned OHL Rookie of the Year honours last season.  He helped Canada win gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial and so far this season has scored 11 goals with 39 assists through 42 games.
 
Since 2010, Team Cherry captains have included Nolan Patrick, Jakob Chychrun, Anthony Beauvillier, Sam Reinhart, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Murray, Sean Couturier, and Taylor Hall, while recent Team Orr captains include Nico Hischier, Matthew Tkachuk, Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Seth Jones, Colton Sissons, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Tyler Seguin.
 
Click here to see full Team Cherry and Team Orr rosters for the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner Sherwin-Williams, and CHL associate sponsors CIBC and Cooper Tires.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.


Tickets are still available through the box office at 1-519-837-9690 or visit Ticketmaster to purchase online.

For more information please visit
http://sherwin-williamstopprospects.ca.  

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