The World Junior A Challenge offers an opportunity for members of any given draft class to showcase their skills on the international stage.
Those members of the 2017 NHL Draft group seized that opportunity.
The 2016 World Junior A Challenge, from Dec. 11-17 in Bonnyville, helped showcase some of 2017’s top talent.
Here’s who impressed:
Cale Makar, D, Canada West, 5-10, 176, 10-30-1998
Makar is a dynamic skater who moves around the ice with ease and confidence. He is a high-octane offensive player who is always looking to attack. He plays with a commanding presence and while the opposition is always aware of him on the ice, he is an incredibly difficult player to shut down. He is a consistent goal scoring threat due to a quick, strong, and accurate release combined with the footwork and deception to consistently create lanes for himself.
Draft Outlook: Makar lacks ideal size and has some warts defensively, but he plays with an intensity and drive to be the most impactful player on the ice. He has gotten exponentially better each season and his ceiling alone will likely see him drafted in one of the opening couple rounds in 2017.
Klim Kostin, RW, Russia, 6-3, 196, 5-5-1999
Kostin is a massive specimen who can really take over a game with his size. He is a calm and patient player who slows the game to his pace. He has a methodical yet powerful stride and is deceptively fast when he gets moving. Kostin possesses a strong shot however he seems to prefer to play distributor. His vision and heady play make him incredibly dangerous in the offensive zone.
Draft Outlook: He was not at his best in this tournament and needs to reign in his undisciplined play, but he showed flashes of dominance. He may be trending away from the top of the draft but he still has good value in the first later round.
Alexey Lipanov, C, Russia, 6-0, 165, 8-17-1999
Lipanov is a picture-perfect skater who can really fly. His first three steps are lightning-quick and he can create separation with ease. He also plays with a lot of mental agility and knows what he’s going to do with the puck before he gets it. Lipanov has high point potential as his speed and skill makes him a handful to contain. He’s sure to be a staple on the highlight reels moving forward.
Draft Outlook: Lipanov needs to add a lot of size and strength to be able to survive in the pro game, however he will have no problem with the speed of play. He has the tools to be a top-two round pick.
Ivan Chekhovich, LW, Russia, 5-10, 168, 1-4-1999
Chekhovich is small in stature but he certainly doesn’t play a small game. He is an asset at both ends of the ice and does a lot of the little things that coaches love. He was first over the boards for the Russian’s on both the power play and penalty kill. Chekhovich has a high hockey IQ and excels at being in the right place at the right time. Don’t sleep on his skill either as he has a silky pair of mitts and is adept at finding teammates.
Draft Outlook: With the exception of size, Chekhovich checks a lot of the boxes that one wants in a pro player. He is a player who should go in the second or third round range of the 2017 draft.
Ian Mitchell, D, Canada West, 5-10, 165, 1-18-1999
Mitchell is an athletic defender who excels at both ends of the ice. He is really light on his feet and escapes from tight spaces with ease. He has an active stick that forces turnovers and he moves the puck up the ice effectively. Mitchell needs to refine his killer instinct and finish if he is going to be a point producer at the next level. He has the physical tools but is still a bit raw in his ability to properly utilize them.
Draft Outlook: Mitchell is probably a four-year college player, which should give him the time to develop his offensive game and add some much needed strength. He’s a project but his potential will likely see him drafted in the top three rounds.
Veniamin Baranov, D, Russia, 6-1, 198, 1-8-1999
Baranov was a workhorse for the Russians in this tournament. He plays a very smooth and well-rounded game. Offensively, he moves the puck purposefully and possesses a bullet from the point. Defensively, he has the skating agility to stick with speedier forwards and the strength to consistently win battles in the corners.
Draft Outlook: He was the top pick in the most recent KHL draft, and is likely a mid-to-later round selection at the 2017 NHL Draft.
Dayton Rasmussen, G, USA, 6-2, 201, 11-4-1998
Despite being a goaltender, the first thing that stands out in Rasmussen’s game is his skating ability. He edges exceptionally well, has a steady leg push, and can stop on a dime when moving laterally. He shows a ton of quickness in the net and is never down and out and has the ability to make some miraculous stops. He can be a bit overactive in net front scrambles but overall there is a lot to like in his game.
Draft Outlook: He is a guy that could be up and down draft lists but we like him as a potential top-100 pick.
Cameron Crotty, D, Canada East, 6-1, 172, 5-5-1999
Crotty is a smart defender with a very mature understanding of defensive coverage. He makes excellent reads in his own end and keeps attackers confined to the perimeter. His mobility and reach make him a disruptive presence. While he’s strong in his own end, Crotty needs to improve his play with the puck as at times it can seem like he’s stickhandling a grenade.
Draft Outlook: Needs to work on his puck skills however his polish in his own end should result in him being a picked in the middle rounds.
Bobby Dow, RW, Canada East, 6-1, 174, 11-5-1998
Dow is an energetic winger who brings a solid blend of skill and sandpaper. He has an efficient stride and loses very little in transitions. He likes to attack with speed and isn’t afraid to bull his way into dangerous areas. One area Dow needs to keep an eye on is making sure his physical game doesn’t turn into undisciplined play. He was ejected from the first game of this tournament for a fairly blatant check on the Czech goaltender.
Draft Outlook: He projects as more of an energy player as opposed to a point producer at the pro level, but his physical tools and ability to impact the game in other areas than just the scoresheet makes him a potential mid-to late pick.
Andrey Svechnikov, RW, Russia, 6-2, 185, 3-26-2000
Svechnikov was the most impressive prospect at this tournament, and he isn’t even eligible until the 2018 NHL Draft. Svechnikov led the tournament with 12 points in four games and broke the tournament goal-scoring record with eight. Svechnikov is a dynamic and dangerous offensive player. He can beat an opponent in so many ways and he’s always one of the smartest players on the ice. For a player his size he is incredibly agile on his feet and he has the hands to make defenders look silly.
Draft Outlook: Svechnikov is the complete package and has the potential to be a dominant force at the NHL level. He should be a strong contender to be the top pick in the 2018 draft.
Article by Donesh Mazloum