Monday night was Game 1 of the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge and as expected the host club walked away with a 5-3 win. The Q team never trailed in the game, outshot their Russian opponents to the tune of 28-16 and although the three star selection generously included a Russian, it was Dmitri Kugryshev who was on temporary loan to the visiting team by the Quebec Remparts.
Last week I promised to unveil my solution as to how to make the ADT Challenge Series interesting again. Not just for the fans but for the scouting community, many of the ones I've spoken with over the last few weeks are considering taking a pass on the event when it comes near them simply because it's not a good evaluation tool.
The Russians don't have anyone of interest with them and the three CHL teams are mostly constructed of players already drafted so really... there isn't really all that much for a scout to do.
I'll try to keep this as concise as possible and then reveal my team that would be playing against the QMJHL right now.
Let's establish the reasons why this event even exists. 1) To showcase the talent playing in the CHL... 2) It's used by Hockey Canada as an evaluation tool before the invites are sent out for the December WJC tryouts... 3) It's a sponsored event so the CHL is making some coin from it.
Those are the three reasons I could come up with, feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section at the end.
The idea I have come up with borrows largely from the American Hockey League and their All-Star game format. In the AHL, a team made up of the league's top Canadian born players squares of against 'Planet/USA' - a collection of the leagues best that hails from around the world.
Using that format in the ADT Challenge series would accomplish objective #1 (showcasing the league's talent) to an even higher degree. One might argue that it would simply become an all-star game then and to some extent, sure I suppose it does except for the guaranteed non-Canadian component of the second squad. Many of the players on Planet/USA wouldn't make the cut of an all-star game but do here simply because the pool of players to draw from is much smaller.
In my opinion, the CHL leagues could use this game (or games if the league wanted to continue the 2-game format) as a lure to European players who might be considering making the jump to North America. Agents and teams could sell those players sitting on the fence that getting to play in this showcase event in front of a ton of scouts would be a smart move for those looking to get drafted to the NHL. It would almost be a bit of a reward for choosing to make the CHL the development league of their choice.
Objective #2, Hockey Canada's interest in the event shouldn't be affected at all because the Canadian team would be exactly the same.
Objective #3, the sponsorship dollars... well, I'm sure ADT would be quite happy to continue supporting an event that when altered actually became more popular with fans and those in the business.
That pretty much outlines my position so without further ado, here's my suggested team for the ADT CHL Challenge Series - QMJHL vs Planet/USA
1) Timo Pielmeier (GER) – (SJ 3rd - 2007) Shawinigan
2) Robert Mayer (SWI) – (undrafted) Saint John
3) Chris Holden (USA) – (undrafted) Cape Breton
1) Patrik Prokop (CZE) – (undrafted) Drummondville
2) Dmitry Kulikov (RUS) – (2009) Drummondville (5th in Q by ISS)
3) Denis Reul (GER) – (BOS 5th – 2007) Lewiston
4) Dmitri Kostromitin (RUS) – (undrafted) Montreal
5) Dominik Bohac (CZE) – (undrafted) Royun-Noranda
6) David Stich (CZE) – (undrafted) Saint John
7) Dominik Schlumpf (SWI) – (2009) Shawinigan
8) Richard Greer (USA) – (2009) Halifax
1) Andrej Nestrasil (CZE) – (2009) Victoriaville (3rd in Q by ISS)
2) Tomas Knotek (CZE) – (undrafted) Halifax
3) Max Gratchev (RUS) – (NYR 4th – 2007) Lewiston
4) Mikhail Stefanovich (BEL) – (TOR 4th – 2008) Quebec
5) Kirill Tulupov (RUS) – (NJ 3rd – 2006) Victoriaville
6) Luca Cunti (SWI) – (TBY 3rd – 2007) Rimouski
7) Maxime Sauve (FRA) – (BOS 2nd – 2008) Val d’Or
8) Yuri Cheremetiev (RUS) – (undrafted) Halifax
9) Michal Hlinka (CZE) – (2009) Chicoutimi
10) Sascha Famin (BEL) – (undrafted) Moncton
11) Dmitri Kugryshev (RUS) – (WSH 2nd – 2008) Quebec
12) Simon Olsson (SWE) – (undrafted) PEI
13) Sergei Ostapchuk (RUS) – (undrafted) Royun-Noranda
14) Toni Ritter (GER) – (undrafted) Montreal
By country of origin: RUS (7), CZE (6), SWI (3), GER (3), USA (2), BEL (2), SWE (1), FRA (1)
NHL Drafted Players: 8
Eligible for the 2009 Draft: 5 including two top prospects
Someone tell me how this line up wouldn't be of more interest to the scouts or the fans OR that it isn't an even better way for the QMJHL to showcase its talent both domestic and imported.
Would this team fair better than the Russians here now? Could they honestly do worse?
My OHL and WHL line ups will follow later this week.