Top 2011s and 2012s set to compete in unique Hockey Hall of Fame showcase
Some of the top young prospects in youth hockey will converge on Toronto for the HHOF Future Legends Invitational. Established in 2017, this invite-only event was designed to showcase some of the top talent at the boys U12 age level and girls U13 age level.
The tournament is unique to youth hockey for a multitude of reasons. The main one being that upon arrival, individual players are unaware of what team they will be competing for in the tournament. It’s not until the opening ceremonies on Thursday afternoon, when players are ‘drafted’ onto evenly balanced teams. Those teams are named after iconic Hockey Hall of Famers such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Nicklas Lidstrom, Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy, among others.
Once assigned to a tournament team, players compete in four pool-play games before a single-elimination tournament starts on Saturday. In addition to playing high-level hockey against top competition, players are thrust into a locker room with new teammates. Former winter club teammates also transition to foes, as they compete against one another for the weekend.
The weekend’s festivities include a private viewing of the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto. Participants can get an up close, intimate look at the Stanley Cup, and other historical pieces.
Notable alumni from the Future Legends
The Future Legends Invitational is still in its infancy, compared to the rich histories of The Brick Invitational (33 years) and PeeWee Quebec (62 years). In fact, some of the earliest participants from the Future Legends tournament have yet to reach NHL Entry Draft eligibility. However, that hasn’t stopped participants such as Michael Misa, Matthew Schaefer, Will Horcoff and Christian Humphries from forging a future in hockey.
After receiving exceptional status, Misa was selected first overall in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection as an ‘07 selected amongst players from the ‘06 birth year. One year later, Schaefer went first overall in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection. Both were standouts from the Future Legends Invitational in 2018. Another notable alumni from that year was the first overall pick in the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft, Gavin McKenna. The Yukon Territories native most recently set the record for most points scored in the Canada Winter Games. He’s scored 18 points in 16 WHL games already, and will play his first full season of junior hockey next fall.
In the States, Humphries was one of the top scorers this season for the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP). He was also a part of the inaugural Future Legends Invitational in 2017. One year later, Detroit native Will Horcoff would follow that path to Toronto for the invite-only showcase and compete against Misa, Schaefer, McKenna and others. More recently, one year later, Horcoff is set to follow in Humphries’ wake again to the USNTDP next fall.
Who, What, When, Where and How to watch Future Legends
Almost 200 of the top 2011-born boys youth hockey players will be in Toronto for the Future Legends Invitational. Roughly 100 girls from the same birth year, and 160 boys from the 2012 birth year will also compete in their respective age groups. Draft ceremonies are slated to begin Thursday, with off-ice combine testing and games to start shortly after.
Girls division games begin at 8 a.m. EST on Friday, while both boys divisions get underway on Thursday afternoon. All games are available to watch on HNLive.ca. Players will participate in on- and off-ice testing, meant to replicate the experience that prospects undergo during the NHL Combine. The Future Legends Invitational is an all-encompassing experience for youth hockey players to feel like the pros. Draft ceremonies, combine testing, elite-level games and exclusive tours of the Hockey Hall of Fame make this a must for top-level youth hockey players.