By Larry Bradley


We can learn a lot watching athletes perform in various game situations. A player’s skill, work ethic and attitude are just a few characteristics one can observe and measure from their seats in the stands. Junior hockey stars may have what it takes to excel in the CHL, but to take their game to the next level requires that extra something which allows them to compete with hockey’s elite. It takes a trained eye and the ability to analyze useful statistics to predict how a hockey player will develop. Speed, agility, endurance, puck control and power are some of the assets scouts painstakingly audit. The task becomes even more difficult when they have to compare players from one league to other prospects in another league.

With this in mind, the CHL and NHL put together the CHL Top Prospects Game, where selected CHL draft-eligible prospects are able to showcase their talents to the hockey world. Part of this event is the CHL Top Prospects Game Skill Testing competition. It gives NHL General Managers, Coaches and Scouts a chance to evaluate possible recruits in a controlled environment.

If we take a closer look at the results from the 2001 Skills Competition we can appreciate the pure talent these players possess. Although, one testing may not give a true indication of the competitors abilities, it allows the decision makers of hockey to make informed comparisons between players who may be of interest to them come draft day.


The OHL representatives had a very respectable showing and produced three of the top four overall results. Below is a breakdown of the contingent’s stats and their overall rank out of the 35 skaters that participated in the skills testing.

Overall Skills Testing Rank #1
Mark Popovic – Toronto St. Michael’s Majors

Popovic proved that he has all the tools to be an impact player at the next level. The talented defenceman turned in amazing results in every discipline of the competition. He was among the top eight in every category and was the winner of the 60’ dash in an impressive 2.596 seconds. The Majors’ captain showed off his great rushing ability with a third place finish in the Puck Control event. A very impressive performance that is sure to solidify a top pick in the 2001 NHL Draft.

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.) 150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
16.937 (3rd)2.596 (1st)5.716 (6th)14.365 (3rd)93.3 (7th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #3
Jason Spezza – Windsor Spitfires

The number one North American Prospect had a very strong skills competition. We all knew he had great puckhandling abilities and a fantastic shot but his performances in the skating events were most impressive. For the past couple of years critics have questioned his skating, but the Spitfire forward proved he could keep up with the quickest prospects of the upcoming NHL Draft. This should support his bid to claim the number one spot at this years draft.

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
17.174 (6th)2.790 (8th)5.775 (11th)14.890 (15th)94.1 (4th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #4
Derek Roy – Kitchener Rangers

No surprise here. I have been very impressed with this sophomore all season. His speed and exceleration are among the CHL’s best and he can handle the puck as well as anyone in the league. Derek’s results in the hardest shot were to be expected from a smaller player but he has proven all year that accuracy and a quick release can make up for a booming slap shot. Last years OHL Rookie of the Year continued to pick up the accolades receiving the 2001 CHL Prospects Game MVP for Team Purple. Kitchener’s second round pick in 1999 has really made it hard for NHL scouts not to consider him as a first round pick in the 2001 draft.

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
16.894 (2nd)2.663 (2nd)5.693 (4th)14.617 (8th)84.3 (29th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #10 (tie)
Jay Harrison – Brampton Battalion

This Battalion defender continues to show why he is such a desired commodity. Harrison is a rugged, stay-at-home defenceman who loves to play a physical brand of hockey. His quick exceleration earned him a fifth place showing in the 60’ dash. In the Hardest Shot event Harrison posted a 95.4 reading on the radar gun, good for second place.

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
18.356 (31st)2.751 (5th)5.866 (17th)14.982 (20th)95.4 (2nd)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #15
Stephen Weiss – Plymouth Whalers

Not the type of numbers you would expect to see from CSS’s second ranked North American Prospect. But then again, Weiss hasn’t been tauted as just a one-dimensional offensive threat. This gifted forward’s stock has been so valuable because of his exceptional two-way play. He is definitely creative and can make things happen with the puck but is aware of his role within the defensive system of his team. This is a trait that can turn an average prospect into a high pick come June.

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
17.326 (10th)3.021 (28th)5.905 (21st)14.632 (9th)89.4 (14th)

The Rest of the OHL

Overall Skills Testing Rank #16
Jay McClement – Brampton Battalion

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
17.388 (23rd)2.834 (12th)6.039 (11th)14.776 (27th)88.5 (11th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #17 (tie)
Cory Stillman – Kingston Frontenacs

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
17.501 (15th)3.168 (35th)5.838 (16th)14.497 (5th)89.3 (15th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #19
Carlo Colaiacovo – Erie Otters

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
16.766 (1st)3.080 (31st)5.952 (22nd)15.027 (22nd)90.2 (11th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #20
Brendan Bell – Ottawa 67’s

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
17.960 (21st)2.872 (16th)5.882 (18th)15.075 (24th)89.9 (13th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #28 (tie)
Frantisek Bakrlik – Barrie Colts

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
18.677 (35th)2.987 (26th)5.980 (24th)15.151 (28th)92.4 (9th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #28 (tie)
Lukas Krajicek – Peterborough Petes

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
18.313 (30th)2.838 (14th)6.252 (35th)15.037 (23rd)86.9 (20th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #30 (tie)
Colt King – Guelph Storm

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
18.030 (25th)2.892 (19th)6.219 (32nd)15.422 (33rd)86.6 (21st)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #34
Aaron Lobb – London Knights

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
18.055 (26th)3.073 (30th)6.147 (30th)15.720 (35th)87.7 (19th)

Overall Skills Testing Rank #35
Chris Thorburn – North Bay Centennials

Puck Control (sec.)60’ Dash (sec.)150’ Dash (sec.)Full Lap (sec.)Hardest Shot (m/hr)
18.116 (28th)3.116 (34th)6.087 (28th)14.977 (19th)80.7 (35th)

Note: The Hardest Shot statistics have taken the best one of two attempts for all player.