CALGARY, Alta. – Defenceman Michael Benning of the Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL) has earned the honour of becoming the third annual recipient of the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s John Grisdale Top Prospect Award, after being the first CJHL player taken in the 2020 NHL Draft, when he was selected in the fourth round, 95th overall, by the Florida Panthers.
The 18-year-old St. Albert, Alta., product had a tremendous season leading all AJHL defenders in offensive production with 75 points in 54 games, on a dozen tallies and 63 assists.
Slotted 57th overall, among North American skaters, in NHL Central Scouting’s final 2020 Draft Rankings, Benning’s efforts helped his Crusaders side claim top spot in the AJHL regular season standings.
He also played for Canada West at the most recent World Junior A Challenge held in Dawson Creek, B.C., and suited up with Team West at the 2020 CJHL Prospects Game in Hamilton, Ont.
Benning is currently a freshman at the University of Denver (NCHC) where he is attending school on a NCAA Division I scholarship and will play for the Pioneers men’s hockey program when play resumes.
The John Grisdale Top Prospects Award is presented annually to the highest selected CJHL player chosen in each year’s NHL Draft and is in named after the former BCHL commissioner and CJHL Life Member.
JOHN GRISDALE AWARD RECIPIENTS (Highest CJHL player selected in NHL Draft)
2020: Michael Benning, (D) Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL) – 4th round, 95th overall (Florida Panthers)
2019: Alex Newhook, (F) Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) – 1st round, 16th overall (Colorado Avalanche)
2018: Jacob Bernard-Docker, (D) Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) – 1st round, 26th overall (Ottawa Senators)
Photo credit: Michael Hall/CJHL Images