New Year’s is typically a time when friends and family celebrate the past year as they welcome in the new.
It is also a chance for the kids to stay up past midnight and eat too much.
That is exactly how I feel – spoiled – getting to take in much of the entertaining World Junior Championship as well as getting an eye full of the future talent at the World U17 Hockey Challenge.
The U17’s, which took place in Victoriaville and Drummondville this year, gave scouts a chance to see all the upcoming talent for future drafts two and three years down the road and provides many a baseline to start with as they follow these kids through the most crucial development years.
The 2013 World U17 Hockey Challenge had some dominant performances and dominant teams.
Sweden was too much for any other team to handle in Quebec as they went undefeated utilizing a great systems approach of puck support but also individual skills. Russia, who lost in the gold medal game, was the opposite as they were more about the individual skills and beating their opponent with slick rushes and deft moves. The Americans also looked good as they sent their NTDP U17 to the event. Team Ontario, the other powerhouse group, suffered a disappointing sixth place finish despite being arguably the most skilled squad.
A few of the individual performances that really stood out included of course the William Nylander-Altelius and Connor McDavid, but there were also those who flashed the potential that will make them ones to keep an eye on over the next 16 months or so.
I will focus on a handful of those prospects here in the ‘Directors Cut’ as our ‘Mid-Term Guide’ release this February will have a more comprehensive look at the events top performers.
#4 CONOR CUMMINS / DEFENSE / 6-2 / 205 / FEB 6 1996 / TEAM ONTARIO
Cummins was involved every time he was on the ice. Love the size and the compete level he showed as well as his smarts. He moved around the ice well and took what was there, making the simple play, the right play, instead of trying to force pucks into a tight gap. He supported his partner well.
#7 DANIEL DE SOUSA / DEFENSE / 5-11 / 170 / APR 26 1996 / TEAM ONTARIO
De Sousa played an unassuming two-way role for Ontario but did it well as he made the most of his opportunities. He was safe in his own zone and strong at moving the puck when given the chance. His skating is an asset as is his awareness in both zones. He added some offensive push from the back end.
#21 DAMIAN BOURNE / FORWARD / 6-4 / 210 / FEB 11 1996 / TEAM ONTARIO
A big body that is hard to move especially when he turns his intensity level up. He was at his best as a strong fore-checker who finished his checks and made the opposing defenders pay a price. His feet are a tad slow but he has good speed once he gets it going and you love the “take no guff” attitude he showed
#11 SAM BENNETT / FORWARD / 6-0 / 165 /JUN 20 1996 / TEAM ONTARIO
Bennett played a well-balanced game where he was strong in all zones and even chipped in some offense. His complete all-round game make him appealing moving forward as does his explosive skill, ability to handle the puck in traffic and good shot. Bennett scored six points in five games including three goals.
#19 ROBBY FABBRI / FORWARD / 5-10 / 160 / JAN 22 1996 / TEAM ONTARIO
Fabbri showed off his good speed and explosive first step at times in Quebec but was not overly impressive as he took a few bad penalties that really handcuffed his team. He was a lot of noise with nothing else of substance much of the time. He has good talent but needs to improve his decisions on the ice.
#20 DANTE SALITURO / FORWARD / 5-8 / 180 / NOV 15 1996 / TEAM ONTARIO
A dynamic player when paired with Josh Ho-Sang, Salituro was able to make offensive chances every time he was given space and time to do so. His shot is off his stick quickly and with good velocity. He ended the tournament second in overall scoring behind McDavid with eight points in five games. Strong 2015 NHL Draft prospect.
#15 SPENCER WATSON / FORWARD / 5-10 / 155 / APR 25 1996 / TEAM ONTARIO
Watson was a little hot and cold at this event for my liking. His sense seemed to be lacking as he was flying around without much purpose in some instances. Other times he looked unstoppable, scoring goals and buzzing around the net looking for rebounds. Timing was a big deal as he was out muscled in front of the net if there too early.
#3 OLIVIER LEBLANC / DEFENSE / 5-11 / 155 / FEB 17 1996 / TEAM QUEBEC
Leblanc was a strong skating, puck moving blue liner who finished the tournament third in team scoring for a plucky Quebec squad. His poise, energy and ability to handle the puck were impressive traits as he liked the puck on his stick and to start the offensive rush. His shot was dangerous as was his ability to snake through traffic.
#5 JONATHAN DESCHAMPS / DEFENSE / 6-2 / 190 / APR 16 1996 / TEAM QUEBEC
A big blue liner with nice skating and overall mobility describes Deschamps. He plays well in all three zones, closing off his man in the defensive zone and having the ability to rush the puck the other way. He plays with some physical edge but for the most part kept everything safe and simple in Quebec.
#22 CLARK BISHOP / FORWARD / 6-0 / 175 / MAR 29 1996 / TEAM ATLANTIC
Team Atlantic’s top scorer in Quebec, Bishop showed off his quick hands and impressive shot as he fired home three power play tallies. He played hard and plays physical making it hard for his opponents. He stepped up when his team needed him most with some timely play.
#20 DUNCAN MACINTYRE / DEFENSE / 5-11 / 190 / JAN 20 1996 / TEAM ATLANTIC
MacIntyre was strong skater who surprised me with his play in Quebec. He was solid in all zones showing good containment of his opponents and transitioning the play well the other direction. Has a good compete level and while not overly physical he did not back down.
#3 JOSEPH HICKETTS / DEFENSE / 5-8 / 180 / MAY 4 1996 / TEAM PACIFIC
An offensive force from the back end, Hicketts, is strong and skates well with the ability to scoop up the puck and drive it end-to-end. His passing ability and vision were on full display as he contributed to the Pacific attack. Six points in five contests.
#12 REID DUKE / FORWARD / 5-11 / 175 / JAN 28 1996 / TEAM PACIFIC
Duke was both hot and cold in Quebec. He brought his strong intensity and drive in some contests and looked less interested in others. When he was on he worked the wall, battled for pucks and drove the net creating chances. Added five points including two goals.
#2 HAYDN FLEURY / DEFENSE / 6-3 / 200 / JUL 8 1996 / TEAM WEST
A big and strong two-way blueliner, Fleury showed off his impressive mobility for such a big guy at this event and added some offense to the West’s back end. He has good smarts and is poised carrying the puck although he got into some trouble with turnovers on a few instances.
#6 JORDAN THOMSON / DEFENSE / 5-11 / 170 / MAY 27 1996 / TEAM WEST
Thomson was a good offensive minded defender for the West as he pushed the play up ice with quick transitions, strong skating ability and heady passes. He contributed just three assists but started many impressive rushes that generated scoring chances. Has first round talent for 2014.
#9 GUSTAF FRANZEN / FORWARD / 5-11 / 160 / SEP 22 1996 / TEAM SWEDEN
One of Sweden’s big guns in Quebec, Franzen was cast in a two-way role but lit it up offensively with timely scoring. He showed very good defensive reads, competitiveness and a quick stick to steal pucks and then quickly transition them into scoring chances. Although not overly flashy in the offensive zone he was able to put up six goals and ten points as one of the tournament’s top scorers.
#22 DMYTRO TIMASHOV / FORWARD / 5-8 / 175 / OCT 1 1996 / TEAM SWEDEN
Small and skilled forward of Ukrainian decent, Timashov’s speed and electric moves are impressive but taken away when physical pressure is applied. He had moments in Quebec that had you think he was about to breakout but was shut down and only contributed three assists for Sweden at the event. Is not overly effective unless scoring.
#7 ADAM OLLAS MATTSSON / DEFENSE / 6-3 / 190 / JUL 30 1996 / TEAM SWEDEN
Showed as a big blue liner who can handle slick and quick offensive forwards in his own zone by use of his long reach and solid positioning. His size and willingness to use it by blocking shots, closing off lanes and engaging in physical battles was impressive. He is at his best when he keeps it simple.
#30 MAXIM TRETIAK / GOALTENDER / 6-3 / 200 / OCT 22 1996 / TEAM RUSSIA
Vladislav Tretiak’s grandson, Maxim was a prospect that yours truly was looking forward to watching at this event but the youngster looked frazzled and unable to get into the grove. He looked as though focus, speed and positioning were all areas that need work. Only played 89 minutes for the Russians in Quebec as teammate Max Sidorov out dueled him for the starters role.
#43 RYAN COLLINS / DEFENSE / 6-4 / 180 / MAY 6 1996 / TEAM USA
Collins came into the event with a reputation as a primarily defensive minded blue liner who utilized a strong physical game. Those elements were on display as he closed off opponents and used his size well but unexpectedly some offensive skills were shown as well. His shot was a weapon from the point as he potter a couple tallies.
#38 ANDERS BJORK / FORWARD / 5-11 / 155 / AUG 5 1996 / TEAM USA
A strong two-way forward who I did not give much attention to in the first contest, this kid started to grow on me with his smart play and strong defensive instincts. His hard working style and ability to adapt quickly in whatever situation he found himself really put him on my radar for 2014.
#51 CHRIS WILKIE / FORWARD / 5-10 / 170 / JUL 10 1996 / TEAM USA
Chris, the son of former Montreal Canadiens first rounder David Wilkie, is a speedster with good hands and an ability to pull butts out of seats and put points on the board. He showed flashes of game breaking ability as he would cut through the middle of the ice taking on defenders with his puck skills and explosive acceleration before then getting off a quick wrist shot. A dangerous prospect that put up a healthy nine points in six games.
#58 KEEGAN IVERSON / FORWARD / 6-0 / 215 / APR 5 1996 / TEAM USA
Iverson is a power winger that had many rushes that he looked unstoppable as he would gather the puck and drive down his wing on route to the opponents net. Iverson showed some good physical abilities but also let some questions about his ability to finish. His skating and physical play was very impressive. Has some room to improve on the offensive side of things.
#4 JONI TUULOLA / DEFENSE / 6-1 / 165 / JAN 1 1996 / TEAM FINLAND
A strong defenseman who skates well, showed some good defensive zone positioning and moved the puck well off the rush. He moves around the ice with good fluidity and showed some decent physical ability as he pinned his checks and battled for loose pucks. The best all-round defender for the Finns in Quebec is not an overly flashy offensive blue liner but he can add to the attack with heady passes and strong point play.
#20 TEEMU LAMSA / FORWARD/ 6-2 / 180 / FEB 6 1996 / TEAM FINLAND
A big strong forward who showed off a good power game as he was hard to handle when he was flying down the ice with speed. He was a big time goal producer in Quebec for the Finns using his good size and good hands but also did not look as though the physical stuff was overly comfortable for him as he would turn away when pressed. Has some skating deficiencies to work on. Still can’t ignore his six goals in five games.
For more comprehensive coverage of the 2013 U17’s top performers with reports on over 40 of the participating prospects make sure to grab your copy of ‘FC’s 2013 Mid-Term Draft Guide’ to be release in February.
Join me again next month as ‘Directors Cut’ continues to take a look at more NHL draft prospects and news.
Until next month, see you at the rink.
Director of Scouting
As always if you have any questions regarding the draft or its prospects, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to address them in my next column.