2024 NHL Draft

New NHL Draft Event Coming Next Fall Featuring NTDP Vs. CHL Top Prospects

New NHL Draft Event Coming Next Fall Featuring NTDP Vs. CHL Top Prospects

The CHL-USA Prospects Challenge will be making its debut in November 2024, featuring two games between top draft-eligibles from the CHL against USA's NTDP.

Jun 26, 2024 by Chris Peters

As we get set for the 2024 NHL Draft Friday, an exciting addition to the 2025 NHL Draft evaluation calendar will be coming next fall.

USA Hockey and the Canadian Hockey League are set to announce a new top prospects series that will see top first-year NHL Draft eligible players from each of the CHL leagues – the OHL, WHL and QMJHL – take on the U.S. National Under-18 Team from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program over a two-game series for the next three seasons.

The event will be called the CHL-USA Prospects Challenge, with the first edition of this event expected to be held in November 2024, with specific dates and locations announced later. 

Over the next three seasons, each of the three CHL leagues will have the opportunity to host this event. 

I am told that this event will not spell the end of the USA Hockey All American Game, which features the NTDP players and top NHL Draft prospects from the USHL. That game is still on the schedule for January 2025.

The CHL-USA Prospects Challenge will bring a more competitive element to the games, which should make for a better evaluation opportunity and provide some stakes to the game as the USA-Canada cross-border rivalry would inject a little extra passion into the game.

According to a source, the CHL team will not be exclusively Canadian players, however, with top draft-eligibles, regardless of nationality, making up the roster. NHL Central Scouting is expected to be involved in the team selection process.

The CHL-USA Prospects Challenge is also a rare partnership between the CHL, which is under Hockey Canada’s umbrella, and USA Hockey. There has not been frequent interaction beyond the friendly transfer agreement between Hockey Canada and USA Hockey that governs players from each country crossing the border for their development.

“The Canadian Hockey League is excited to partner with USA Hockey to add this one-of-a-kind event for both our players and fans to enjoy over the coming seasons,” said Dan MacKenzie, president of the CHL, in a statement. “Serving as a best-on-best showcase, the CHL-USA Prospects Challenge will provide our top draft-eligible players from across the CHL with a great opportunity to demonstrate their elite talent and world-class skill set as they work towards hearing their name called at the NHL Draft.”

This event also has the fingerprints of the NHL on it to some degree as there has been a push for more and better draft evaluation opportunities that create opportunities for not just the scouts, but the NHL executives to get eyes on a larger number of prospects. This event will surely help with that, increasing its value to NHL evaluators.

The NHL has taken a proactive role in the NHL Draft events and is also said to be working with the IIHF on a formalized plan for the IIHF World Men’s Under-18 Championship that would see that event take place in North America more frequently.

While top prospects games have seemingly lost their luster in recent years, this game with its unique format and competitors should provide a little more intrigue to it. The USA-Canada element of it certainly should increase interest as well. Any opportunity to see top prospects in a more competitive environment is a better evaluation opportunity for the NHL staff that attends and for the fans that want to get to know these prospects better.

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