They’re two of the biggest events on the Junior A calendar; the premier opportunities for scouts to check
out the very best Canadian Junior A hockey has to offer in best-on-best competition.
And this season, for the first time, the World Junior A Challenge and CJHL Prospects Game will be under
one roof – a one-stop shop of sorts for pro and college/university scouts, and for fans of the game.
Historically, the World Junior A Challenge is held in early November, with the CJHL Prospects Game
following a month later. But in Langley, B.C., this November, a pair of prospects games will be part of the
World Junior A Challenge festivities, adding another element to what is an already high-profile week for
Junior A hockey.
The move is the latest initiative in the partnership between Hockey Canada, the Canadian Junior Hockey
League and the National Hockey League, designed to advance the Junior A game to the highest level.
“We have always considered the CJHL Prospects Game on par with the World Junior A Challenge,” said Kirk
Lamb, chairman of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. “We stepped back and asked whether these events would be
better delivered and received together. Together, these events are more attractive to the NHL, Hockey Canada
and scouts. We also felt that both events would benefit if the host community, CJHL, Hockey Canada and the
NHL could focus all of their resources in one location and at one time.”
“As a scout it’s a huge benefit,” said Chris Edwards, a scout with NHL Central Scouting, of hosting the
two events in one location. “It allows scouts the opportunity to maximize their viewing of players who are
participating in the World Junior A Challenge from Canada, the U.S. and Europe, as well as catching the best
draft-eligible prospects from Canada’s Junior A leagues, while reducing travel time and costs.”
NHL Central Scouting plays a major role in the CJHL Prospects Game, teaming with the CJHL to select the
rosters for the two games.
Since the puck was dropped at the first CJHL Prospects Game in Yorkton, Sask., in 2005, the game has
showcased some of Junior A hockey’s biggest names – Joe Colborne, Riley Nash, Dylan Olsen and Kyle Turris all
played in the game just months before their names were called in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.
Last year, four players – Sam Jardine, Matthew Peca, Brennan Serville and Scott Wilson – were on the ice
in Dauphin, Man., for the prospects game, six months before they were selected at the 2011 draft in St. Paul,
All eight of the players mentioned above also wore the red and white of Team Canada at the World Junior A
Challenge, meaning they got twice the exposure.
And that’s one of the biggest advantages to combining the two events – even more draft-eligible
17-year-olds will have the spotlight shone on them. Players taking part in the World Junior A Challenge won’t
skate in the CJHL Prospects Game, opening up roster spots for players who previously may not have had the
In addition, those players will have the opportunity to experience the atmosphere surrounding the World
Junior A Challenge a year before many of them could represent Canada and play in the tournament.
“It comes back to development, exposure and opportunity, and the World Junior A Challenge and CJHL
Prospects Game provide each of these,” Lamb said. “Our players are exposed to scouts from the NHL, NCAA, CIS,
Canadian Hockey League and other leagues because these events provide the scouting community with the
convenience of seeing our best players and top prospects in one location. The result of development and
exposure is more athletic and academic opportunities for our players.”
An added perk to the growth of the events has been the increased caliber of Junior A hockey, not only in
the national and international events, but in all 10 of the CJHL’s leagues across the country. More players
are realizing the opportunities that Junior A hockey offers, whether those opportunities be on the ice or in
“We’re seeing a higher level of play,” said Dennis MacInnis, director of scouting for International
Scouting Services. “Players are fitter, faster and more skilled. Programs in Canada have become more
professionalized. Gone are the days of mom and pop-operated Junior A clubs. The leagues in general have
raised their standards and the teams have followed suit. Looking at the number of quality college and pro
players whose roots are in Junior A hockey, it is easy to see that Hockey Canada, the CJHL, its leagues and
teams are continuing to develop high-level talent.”
That talent has been key to the Junior A game, which has grown exponentially in the few years since the
World Junior A Challenge and CJHL Prospects Game came into existence. If that growth is to continue, the
showcase events must develop, much the same way the players do.
And for everyone involved – from Hockey Canada to the CJHL and scouts at every level – bringing the game’s
biggest events together in one location is a definite step in the right direction.